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The Eight Ages of a Woman

5 minute read

Blast from the past: digging into my archives and republishing the stuff I like. This was originally from 2004, and reposted again in 2005. And again now.

  1. It is the universal truth — before any woman, man, boy, or girl, is able to walk, first she must spend time crawling. And so it is here, as well as others, that first she learns the root and the nature of her passion and desire, isolates it, tames it well, calls it by its rightful name. But first, an awakening: coldness gripping her palm, fear and joy overcoming her heart, when she, after strings of boys (and strings of boys’ broken hearts), realizes with a rude shock, everything she had dreamt of for years, thought about in secret, put aside from shame, was here and now and right here, in the cubicle in the cinema in the fluorescent light, and there was nothing shameful about it.

  2. First the prelude before the climax. Six boys and counting, there is no lack of suitors, there never was and still isn’t, but it just wasn’t the same, it wasn’t quite it, there was something missing. To be sure, they were all excellent specimens of their kind, and yet — to hold a man around his waist and wish his well-toned body softer and more tender, to kiss him and to imagine what it’s like to kiss a woman, feeling increasingly like an imposter the more we make out and the further this spirals: this is not the life I could be content with, this is not the life I could pretend to want.

  3. I’m decidedly not gay, she says, before announcing this is why we cannot see each other anymore. Well — I’m not either! I chime in, badly wanting to keep her. Or am I? I couldn’t possibly, I thought, having had more men in my short years than some women ever will in their lifetimes. I, too, was prey to the misconception that sexual behaviour and orientation were necessarily one and the same, ignorant of the nuances of human interaction. All I knew then was that I wanted this woman more than anything else I had ever known, and that “gay” was the name other people had for us.

  4. Going from whispered secrets in darkened stairwells to holding hands with women in the light of day, felt like one very long draw of breath, and even further leap of faith. It was to stare the unnamed persecutor in the eye and to say, I am not ashamed, it is to look gleefully at these men who want us both, and to say, you’re not invited, it was to leave a taxi stand in anger and resolve one night when the white men in front of us want to know where we’re headed (her place) and had the gall to ask if they could come along, it was to claim that very simple act people who don’t know take for granted, that is to hold the hands of a woman is not at all an easy task, no matter if she is the one you love, simply because you look like a woman.

  5. Settling into the motions of the “R” (Relationship), another set of questions and conflicts arises. Please do not squeeze the toothpaste topdown, can you please lift up the toilet seat? Why? Whom among us pees standing up? Birthdays and anniversaries, breakups of friends and weddings of family; what CDs to leave by the hifi, which CDs to leave in the car. I’m not very much wiser off from when I started, but at least I know now to leave the toilet seat up even if nobody pees standing up, or, failing which, to turn over and go to sleep and to make breakfast in the morning.

  6. And when it ends, girls cannot, unlike boys and girls, simply cease to be, mostly since close friends and lovers so often overlap in our world. Who takes what, which places you can never visit again, which CDs of yours and household appliances to leave behind in her possession, which to demand back. Yet why do they always remain the first people to run to when another affair fails, and why do they still care as much, all without illusion or pretense? If there was a word for “between friend and lover but never again but more than a friend nonetheless”, I would invent it here. I would be much poorer off without knowing this one group of people known as the gay girl ex. They’re the sweetest people in the world, but only when they’re not busy being malicious to each other, or dating each other.

  7. Many nights I have stood here by this window in my kitchen, phone in hand, sobbing. Gazing into the distance, not quite sure what the person on the other line is saying anymore, but inserting appropriate “ums” and “yes, buts” at the right points. Last week, I found myself at the same spot, doing the same thing. But this time I was pretty sure, unlike other times, I would hate myself for doing what I tried to if you hadn’t stopped me, and this time I don’t know very much about the future, mine or yours, or ours, and don’t pretend to. But I do know I can’t bear the thought of not having you in my life, as difficult as it is, with or without.

  8. (this is a story i do not have the means to write because i have not lived it yet, have no clue what it will be, don’t even dare to start on it. this is the part where i say it may be a blank canvas, yes, but at least i know from all these vignettes i’ve had the luck to witness and be part of, these snippets i’ve glimpsed into, it isn’t something to fear. drawing all these vignettes together, weaving them whole, not phenomenally different from what everyone else is doing: just putting the pieces of a puzzle together, finding the pieces which fit, except that in my world — it takes much more effort to hold the hands of the one you love, much more masochism to just keep swimmin’, much more courage to even begin to try to love.)

Two Weeks

1 minute read

Some weird poetry from 2003, when I was a wee child.

1.

two weeks before

and the morning after

all that mattered was not what really happened

where it brings us now, or what a gamble

we’d just taken.

It was you planting your signature hasty goodbye

sweetie on my cheeks in the elevator just before

the doors opened to my morning; and I would

step out to the tune of one bewitched.

It was you seeking out my lips under those

sheets, in the dizzy assurance of one who never

gave much thought to all that

she said; about as clueless as I was,

But at least I never pretended to know any better, and

even came out to the truth that morning brought.

2.

two weeks later

and a headache after

all that matters is not what games we played

what games played us, or which part of you

I saw through.

It is coarseness lingering over still fresh wounds

threatening to persist in the spite of me dumping

them in pungent saline thinking it might remove

each vestige of my guilt.

It is your image cruising over my nightscape

explaining, in the manner I knew best, how

once you were done with me these would be

all you’d leave me with.

I ought to have listened, somewhere in the interim

of that morning and this night, but tried too hard

at mending the chasm between my yes and your no.

3.

two weeks later

and a heartache after

who can say for sure what games we played?

all that matters is not the end heralding your

beginning, but the beginning receiving my end.

It will be me seeking a closure you were too selfish to grant,

calming a present lover’s fears, being the pawn

in this game of which I was co-creator;

taking danger by its horns yet scarcely daring

to hazard a breath, for it may conjure your illusion.

4.

two weeks later, and a mourning after

it will be me claiming your scalp, not that

I care much for victory or vague triumph: only

in hastening the signature dawn of a second morning.

X Weeks of Not Missing You

6 minute read

Reposting stuff from my archive. This one from 2003, when I was a wee child.

(so I still lie, to myself, more than to you.)

sketches for my sweetheart the drunk..

Hey. I don’t think about you so much these days. I still do, of course – when my too-good memory starts acting up. Of course I do – it’s not easy to forget anything for me. But especially not with us. The floating poem, unnumbered. “Whatever happens with us, your body will always haunt mine.” I don’t know what’s going on with you now but I applaud you for the concerted effort to keep me out – you know exactly how I will obsess otherwise. I didn’t take it too well at first but then I am 18 now and have learned the adult code of conduct in part, so it isn’t so bad anymore. But I think you know how the story goes. Mine again, for a time at least, then not, then you will, then you won’t..

I know it by heart – why can’t we say goodbye conclusively?

(Because whatever happens with us, your body will always haunt mine, and I, yours… because there isn’t any good enough.) I miss you alot. I don’t know what you’re doing now or how many men you’re sleeping with. When dusk comes around and orange light sneaks into my house through its apertures I think a little of us, hair falling like water, orange light against our faces. So when it rains I think a little of us, lying on your bed wasting away a lazy Saturday afternoon. Of course you never forget these things. I used to stumble in wanting to translate our collective memory to the currency of living.

I don’t anymore, I don’t even want to try, knowing I will die in the process.

I own you and belong to you in a way no one else ever can. But then other people also own you in a way I never will come close to. I think you’d unsuccessfully attempted to articulate this before (using a bad analogy about skiing and injuries I think): you’ve never seen me at my worse. When I am ill, crippled, or injured. He has – taking me to clinics and driving me to hospitals, the like. With you and I – when we are together we are always at our best. The best foot forward, according to you. We never slip up because we don’t see each other that much to begin with. When we do meet it’s always the best performance, rendered to perfection in private rehearsals in our bedrooms, alone.

You own me and belong to me in a way no one else can: they have not, I presume, had you hold them in the way only two women can – lips locked on the one end and fingers primed for my pleasure at the other. They have not had me go at them in the same manner I do you, in the name of love (truly, I wouldn’t be bothered to work half as hard otherwise); encouraged by your reaction to me. But then you also belong to everyone else in a way I could never own you in. I don’t know what you’re like when you’re with your friends, what you’re like with your men, what you’re like when you’re drunk (though I suspect I don’t want to know..). As we speak you could be fucking some strange man now and even if you were doing it in part out of the desire to prove you’re not that gay (not as gay as to want only me), what good does that do for me? I am still here, still a fuckwit, still thinking of you. We go running back to our easy men and easy sex, easy sex from easy men. Because what we want is too difficult – or maybe we want it precisely because it is unattainable (in this lifetime, in this country).

Baby, I’m just so tired. So tired of living up to your expectations of me, especially your demands for brilliance from me. So tired of playing the part of precocious talent being tormented by a mentor she hates and adores in equal parts. So tired of drawing you to me and tempting you with the carrot of having your history written out as you speak it, since I have proclaimed myself the scribe of The Great Affair. I don’t think you’d have liked me as much, or kept coming back, if not for the reaction I have to you, and the words that this spawns.

I want to run away from you.

The more you are around and the older I get, the more of a mess we will get into, and you know that as well. You know as I get older and as the gap in our social circle thins out, as it becomes increasingly easier for us to see each other, you know somehow or other (we might not even will it to), we will be in a greater mess than anything that’s ever happened. So I want to make that impossible. I want to runaway from you, from him, from this place. I want to see the both of you as little as I possibly can – you, because I probably will still love you years from now and will have to stop myself from wanting to shag you so much, so indiscriminately and illegitimately. From him because nobody has to live like this, this life I have subjected him to with my cruelty. For too long you have dominated my landscape. Nobody has to live like me.

I just turned eighteen; to have loved so much but come away with… this little. Only D. can empathise – we both chose the harder path because we were too proud to settle for all that comes easily. We scoff at these other teenaged couplings and mock them for their simplicity, at how heroically ordinary they are. In our pursuit of the extraordinary and the exceptional, we could lose our minds (and hearts, several times). People may not think much of our ‘affairs’ but they fail to see our intensity. What our love(s) can culminate into, fail us most times but if and when they bear fruit, the results are so amazing in their gravity but overbearing in their weight.

All this, before the age of eighteen. The fruition into dust and ashes such as this.

I want to runaway someplace where the air smells colder and my nose will have a perpetual sniffle from. Where the sun kisses the land and the beach is not mud and stones masquerading as a seaside and I can have an engaging intellectual setting to call home for some years. Where I don’t need to see or hear from you so much. Practise forgetting you completely. Have an inordinate number of men and women, perhaps fall in love with some intelligent, beautiful woman even (and not merely to spite you with). Not you because you will always break my heart, not him because I will always break his heart. After a lifetime of excess, I crave balance…

I should have loved a thunderbird instead. At least when spring comes they roar back again..

An Exercise of Faith

less than 1 minute read

This was published in QLRS in Jan 2003.

I had weighed the burden of desire in my hands

but in yours you weighed reality between your fingers,

half serious even as we tried to kid ourselves

(and others) nothing else quite mattered.

I weigh now the desire of burden in my fingers

but in yours you now weigh illusion between your hands,

half kidding even as we deal with truth

ours as much as others’; nothing else but this matters now.