“Maybe I’m just dreaming out loud,”


Today marked four years since you left, and there is so much that I want to tell you about all that’s happened since and that I wish I could tell you, like the old days when I’d pop over for a visit just to sit down with you for an hour or two and tell you how my days were, knowing that you were the one person in the world whom I could trust to tell everything. Even when your state of mind had faltered and you were living mostly in the past; it didn’t matter that sometimes you didn’t understand what I’d be talking about – just being able to sit with you, having your hand in mine, my head on your lap and making me feel as if I was safe, right there and then, was all that mattered.

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“If my life is mine, what shouldn’t I do?”

The first month of 2012 is nearly over, but I just thought I’d capture the (very few) highlights of my 2011 anyway –

Preteen dream come true: Blue LIVE @ Ion 2011

David Hurwitz, Zee Avi, JP Maramba & Rafael Pereira

Flickr set: Zee Avi LIVE @ TAB 2011

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The art of survival

There are places I can’t go to, films & shows I can’t re-watch, songs I can’t listen to, things I can’t do, old habits I can’t slip back into, strangers who look or sound like you whom I can’t talk to, food I can’t eat, emotions I can’t let myself feel, scents I turn away from, memories I suppress and thoughts I can’t think, because they remind me too much of the past –

And the pain that comes along with going through all that, just isn’t worth it.

“These scars of mine make wounded rhymes tonight”

We were never close. No, they made sure to draw the line upon their first disapproval of our little family. Of her. But gradually, he opened his heart and accepted us as his granddaughters. Despite that, I always only saw him once a year; twice or thrice, if there’s a special occasion during the year. His wise words were those of the typical elderly – “Study hard, build your future. Education is very important. Don’t give up halfway.

One distinct memory I will always have of him would be that one afternoon, about 7 years ago, while we were sitting at a cafe near Arab Street, and who did we see walking towards us? My paternal grand dad – or my Atok, if I were to make this more personal – struttin’ down the sidewalk in his gold-rimmed vintage Ray Bans, his hand clutching his walking cane; keep in mind that at this point, he was 83 years old and he was still as healthy as an ox, not even limping the slightest bit.

That’s one thing amazing about him – I always remembered him as being active. Always taking walks by himself, disregarding my aunt’s and uncles’ pleas for him not to; doing his prayers standing up, despite his weak knees & back.. He did all this up to the ripe old age of his mid-eighties.

Do I regret not getting to know him better? A little, maybe. Not that I was close to any of my grandfathers, not even my maternal one; somehow they both had disappointed me with something they’ve done – not that I kept a grudge, just that there’s always been a buffer zone that was created since an age I can’t remember.

But family issues aside, he was my last living grandfather. And despite having the Grim Reaper brush past me so many times, death and the grief that comes with it never fails to tear that hole in the heart even bigger every time.

May he rest in peace.

Pax et amor,

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

“When the lights die”


There were a few things I had in mind to write about and a few photos of recent events that I’d wanted to put up here, but a few days ago, tragedy had struck one of my dearest friends and suddenly, not much else mattered enough to be talked about at this period of time. I’d dropped almost everything just so I could be there for her, even if that meant minimum sleep and taking a half day off from work for the funeral. I can just imagine how her world came to a total standstill in a matter of minutes; throughout the day, it killed me just a little bit more every time I caught a glimpse of her face – she wore a mask of strength, but every few minutes or so, bits of that mask tore away as her face crumbled with all the pain she was trying to keep in.

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“With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept”

Last weekend, it was my grandmother’s third death anniversary. I’m not sure whether to say “wow, that was fast” or just to leave it as it is –

The funny (well, not really. More like just the way it is) thing about “time” itself is that it depends on perception. And all the constants in one’s life. For example, time might seem to fly past you because you are juggling so many tasks on hand at one go, while simultaneously time might seem to slow down even when you’re really busy because you have a deadline to meet and Mr. Time decides to be nice to you and make you feel like you have ample time to meet the deadline. Did I make sense? I hope I did, because I’m constantly at war with how time feels to me –

I’m past the grieving stage, at least. I haven’t cried at the thought of her lately, though the gnawing in my chest still hasn’t gone away. I haven’t thought of her much, mostly cos work keeps my life preoccupied but certain things/places/people will still remind me of her. I don’t feel sad each time I see any other old lady I pass by but I still can’t look at them in the eye without thinking how lucky her grandchildren must be to have her.  I don’t feel angry anymore that she’s gone, but I still wish I had someone to call Nyai just for one more day.

To put it simply, I just don’t think about it much anymore. I’m not sure if that came with growing numb, or if it was the successful result of forcing my mind not to dwell on it still.

I’ve always thought grieving would happen in stages – and those stages may take years to go through before you have everything coming full circle. But even when you reach that final stage of letting go, after leaping over the painfully high hurdle of acceptance, someone’s death will always be a part of us. We’ll come to a point when we’d barely feel the pain of loss anymore, but we have that gaping hole in our heart as the wound that can’t be healed. I wouldn’t call it a wound of glory like the one a soldier would bring home proudly as a statement of having fought a war, but the wound that death inflicts upon us is a wound that would just remain unhealed; a wound not in your flesh, but in your soul, if you will.

It’s like a scar that will forever mark your skin, or that lipstick stain on the shirt you can’t get rid of – you’ll get past the fact that it’s THERE, but you go through your day with it anyway because it’s best to just move on instead of being stuck in a state of inertia.

If she and my mom were still around, Mothers’ Day today would probably feel like it meant something to me, rather than just one other ordinary day.

Here’s to a wonderful Mothers’ Day to all amazing mamas out there.

Pax et amor,

“We’re so close to something better left unknown”

It would be a lie to say that I don’t believe in the supernatural – Lord knows how I can’t even watch movies in that genre – but when something out of the ordinary happens, the first conclusion that I’d come to would never involve anything of that sort. The rational part of my brain kicks in and I’d try to sort things out logically. This is not to say that I don’t believe in ghosts, or rather, spirits, but I feel somewhat safer if they didn’t come into the picture.

Two nights ago I had a vivid dream of a series of events which, I swear to God, I didn’t even put a thought into before I went to sleep. The last scenario of the dream involved my grandmother, the one who’d passed away two years ago.

A bit of a side track, first – you know how some people (read: my religious family members) say that when you dream of someone deceased, and that someone talks to you, it is actually the Devil in play and not the spirit of the deceased? Or something like that. I don’t like to believe it though, because when you dream of someone deceased whom you really miss and wish you could talk to once again, and you did, but only in a dream, the last thing you’d want them to be is the Devil.

But anyway, that’s just some food for thought.

So in this dream, it was just the three of us – my dad, my sister and I. The original trio. We were taking a road trip to an isolated village in the jungle; I remember having to cross bridges made out of bamboo and trekking through a whole lot of trees. Turned out, we were visiting my grandmother. She was living alone; she was suffering from Alzheimer’s, and she was constantly talking to herself. Talking about events that had happened ages ago, but in her frail mind, had only happened days prior.

She’d talked to me. I had cried. I don’t remember specifically what we talked about, but just being able to talk to her was overwhelming. She was crying; she was sad. She was aged, living alone, living in her memories and the past. She needed someone to take care of her, and the waves of guilt that hit me at that point were indescribable – I wanted to stay, but I couldn’t. I don’t remember why I couldn’t stay, but the look on her face when I told her, just swallowed me up whole.

I remember that much.

I’m not sure if I was relieved or frustrated, when my eyes flew open & I snapped out of the dream. It was pouring heavily outside just as the sky was getting light; it was cold, I was shivering, and my eyes weren’t dry. It took me a couple of seconds to register what I had just dreamed about, and when I did, I let myself bawl it out for a few minutes. Death may happen frequently, but no matter how long ago it happened, the grief never washes away completely. It wasn’t that I was crying over a fresh wound, it was the feeling of missing something you had lost, and wishing that the dream had lasted longer so I could’ve savored it for at least a while more.

I didn’t think much of this dream again until a few hours later, when I’d realized the chain around my neck carrying my grandmother’s ring was snapped into two and just barely hanging off my neck. The ring wasn’t there; I flipped my pillows and blankets and everything else in sight, and finally found the ring some distance away from where I slept.

Two things I’ve been pondering about – (a) Why did I dream what I dreamed? (b) How could my chain have possible been snapped off my neck, without me being able to feel it? It wasn’t of a flimsy sort, and it wasn’t exactly old; I’d just replaced it less than two months ago.

I know the entire incident sounds ridiculous, and I could possibly be thinking about it too much, so much so that I’m blowing it out of proportion. But now I’m sitting here, typing this, with my neck feeling more naked than ever and me feeling more insecure than ever before without the ring hanging off my neck, some place I know it’d be safe – as much as I need it to be on me every second, wearing it around my finger seems like one of those careless accidents waiting to happen.

I feel like I’ve just written some sort of formal essay to myself but I just really needed to put this into words, lest I forget about it in the future.

But on the whole… I guess I just gave it too much thought.

I’m over-thinking things, right?