Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Chapters

“Where have you been?”

His voice echoed in the hollowness of the train tunnels. It was a rather straightforward question, I suppose, considering that I haven’t been back here for more than a month now. It didn’t even occur to me that this place existed until a glimpse at an idle laptop and a blog that hasn’t had any updates reminded me of where I was.

I started to grin –

It is not right, I suppose, grinning at this point. After all, this is a goodbye of sorts…

The grin faded into a sad smile.

Nothing is ever joyful when one says goodbye.

He emerged from the shadows. I stopped in my tracks. Even with the gray light from ancient fluorescents, his wan and sagging demeanor was immediately apparent. He looked old… dying… the image of a dying man… comes to mind.

My smile was frozen in my lips.

He straightened his frame, the light slowly illuminating his face.

He was smiling.

…and crying…

In heavy contrast to his weak form, he had the most radiant face ever, the joy unmistakable. I felt a heaviness in my heart as I realized why.

“You are finally free.” He said, the tears flowing. I’ve never seen him cry before and for a long moment, I stood entranced, unsure of how I should act.

I stupidly nodded.

He grinned.

“Who would have thought, eh?” he laughed. He had a good laugh, first time for me to hear him laugh too.

“You have the Canadian eh.” I ventured for lack of a better response. The truth is, my mind was racing. For too long, he has been a part of me – a fixture that was as definite as the broken ring I once wore. How do I say goodbye? How do I leave a part of me?

He looked at me with a smile reading the confusion in my face. He laughed again, a clear sound that chased away the reservations that held me in a bind.

I felt the beginning of a smile.

How could I… I thought… of course, he knows… We are, after all, kindred souls, entities bound by common threads.

“She is a wonderful woman.” He grinned. A grin full of pride, like that of a father to his son when his words are validated.

I nodded, my grin growing larger.

“And…?” He asked.

I looked at him, not understanding at first and then it slowly dawned on me… that ‘and?’ thing…

My tongue was twisted. My mind raced once more. Memories of other dreams, images once so clear now muddled by reality came rushing back. Hopes and aspirations once so vivid – now no more than memories of a life chapter that has closed.

“Curve balls…” was the only thing I could mutter.

He burst out laughing.

I reddened in embarrassment.

“Baseball huh?” he asked.

He looked at me for a bit longer which made me uneasy. I knew of course, the thoughts behind that prolonged stare. He was probing my thoughts, looking for that remnant that might have remained.

In so many ways, I might have done the same, should the roles have been reversed. Life however, is always unpredictable, its ways meandering at best – full of surprises around every corner. Sometimes I wonder if Fate or God’s hand is at play in the game that is called Life.


Sometimes, it is best to just let life have its way.

“Do you love her?”

“More” I answered. She is my everything… I wanted to add.

He smiled. I could see the relief in his eyes. Like a heavy load was taken off his shoulders. The once perpetual dark shadow that cloaked him before was gone, replaced by reserved exultation. But there was a weakness in him. I felt a pang of sadness seeing him thus…

The poet: Samarkand is… for lack of a better word… fading.

With the loneliness and the doubts that once filled my days, he was slipping away. The angst driven, sad and tragic alter-ego that kept me company for so long is dying. There was sadness at seeing him waste away but with it came a sense of relief too, in a sad way.

He reached for something behind him and brought out a pair of glasses and a bottle. He laid them down in one of the old waiting seats and gently poured a generous amount in each. He took one and motioned for me to get the other.

It was an act that signified an end, I suppose.

I took one of the glasses, the aroma of the liquor wafting to my nose.


“To a closing chapter…” He raised his glass.

“To a new beginning…” I answered

We took a sip. He gagged as expected. Like me, he hated the taste of alcohol. My mind was somewhere in the future: my future self just returned from work and stopped in the curb beside a modest house. Ahead in the summer lawn, two children are playing with the sprinklers, my two youngest frolicking in the warm rays of the late Canadian sun. Beyond them, in the patio, my eldest son, now a teen kept a watchful eye on them. He probably wished he was somewhere else with his friends as every teenager his age craved but he is a good boy – I am proud to be his dad.

“To life…” he took another sip.

“To the future…”

Beyond the lawn, I could see movement. My daughter… still faceless… but recognizable… In some ways, she probably brought us together. She is nearing her teens now – truly an angel sent from heaven. Bulan… Her mom hates that name but I still call her that. She laughs at us when we recall those conversations about her future name. I smile.

“To memories…”

“To Love…”

And her face comes unbidden to my inner eye. The angel who saved me from darkness and the beautiful woman who showed me what love is… I don’t know what I would have been if she wasn’t there. I was always yearning for that soul that will reach out and hold my hand in hers. She taught me that life is indeed beautiful and rescued a heart in the verge of surrendering to the cold and turned a mind in the brink of utter despair.

“To what ifs…”

I looked at him. A smile played on his lips. I laughed as I realized what he meant.

There are many forks in the road of life. Each would have led to a different version of tomorrow, each one with its own unique flavor. Like all paths, circumstances would have led to various possibilities. We are all left with the hollow supposition of images of what might have been. Some become prisoners of those pretenses, forever caught in the unrealized products of ‘I should haves…’ and ‘If only…’ I must admit that there are moments when I wonder – but only as a mental exercise in reflection of the choices I made in my life. They are milestones…. memories… a collection of waypoints that define what is collectively considered as the past. I loved truly…

That childhood crush I had which made me dedicate that song in the district meet… that girl who made me go to school early in order to show her my newest poems… that young girl who stole my heart whom I admired in secret because I knew even then that she was out of my reach (she saved me, in many ways)… and that girl who ran away leaving me with an unrealized hope and an unvoiced promise…

I loved them.

And I have only the best of thoughts for them. We are but souls searching in this wide world for a place to call home. In the few moments that we shared, we played a dance that would have given us the answers to unspoken questions. Like butterflies touching wings, we touched each other’s lives, hopefully for the better. For me, each of them gave me a reason to keep on breathing, gifts I’ll always cherish…

“To the woman who saved you…”

I see her in my mind’s eye again, wearing the brown sweater and sporting the most serene smile I ever saw in a woman. There are moments in a man’s life when one’s soul stands still and the heart instead of racing assumes a calm beat that wraps one’s being with the warmth of peaceful bliss. That memory is seared in my mind. She says she has no recollection of it… I just smile…

Life dealt her many things – leaving her with a scarred soul that similarly yearned for someone to stand beside her. Ours is an almost impossible miracle. I was content to merely admire her from a distance. It was for me, a glimpse of a road which if only time rewinded would probably be still unreachable. I saw my path elsewhere, in a lonely road of unrequited and unspoken love… to a soul I wanted to protect.

That impossible miracle happened.

Just when I thought my life was that of a lonely existence with only the company of words and solitary walks with a cat named ‘Speed of Light’, she came and lifted me out of the limbo that my world was fast becoming.

I raised my glass, smiling through a few tears.

He smiled approvingly. Slowly, he lowered his glass and turned away. I watched his lonesome form fade into the shadows.

Just when he is about to be swallowed by the darkness, he turned.

“Don’t resurrect me back…”

He gave me a smile.

I stood there in the empty train station long after he was gone. There was a little sadness knowing that a part of me that wallowed in loneliness has gone into the folds of memories but there was also happiness that he was no longer needed. His last words rang in that vacant train station abandoned to the elements.

I smiled finally and retraced my steps back into the surface.

Outside the scent and sights of spring was everywhere. The warmth of the sun kissed my cheeks, the slight breeze caressing my cheeks. I closed my eyes.

It was a brand new day.

The start of a new chapter that leads to that future I can see when I close my eyes or when she kisses me….


Jray said...

Make this into a movie!
Hey! Don't forget me.

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