You want to wonder why you got here. you want to toy around around with the fact that you wanted this life. You claim it came to you because of where you had been and whom you were with.
A victim of circumstance, convenience maybe. The thought of that actually makes you feel good. But the truth hurts; so bad you pray to forget. To forget that you knew. That you knew this was your own doing.
Then it finally happened. You got to join the crew. Thumped your chest and walked neck-high; you were in the big boys’ club now. It was your moment of glory. No regrets you had said. Frankly, you liked it so, life as you’d wanted it to be. Before you had watched these demigods stroll the streets; admired them, wished to be like them. Until you did. The people loved them, they also worshiped them. The girls went gaga at the site of even a single one of them. At the site of you.
Damn! How you’d craved for this kind of attention! How thrilling it was to finally experience it! You were alive, more alive than you’d ever been. And you’d wished it never ends.
Yet you know how it was before… How you were.
You rarely made eye contact. Hardly spoke in front of two people, leave alone shake a hand. Mostly you murmured your way out of conversations. Yet hated yourself for the lame excuses you brought up. You avoided questions about you; hobbies, adventures, and your life. And you loathed small talks.
That morning, waiting for a mat to campus, you were about to say hi to a lady at the bus stop. Felt right. You went in to think about how to do it… The moment passed. She walked away.
When you arrived, the hall was full and the lecture had commenced. Grabbed a space by the door then spot her before she did. A couple of desks to your right.
What a coincidence.. Did you know she was a student in your school and you shared units? Dead No.
She flashed a smile as you settled in. Made your heart skip a bit; even thought of winking back. You wanted to chat her up after lectures; perhaps start by apologizing for your missed hello. Or apologize for taking so long. Or even better come up with a silly excuse that’ll make her laugh. Then interest her in your guitar after class, to make up for the lost time… A classic would do well for her.
You said nothing. Realized you were staring blankly at her pretty face, concentrated at the lecturer. The smiling was just in your head.
Hits you hard so you resort to sketch in your notes. You sketched her face; made her eyes just as big and her nose proportionately right. It’s her lips that gave you a hustle, in the delicate manner in which they curved, partly revealing her front teeth. You proceeded to her neckline then stopped at the cleavage of her bust. Just the much you had seen.
The lecture comes to an end, assignments handed out but you were in a hurry to leave before everyone. You always found a way of doing them either way. You are running away from her. Why not wait to see if she will listen? You halt paces away from the door. Lean on a wall, idly scrolling your phone. Waiting.
About that time she walked out, alone. Allowed her to take a lead then sped up after. How would you signal her, you don’t even know her name! No biggie. Just do it as strangers. Walk by, exchange a hello…
Suddenly you get shoved off by a team of girls, pomp and bouncy. Sorry, they whisper. No bother, not at all. They didn’t even stop to hear. They hugged and she smiled back at them. Most probably her friends. Their pace increased. Go excuse yourself, and then get her name. And number!
They whisper something and burst out laughing as they skid away. Too late.
She is a merry in a jolly park. Can you keep up?
You felt lonely, aloof, unnoticed and unwanted. Some anger burnt into you and wished things were different. A little more accommodating, less of a hustle. You wished you were different.
That is why you had signed up for the auditions to join the band. So you could be like them who didn’t have to greet to be noticed. Then you wouldn’t have to think about asking her to come over for some lousy guitar strings. She would beg for it because you would be so good and she would so much want to hear you strike the chords just for her.
You made an impression at the band and it payed off. Played with all your soul, your heart bleeding onto the strings. So you good, after all. You are slid in as a slide guitarist. A little company is not bad, you’d said. Plus, the studio worked much better than your room. You swear to take her there sometime. You even got along well with the crew, they admired your tuning and desired to polish them. You obliged as green as you were. So they started teaching you the tricks; to stay sober, to work longer and better.
For once, you played in front of a multitude, and they bowed and jumped, did all their crazy, thrilled with your art. Marveled your soul and you liked it. After it was done, when the tricks lowered and you sobered, you could tell it wasn’t you in you. You were gone. Way gone to care because you loved the pop. You also loved the adrenaline, the publicity and the girls. Hell you could do anything to maintain the cycle!
What the guitar did to make you forget about your miseries the morphine did it better. It paved new escape roots, the habit you had captured long ago. Your escape into freedom. So you thought, but you were still caged, in the prison of your mind.
Sold your soul to gain the world, for what profit?
You failed to notice that you were getting hooked. Trouble is when it weathered off dissatisfaction hit hard. Like right now. Only then could you see how empty you were. For a fact you were dead inside. You smiled and laughed in public but inside there was void. For what? You wince at the thought of attention. Now what you need is to disappear. Just to go away without a trace.
At times you remember her, the stranger. The last meeting did not go as planned. You had expected she would recognize you like the rest of them, jump at you, steal a selfie without even asking for it. You wouldn’t have minded, you face was all over now. But she did neither.
Pleasure to meet, she had said. No asking for you to play. No cheery grins. Then it hits you. She was different in her own way. Maybe she had reservations towards people like you. Maybe she had cared for your hustles but just didn’t want to show you upfront. Maybe she needed time. Perhaps it was up to you to care for yourself. Care enough to love you as you. And get the sense not to expect so much from a stranger.
Would she have liked you the way you were or would she have wanted a dead-on-the-inside-rockstar? Did you even enjoy life? Was this the best you could give her? You should have known better.
Everything wasn’t about you, really. But you were way into yourself to see that.….
Possibly if you had stopped to ask her why she was so late for the lecture, with beads of sweat on her fore head, she would have explained. She would have told you how that has been the norm for her since she had a son three years ago. How she has to wake up early, feed then bathe him before dropping at the day care. That’s when she would rush to school. How at times she is woken up at the dead of the night with his deafening screams. How she labors to find out what ails him with every cry he makes. She does this every day because she cares about him; he, her world.
Also that she really didn’t care about being late. Because she loved sitting at the back so she could rush any time she thought about him. How she worries if he will be okay without her. She loved that much.
Then she would have seen that you cared and perhaps would have warmed towards you. Perhaps she would have given you a chance to play the guitar. She could have also opened up about what happened to the father of her son. But you never got to know her.