I can’t write any articles on loss and grief because I am not old enough yet. There are teenagers who post on their Facebook walls sadness in a status and teenagers who decorate their Instagram feeds with black and white, vignette, varying hues of gray and darkness and teenagers who slit their throats in 140 characters; the short sentences are extremely sharp and hurt their readers as well, prompting a Retweet. I can’t complain that I am sad and tired and that I feel, wondrously, miraculously, that I have given up, because what right do I have, I am only a teen and I am not an adult who has lost her sheen which the harsh adult world took from her like a blanket stolen off a baby in a cradle. I watch as my friends meet half an hour earlier in front of the school gates, to talk about things that they’ll be told off for talking about at home. I watch as my friends get asked why their pocket money is depleting so quickly, why there’s messages telling them not to die in a ditch, things’ll be better soon dear fifteen year old pal, it’ll be alright – the money was spent on tissues; a tissue transaction to soak up the many tears cascading down a soft cheek, skin that’s pimpled and pigmented and undergoing puberty; so young. The cheek of youth stained by tears. I can’t talk about my sorrows because it just shows how much of a teenager I am, someone who likes to complain and shriek and sob at the dinner table, cigarette hanging from my lips, tobacco nicking the piercing glistening on the skin of my lips, sins spilling from my lips. I can’t talk about the fact that I am also a vessel of regret, of sadness, of depressing things to talk about, like my mother, her mother, her husband, his wife, the grown-up cousin at a wedding, my distant relative whose son is the CEO of a tissue paper company that may or may not make money from sad kids who soak misery into the three-ply, four-ply, five-ply tissue paper like how teenagers – the girls, that is – use pads on their periods. I can’t pass discourse over the women who buy pads in excess and the fact that teenagers need them more than they do, nowadays, because I am too young and I should not have gotten my period, and I ought to keep my mouth shut. I can’t let the words tired, sad, really frustrated, want to fling myself off the building you work at slip out of my mouth, because the world has given me the privilege of owning thread and a needle to sew my young, ripe mouth up.
He’s small and skinny when I first meet him. There’s not an ounce of heart in his eyes and no sign of a flush colouring the pale, unblemished skin that coats his bones, but I’m no judger of appearances. How can I be, with hair the colour of mint ice-cream so pleasurable on a hot day it’d be a sin, a sun-baked tan body and three piercings, all in questionable places?
But he’s small and skinny when I first meet him, and when I last see him, lying in a coffin with hands clasped to the front, prosthetic leg covered neatly by a charcoal-gray pant leg, he’s thick—thickened with muscle. I can tell that his eyes are more alive than they ever were, holding more heart than they ever had since the time I first met him. ‘Cause he fell with his eyes open and that’s the way he was buried.
Taking a first look at him back when he was small and skinny, you’d suspect he was just one of those kids who lived down the block and who had no girlfriend and no siblings to speak of, just a plain young boy living in scruffy sneakers and jeans edged with scruff and too-long hair that acted as dandruff curtains sweeping his eyes. Not a good look for a boy, but he wasn’t any kind of boy.
He wasn’t just that kind of guy. He was actually a huge surprise.
He was a surprise when he was born; ‘first slid out of his mother’s womb. He wasn’t a planned child and hence, even after his birth, remained an unplanned burden of his biological mother’s. She gave him up. That was in the plan as soon as she saw his face and his little body—instead of thinking about the times they’d share together, she thought about the expenses saved if they were lived apart, as soon as the umbilical cord was spliced and his connection to his mother was gone forever.
He was small and skinny the second time I met him. We met in a shed, at a party—our mutual friend Davis thought that holding parties in the shed was all things Great and Rad and Cool and Hip. I went because I’d wanted to treat myself. A week of tests was over, and I wanted to get drunk. I wanted illegal drink to burn down my throat and the feel of others’ lips on me burn through my skin.
I spotted him huddled in the quietest corner of the shed. Shed-parties were squeezy and too warm, and he was wearing a sweater. It reached til his jean-clad thighs and I threw away my cup of drink before sauntering over, chuckling, bubbly laughter flowing out of all my holes—
“Why’re you wearing this? Are you dumb?”
He just stared at me with those owlish, enlarged eyes, and didn’t speak. My eyes trailed from his face to his lips and they quirked in a smirk, as if proud that he hadn’t answered my question.
Idiot. His lips were pink and his flesh was so pale it seemed tinged pink, too.
I turned away from the small, skinny boy. I was looking for someone else, someone with hungrier lips and hungrier eyes and a hungrier heart. The drink wasn’t enough to fully consume me; I needed a stronger intoxication. That scared me.
It was then when he spoke. “Don’t you think it looks good on me?”
Well, I only saw him for a total of three times, and in fact, I didn’t know his name until the third time I saw him—he was in his coffin and no longer a small, skinny boy. It had been fifteen years since he asked me that question, and I could finally answer.
I glared down at this boy, once small, skinny, now lying pressed in a suit with hands clasped over and flower petals paler than his complexion. I hadn’t known his name but apparently he’d known mine, because I got invited to his funeral.
“Yes, you idiot. I do think that you look nice in that big sweater of yours.”
I fully intended to leave the venue, but I took one last look at him and muttered his name in the darkest tone I could muster. I turned to leave and knowing that despite attending the funeral, his name would be lost in my mind, somewhere far, far away—and he sat up.
He sat up. In his bloody coffin. And without a word, stepped out of it, my mouth still agape, and smirked. “I look good in my skin, don’t I?” He peeled it off and there stood the smallest, skinniest boy I’d ever seen.
Another day, another battle.
She sits on the couch, one leg spread out, the other bent at an angle comfortable enough—balanced atop her knee is a bowl, and in the bowl lie six cubes of papaya, orange and vibrant. The fruit must not fall off! She rotates her ankle slightly, adjusting position so the bowl is resting firmly on her knee.
The sight of papaya, its shimmering sheen making it look like an exorbitant jewel in the light of the sun’s rays, elicits a strange heat from her belly. It starts from the pit of her abdomen and blooms up; the heat consumes her front and before long, arches over the straps of her bra and criss-crosses, like a decorative lattice, into the curve of her spine.
I want to eat it. There is music playing on the T.V in front of her. The television is on, like it was when she first sprawled on the couch a month ago, ready to eat her weight in fruit and drink her sorrows away with some form of tasteful drink. Never water, never green tea, never anything that would be deemed ‘nutritious’ on a health broadcast.
I eat healthily, she thinks, shoving slice after slice of pineapple into her mouth. I eat healthily, she sighs, as watermelon juice, red and sometimes sticky, trails down her arms, down her chin, straight into the hollow of her neck, and across her thighs (eating fruit without pants was a great decision, one of the greatest decisions she’d ever made) in the reddest organic glory. I eat healthily, she murmurs softly to herself, eyes downcast and away from the screen of her T.V—her gaze is fixated on the paleness of her banana, freshly-peeled and curving gently into a smile, one that could rival that of the Nepalese.
It is a rainy afternoon. She decides that it is an afternoon for bananas, and separates one of the fruit from its yellow bunch. As the waxy skin comes apart in her hands, she thinks of how it had felt when she was with a group of people, thick as thieves…tight as a bunch of bananas.
How it had felt when someone tore her away from the familiar greenishyellowgreenishyellowgreenyellow colour that she had grown up with. Her nail pierces through the skin of the banana/
How it had felt when someone unravelled her with their own hands. Her finger slides from the top of the banana, now pale and looking extremely…vulnerable (she thinks that vulnerable sits wrong, yet right, when being used to describe a fruit without its skin) in her palms. Her finger traces the tip and then dips into the curve, and smoothens back up against the moist texture of the banana.
How it had felt when she lay there, smooth and unblemished, slipping out of her mother’s womb gently, a smile on her face as nurses wiped away gel and other messy fluids.
You had been born smiling, her mother says. Your dimples showed before your eyes could crinkle, full of tears.
A thought comes to her mind. No, the smiles of Nepalese people are brighter than that of bananas. She takes a fork and slices the banana. A coin-sized shape of the fruit lays nestled in her palm, the paleness of the banana slice contrasting her dark skin.
She pops it into her mouth, and repeats the same process for the rest of the sliced fruit. Hold slice, look at slice, admire the contrast…eat slice.
When the banana is fully eaten, she cleans up her couch-space. The banana peel is deposited into the trash bin, and her table is cleaned of seeds from various fruits. She washes the bowls stacked up in her sink; the translucent juices of fruits: red yellow green orange red yellow green brown remind her of how healthy she’d been eating this past month.
The T.V is still on when she arrives back to where she started—the couch—and she turns it off. The silence is unsettling, almost disapproving, like the static air around her is settling into a frown.
So, she smiles.
Taste-tester 1: Overflowing sinks
These days there is nothing I want to actually do, except for
mope around like the saddest animal alive, ravaged,
hair bloodied and sticking to my back like cold prickle. The heat is
definitely overwhelming, creating red haze and decorating my
nose and forehead and gaps between my fingers with beads of sweat..
…Every time I pick up the scoop with its silver
surface and its mint handle, I watch the chocolate dribble down its edges and feel the
freeze of ice cream trickle down my wrist before I actually
spoon it into my mouth. The brown colour leaves streaks into the whiteness of my clothes
and I am reminded of how my actions dirtied others who probably
who get stained way too easily, anyway…
I tell myself to wake up from my stupid songs and silly daydreams but the hurt of reality slices into me far too deep; and
... I find myself hesitating,
halting, tears slipping warmly down my cheeks like the open faucet of a sink;
I will not try, today, although I want to, because it doesn’t matter if I get
strong when all the doctors hear is a weak heart-beat inside of me. Instead, I leave
speak to anyone who will listen; telling them that I’m not strong enough to turn the tap
off so I’ll just leave it running, and wait for the sink to overflow.
My sincerest apologies.
I wrote a little paragraph of poetry to keep myself going – I must live out the blissful holiday-days slowly but sweetly, savouring each bit like ice cream melting beneath my teeth, on top of my tongue.
P.S please leave your truthful feedback in the comments, or drop me an email at email@example.com to talk more!
i. Mom told me that rain-
water is dirty, and I shouldn’t stand around on rainy afternoons
with hands cupped to the clouds, collecting it.
I didn’t really believe her. Rain will wash me, I
iterated to her innocently, eyebrows peaked in cheeky bliss,
watching as a funny look came over her face, and she
stepped away from the veranda. Letting the rain wash me
ii. Dad let me stand in the rain and I let the water slide against my skin,
barely-there hairs creating little resistance, offering myself and the frames of my
spectacles and the fabric of my clothing to Mother Nature’s wetness.
Although I was forced to scrub down later on,
standing in the rain was something of a free, readily available,
au naturale washing for me.
iii. I stand in the rain for another day, letting my
umbrella, spokes bent, fall beside me
and clatter on the pavement. Just an added
sound to the orchestra of rain drops
packing down inches of grey cement; the
sound of people’s chatter and the heavy thunk of their
glares as they land onto my slouched shoulders in the rain
are just an additional thrum to the chorus of
iv. I believe my mom in the way that rain-water is dirty,
but I will let my children stand in it still,
for we are dirtier.
unedited picture of raindrops residing on leaves
it’s been a while; how has everyone been doing? i have had the craziest week and am extremely, extremely glad that it’s six on a Saturday evening. Have a good rest, people!
Confused, I go to the nearest outlet, paying with