i started this series early 2009 and lost interest in finishing it. last month, a mutual friend told me that M got married recently. i thought, that’s a good reason to finish this story. to close the book symbolically, so to speak.
although much can still be told about this affair that spanned more than 2 years across 2 continents, i thought i should end with the start of the end. we met again a few times after this episode in london, but i never felt the same way about him after this.
for those who are interested, the story started here.
ten years ago, london – by the river thames
cranes. i noticed these modern apparatus as i look at the london city skyline. they spring from the gaps of ancient buildings that seem to be oblivious of their presence and are complacent of their places in this world. the city was replete with these giant mechanical limbs with what seemed to be an effort to resist its limits. wanting to grow bigger. newer. greater. i look at the metal arms reaching out to the grey skies and feel something within me calling out its affinity with their spirit. i, too, would like to reach out and burst away from myself.
i think the cranes are doing a better job.
i turned to the street musician who kept on playing his poignant song despite the drizzle in the cold grey afternoon. tourists passed by and acknowledged his efforts with loose change without really looking at him or listening to his song. he punctuated his rendition of don’t let me be lonely tonight with ‘thank you!’ every time a coin dropped at his guitar case spread before him. i wonder what’s more important to him, for people to give him money or listen to his song. his voice was more kenny rogers than james taylor. i’ll be damned if that gives me a clue to his motivation. besides, i’ve got no loose change.
framing him was hms belfast. the gargantuan ship seems world weary from war yet resentful to be docked forever in the river, humiliated to be transformed from peacekeeper (or more accurately war-keeper?) to mere tourist bait.
people, boats and the river moved on and we kept to our places– the musician, the warship and me. lost in a world that moves too fast.
still, his mournful crooning and the ship’s silent resentment provided perfect backdrop for the way i’m feeling. i sit in one of the benches by the river sipping the cappuccino i got from a nearby street-side café and tried to ignore that my cigarette is increasingly harder to smoke as it becomes wet from the rain. i have an umbrella in my bag but i didn’t bother to open it. what’s the point? i’m wet already. nothing beats the sitting in the rain-sipping cappuccino-smoking-moping combination when you’re feeling blue anyway.
i put out my already dying wet cigarette in my paper cup realising too late that i wanted that last sip of cappuccino.
i tore my gaze from the musical tableau and turned to look for something cheerful. an asian couple was kissing passionately framed by the tower bridge, like us, unmindful of the rain. unlike us, however, their entwined form presented a picture hallmark cards are made of. i felt the equal parts sinking and bursting sensation in the pit of my stomach.
it’s not fair for my 7 wonderful sunny days in england to be ruined by one single event. i met with M. and today it started raining.
the night before
after having dinner at my friend’s flat in wimbledon, M and i took a walk to have some privacy.
‘can you believe this?’ he said pointing out to a picture of a flat for sale for a hundred thousand pounds as we passed by a real estate office. ‘i hate these people tying themselves up for life for a piece of property.’
‘M, why are you so angry?’
‘what?!’ he asked getting angrier.
‘since you arrived, throughout dinner, and now. all you did is complain about things. the underground, the people of london, the bus driver, my friends. we haven’t seen each other for almost three months, can’t you just chill and be happy?’
‘i don’t know what you are talking about.’
we continued walking in silence until we passed by a churchyard.
‘let’s go inside and sit on the grass.’
we sat in silence for a short while. after a few minutes he reached out wihtout a word. he kissed me without saying anything. soon things got heavy and he was pinning me down on the grass, dry humping me in the dark. i pulled back.
‘someone can walk by anytime,’ i said feebly.
‘you look so hot with your blonde hair. reminds me of a korean footballer i saw on the telly,’ he said reaching out for my hand and rubbing it against his distended crotch.
‘let’s go back to the flat.’ i said standing up.
we went back and fucked the whole night. at one point he smoked a cigarette and bent over an open window. i entered him from behind, thinking i didn’t really like him. anymore.
the morning after
‘she thought you are coming to stay and will refuse to leave,’ M was explaining why his girlfriend whose living room in greenwich we were sitting at won’t meet me.
‘and you believed her?’ i asked, fighting back the urge to hurt him. if only to make him feel the pain i was feeling inside. i don’t know what was more hurting, the idea that he thinks so lowly of me or that the prospect of me insinuating myself into his life is so frightening for him.
‘i didn’t. but i didn’t know what to think. and you always were so hectic about us. i don’t know...’ his voice faded mid-sentence.
again, the silence.
i was thinking that after my detached thoughts during sex the night before, the morning seemed to offer a different picture. when he woke up, he invited me to see where he lives (with his girlfriend), took me to greenwich where he showed me the maritime museum, the meridian and cutty sark. then we had lunch at the weekend market before we went to his place. we were having one of those once familiar bromance-with-benefits time that showed definite glimpses of the reason why i fancied myself in love with him. until he had to talk about his girlfriend and how he might get married. which was fine, only he felt he needed to justify this by saying hurtful things.
‘i think i should go,’ i said - getting up to leave. ‘i’ll let myself out.’
he also got up and caught up with me at the door, and touched my arm.
‘don’t be like this.’ he said, when i stopped, trying to catch my eye.
‘and exactly how should i be like?’ i said without looking at him.
i waited for a few seconds, when he didn’t answer i pulled away.
as i was walking to the train station i felt i wanted to burst out of myself. i thought, i can’t see my friends like this, i should wait, take a walk till i calm down.
i took a train to westminster, and took a walk by the river thames.
i noticed the cranes.