Quote of the Week
- "This house has been far out at sea all night, |The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills, |Winds stampeding the fields under the window |Floundering black astride and blinding wet |Till day rose; then under an orange sky |The hills had new places, and wind wielded |Blade-light, luminous black and emerald, |Flexing like the lens of a mad eye." - Ted Hughes, Wind
Monday, 19 January 2009
Monday, 12 January 2009
The passing street lamps illuminated the path that bore him onwards. Laughing students fell away behind. The alcohol in his stomach swished around, not quite enough to block out the cold breeze.
After the warmth of a busy pub, the park was not inviting. He thrust his hands deeper into his pockets, wishing he had spent more time in the tropical sun when he could. Now the alcohol would have to do.
The wind began to pick up, and the shadows of swaying branches played around him. He continued along the path, not so much walking as being carried forward by an invisible force. He had long since passed the revellers. Far away the road was illuminated in a deep yellow, but around him the park was shrouded in blackness. Solitude was his.
A strange emotion, solitude. You tried as much as you could to busy yourself, to drink it away, to run from it; but when it finally catches up to you, you realise you’ve missed it, missed being away from the noise and the crowds, alone with your thoughts, and with the time to shape and temper them into tools for when you needed them.
The first of his thoughts was about turning back and joining the others in the pub, followed by a moment of pondering, and a silent ‘no’. He had done enough of that recently. It was time to do some work. His goals did not allow for the amount of socialising he had done in the past month. He had to resolve some of the internal turmoil that had been building up.
He was past the park now, out in the brick-and-mortar buildings and quiet streets of the student area. Now home was just past a gentle slope that seemed magnified by the cold and the wind into a torturous climb. A gust whipped at him, causing tears to form in his eyes.
Would anyone from home ever understand? Would they comprehend these strange things that happened in this strange land, or realise how everything here, so foreign, so alien, had changed him forever? Even as these thoughts flowed through his mind, a deeper, more terrifying question arose – where was home?
For all the while he was here, in England, he had thought that it was Malaysia, where he had been born, bred and raised. But when he returned, things were utterly different – everything and everyone in Malaysia was the same, but it was he that had changed – so much so that he felt like a tourist in his own country.
He had seen people who called themselves his own before, the ones who lived for so long in England that they could no longer return. They drank English tea, they spoke as if born in London, they went out drinking with English friends and took British wives – and yet they were not English. Unlike the other Europeans who could happily adapt themselves to this place, their old identities were permanently stamped on their foreheads; they could only try to make themselves more English than the English themselves. But of course it was all in vain - no matter what they did, one foot would always remain firmly on the soil of their home. He was becoming one of these people. And he was afraid.
But even greater was the fear that he would never pick his way out of the cultural maelstrom that swirled around him. Even though they were not English, the foreign immigrants had a label, an identity they could adhere to - he had no such thing. He had an overwhelming urge to distance himself from it all, to rise above the confusion and look down upon it like a map, choosing his road from a bird's eye view. But even as he tried to do just that, another question dragged him back in again: would he ever find someone with whom to share his thoughts?
When he met Anne, he thought he had answered that question. Now that things were the way they were, he felt the once-solid ground beneath him giving way. He was an increasingly desperate man seeking a place to leap to for safety, and not knowing where to go, he tried to delay the decision until the very last moment, hoping the smoke would clear before then.
He rounded the corner to his street, the promise of central heating quickening his pace. The accursed wind followed him as if unwilling to let him escape. Here the door was. He held up his keys to the door. Speed was essential. Within a second his hands began to shiver under the relentless assault of the wind. The damned English wind! He found the right key, opened the door after a brief struggle, and slammed it shut as fast as he could. The semi-familiar sight of the living room, half-filled with rubbish, greeted him. No one else was in. He looked about wearily at the empty paper bags, hastily scrawled notes and dirty plates, all thought forgotten save one: “Tired. Sleep now. The work can wait. You can sort your life out in the morning.”
He crawled into bed, defeated.