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Tel Quel

je sais bien mai quand même

Tag Archives: The World and Other Places

It’s been almost seven days, and still I’m hovering between the interstices (or intersection) of love and unmitigated loss; then I ask myself if it’s possible to leave without leaving the people I love behind. It’s not chronic wanderlust, no – but a seasonal perpetuation of disembodiment, detachment and then subsequent re-emergence; that I may be able to breathe once in awhile. It’s also been six hours since I’ve sent my parents off, with great regret but also greater relief, knowing that they will never survive the complexities of the city and its people – they belong to the class of the geopolitically dispossessed; where the psyche of the city and all its semiotic relevance evolve faster than it takes for any meaning to acquire substantial value (or at least the ones that truly matter.) As with home, you can feel the inertia of an entire generation falling through the cracks; beneath the ebb and flow of urban regeneration and its systemic transience. Unlike East Croydon where change occurs at a much slower pace, it holds a much greater significance for my father. It was there which I finally met the grandfather I never had.

He and his wife kept one of the most opulent (but meticulous) gardens I’ve ever seen, and it was through him that I learnt about my dad and his idiosyncrasies compared to his other siblings; between a yellow Fiat Spider and a red Lotus Elite (which his elder brother chose), the dish-washing fiasco, bohemian Christmas dinners; my paternal grandfather and his stint at Keyhawk in the 50’s before where he is today and the boxy little offices off Cecil Street in the 1980’s that resembled a river town during the average tropical storm. It was then that he spoke about my father’s late friend, Graham, a kindred soul, who loved motorbikes; quit his job when he had the chance, and rode towards his destiny in the Far East, all over Asia. At the age of 87, he had such a charming soul; and even with the unfortunate reliance on a home-made eucalyptus inhaler, he had the life (and brilliance) of all the people I’ve ever met. We spoke animatedly on football – he holds a season-pass for Aston Villa games and displays an autographed 08/09 jersey in his home office upstairs behind a computer that he never uses/detests, and also photographs of the team between the 60’s all through to the 80’s – of athletics and Mo Farah, and then about my paternal grandmother and her golfing prowess, especially in the dark. At this point, I would have contested against Marvell’s winged chariot; having seemed to have the ability to stop Time altogether, if only for a moment.

My father on the other hand, is a quiet revolutionary, one who revolts in his own way and in Le Guin’s words, beginning with and from the thinking mind. If there was one thing I’ve learnt from him in twenty-three years, it was embracing the synchronicity between knowledge, astute observation and the soul. This was made manifest while we were at the NAM in Sloane Square; I suppose it was there that I realized most of my ideological influences on the various narratives of war were inherited from my father, not Robbespierre, Hobbes or Foucault. My mother, however, was wildly pragmatic, ignoring (and perhaps, wisely so) the obsession of anti-violence with her Archaeology of Knowledge on Flora and Fauna. Needless to say, Kew Gardens and Regent’s Park became her spirit home. Unlike my father, my mother was the hurricane you’d find in Looking for Alaska; heady and stubborn – it was flowers or turgid silence. But it was also this mad excuse of a lady who taught me not only the importance of being earnest but the value of self-sufficiency and perhaps by extension and my own interpretation; the inclination to trust no one. In a way, I deeply admire my parents’ diametrical opposition and it never ceases to amaze me how oddly paired they are. While they share too many differences sometimes, I would like to believe they still love each other like they did thirty years ago; which makes me wonder about too many things in general.

This week has been too surreal, and I miss them already.


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In this life, we are the sum of all our journeys made, the greater part of us perpetually in medias res, always the becoming of time and events; most of us already seasoned travelers. “I want to be happy, sleep in a bed, have roots. And you’ll never be alone again, Mathilda.” And all this while I thought having roots meant a particular spatial-temporal groundedness in (or attachment to) community, society, culture. The idea of a home, and a family.

When I hold you in this night-soaked bed it is courage for the day I seek. Courage that when the light comes I will turn towards it. It couldn’t be simpler. It couldn’t be harder. In this little night-covered world with you, I hope to find what I long for; a clue, a map, a bird flying south, and when the light comes we will get dressed together and go.

More than we realize, we have a tendency to be inconsistent. We carry our hearts everywhere, when I think of rootedness I think of two things: How easy it is to cultivate one from youth, and its occasional abandonment with greater rapidity. We are always growing up, but most of the time, unconsciously, apart. We carry our hearts everywhere, therefore our roots. A composition of internal systems, memories, individuals but never quite a specific place, or the larger Ding an sich. People die, but people have meaning. Places without people are just spaces, white-noise. Empty spaces and points of light. I’d like to think I have my roots in people, or more specifically, persons as Léon is to Mathilda and vice versa. When I say I want to have roots, I meant the rhizomatic interdependency of souls.

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Five more days.

I am a dreamer. It was said that one day I would lose myself, and everyone else to (my) dreams. But did I not dream you into life? Or was it you who dreamt of me first? It’s hard to believe oneself immaculately conceived from dreams alone. Dreaming, alone; dreaming alone.

Let me see your face. You face lit up by twenty centuries. Who told me you had stars in your eyes? Let me see your heavenly body. Star-proof I am not. From a hundred billion others, you hurled yourself down in gassy form; no definite boundaries, no fixed volume. You could have filled any space but the space you filled was me. I saw you drop from the roof of the stars, and in the moment of your falling, you began to be defined.

I picked up the flickering body, frozen in crystalline form, kissed the place of your face and the solid geometry of each limb. Five points you; legs, arms and face, a pentagon of hope, and me a talisman at your hand. Revoke me; You do. Call me back and back through the wastes of time, here, there, nowhere, carrying white roses never red. Not a dead poet but a living love, and if the words I bring are dusty, I will renew them in your mouth.

But I am also a realist, brutal on my own fodder of Truth/truths, savage as any uninhabitable space. In my dreams I give you the living word, not promises but the living word: let the blind lead those who can see but cannot feel.

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