Love, Hate and Cigarettes (Everything That Floats Is Momentary)

“I burned one stick, just one stick, and swore to myself that I shall never regret.”

I sat by the dinner table, hushed by the stillness of the evening that seemed to echo an eternity of silence. I was relieved by the fact that the night is mine to either keep or waste away. I did both. I floated in a thin air of chaos and confusion, desperately trying to reach gravity and find my way back to the ground. My soul is suffocated by a cloud of cigarette smoke that hovered in the atmosphere of my uncertainty and doubt.

One fragile stick that screams of nicotine, less than ten minutes to burn. A retreat from my pandemonium, a moment of temporary solace. But even before I could finally burn it all up, she walked across the room and saw me sitting there alone under the dim lights of the empty room. Her sleepy eyes and her pajamas seemed like a big joke to me, one which I never find funny. I looked at her face that spelled astonishment in seeing me in such a devastating state and began to feel my heart closed in against me. Suddenly, it felt difficult to breathe in the same air as she threw a deadly stare upon my pathetic existence. She began to show no mercy by attacking my heart with her piercing words. I bowed my head to let my hair fall and took cover behind my strands  if only to protect my heart from pain. But to no avail. Her words were lethal, noxious. It fed my veins with poison and killed every part of my delicate spirit.

If I could cut her head open, I would see all the words that she kept inside her for so long. If I could write her thoughts, I would never bear the pain of it all. As I sat motionless in her presence, I listened intently and accepted gracefully the gravity of her criticisms. I could not define the excruciating pain of falling short of her many expectations. I could not fathom the disappointment it brought her when she realized that I am nothing but a failure. I searched the insides of my heart to find the little girl she once knew and loved but I never imagined that all through the painful years of my life, I have left that little girl to die in silence. I wished to go back to the person I was, before life came and took away my innocence. I wished to find that little girl and apologize to her for all the things that I did and did not do, for all that I can never bring back and for all that I now regret. 

I trod the empty boulevard of my uncertainty, a place of the unknown and realized that I know only one absolute thing. It is that I shall not and never will be the grand daughter that she has always wanted me to be. I know that beyond the bruises and the scars that I gained from learning lessons from life, she will always think of me as a failure, a disgrace in the family, a stain in the progeny’s cloth of perfection.

Shame.

I lived all my life within the suffocating lines of their rules and regulations, ever careful not to go beyond the standards and thought all along that I shall be prepared when this day comes. But the pain proved me wrong. It’s ironic that the people who taught us about love are the same people who hurt us and show us the agony of the absence of it. And even when it hurts too much, to the extent of suffering, still they ask us to love.

“But I can not love what I do not understand.”

When silence falls upon the distance that separates me from her, when pain is too difficult and too much for the heart to contain, when words finally lose their meaning and when the hearts stop from feeling, will there be anything left for me to keep? When I run away and never come back, when I take a final glimpse at the home that once sheltered my innocence, when I wave goodbye to all the people that once loved me and break into a lullaby of what yesterday felt like, will there be anyone to ask me to stay? And if they give me time, will I be prepared to be forgotten?

After an endless rhetoric of words that slashed my being and stole half of my will to live, she took the cigarette sticks and crushed them between her fingers, like she did to my fragile heart. I looked at those sticks with both pity and hate and began to realize the time that we both have lost. I know that from that evening on, she will never see me as her little girl again, in the same way that I will never see her as my granny. Hate now stands between the empty spaces.

“Hate is not the opposite of love. It is the absence of it.”

She made her silent exit from the room and left me with no one but myself. The damage done was too much that after a few seconds of solitary, I felt my heart limping with pain. I broke into an ocean of tears and bathed myself under the dim lights as I wished for an undoing of things. I felt my lips and tasted something rotten between it, my decaying soul within the walls of pain and time. The cigarette smoke clouded my agony as it danced across the room and screamed a cradlesong of comfort.

I watched the smoke float to the ceiling and disappear into oblivion, never to return to its existence and form, never to be my company again. But the pain, the shame,  the mistakes, the disappointments, the words, the letdowns. They all linger.

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