Wednesday, March 13, 2013


i am back where i started.

a few months ago i was in the same hospital room sitting on a sofa which doubles as a makeshift bed. taking care of a sick partner. routinely questioned awkwardly of my relation with the patient by medical staff.

friends say its my karma. when they're feeling generous they tone that down to a role i was born to play.

 they say: i am mother theresa tending the sick. i am florence nightingale bringing comfort to the infirm. i am juliet binoche-character in the 'english patient'. (i'm partial to the last one since it makes me a french actress that made it to hollywood which, let's face it, better than a saint or a glorified nurse.)


i don't mind. really i don't.

born into a family with siblings with epilepsy and another one with cerebral palsy and autism plus a chain-smoking father with alcohol problems, i am no stranger to people being unwell. it has surrounded me all my life. no wonder my earliest memories include depressive moments of pondering on death as a toddler. i suppose i that made me weird.

everytime someone close gets sick, i feel irrational guilt. why not me?

and when i touch them i say a quiet prayer (and i don't even pray), please take it away. give it to me. i am stronger.

i guess i'm back to where i started even before the time i endured keeping a relationship alive with a man who keeps on getting sick because he drank too much. even after he has left, back to the wife he told me he has divorced, i am back.

i wonder if i have been a virus or some bacteria in a previous life to justify this payback.

this is a new man in my life. and now he's not well and i'm back to the hospital. thinking if i should succumb to thinking the more things change the more they stay the same.

but somehow things are different. now i have to deal with a more demanding patient and i actually like it. and when he says he will try to be well, i actually believe it.

am sick of being scared by my own ghosts. thing is, from the outside, i am healthier than ever. my infirmities are not manifest. maybe somebody needs to 'english patient' me to unravel the bandages that hide the damages.

Monday, December 20, 2010

forgiving love's defective vision

once upon a time, three friends (whose identity will remain hidden to protect the innocent and guilty alike) met for coffee. much like many group of friends before, conversation inevitably steered to ‘significant-other-bitching’ at one point.

friend 1, laments that he is so tired of his partner being selfish and never considering the situation from the other’s perspective.

friend 2 asked, ‘did you not know this before you made a commitment to be in a relationship with him?’

to which, of course, friend 1 did. and, being in the safe environment of friends, admitted to reluctantly.

friend 3 offered that this may not be intentional. it is simply his partner feeling free to express himself and from his point of view, his behaviour may not necessarily be selfish or inconsiderate, it just being – well, himself.

friend 1 said, ‘if that is so, then he doesn’t get me.’

all three fell silent for a while, lost in their thoughts.

friend 2 started asking why is it that many times our lovers don’t get us and our friends effortlessly do.

friend 3 (the psychologist in the group) explained that friendship is defined by commonality while love by fascination, requiring a level of mystery – thus the unknown.

this conversation stuck with me long after the caffeine has left my system. i asked myself many times:

is this true? in a relationship, are we all doomed to spend the rest of our lives (if we’re lucky) with a person who by virtue of their love for us, will never understand us?

like many dillemas before me, i can deal with it as long as i understand it. so i tried to ponder the issue a bit more.

after much thought, i figured that when you love somebody, you’re interaction is limited to the minute distance of intimate spaces. this closeness, while allowing for perspective that reveals stark detail, can only focus on a limited space at a time and inhibits a view of the complete picture. much of which is lost and the rest suffers from the haziness of peripheral vision. love is not blind. it is just that love when actualised, suffers from tinges of myopia, sometimes hyperopia or even tunnel vision.

viewed from this angle, this short-sightedness is not an absence of empathy but a testament of one’s intimacy.

comforted by the thought, i now listen to ani difranco’s song, thinking i have the answer to her question:

‘he didn’t understand me
but i don’t know why i didn’t go
he didn’t understand me
and he had every chance to know.’

he loved you and he cannot see all of you because you are too near. but he sees you in a way no other cannot.

a fair trade-off? maybe not.

but for me, a macro-lensed witnessing of my life (warts, scars and all) is as important as affirmation i receive from those who view the soft light, airbrushed image i present to the rest of the world. believing that those warts, scars and all that i endeavour to conceal define me more than the complete picture and may not be so repulsive, when viewed with love.

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