ABOUT A BOY
I lay in the dark. It was quiet, still. I glanced at the time. 2 a.m. I realized I had just fallen asleep for two hours or so. My thoughts went directly towards the same place, and with that I was immediately wide awake. I sat up and adjusted the air conditioner. A half hour later. No, the air conditioner wasn’t the problem. I got out of bed and went groggily to the kitchen.
As I sat in the quiet kitchen and had a drink of water, I heard the slow and steady buzzing noise from my old fridge. I heard him telling me it was time for me to get a new fridge. I smiled to myself. He hated that fridge.
There was a semi-permanent headache that was pounding somewhere at the back of my head. I can’t remember when I last had proper sleep anymore. My body was exhausted, but my mind – my mind, it is too busy rummaging through everything that had happened, frantically questioning the what-ifs and exasperatingly missing what was gone. Throughout all the difficulties, he did not stop me from leaving. He did not ask me to stay. And so I had to go, and it is the hardest thing to be brave when you have to do something you do not want to.
From where I sat I looked across the room. There was the little painting project we did together, and the canvas sat there lonely at the corner of the living room, unfinished. Unfinished felt like a word that would describe us now. There were pillows over the couch that he helped me pick out in IKEA. The orange sweater I borrowed hung on the chair. That boring documentary about gold mining he liked to watch whenever I flip the channels. There was a book on curry recipes that we were enthusiastically planning to try out. Not anymore.
Saying goodbye is not just about saying goodbye. It is admitting that someone who used to be so important in your life is now a stranger. And isn’t that strange? He will now exist in a parallel universe where I will never again know how his day is, hear stories about his life or share the excitement for the future. It is bidding farewell to adventure plans. It is realising that all those times, the laughter, the flutter, the moments that stood still, the hardships, they all slowly corrode into a void that was left for me to bare. It is parting ways with a trusted confidant who was there for the woos and wins. It is grieving the loss of a friend. I wondered if he ever wondered about me. I wondered if I am now nothing more than just a distant memory of his.
He did not ask me to stay.
As I stared at the moody living room I saw all these little things that were a constant reminder of his shadows. Last night I went through my freezer looking for a quick dinner. I saw some frozen pesto sauce, and it jolted memories about the first lunch we ever had. That was what he ordered. And the first meal I ever made him? You guessed it. It hit me like a pang to my face. Needless to say, I did not have that for dinner.
Sometimes we don’t realise how much we mean to others. Or how much someone means to us, until the day comes and we watch them walk away and disappear. I remember it vividly, the last time I saw him walk away. It was like a play-by-play of a slow, silent video that I could not erase from my head. There are moments in life where words or tears will not do justice as an adequate expression of what you're experiencing. Like this one.
Sitting in that living room made me feel overwhelmed. It felt like I was sitting in a huge puddle of things that unintentionally reminded me of what was. I wanted to flee. I wanted to go somewhere far away. But I felt stuck onto the ground, unmoving. After a while sitting there, I slowly made my way back to bed.
Tomorrow might be better, I told myself a lie.