I know, I know, I have lived a life even before you came, but you added color to it. My life was bright, vibrant, and happy. I felt so alive with you. I was myself- real and raw. Then you left for reasons I still do not understand. Have I given you darkness instead of brilliance? Have I caused you sadness instead of joy? Have I brought you to hell instead of paradise? I love you Tala that I’d be willing to trade my life for yours. I love you just like how the stars stay close to the moon. I love you just like how mountains kiss beautiful clouds. I love you and forever I will.
A Story Once Told
” Do you like doing this? I mean, you can do other things right? Are you here because you love this or are you here because you need to survive, like you know getting more money.” That was a blunt question of Jan, a 9-year old student of Tala. She was stunned and did not know how she would answer that “Well, um… it’s hard to explain. You will not understand me yet.”
“Why? Is it because I’m still a kid? My mom always tells me that. Yes, I am just nine, but I am also capable of understanding, you know” said Jan.
Tala was all quiet. She did not know how to address the question. She felt like she was in a cell with very high ceiling shouting and calling for help but all she heard was herself screaming and begging. Then all of a sudden, the bell rang. “There! It’s time to go. Your mom is waiting for you.” Tala was thankful of the academy’s bell. It saved her from the quicksand which she had a hard time going out.
It kept her thinking while walking to the nearest bus stop. She usually went home at 10 in the evening, and there’s not much traffic during regular days. She loved taking the bus instead of the subway.
“Do you like doing this? I mean, you can do other things, right?” These words kept on going on and on and on in her mind while walking herself to the bus stop. She did not know why, but it affected here so much. It seemed to choke her, strangle her, and kill her at a leisurely pace.
“Miss? Miss? Hey, Miss! Are you okay?” A man was snapping his fingers in front of her face. “Yes? Yes?” Tala said, bemused and confused. The man was in a bus conductor’s uniform, he shook his head and said, “Miss are you gonna stand there reminiscing the good old times or are you gonna pay for your fare?” The passengers looked at her and she felt embarrassed. “Sorry. Here,” she handed her fare and she knew she was blushing. She hated being the center of attraction even when she was younger. When she was 15, she argued with her mom on the dress that she’s gonna be wearing on their prom. Her mom wanted the dress with laces and sequences nicely sewn to the golden dress, but Tala preferred having the blue dress with black lining. It was plain and simple. She loved it.
Finally, she got home. She was living alone. She rented a two-bedroom house. It was one-hour ride from work and sometimes two hours if the traffic’s terribly heavy. She had one room and left one room empty. When she had visitors she used this. Nothing divides the living room, dining room, and kitchen, except for a curtain made of colorful straw, the one given by her mom, dividing the dining and kitchen area.
She unlocked the door. The living room was so dark and she could only see the gleam refracted by the living room’s window from streetlight outside. She switched on the lights and saw an empty, despondent, unhappy room. She went straight to her room and saw a more miserable cell. She took off her shoes and hung her bag. She lay down feeling all frustration, disappointment, and restlessness on her back. Tears came running on the sides of her eyes down to the sides of her ears. She was crying and she did not know why. Or maybe she knew, but she did not know it existed.
She was tired or more like nostalgic. She remembered her childhood home, the chirping birds, the waves of the sea kilometers away from their house, the fog that she saw every morning while her mom’s outside watering the plants. She felt nostalgic and she wanted to go home. A home where she felt alive. A home where she felt love and pain, joy and sadness; a place where she laughed and cried, she got blisters on her knees and in her heart. She wanted to run towards her mom and hugged her tenderly. She wanted to say sorry for leaving her. She wanted to just stay beside her mom. It’s time like this, that she wanted to shut the world off and just forget everyone and everything.
Things get tougher. The days get colder and warmer and colder again. Tala graduated with honors and with such utmost dignity. Believe it or not, she planned her future in an organized manner like how calendars are made and clocks beat. She planned which car to take on her way to her first job interview; she planned the food that she’s going to eat after a well-done interview and a high soaring evaluation; she planned for the yeses and the nos, for the buts and the ifs. She planned it all but she thought she failed.
Living in a well planned life is not easy. Yes, she got to know where she’s heading. Yet, when she was able to reach the destination, there was this ice cold water thrown at her with pebbles hitting her head, calling her names and saying, “Hey there! Wake up! This is the real world and you are going to screw up! Trust me!” And yes, there she was, standing still, at the threshold of reality, dumbfounded, and could not move.
Tala tried to speak to the pebbles, but no words came out of her mouth. She tried going back to the warm womb of her mother, but when she looked back, she was awestruck by this overwhelmingly dark corridor. She had nowhere to run and no one to turn to. She was by herself, crying and asking for help. But no one came… no one, except for her own shadow just below her or under her feet. She couldn’t clearly tell. “There are shadows, and there sure is light. And where will I find it?” She asked herself. She heard a loud, deafening sound that almost cracked her head open and had her brains go out of its protective skull. Then a voice answered her, “Oh dear! You just got to get going for you to see the light.”“Oh c’mon! Don’t play with me! Just tell me where I will go!” she irritatingly replied. “There are things which need not be planned. Circumstance sometimes is a surprise and you just have to deal with it to survive, if not, then run, ’till your callous scraped from your feet and your joints dismantle. I told you this before and I am telling this to you again, ask and you’ll find the answer. You know, seek and you shall find, they say!” the voice said.
She irritatingly pounded her feet on the ground just like a little child wanting for a candy but forbidden by her mom. “You good for nothing whatever-you-are voice! I just wa–”, she saw a light and a spectrum and heard the screeching sound of tires. Then she woke up.
“Tala? Tala?” said the familiar voice. That was her brother or her neighbour, she could not tell. She was still sleepy and heavy-eyed. “Tala! Come on, open up! I just want to talk o you,” the voice continued. She knew whose voice was it. It was his ex boyfriend’s voice. “what now? Gees! I’m tired of this man!” she thought to herself. Vel has been so persistent and annoying these past few weeks. He wanted Tala back. She looked at her wall clock and it read 1:15. She has slept for almost three hours. She dug deep down her memory if she had dinner and then this splendid dream came back again. “Oh, it must have been just a dream,” she thought. She has been thinking through her life these past few weeks and it’s killing her. They say overthinking makes you weak. It kills all the strength you have, but anyway, Tala though that it’s no loss if she overthinks because she’s better in that- dying in the arms of imagination and suppression. She let out a big yawn with her eyes still half opened.
“I heard from your brother that you have to go and visit your dad at the cemetery,” Vel was talking to her. She went to the living room and flung the curtains open. “God! It’s past midnight Vel! Is it not appropriate to be talking about me visiting my dad at the cemetery at this very hour?” Tala was neither whispering nor screaming. “I just miss you babe and–” then Vel sobbed. “Go get some rest. I gotta have mine,” Tala rolled her eyes and closed the curtains. She yelled, “we’ll talk tomorrow, when you’re sober.” Vel was silent. Then after a couple of minutes, he said, “I got something for you here Tala,” then Vel left and drove home. Tala went outside to see what Vel got her. When she stepped outside the gate, she saw bouquet of daisies, her favorite flower, and a stuff toy hugging in what appeared to be a letter. She went inside and put it on the couch in the living room and went to her room to take a shower.
She woke up by the loud ring of her phone. She remembered, she set the volume on full blast because she was waiting for her mom’s call and she did not want to miss it. She lazily picked up the phone without looking who was calling. “Hello?” she greeted. “Tala! Thank God you pick up! Did you just wake up? I have something to tell you,” Ann, a friend of Tala and Vel, said. “Yeah. What’s that?” Tala replied. “Um…Vel’s dead. He drank dose ad dose of pro-prof- oh well it’s some kind of a medicine and-” Ann’s voice was slowly fading. She felt like she just fell from a very steep cliff. The fall was unending, painful, and bizarre. It felt like her soul and physical body has just broken the ties. Was she still dreaming? Was she tired? Tala was confused. She could not understand. “Vel just went here last night,” she thought to herself and he me gave me flo—Oh God!” Tala immediately got up from bed, throw her phone on the bed without minding Ann who was still on the line. She went straight to the living room where she saw a bouquet of flower and a stuff toy. She was melting as she was opening the letter. She was crying. She slowly opened the letter afraid of what she might read there. She was scared, regretful, bemused. She could not describe her feeling and finally she read Vel’s letter:
I know you’re tired of listening to my pleadings and stuff. I just love you and want you back in my life. I can’t live without you, Tala. You are the water that I am thirsty for. You are the air that sure I’ll willingly breathe even if I’m not sure I’ll survive. I know, I know, I have lived a life even before you came, but you added color to it. My life was bright, vibrant, and happy. I felt so alive with you. I was myself- real and raw. Then you left for reasons I still do not understand. Have I caused you darkness instead of brilliance? Have I caused you sadness instead of joy? Have I brought you to hell instead of paradise? I love you Tala that I’d be willing to trade my life for yours. I love you just like how the stars stay close to the moon. I love you just like how mountains kiss the beautiful clouds. I love you and forever I will.
P.S. Do not blame yourself for anything. You are my life and I’ll cherish all the good times we shared. When I get there I’ll happily tell our story to the man. I love you.
Tala blankly stared at the letter. Then, tears came streaming down her cheeks down to the letter. Her tears were like drops of rain in summer. She broke down and made a deep inarticulate sound which echoed in her living room, and in the kitchen, and in her room. She felt pain. And for the first time since her last cry when she was 21, Tala cried real tears and sobbed like a little child.
to be continued…
Please click the link below for the prologue of this story.