Particular Moments

More Stars than There are

Tag: short story

Attending A Cultural Gathering

“Oh God! What the hell is that smell?” He flinched in disgust, as if stumbled upon a dread wrapped in elements of surprise.

“What smell?” You said, flat-toned and nonchalant.

 

In reality, you were aware, but it was more worthwhile testing someone (not out of judgement, of course–but as an escape, to kick away some daily banality).

 

“Do you not smell this?! Gah…”

He could have gone into more descriptive detail, but he doesn’t. Perhaps he couldn’t. That’s just the way he was, a man of few words—literally.

“Hmm. Whatever you are talking about, I must have gotten used to by it now.”

 

You two were squeezing shoulder to shoulder, trying to make way past a dense crowd.

 

“Damn it, I didn’t know it was going to be like this. This is nasty, man.” He was serious, but not severely so. He could bear more where it came from; but something made him complain more than usual that day.

“Welcome to my domain, haha. Come on, it ain’t so bad. ”

“Is this what it smells like here, everyday?”

“If that’s how you’d imagine it, I guess that’s how I’d put it. Well..it’s just a spice, or however many spices they are surrounded by, you know?”

 

Once upon a time, you had the brief honor of meeting a man, an ordinary man, who never seemed to become dismayed by insensitive remarks, and always had a near-innocent patience to explain his circumstances to those who wished to get laughs out of his countenance, sometimes even his decisions. It didn’t hurt him when people didn’t try to understand. As such, his humility made him an extraordinary man.

You were trying to practice the same virtue you admired—as opposed to complete rejection of all that which shoves you out of your elements, try to adapt, then see why a part of you is upset by it. Upon understanding the nature of your complaint, and the conditions surrounding the very thing that disturbs you, it becomes easier to nullify what was once a nuisance, into a fact of life—something tolerable and most importantly, free of discriminatory stigma.

 

“Man…how do you do it everyday? Having to come here and smell all these people..? It’s like they don’t shower…or something, god. I hate it when people don’t clean themselves.” He stated his conviction more straight-forwardly.

“You’d be surprised. In a lot of parts of the world, people–”

“We are all in America, aren’t we? If they come here, they need to learn the way.”

 

Conversations of this sort, you had encountered much too often. Right then and there, you were too tired for a potentially rift-forming argument. It had been a long day, and he’s a good friend. 

You decided not to press it. However, it was truly befuddling; how can a man, who’s traveled half way across the world, all the way to the poorer countrysides in parts of Africa, could perceive a foreign scent as terribly intolerable. 

 

“I guess.” You responded.

 

November Her

Running her long, refined fingers past your hair—the smoothness of her skin made it feel thinner than you’d like to have remembered. Standing before you, silent, her belly leveled with your helplessly down-tilted and slumberous head, she emanated waves of almost intangible, lulling warmth that was all the more irresistibly unsettling.

“…go to sleep.” Tiresome, you slowly seized her by the wrist, too spent to look up and into her face.

The night was dark, and it had rendered everything dim. Even the small lamp in the living room corner seemed somnolent, unwilling to illuminate expressions.

“But you are the one who actually needs it” she said, quietly, as she gently broke away from your refusing hand.

It didn’t occur to you before how firmly your drunken hands had clasped around her well-intended reach—you were blindly hurting her and her kind caressing. How could you have been so in over your head, so much so, that you failed to tend to the her, right then so close, the her whom you adored like no other?

“I’m fine, and uhhhum, strong. I’m a trooper, remember?” You let out a slight chuckle, stubbornly clinging to your light-hearted and nonchalant shtick.

That was the kind of humor you exercised, to her and yourself, to kick anything you dared not to confront under the carpet, and to lead conversations to their desired dead ends.

In truth, in that particular moment, as you sat on the sofa, leaning forward and struggled to prop up your sinking head from falling under, you felt more worn and vulnerable than ever—one nudge from her crafty hands and you’d been side ways like a dead log.

.

Are men really, deep down, all helplessly prideful and self-contradicting creatures? 

.

“Even a trooper needs some comfort” moving your futile hands away, she let her hand run through your hair once more, allowing it to rest by the base of your neck.

.

That’s the way she was, able to discern all your boyish pretense with such ease; yet she did so while having managed to acknowledge it—humoring you without sacrificing the authenticity of her own ideals. She knew, that you knew that she knew, in the face of her, you were forever powerless. Even then, in spite of the occasions when you grew indelicate, she never took the convenience of jabbing at places you were the most tender.

For she was all-powerful, and kind like that, like the way she is.

What Do You Have In The Garden?

“You really love your plant, don’t you?”

“It’s my best friend. Always happy, no questions. It’s like me, you see? No roots.” Chuckles, innocent and sheepish.

.

.

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Hesitant, after days of neglect, you decide to set foot on the back porch; it’s been too long since you last checked on the tomatoes, cucumbers, and the flowers in their distinctive pots.

They have been left to the worst of this year’s blistering sun, as you have left the corresponding portions of yourself to catch dust. Oh, what have you done to these garden greens (among other colors)? You have abandoned them on your way to a mindless degeneration, and let them wither into each of their own desiccated hues.

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Beautiful. We live as we die, alone. 

How cruel. But a glint of true.

Don’t deny it. Accept, so then you can hope again.

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Objectively speaking, these damn plants aren’t where they belong anyways. It’s not your damn fault that these damn plants cannot survive a damn week without any nurture. Either way they’d die on you. This backyard is…Simply. Not. Their. Natural. Habitat.

To be truly good, one must occasionally acknowledge his/her innate evils—the best detectives often think like the worst criminals. You like an occasional expression of viciousness, for it is brutal, malignant, yet nakedly human and therefore true.

Spill all the bad blood as you wish, but know your place.

.

Then again (return to your angels, please; every night, before bed, do it), phew…are these things not just like you?

They do not recall a place to go—their home lies right where you desire to place them—everywhere, anywhere, and nowhere. The fluidity of their comfort allows limits that extend beyond the confinement of any particular pot; all they require are the essential nourishments of life; you simply need to heed to them, here and there.

They are the seeds you sowed, now you take responsibility and look after them, for they are none but the very extensions of you. 

.

In your recollection, how much you know of her perfectly coincides with the only conversation you’ve ever had together, in which she did the talking while you performed the juvenile, intimidated yes’s and nods.

Great grandmother was lying in her death bed when she directly spoke to you for the first and very last time.

No, no Hollywood death scenes where the person passing on gets to squeeze in a few sensationalized words before they drop dead. Father and I had to return to town, where he held a job as a university lecturer. The students couldn’t have taken long before their study in plant sciences became a farce at the hands of substitute teachers.  She passed away roughly a month and half later.

“Young, get on an airplane and fly overseas; go be with your mother” she said, gesturing with her feeble hand, raised and slowly moving through the air, mimicking motions of flight.

To an eight-year-old, an elderly lady so often silent and solemn was unmistakably a figure to be feared; her outwardly stoic dispositions exuded a demand for old fashioned, almost hierarchal respect, the kind that intimidated. But when her voice finally made its way to your ears, all your preconceived constructions of a harsh, strict old lady melted away.

She was stricken and sounded ancient, like the cracking of centuries-old, hollow branches. She was very sick and was on her way to an undoubtable decease, yet her words were clear as day, and infinitely warm—every single one of them spoken without a vestige of ambiguity, as if when she spoke to you, there wasn’t a second person in the world, and that all you had was her voice, which echoed and engrained itself permanently into your thoughts.

(be very, very careful of  what you say to children—their sponges pick up certain things that will travel with them for life)

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Mother. The Voice on the other end of the telephone. Early kindergarten memories: her long, sage colored dress in the summer; her studying through piles of paper; her getting on a train one day and seemingly disappearing forever.

Why would I have wanted to be with her? 

Somehow, a few years later, what your Great grandma said manifested itself into a physical truth. Your memory is still blurry on the series of spontaneous events that abruptly led to it. It is only eerie because it was the last thing you had ever wanted.

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Years of unexamined living, growing older, brushing off the ones who loved you, receiving hand-written letters and not having enough patience and perhaps compassion to deliver anything of equal value in return, have you not let your garden rot and become entangled with undesirable weeds?  Leaving all the good wells to run dry and the youthful flowers to die.

What an asshole. What would the old lady think of this—her well-intended prophecy having been fulfilled, but what has become of the seed she had sown? 

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Father. Years later. Different university; different town—a long stretch from the where years before. Same occupation, a professor, or more humbly a teacher.

You see him most significantly as a gardener. He used to subtly praise them (he still does)—paraphrasing:

“Plants are reliable, given the proper nutrients and a suitable environment, they thrive—growing day and night to yield desired results—bearing fruits. They are efficient, unlike us humans, who rarely display signs of growth when our basic needs are satisfied.”

He used to squat next to his garden vegetables and study them, pruning them here and there, sometimes binding them to stick scaffolds to create order and induce upright extension. During crop season, he would visit them morning after morning, making sure they were well hydrated and in good development.

The old man smokes a pack a day; he used to (and sometimes still does) drink prolifically.  For how much he puts his body into harm’s way, you cannot help but to envy him—how he undeniably sees a very special dimension in life that which you are doomed to overlook—how, there seems to persist a subtle yet insurmountable passion in his life, something that you are in a constant failure to maintain.

He loves and nurtures his garden, and its constituents love him back, each year blooming and bearing desirables past their expected portions. Your father’s garden is one of miracles. Why can’t you be more like your father in that aspect?

Perhaps, it’s an age thing. It is the only way you would prefer to rationalize it.

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“If you really love it, you should plant it in the middle of a park—so it can have roots.” 

*Face pauses. “Yeah.” 

 

Nocturnes: Part 1

So it is—stillness after the blitzkrieg storm, which came and left in such a hurry that its brutal force only inflicted minor destruction: scattered, small incidents here and there, uprooted trees with poor footings and torn paper houses with substandard foundations—only the flimsiest of things took their falls; maybe they should have been knocked over long ago.

You could only stand upright so long, solely relying on the erratic safety of pushed luck and not having anything substantial to hold your Ground.

Brief, succinct, but nonetheless terrifying; as she made her way, everything in her path shook just by the sheer immenseness of what she was capable of, not even by the severe and solemnness of her actual device.

This instance was only a casual regard, to remind those who had forgotten just how much they were at her absolute mercy. But realistically, merciful she was and is not, rather, she is impartial. The majority of whom she left unscathed, she did so—unintentionally; however, nor did she deliberately bring havoc to those who are now broken and petrified; they caught by the harsher angles of her passing draft simply by the fairness of the law of mass action: anybody could be it, but certainly not everybody, maybe.

One could only wonder, where do the Others hide? The bugs, birds, and rodents—you know, they are with us too. Where were they as the wind began to roar and the ground became progressively moistened then inconveniently soaked? Where did they go and how do they always return?

Could it be that even the mysterious and the all encompassing cannot halt the seemingly inexhaustible forces of life? Where were you amidst the storm? Did you have solid roofings over your head? If so, did it falsely convince you of your sure footings?

Finding Reassurance in Malady

Among the various ironies in the human conditioning, is its inability to possess prolonged defiance against toils–swap a pauper’s shack for a throne, and soon he forgets how to make ends meet with nothing.

After years not stricken by discomforting sicknesses,  I have gone soft against the debilitating elements of a disease. The headache and extreme malaise have overcome me; for the past week, each morning has been a hell of suffocating punishments.

I found my physical strength disobeying me; my mind has settled for weakness, unwilling to command the body to do anything.

What does one do

When frailty rules?

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You have to say to yourself, with great and unfaltering confidence, that

“My body is stricken, my mind is feeble, but my SOUL is strong.”

When all earthly hope is lost, confide in the metaphysics.

 

Someone once said somewhere during sometime,

“In dreams begin responsibilities.”

Was it W.B. Yeats?

 

Yes.

 

Start by dreaming,

Envisioning your coming around.

 

That is vaguely the point,

You have to forge with the greatest, most indestructible ore

The true nature of what constitutes you

That which no man or woman or virus or bacteria or fungus or parasite

Can ever take away.

 

They can corrode and rot your body

But they cannot mend your soul.

 

Keep that in mind,

Stay in motion,

And stick to a sound treatment plan.