so many times i’ve been told to toughen up, to quit being vulnerable or too trusting. truth is, i don’t at all dislike being vulnerable. i may be messy but not complex. i value honesty, communication, compromise, kindness, vulnerability, openness, understanding, trust, affection, easy laughter, a quick forgive.
my grandma liked eating fish, bones and all. one night on her birthday we headed out for a meal, and as always there had been a delicious tray of fish. i watched my granddad hesitate with his chopsticks (they had had a petty fight over an extremely silly incident, something about whether to get my sister and me chicken or duck rice, and hadn’t spoken in months since) before reaching over brave and timorous all at once with the best part of the craniate, bones and all, across the spread to her. with reflexes so quick she struck her chopsticks against his and the hefty portion of peace splattered and fell apart, solemn, having died a second death on the dining table. seconds later post-silence my mom stood up and cried all the way home. i was told to chase after her, so i did, my own face bitter and wet. my granddad had lowered his head a little, pupils darting childlike and nervous, wearing a faint familiar rise on the corner of his lips only i could read, otherwise easily mistaken for an untimely smile. (he wore the same expression one time when he was falling behind the family because his knees hurt (they have a tendency to walk impatiently fast) i got upset, my eyes hot as i told him not to keep up, they will just have to wait if we walk slow. he smiled a gentle one and waved simplistically, ‘nevermind, yeye is ok’) a look of hurt, exclusive to him, effortless reluctance to show in case it would upset anyone any further as if his feelings didn’t matter much at all. his gentleness made everything else seem cruel. (how do people do cruelty so cavalier?) he was always big-hearted, gentle, uncalculative, simple, kind, never self-seeking, but not immune to hurt (although so invisibly so. i learnt from him to be nice to everyone i see. they may be going through something, and even though i am too, never to one up them or guilt trip them. because, u see, everyone has their own emotions)
still i know that my grandma loved him. (did she know this?) on her deathbed, dizzy with morphine, she only called out his name over and over. (we promptly rushed to get him. i recall that painfully wistful look on his face as he rushed through the doors, the most urgent plod in the world. (afraid to upset her, he had considerately kept from visiting her at the hospice))
my granddad refused travelling with a walking stick, instead under the guise of a brolly; he had rather risk falling over than flaunt an indication that his bones were weak and hurting. i’ve always liked walking slow. i like holding his hands, to be slow with him. my granddad. nearest to my heart. he put up a strong front up until his very last moment, when he refused to fall asleep that one last time until i had just walked out the door because he didn’t want to appear weak in my eyes.
i dislike putting up a strong front or to have to watch others do so. whatever contrives. i am not without love, i am not nonchalant. i am not capable of ignorance nor pretense, and despite often trudging in baby steps, i do not particularly enjoy restraint. it continues to make up most of my worst days. these days i have had to do it on a daily in excessive my knees near unbuckle whenever i walk through the bedroom door; only a couple pillows and duvet stand in place of some cosy shoulder i want to dig my head heavy with affection undispensed and bawl into. in sleep there is no rest when the hopes and antipathies i shimmy under the rug in daytime finds me in lucid dreams most nights. in between my vulnerability and my inability to be strong (not that they are absolutely relative) is a sapping exert, with this exert comes a dissociation i don’t appreciate, not in me, not in anyone.
holding onto high ideals. living incongruously. i don’t know how to confront this loss and grief. i haven’t been able to bring myself to process what i think i know and ask honest questions because i am in truth awfully frightened. i hate uncertainty, would like to punch it in the nose, would like to berate it for breaking my brittle peace, like how dare u, am not brave enough to. i write this as i am at the end of myself. it has been years since i prayed: two weeks ago, sitting by the roadside pavement, i swore an oath earnest, unholy. i write this to distract from what an uncharacteristic selfishness has robbed off of me. i haven’t decided if it counts as stupid to have been so trusting i have forgotten how to suture myself. afterall it was i, arms wide open, soft as jelly, starry eyed, withholding nothing; this vulnerability a proud offering given to persuasion. i love sentimentality, crave happiness, despise being emotional. it is just that i am at the end of myself. just for tonight, by this warm pool of light spilling over, i take time to be vulnerable again with this euphemised passage of pain