Caged

Posted in Letters (Old) by Sandra on October 1, 2007

‘Do you have a problem?’

They were waiting, in the car, for the mother’s boyfriend. They meant mother and daughter. It was evening – a cool night in September. The brother was home, so in the safety of the car, the mother spoke.

‘What do you mean – do you feel like I have a problem?’

‘Yes! Me and Uncle ***** both think that… you feel caged. Like you’re angry at the people around you. Like you hate to be here.’

‘Nah, I don’t have a problem. It’s just your imagination, mum.’

~~~~~~

But later, she reflected, one night in October, that she did have a problem with people around. A bigger problem, with accepting herself.

‘The people here around me are too loud, too insensitive, too blind to the beauty of the world around, too caught up in material things,’ she tried to explain to her pillow. ‘A camera is to take pictures of you against some scenic place. Music is just music – the words don’t matter. Art is something nice to look at, but not worth spending time on.’

Perhaps that is why she needed him, the pillow responded. Because his life, his thinking, his words were from another land, quite literally. He spent hours on his art, creating images from painstaking hours of mouse strokes. His camera has been around. He believed in people, that everyone had something good in them, somewhere. And his words! Sometimes he was so careless with them, and so blunt, that she felt upset, and thought he didn’t really care, because she was someone who was picky with her words and was excessively mindful of the connotations tied to certain words.

‘Yet… so?’ she sighed against The Pillow. ‘He’s gone away.’

That isn’t the main thing here, The Pillow chided her lightly. The issue is how you view people around you. I know you’re always thinking of “there” – that “there” is better than “here”. But when you get “there”, it would become “here”, and yet another “there” would pop up.

She was speechless. She was in Singapore, and she wanted to go to the US, or to Europe. Anywhere at that moment sounded better than Singapore. But what would happen when she reached the US? She would want to go to Puerto Rico, or where-ever someone special might be. And then from there? She would want to go to somewhere where their lives would have a future. And then for the children. Then for retirement. It was a never-ending circle.

‘What would ultimately make you happier?’ LD50 interrupted her, as she began on a rant about nothing in particular.

She was stumped. She didn’t know.

But you wanted to say “him”, didn’t you? The Pillow pressed, a knowing sign in its comfort. So why didn’t you?

‘It sounds so childish!’ she exclaimed. ‘I can’t possibly pin all of my happiness on a single person, can I? He wouldn’t like it if he found out…’

But the thing is… you already have. That’s why he needed a break (up), remember? Your expectations were too—

‘I know, all right?!’ she exploded at The Pillow. ‘I know! Stop reminding me! If I didn’t have such expectations, I wouldn’t have pushed him over the edge and-‘

Shush, The Pillow comforted her. It’d be all right once you find yourself, away from your mother… She’s the problem, isn’t she? You can’ do what you want when she’s around because you feel criticized by her. Even the rolling of her eyes pains you, because you know that means that you didn’t win her approval of that particular action.

‘That’s what he used to say,’ she mumbled against the fabric of The Pillow. ‘He used to tell me two things all the time; one, that it’s my mother’s fault I’m like this and two, that it’d be all right in the end… and it was like the one thing which made me feel secure, in those days…’

At least he woke you up to the fact that your mother probably screwed you up mentally at some point of time, The Pillow murmured, and sang her a lullaby.

The Pillow stayed quiet then, damp from her tears, and she fell asleep, eventually. All these words, and he would never read them, because he just doesn’t like reading.

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