This story is by Rekha Thakerar and was part of our 2021 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
HAVING THE TIME OF MY LIFE
I finally walked out. I couldn’t take it any more. Adapt or die. I tried adapting but each time I adapted, there were more changes. It was like running to stay in the same spot. Each problem I thought was worth tackling, hit back hard, knocked me out Exhausting, bewildering, upsetting. There were a few ‘Eureka! moments but they are becoming fewer and fewer. Adapt or die. Am I dead and just dreaming of living? What is the sum of my life?
I won a few, lost a few. Love all – the tennis term describes it perfectly. A big fat zero! Did I make a difference? Don’t know. Don’t care. Yet! Why this hollow feeling? The future? I cannot see. Did I jump or was I pushed? Does it matter? I am still out. Out…out in the cold of the unknown. There is a blizzard outside, reflecting the storm inside. Whiteout, both in and out.
I thought I was part of a circle, I never was. Lied to myself, lived a lie, now those lies have decided to bite. Outside. Always on the outside, looking in … Wistful, hopeful, lonely. Lies in smiles, the intricate webs we weave. Was I deceived or did I deceive?
Did I ever belong? No one is indispensable. I thought I was. Life goes on with or without me. Did I make a difference? Is the answer a) Once b) Always c) Never? When I was young I thought was going to live forever and in the middle of life there was still zest but as time passes, dark thoughts haunt me. Did I ever make a difference? Will anyone remember me with fondness or forget over time that I ever was?
Questions, so many questions, each one I answer, raise ten more. My head spins. My life is in a spin. The washing machine of my life is on the tumble dry cycle. Round and round I go. Where I will end up, I do not know.
Yesterday I was happy, love was everywhere. Yesterday I cried with laughter. Today I cry…tears of a clown, laughing on the outside for others to see. Laugh. Laugh out loud. Don’t show the pain. Don’t show that the words hurt. Yesterday was yesterday.
Stick and stones may break my bones but words cannot hurt me. Sure they do. Sure they do. Words prick, words stab, words drill through the brain, words wound. The wound festers. A daily diet, of bittersweet, slow poison. A steady drip. Drip…drip… drip… Die slowly, die a day at a time die of the slow poison that spreads, a dark web through the very fibre of being. Grin and bear it and hope it doesn’t look like a grimace.
I couldn’t say the words. Words I knew would wound. I cannot retaliate with words as my weapon. I can only write down my misery in a secret dark corner of my soul. The silence of the words, accuses, screams. A silence so loud it deafens. Deafens reason, deafens the placating voice, of the need to make sense.
Any words I spoke could be construed to say otherwise. Innocent they may be but taken to mean what wasn’t envisioned, wasn’t meant, wasn’t dreamt to hurt, but did. Better to say nothing, big silent, shouting nothing. The capacity to hurt is immense through words spoken, never meant to hurt, to wound, to stab, to drill into another being. Better to be silent. Should I apologise for being alive if my innocent words are taken otherwise?
I can only wander lonely as a cloud, look down with longing. The green pastures smile, happy in the sun. Pastures through which, winds of happiness sweep, ripple the grass of hope, like a wave at sea. I cannot and will not rain down. I will keep silent, lest I change your smile into a frown. I will look from afar, be happy and wander, lonely as a cloud.
You are the question and the answer. You are the curse and the blessing. You are the tormentor and the heart’s ease. You are my hope and despair. But I will not say this, lest you take it to mean otherwise.
Before yesterday, there were promises in the air. Before yesterday, the bluebirds of my heart sang everywhere. Before yesterday, I was there, you were there. Ready, with ideas and thoughts to share. Yesterday it all changed. We walked a path, parallel, our ideas and thoughts together, no more. Together in Neverland.
That was all yesterday. Yesterday was yesterday. Tomorrow, promises will fill the air. Tomorrow I will laugh. The feelings I had has finally died. Tomorrow, will bright appear. There will be sunshine after the rain. There will be life without you again. The days of the week will come and go. The days of tomorrow, full of hope, full of life. To life, I say ‘Hello.’
I am free! I am free! I have thrown away the things that happened yesterday.
Yesterday I tiptoed through the shells of delicate egos No matter where I stepped, how I stepped. I broke a few shells. There are no warning bells in hell. Now I don’t care how you fare. I will stomp and dance on those eggshells, you can glance while I prance. I am full of glee. My life, you see, finally belongs to me.
Eliza Doolittle had it right. “Just you wait Henry Higgins. Just you wait.” A change is coming. Time will stand still and I will zoom past like a comet, a shooting star. I will zoom past like a dream or nightmare, a ghost, a phantasm, a spirit full of light, hope of a bright future to carve. Leave behind a trail of junk that had me sunk in the past. Junk of lost hopes, misunderstandings, and things left unsaid. Let them stay unsaid, buried with what happened yesterday.
A chrysalis turns into a butterfly. The wings are iridescent. It flies out into the sunshine. It tastes nectar from flower to flower, tastes life, as will I. Too long have I stayed a chrysalis. Too long have I stayed in the shadows. Now I will spread my wings and fly. Soar high,
I am special. I like who I am. I am me. It feels good to me, to be me. I like myself today and who I will be in my tomorrows too. It is true; there is no one like me in the entire world. I am unique. Flick the flick. There was never another me before and there never will be another me after me. I am here, in the here and now.
I am me, from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. I am glad to be alive. Give me a high five! Look closely. Closer still. That’s right – there is a glow around me. I am high as a kite looking down on creation. You think this is not my station? You cannot pop my balloon. I am high, I fly, I zoom. This time you cannot crumble my defences. Attack is the best form of defence they say. I say no defence is the best defence. What you cannot fight, leave alone. Move along. Find another like-minded traveller in the path of life. If not. No problem. I like myself enough to be my own company.
I am full of life. I am glad to be alive. Do the jive. I am a special person living a special life. I am honest, warm, sincere and genuine. Put a crown on my head and I could be queen. A queen of hurts? No, you misheard. A queen of hearts – I hope to be, but if not, it matters not. Life is short.
In the days gone by. I would have cared and perhaps cried if someone told me, they didn’t like me. But hey! Today, I simply don’t care. I am comfortable in my skin. In my life you are a ‘has been.’ Been there, seen that. Got the T-shirt. I will cry no more, the past is in the past where it belongs.
I am going to live my life as me, not your perception of me. A life without belief in myself is a fate I cannot see… death is preferable but I do, yes I do, fervently believe in little ol’ me.
You can say like Henry Higgins “ By Jove, I did it. I did it. I said I would do it. Where the devil are my shoes?’ My Eliza Doolittle will reply “Outside your door, outside your life, like me. Where you left me.” But I will not come back like her to say “I washed me face and me ‘ands before I came, I did.” You did it, you say? You deluded fool! I did it. It was I who walked away, Henry Higgins, I who walked away.