I don’t like making ‘best of, worst of’ comments--lists. It’s not that I’m not good at them. It’s just that I’m wary of boxing my life in. Declaring ‘my best life moment’ automatically seems to relegate the rest of the life I’m going to go on living in the shades. What’s the point of living ten more years if the best moment of my life is happening just now and the moment even as I fully savour and live it is slipping away? The veteran may tell the stories but I want to be the hero of his tale. That said, last week (however which way I’ll look at it with or without definitions) will always rank as one of the most difficult in my life.
The more more worlds come easily unbidden to my pen so long in training to create them, the less they mean anything significant to me. Last week I edged a little closer to goals I’ve pursued relentlessly since I was 12 (what? i was a serious kid), to my surprise found myself envied by certain persons I never even dared to hope knew of my existence, yet all these achievements barely mattered to me.
All my mind, my emotions, whole being for a whole week instead was consumed with concern for a frail, little, old woman who has never given a toss and even actively sabotaged my attempts towards those goals. Last week, for the first time in my life, I realized my mother will one day die. We thought she was going to die last week. I’m a grown man, able to look after myself, physically defend myself, three or four hearts remain unbroken only at my whim and yet I have never felt more vulnerable, naked and scared.
I have heard many people say in reference to the intensity of their love that, “I’ll do anything it takes’ and dismissed them as being melodramatic. I have never loved that much. CORRECTION: I did not know that I loved someone that much. Until next week.
Some of you may find this hard to believe. But in my family I’m the least physically demonstrative person. From the time when I was about nine and I was shushed, ‘Don’t cry, you’re a man,’ I have not cried again. I did not cry when I was whipped so badly in my primary two, my father came with my mother to my school and my father nearly assaulted the teacher who had tore into me so savagely I could barely walk. When in the backseat of a blue Datsun coming home from school at last resolved on how exactly to write her that letter so long promised, I was casually informed that the grandmother I believed for seven years was my mother was dead I did not cry. I did not cry when I won sports races on Parents Day and there was no one from my family to hold me up panting after the races nor when no one came to visit me in boarding school nor when best friends I thought closer than family betrayed me or someone who I respected suddenly turned and snubbed me. I did not cry even when the only girl (we were both eight) I first loved with my wallet and my heart was taken without warning by her parents to live with them forever in England and I have not cried since when I left or was left by lovers. I did not cry last week either but in 16 years, staring at her lying unconscious and small almost like a baby in her hospital bed, I came closest to. I also realized one shocking, frightening, simple truth: I love her completely, absolutely, totally. If I had to die for her to live, without a thought, I would. I did not know I was capable of such emotion.