photo credits here
it’s been a fortnight and i still feel the urge within, this voice inside calling out. Screaming. Gasping, thrashing and then, whimpering. It’s a contained hurricane tucked in the corner, swallowing into its whole all that enters; and in the moments that flicker between living, i remember the news report on television, the Tōhoku tsunami that swept through Japan’s coasts. I dreamt of child beggars running across the streets of Cambodia, already adult in the art of wrestling life for one more day. Sometimes, the old homeless uncle of our neighbourhood comes to mind, and i can’t help but wonder if he is still alive. Eventually, Ma’s unnecessarily loud voice drowns out the fantasy, and distance makes me forget a world worlds away; frankly, they were simply just too far for thought anyways.
I still drink coffee at 8am. But nowadays, brewing takes too much effort, so i grab a packet of 3 in 1 instant coffee and make do with the putrid stench and too much sweetener. When it comes to tolerance, taste is quick to lose its shape, deteriorating into a dry and bland monotone of empty nothings. Sometimes, i leave my cup half-finished on the table, and it sits there to late evening when i return to a trail of ants crawling towards their inevitable death.
Yesterday, father-in-law came over, and all he did was sit in silence. That day, my tongue was trapped under some spell; it cramped at the oddest instances, and the words that rolled off, they felt so foreign, as if tainted by deception. I slowly stopped stammering, just kept quiet and stared at the carpet, where Miya had once vomited all over. She had came home drunk after our last disagreement. She wanted to help out with relief efforts after Tōhoku. I thought it was too dangerous, especially for the child. She cried. And then she vomited. And then i relented.
Father-in-law came closer, and held me in a hug, his palm gently patting my back; it tore open a dam, and the words started to flow. The exact sentences were too jumbled for any sense to be made upon recollection. i only remembered him repeating in his crinkled voice “I hear you”, and my tears staining the carpet just as hers once did.
Ma made coffee after, and we sat down for a cup. She used the the 3 in 1 coffee packet and shit, it tasted as nasty as ever, albeit a little more bearable now.
Father-in-law left, i saw him to the door. I watched from behind the door as he limped towards the lift, his back hunched and casting a long shadow in the soft evening glow.
Halfway through a breath, he vanished behind the corner.