Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Waves of chaos

Fingers run through the waves of chaos
Unravelling the knots of confusion
Exploring as they go, easing open the doors
Smoothing them out to a conclusion.

Softly, gently. Do not move too swiftly
Tender are the seas and they must be caressed.
Nurture the roots and the rest will all blossom
Through adamance, they'll not be addressed.

Life just is - it needs no apology,
Have respect for each other, and care.
Yet, fight we will when our pains are neglected.
With these thoughts do I brush my hair.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

My closet is dark, damp, cold, noisy and lonely

Meet my closet.

It's dark in here. Things are a jumble. Things are a mess. But it's a familiar mess. It's untouched, untainted by anyone else's interference. What I do in here, what I put in here, what I leave in here - remains unassailably mine and mine alone. The light isn't off by accident, or because the light is broken. I choose to leave the light off. Because I'm not ready to shine a light on my closet. Because it needs to remain hidden. I don't need a light to find my things in here. Even if I don't find something, I know that a light wouldn't help me in my search for it.

It's damp in here. Damp because it's soaked with my tears. Tears that came, tears that wanted to come but couldn't. Tears that won't come because I've been reminded whenever I had to step out of my closet, that I shouldn't have tears. That I should be happy. Because nobody can see my closet, so they think it doesn't exist.

It's cold in here. I'd have expected it to be warm. But it isn't. Because I know I can't stay in here forever. I know that whatever comfort I find in here, is ephemeral. Yet, it's better than outside. Outside, I get to be numb. Here, I can feel, even if it's cold. The cold is a reassurance that all is not yet lost.

It's noisy in here. There are voices - voices with meaning, voices without meaning, voices beyond meaning; voices that are audible, voices that suppress, voices that are suppressed - an imbroglio of thoughts and views.

I'm lonely in here. I know I'm not the only one with a closet. I've been invited to some of my close friends' closets, and I've had them visit mine. Well, at least the sections of my closet that I'd neatly prepared for their visit. Because it's scary to share it all. I'm not ready for it. And they are not ready to see it all.

Do I step out of my closet? Yes. I have no choice. My closet doesn't feed me. My closet isn't a utopia or a panacea. It's a necessity. I need my closet because it's the only place where I can take my armour off. The armour that I'm told that everyone must have. And I wear this armour whenever I step out of my closet.

The armour conceals who I am. When I'm out of my closet, wearing my armour, people expect me to be like everyone else. If, at any time, my armour is peeled back in the slightest way, they remind me how I don't look like everyone else. They tell me I'm broken. Some will stab me, in the belief I'm violating some law of nature, or that they ought to stab me so that I'll wear an armour and look the way they expect, when they see me again. Some appear to not know there is an armour at all. Or that when they see me with the armour, they see who I am.

There are some people who will share with me that they wear an armour too. Who will tell me they weren't born with the armour. That the armour isn't part of them. That like me, they wear the armour because it conceals who they are. That like me, they have a closet too. And whether or not they are yet comfortable inviting me to their closets, they understand what it means to have a closet, and why I have one.

Speaking of closets has been taboo. We only speak of them when we're ready to come out of them. I think it's time we reclaim the closet. It's time to stop making our closets a matter of shame. For us to have the freedom to come out of our closets (and yes, I do dearly wish to not need a closet and an armour), we first need the freedom to have our closets and to be in them, and to talk about them. For us to be able to say, I have a closet, and while I can't share with you what's in it, it's mine. And I need my time and space in my closet.

This is me, reaching out to those of you who understand what it means to have a closet, and to wear an armour when having to step out of it to face the world outside. To share with you - you are not the only one with a closet. I have a closet too. And this is how my closet looks, feels and sounds.

Perhaps, one day, I'll be comfy enough to tell you what's inside, or even come out of it.

Monday, May 04, 2015

May the 4th be with you Part 2

Continued from May the 4th be with you...

It was 10 AM PDT. Paul got back to his desk. He had barely managed to get through the meeting with his accountants. His taxes were in place, and his business contracts - he was praying that one of them would pull him out of his debt.

Yes, Paul was in debt. In fact, the family was in debt, and not for a reason of their own doing. Paul knew that Great Grandpa had tried to do his best to avoid this situation, and made sure Paul was always kept informed, lest he had to get his own hands dirty to clean it up. But Paul had also been making his plans and making do with whatever finance skills he had picked up from GG. Also, he knew he could count on his accountants to dot the i's and cross the t's.

But the meeting had done more than help sort out his paperwork. While parting, one of the men had said... "May the 4th be with you" and everyone had a hearty laugh. Paul had missed the reference, and on asking was gently reminded of the old "Star Wars" reference - at which point he felt sick to the core for not having made the connection himself.

Sir Vonn Farthings had been a die-hard Star Wars fan. Paul vaguely remembered him watching and rewatching the original trilogy when Paul was still a child. It now occurred to Paul that the clue had to be in one of those quotes from the trilogy, and he contemplated rewatching the entire series to figure out.

In fact... where did GG move his movie collection? They used to be on the shelves, but ever since last Christmas, he had been clearing up that shelf in preparation for something that he wouldn't explain to Paul. Whenever he had asked, all GG said was... "It's a secret project. You will know when it's time for you to know. It's very important, and it must be done."

Paul went back to check on the shelf anyway. He walked through the 2nd floor corridor from his bedroom to the library, wishing for once that he didn't live in a humongous mansion with half a dozen doors in each corridor. While passing, he glanced at each wall hanging he crossed. Mr. Higgins, the butler, had done his job well. Paul couldn't see a single speck of dust anywhere.

As he reached the library, Paul could already see something was out of place. He saw plenty of books... but they weren't arranged the same way that he was used to. "Mr. Higgins, can you lend me a hand here?" he called out.

Mr. Higgins walked up from the basement, carrying a steam vacuum cleaner. As soon as he entered the library, he noticed there was no mess to clean up, and quietly kept the steam vacuum cleaner aside, took off his gloves, wiped his fingers with hand sanitizer, and walked over to Paul.

"Yes, Master. Farthings - how may I help you?"

"Why are the books all out of order?"

"Aah, yes, Master. I'm given to understand that Sir Farthings decided to give up use of the old Dewey-Decimal system to upgrade to the more recent and popular BISAC system that's been, as I understand, used in most bookstores and even most public libraries, for eons now."

"I see. Are you familiar with the new system, Mr. Higgins?"

"Not entirely, Master, but I have the feeling I can get my way around. What is it that you're looking for?"

"The Star Wars Movie collection. Just the original three. It is the 4th of May, after all!"

"Indeed, Sir. Just a moment."

Mr. Higgins then pulled out his cell phone, punched a few keys on it, and a blue light appeared on the shelves, right over the space between a few discs.

"They should be right over there, Master Farthings", he said, pointing.

After Paul was done shaking off his surprise from watching the "new indexing technology" in action, he walked over to the empty slots and noticed the discs were not where they should have been. Instead, he found something scribbled on the shelf...

"May 11th, after the meeting with Mr. Pifanny - GG"

Paul stared at the date with confusion. It was indeed the same ink that GG used. That was the exact date that he had asked his accountants to come back to follow up. He hadn't decided the date and time until he walked into the meeting. And no-one had joined him into the meeting, and he had escorted the accountants out right after. Even Mr. Higgins didn't know when that next meeting would be.

Paul ran his thumb over the ink. It was still wet.

"Is everything alright, Master Farthings?"

There must have been a reason why the note mentioned Mr. Piffany, and yet not Miss Silway. GG was not a man to omit people. Searching for an answer, he replied,

"I think so. Can you look up Breakfast at Tiffany's for me, please?"

Mr. Higgins punched a few keys, and a new light showed up - and just as Paul had anticipated - the Star Wars trilogy was right there, next to Breakfast at Tiffany's.

"Thank you, Mr. Higgins. That will be all for now."

"Yes, Sir".

As Mr. Higgins walked away, Paul thought he felt a feather brush against his neck, and a pat on his back. He turned around quickly to check, but he could see nobody around. And then the full meaning hidden in the quote occurred to him:

"May the 4th, Be with you".

GG had been here in the room with him. Then Paul stared back at the note on the shelf, where the light flickered one last time before turning off.

He would have to wait patiently till May 11th now.

May the 4th be with you

“May the 4th be with you.”

That’s all it said. Of all the things in the world to say to a great grandson that he had spent virtually his entire life taking care of, like his own son, feeding him, playing with him, teaching him all the lessons of life, defending him through the rough weather that life always brought their way… after all that... That’s all his great grandfather had chosen to write in his will.

80. What a number to hit before the sleep of eternity. At 16, Paul didn’t think much of life. He had seen a lot already. He was glad Great Grandpa could finally move on. Hopefully, the other side didn’t have any of this chaos.

Paul’s mind went back to the will. He was beyond the mourning phase. It had already been a couple weeks, when his family lawyer brought to him the will, and said to him… “What do you make of it?”

After all, the old man had no other legacy. Yet, Mr. Tucker knew there had to be more to the will. There was always something hidden in words penned down by the infamous late Sir Robert Vonn Farthings. He should know. Come, let us not talk of that time when he managed the sale of the family mansion - to be sold for a penny to the man who would cross the ocean of Piranhas to save the Princess Mary. Only - there was no Princess anymore - all countries were now democratic. Piranhas weren’t to be seen for a thousand miles - nor an ocean. And the mansion - thankfully, that did exist, but pennies hadn’t been in circulation for 100 years.

Sir Vonn Farthings had his way with words, puzzles and mysteries. Why not? After all, it was the one idiosyncrasy that annoyed those who worked for him. He always took such care of them, that they almost started to believe they were extended family. Everyone sought to work for him - yet, he was not to be taken lightly. One had to be pure of heart and intentions to stand even a chance to be interviewed by him.

As for Paul - he was a remarkable boy. He treated everyone with respect, always put on a show of cheerfulness, went about any task he picked up with diligence. Yet… there was something queer about him lately. He had stopped seeking answers. He lived life as he had lost too much - as if his soul could never be healed.

Paul was the last person to be unaware of his great grandfather’s riddles. The thought of a legacy after he passed away had never crossed his mind. But the last thing Paul wanted right now, was one final unanswered riddle to haunt him for the rest of his life. And so he decided he had to solve it.

“May the 4th be with you.”

Paul put the letter back in the envelope, and stared at his desk. He watched the second hand of his clock tick as time inched forward. What was special about today? Why was it so important for this day to be in his favor? He had to work it out, and work it out soon. Or he would lose any remaining traces of clues that might help him solve it. Today, or never.

He took out the letter again, and started searching every nook and corner of the letter for any symbols, smudges, marks - anything that told him more. But he found nothing. The ink was sharp. It was the same blue ink that Great Grandpa had used since Paul read his first alphabet. The rest of the sheet was plain white and spot clean.

Then he saw the first clue! Written on the envelope was:

“Will: To be opened 14 days after”

Great Grandpa knew his last day was coming. He knew it with precision. He had handed the will to Mr. Tucker with full knowledge of when “May 4th would arrive”. This wasn’t about just a casual riddle. There was something deeper here - a hidden message. Did he end his own life? If so, why? Or… Paul dreaded… was he murdered? But that didn’t make much sense. How would he know the exact date of his murder?

A sudden knock on Paul’s door broke his chain of thought. It was his accountant. There were some business meetings he had scheduled, and he couldn’t wake away from them. Great Grandpa’s mystery would have to wait till 10 AM PDT.

Paul put the envelope back in, safely into his drawer, cursed his fate, and then put on the best smile he could and walked out to meet the accountant with a firm and confident handshake.

Continued in Part Two