I have had that brand for years. It bothered me at first. I didn’t like it. It started since school and never officially ended. It’s meant for girls whom did not follow the norms. Black sheeps of the herd. People avoid this. It’s undesirable. Difficult, they say. You are not supposed to be different, much like batched cartons with manufactured date stamped on your bottom. You belonged to the industry.
I belonged to nobody and I was worried.
The thing is, I grew to like my reputation. After all, it’s good to be bad. I needed that reputation. For a year I didn’t have any friends. I ate alone and just avoided interaction. It was a consequence of being rude. You earn the title ‘social outcast’ and deal with it the best that you could.
At that point of life, I was just turning 13. I went to a school 12 hours from where my parents lived. I had an accent, a bad one that is. I knew no one and no one would want to know me. It hit me the hardest because I had to spend 24 hours with faces that cringed when they saw me or turn around the other way when I wanted to say hi. Some even wiped their hands when I handed them stuff, like a ladle to scoop rice or broth. They even refused to stay in line close to me at the assembly. I’m more like a maggot than a fellow human being.
It was a sadness unlike any other.
Coincidentally the fortune granted me someone familiar from home. I knew her since we were 11 and she accepted the offer letter from the same premier boarding school. I had someone I knew from home, how could I forget? We even speak the same weird accent. That’s practically family of the scarcest kind. We talked before and I assume that she would be on my side. That’s what friends do, isn’t it?
So I decided to pay her a little visit. Maybe she would believe me. I wanted to explain everything. It wasn’t my fault. Shit happens and without me paying attention I was up to my neck with the slushiest, foulest of the lot. Maybe she had some idea on how to fix this, or at least stand by me. She knew me before I came to this school. She knew that I am nothing like the rude girl that they clamored about. I’m normal.
If you have tasted betrayal first hand at 13, then I must warn you that it was not the taste you ever want present on your tongue. It’s the bitterest of poisons. Your heart turned into dust. Your faith crumbled to the ground. You’re worthless.
She sat on her single bed and read comics for hours. She laughed from time to time. I still remember the green bed spread. The cheap, knitted quilt. Everyone’s eyes were on us. Mouths forewarning others. But I stayed. I cannot be humiliated by them. I got one shot and I was hoping that my only friend would help me. It’s so stupid. I couldn’t tell my parents about this. They wouldn’t understand this stupid rules and there won’t be enough time and money for them to fix this. I sat there, right in front of her waiting patiently that she might avert her glance for a second. A surge of desperation made me squeak the longest explanation. She nodded and sighed some more. I waited for her to say something. Something that sounds like she agreed, that I was innocent, that I will be okay. She never did. Most of her answer was contributed by a nod, a shrug, a sigh or a syllable. It can’t be true. She was my only hope! Maybe I should try another day. Maybe it wasn’t a good day for her. Maybe she was busy on Saturdays, Sundays or evenings.
Maybe. If I wasn’t so slow comprehending a NO.
I gave up after several weeks or months, I couldn’t remember. It was a bigger blow that the rest of the insults combined together. I was in denial for such a long time. It was much later that I could accept that I was really alone and had to deal with my problems alone.
But I was not defeated.
Years afterwards we grew back together. We have our own different sets of friends. All of them bonded quite well. She seemed not to recall anything about those comic reading weeks. We were children, I thought. Better to forget about it. She was not the same person back then.
I was not the same person, too. I used to be so shy, eerily quiet, quietly bitter and bitterly sad. My new found friends taught me how to be happy, that no matter what happens you can always choose to see the funny side of it. I think I dress funny well and adopt it for a lot of use in life. It helped me through a lot of difficult times and when you laugh, you always win.
So this funny side is the regular side people see. An act to a certain degree. All jokes are on my expense, mind. This is how I interact with people and I like it that way. I like to see them smile. Many people didn’t realize this. It’s such a privilege to make people laugh. Not many can do that with such ease and I am thankful that I can pull it off quite well though I am not the best. I was beginning to like being friendly. It has a dark side, though. No one would really want to know your story. No one would want to ask you why your sleeves are damp. They got addicted to their own laughter that they don’t see pass the mask.
I think this is the truth behind a lot of funny people. When I heard about Robin Williams’ death, I knew exactly why. He was a gentle soul, so kind and giving and yet he chose the unfunniest way to die. I had been at the bottom of the well more than I could remember. It was no funny matter. The voices were the worst. And people? They are all for themselves. True story. Often times, I wish to not go out. No light could get in. No tunnels. Just let me die. It would be best. Maybe then I would acquire peace and fulfillment.
The fight goes inside of me. There were days I struggle to even sit. Some days hours watching the ceiling. Some days the food were just not appealing in any way. Some days it was just as difficult to breathe. I had to force myself doing the necessary. Inhale and exhale. Repeat. You have to go on no matter what. It’s not my turn just yet. Best way to do it is to live and make up lies.
Like Gemini, you lead a double life. Hypocrisy at its best. You can’t tell people you’re sad. They’re not going to believe it. Heck, they would even try to make fun of it and the jokes are the lamest. You’re forced to play this fool again and make them happy, which makes you even sadder because you know that these people are there not because of you but for the delight of their own screeching laughs. But you can’t help it. You’ve been so damned miserable that you don’t want anyone else to experience such degrading feeling. It’s not worth it to have your heart crushed and broken and mutilated to pieces. The voices jeering at your failures and yet unfulfilled purpose of your short life. You thought that you can save everyone else. Like a hero. Like a pathetic, stupid, beaten, dimwitted hero.
I couldn’t reprise my role after some time but people keep cheering. On and on with their supposed expectations. At that time, I didn’t even had one good joke to save my life. And without jokes, I am nothing. A naked, sad jester. I couldn’t handle it so I replied their callings with silence. Maybe someone would hear the deafening roar. My silent scream.
Of course not. What was I thinking?
It was secondary school all over again.
It took me some time. When I feel better, I try to carry the same position but I guess it was too late. The hero fell. Like a Greek tragedy, I am Achilles. Tackled by the heels.
I was wrong and I admit it. Silence can be interpreted as feigned ignorance. So the only thing that was left was to start all over again. So I brace myself and tried to say hi.
Apparently that was not how it works in the real world.
I was given to understand that friends sometime grow apart (they have a life, jobs, problems to attend to, you know.) and when they grow back together, they will pick up the pieces and carry on with life. No big deal. It’s not some sort of video game that you gather points and after months of being idle you are no longer the fleet captain on level 100. You will need to work with your alien shootings again starting from level -12.
I misinterpret life that I am ashamed to be a human. I suck at this game.
It was a long private message. I was shunned deliberately. I can accept anger. It’s perfectly normal though I didn’t understand why. All I did was to express care, (probably in the wrong way.) And when someone is angry, you really get to see them in a new light. All these while they’re so radiant and pretty bathed in a light so pure. And then, the crisis happened and the light got distorted. Rainbows are supposed to be pretty but all the colors I saw was nothing but shades of misery. The true colors line up and you’re almost sorry that you got to see them this way.
They don’t look as pretty. Their kindness was a myth. They were kind because you fit into their life. You were useful once. But you left them (without saying anything, you bitch!) When they were in trouble (and a big trouble it was as they were practically on the death’s door) and you weren’t there. It’s commonly believed that it was my biggest mistake, or a super big, XXXXXXXXXL sin as the way I was treated. I failed to give them hope. My fault. Sorry. Sorry I made your life worse. Sorry because I have problems. Sorry I made your cancer even worse.
It was quite funny when I re-read that awful message. To be honest, for someone reaching out to the Grim, she’s quite an asshole. I thought dying people are not as bitter. With or without children. That was my biggest surprise. My own friend, so close to the end once and luckily escaped Hades, is not the kind of person that I would proud to say kind.
Apparently when someone is dying, other people’s problems are not worth mentioning. You’re supposed to drop everything and run and hug them until they feel better. Your story lose even if you’re crippled on your bed. Your problems are little lumps of unworthy fats during breast check ups. Nothing to worry about. It’s there all the time. Nothing special about it. You can’t even call that a tumor. You can’t beat me. I’m majestic and dying. I matter. Your problems are insignificant and vague. You do know that you’re a pathetic creature, don’t you? Depression? Pfft! That’s laughable! You can’t beat cancer, really. My disease involves the matter of life and death, and yours? Mental health is nothing compared to the pain I go through during chemo. It’s REAL pain. Yours is just imaginary. Snap out of it! That is not a real disease. Your excuse sickens me.
I know exactly who you are, she said.
You are not a true friend. An opportunity-seeker. An evil cockroach and you don’t deserve to talk to me! After all that we’ve been through. You better pray you’re not in hell!
I bet for them it’s fair. I need to be punished. I was the hideous monster in the yellow pages of hardcover bound books. The ogre, the wretched. The infamous archenemy of the princess. I am the unwritten play. After all these time, I thought that I was the hero. A saviour of some sort, but I guess I’m an unreliable narrator. If a dragon writes a fairy tale, the prince would have been the bad guy. The witch would have been the dream role of many little girls.
Now I know that I am the beast concealed in a human form. Bad to the bones. And really, my problems did not matter probably because it was a product of my imagination.
They didn’t ask what happened and my mistake was to explain. They already discussed this before and I was not supposed to know. I never had the chance to justify anything. I was branded before I even open my mouth. The accused, the guilty. The cow. You know you’re fucked big time when they listen just for the sake of replying to your silly excuses and whatever you said are used against you, just like a loud echo in a dark cave. You’re bounced back with your own words dripped with filth.
And then came the worse part. Over the years they accumulated words coming from you. Careful. Memory is a fatal weapon in your opponent’s hands. Most secrets you’re ashamed of, your mistakes, your miscalculated words came flying back. Your apology was useless after all. Thank you. It was not hard at all trying to suppress them. I probably needed some reminding about how I told you that you’re a useless secret keeper (and I was right!) and the many times I offended you by changing my phone number without telling you first. Oh, the joy of using it against me! Their heart thundered.
It stung me pretty bad. I can accept my mistakes but in no way prepares me for the enthusiasm they find while they scour for attacks with the things that I couldn’t change. Too late, anyway. My past is used to design my own destruction. I said I was sorry over and over again but their bullets rained like autumn leaves. All I can do was to wait it out and hope that they would run out of ammo. It didn’t work. More of them coming and the more I think about it, there would be more of their secret weapon in the future. I try to overlook this because words hurt for a lifetime and I want them to live. Words are dangerous because you can’t take it back. Once its out, it’s done and you have one option; forgiveness. I always have problems with this. I’m not strong enough to do it. I’m merely a thirteen year old girl crying myself to sleep at night. I didn’t think that I can ever grew up. I saw her again swimming in my head, laughing merrily at her colorful comic books while I stared intently at her bangs hoping that my last chance would prove me that I am of value. No. I thought I vowed to forget this. I can’t use it against her. She was convinced that I am the bad friend. It was a long time ago. It took me a long while to let them go and convinced myself that it’s okay to do so. My sins weighed and anchored to the bottom of the sea. Is it fair to use the same strategy in battles? I could win.
Hurt her back, like she hurt me.
These girls are beautiful, smart and they have everything they ever wanted. They have wonderful jobs, the constant crook of the elbow of the love of their lives, a house filled with fulfillment and warm embrace. They already won. Was it necessary to fix yourself by breaking someone like me?
Oh, well. If you must be whole, then do it. It must be such a fun exercise.
And at the end of the word vomit, they calmed down a bit just to tell me how they wished and prayed for the best. For me and my future self. Yes, after pointing out what was wrong with my life from I was 13 onwards. I think most arguments end with this. It’s a little signature saying that they’re good people of faith with non-corrupted minds.
I pray for the best, my ass.
That was just a figure of speech. If you did, you do it because you want me back in your life so that you can laugh some more at my pathetic jokes. Or hurt me more with my past. You never wanted the best for me. You wanted your princess story to be better slaying a monster. You were never sorry.
The cycle should stop here. Period.
Maybe I am not the clever one (I have no master’s degree) but I know what Gandhi said was true. An eye for an eye and I’m blind. This cannot repeat. I fought hard to be happy. Maybe I should pack them all in the same chest and drop them in a bottomless trench. I don’t belong with anybody and I should be free to be me. No more unkind words and painful memory. This island is enough for me. So like a troll I am, I went back to my bridge. I pull out my last match and let the spark consume the old,broken, crooked thing.
The flame burned me to a certain degree. The scars accumulated on every layer of my skin but it’s a badge I wear with honor. At least the wounds stopped bleeding. I stood still and hope the remains would fly free. Up in the sky, scattered into the sea and dancing in the wind where the four corners meet. Paper thin grey snow sticking to flowers and trees. This is not the first time I play with fire. Loud cracks, choking smokes and black soot made up most of me but I am no longer afraid, nor worried.The music lulled me to sleep. In my dreams, the chains on my neck broke and I roam the land looking for fairies.
I am alone and I breathe easy.