Aunt Vie and her Happy Bottle

Aunt Vie was a mother to three, grandmother to seven and an aunt and friend to many. She had been married thrice, twice to the same man. Despite her age, she insisted that we all – children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews – call her Vie, plain and simple. Vie was born into a middle class family as the only daughter. At the age of 17, she eloped with her high school sweetheart and ran off to Peru. What a cliché – she would always say. She married a simple man for she fell in love with his simple ideals. Vie believed and cherished simplicity, but when she turned 18, her curiosity and thirst for the world could not be contained within the cheerful pleasantries of her Peruvian farm. So, she left Joaquin and his simplicity to embark on an unknown journey.

Vie loved to write. She carried a notebook and a 3B pencil with her at all times. She used 3B pencils, as she wanted her words to stand out. What she wrote were not frivolous, over-abused words but the reality as she saw it. For this, she needed her words to be bold as they formed a regal statement. Vie’s writings portrayed the world in black and white – right and wrong. In her eyes there was no in between. Her strong convictions made what she wrote genuine. Her writings made one feel uncomfortable, for we as humans tend to seek solace in every shade and grayness in our own construed realities.

She travelled all over the world unwilling to make a home and settle down. She would say – the world is my home, I have built a house in my heart where I choose to sleep in a different room every night. She was 19 when she had her first sip of alcohol. She let the brandy trickle down her throat as she stared into her reflection in the mirror across the bar. After that day, she would always love to look at herself drink for she would see another her every single time. Vie travelled from Darjeeling to Alaska, writing what her eyes saw and drinking the wines and liquors from all around. When she was in Seoul, she picked up the habit of smoking. She wrote a piece, her one and only biographical, about how it felt to be a woman who welcomed all the vices of society with open arms. A woman that smokes profusely, drinks limitlessly, and writes inconsequently; shunned by society. Her piece was sarcastic and so true that it received mixed reviews. Her sentence that struck me the most was – I dine like an English Duchess, love like a Japanese concubine and drink like a Russian peasant; why is it that I am told not to bring these worlds together? Her strong economic, political and social convictions gave her a hate it or love it charm.

When she turned 23, she bore her first child. She married the father of her son as those times called upon her as a mother to give her child a father, a home and a society that would not outcast him. Timothy was a good father and a decent husband. He gave Vie the stability that she wanted for her children. She gave birth to two more in the years to come. Vie believed in having a strong and close family. She may not have loved the man she married, but she loved and adored her babies. For them she stayed at home and she never looked back on her decision. She gave up smoking for them, but drinking she would not. I mean who was she kidding, her brandy was her happy bottle. That was how she called it. But the 25 years that all her children lived with her she was never a drunk. That she had promised herself. After all her three children went off to college leaving her nest empty, she opened her drawer and took out her notebook and pencil.

At 48, she was a forgotten writer. She embraced this with delight as she had a fresh new start with a new outlook. She left her husband, sold her house in Canada and bought herself a ticket to Seoul so that she could once again smoke a cigarette under the same street lamp where she had had her first ever drag. Desires of an old fool, I would say.

Vie was not like those who believed in fate and the one. But, in our eyes it was so as she fell in love again with the same man she had left brokenhearted 40 years ago. Joaquin with shades of grey in his hair strode back again into her life. Vie loved as she never did before. She felt like she was 23 again with the world at her feet together with the man she loved. She wrote pieces all day and in bed, she read them aloud to Joaquin. They married on a cold winter day. That night they had only each other and brandy to keep themselves warm.

Vie would say that life has its own reset button. But you could never fast forward or rewind to where you would want to be or where you have already been. I loved listening to Aunt Vie. She once told me a story about how she stole a monkey from a restaurant in China, just because the monkey had managed to steal her bottle of brandy from her handbag. Oh, yes! She always carried a 375ml bottle of brandy with her. She did not carry it in a flask, as she liked seeing the golden brown color glisten in the bottle as she took her sips. She was an eccentric woman indeed.

She spent 20 fulfilling years with her Joaquin, notebook and her happy bottle. The four of them travelled the world indulging themselves in each other. Seoul was Vie’s happy place. She had fallen in love with the people there from their serene faces to their we move forward attitude. They bought a house there and settled down. To commemorate their 20 years of being together Vie and Joaquin took a trip to Fiji, where Joaquin died peacefully in his sleep on the beach while Vie was taking a midnight dip. Ironic, that’s life – said Vie. She did not shed a single tear but we believe she took comfort in her happy bottle. She denied she was an alcoholic, we said otherwise.

In the years to come, time was of no avail to Vie. She threw out all her clocks and watches saying that she needn’t know the exact time. Her time became the light as it passed through the horizon. I would mostly go over to Vie’s and wake her from her ever so often stupors. She would wake up to a mimosa with a dash of vodka. She laughed with all her heart, cried from within her soul and threw tantrums that would make any 3-year-old look like an angel. Her every emotion was an exaggeration. She lived in a reality exaggerated by the sublime effects of her intoxication. I told her once that she lived in a blur while talking with a slur. She erupted into a thunderous explosion and literally fell of her chair laughing. Then all of a sudden she stopped and the house became as silent as a deserted house on the prairies. I never knew if I had offended her or not. Vie was present in this world in a surreal way. She would be saying one thing then jump to talking about how she ended up buying vodka instead of her usual brandy. She told me that in her years of travelling one thing she learnt was that even in the most trying and harsh times people always managed to scrape some money together so that they could have a slug of their preferred liquor before calling it a night. To that, I told her – but Vie isn’t that then an unnecessary desperation, a need for borderline alcoholics. To this, she just said – indeed darling you are right, but you have to understand that this was a luxury we cannot give up as it is a cheap remedy to fall into a slumber where our worries are forgotten.

That night I went home realizing that my aunt was not an alcoholic. She chose to drink to ease her mind. Yes sometimes she drank a drop too much but she knew right from wrong. Although, sometimes the realization hit her a day later. I remember a time when I found her passed out on her porch. She explained to me how she had probably blacked out still hugging her happy bottle. She told me that a blackout was her escape from monotony. An escape from the usual. She would do things she would never remember. Sometimes she’d end up awake in a hotel room with an unknown man beside her ( that’s when shit hits the fan oh so many times) and sometimes she’d have managed to clean out her whole garage (that’s when you’re left in awe as Vie was not known to be the most tidiest person). She told me she’d awoken numerous times either in shame, regret, curiosity or simple happiness. To her, blackouts were for the weak and cowardly, who would want to escape just for some time, do something out of their good judgment and wake up with the excuse of having no recollection.

Vie had many philosophies, half of them were on alcohol. Even to a non-drinker like myself they made sense, but not always. Another one of her philosophies was about how an alcoholic would find any reason to drink, whereas for a true lover of the alcohol the reason would already be there in the letters imprinted on the bottle, on their own lips that could already taste the alcohol as it is being poured into their glass. I did not know what was worse being an alcoholic or a servitude to the happy bottle. Vie was the latter one, as the next time I went to visit her I found her in her bathtub – shut eyes, pulse stopped, candles ablaze and her precious happy bottle floating around her. Ironic-that’s life as Vie once said.

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I wrote the words, as they were my thoughts
I sang the song, as they were my words
I listened to them, as they were all I had

The same thoughts, I had over and over again
The same words that danced around in my head
Forming a confusingly translucent paradigm

The emotionally challenged try to look away like it did not happen
The neurotically affected try to obsess on it like it was meant to happen
While the lost souls try to bring themselves back from just being a memory

A picture in someone’s scrapbook
A character in someone’s narrative
A memory that might just fade away

So as I wrote the words and sang the song
I realized that I was not gone
and most importantly that you were not gone

I did not have to touch you, to feel you
I did not have to breathe you, to smell you
I did not have to hold you, to love  you

I could just close my eyes, sing my song and be with you….

Daily Prompt: Connect the Dots

STORY TELLERS

In one way or the others, we all are story tellers by our own rights. Is it not wonderful how we can talk about nothing and yet it seems to be everything or how we all choose to craft our stories, understating our shortcomings and exaggerating our deeds, each with their own intent. In every story there is always a moral to be seen, a lesson to be learnt and genius to appreciate. At times, the moral might be blurred, or the lesson unclear; but with due time and proper medium one can peer through the confusion and delve deeper.

I met such a story teller at the most random of all places. I had spent a night tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep. Whether it was due to the stress of work or the upcoming life events or the simplest of explanations being a heavy dinner? So as I lay in bed, I decided to go out for a walk. I am the lazy type who would have preferred to crawl onto the couch and watch TV just to pass the time, but that night my whole body and mind was screaming to go out for a stroll in the cold night.

At 2 am in the morning, in the calm serenity of darkness where you would least expect to come across a fellow being I met Mr. Haven. Till this very the day I die or get Alzheimer I shall not forget this special person. At first sight, I was quite hesitant and was already speculating on walking to the other side of the street just to avoid the walk by. But just as how I had stepped out of my house to go for the walk, my body and mind were compelling me to walk towards Mr. Haven. I looked into his eyes and I did not see a drunk loitering around, I did not see a soul lost from home, I did not see a thief taking solace in the curtains of the night. What I saw shocked and startled me, for what I saw was myself peering into a bottomless well. A bottomless well equivalent to endless possibilities!

I questioned myself and looked intently at Mr. Haven. It was like he was in my mind looking out through my eyes, feeling my heart thump within my chest. What was this sensation, what was this yearning that was seeping out from under my own skin? “Take a breath, my child”, he whispered. While he said this, I could feel a release of pressure from my head. “It is freaking 2 am; I thought to myself, what am I doing here?”

“Do not question yourself, come sit down take a moment with me”, said he.

So I listened and sat next to him. I sat next to him not because I wanted to be kind to the man or because I had this feeling he was a part of me. I went and sat next to him as I felt I owed myself an explanation as to why I was there, encountering this man in the depths of the night.

“Let me tell you a story, a story about myself”, said the man.

What the man went on to tell me not only left me with a cold shiver down my spine, but it eased my heart with the softness of his voice and the purity of his story.

“Life, as we want it to be, is a lie. Life, as we actually live it – is a treasure and beauty that we choose to ignore. I have been blessed to roam this world from all corners for all times. I have seen too much to be angry or happy about anything. My happiness is the inner peace I have gathered from learning on how to live and not to question”.

Who was this man, telling me his meaning about life? Did I really need to hear this? Did I even want to believe him? You read about these life affirming do good quotes and to me he was sounding clichéd by the second and was turning into the poster child for promoting Live Life!!

It seems he felt my cynicism, for he then took my hand asked me to close my eyes. In that moment, I swear, I lived through my whole life from the time I was born till that very moment sitting next to this man. 27 years of my life, I saw through a third eye within sheer seconds. How was this even possible? Did he drug me?

What did I see you wonder? I did not see the cliché of my family and friends beside me, I did not see the ups and downs I had in my being, I did not see the happy me when I graduated or got my first job. What I saw was hard to explain. I saw being born to a faceless woman, I saw myself zombie-like going around my world of faceless family & friends, nameless schools, university and work. My face was the only face visible. Neither a sad or smiling face – just a face with eyes, nose and a mouth. So in my faceless existence I had turned 27 and would go on living in a faceless eternity.

I jerked my hand away from Mr. Haven. I slapped him across the face. What came over me, I cannot say as I have never laid a hand on a single person. And with this act of hatred, betrayal, fear or whatever it was it led to the disappearance of Mr. Haven. He was gone and I was left there contemplating about what the hell had just happened. Was I hallucinating? I pinched my hand and felt nothing. I looked into my reflection in the dark shadowy river. As I started to look, I could see myself turning faceless. My head was turning into a mere outline with smudged features. Just like Mr. Haven I was gradually dissolving into the darkness that engulfed me.

If there was an instant in my life to be awakened from a nightmare it would have been that very moment and to my good fortune, my Husband shook me awake and tenderly took me into his arms hushing me and wiping away my tears.

While I lay in his arms, letting his body warm and gentle heartbeat press against me, I understood why Mr. Haven came to me in my dreams. I understood his meaning of life. I could comprehend what the faceless flashback meant.

I embrace all the clichés, quotes and sayings and acknowledge that you only live life when you can appreciate what you have and have been through.

I am blessed to have faces, names and bonds for all the faceless people that were in my dream. I am grateful for I am surrounded by people who hold me dear to them. I may whine constantly about being the zombie walking through life lost at times; but knowing that I have a treasure chest of people I can call mine, every dark moment in my life dissolves into the thin air. Vanishes in seconds, for we only have seconds to seize the moment and to truly live our lives!

Mr. Haven, you were a fearful ghost or an angel perhaps but the story you told me and the raw emotions you made me feel, will always remain intact with me.

So yes, we are all story tellers of our own design, who we choose to share it with will be ours for the taking.

————–
I wrote this piece to acknowledge and appreciate the fact that I am lucky to be surrounded by love – family, friends, pets, good food, laughter, peace, home and many more. Love to Love you – speaks out in ways that I tell this story. I can love because I am loved.

Part 2 – Sang Out Loud

She sang out loud in a room painted with grimy frowns.
To what she thought would be a way out to reach her destined shroud.
In an attempt to suffocate her mind she sings out loud as she slips away into the darkened crowd.
Why do I rhyme my thoughts she said aloud.
Why does it matter only to have some coherent sound?
A tragic reminder that in the end the creativity of the soul is just this measly bound.

Was she the one then that sang out loud or myself that I painfully mauled?
Jump into the waterfall, with an imaginary parachute that could possible break the fall.
Are you running away from what you believed was your chosen part?
But why is it so, when you never were meant to keep it real from this dreadful start.

Naïve as I am, she is who I refuse to change.
To be content within is yet another battle that leaves me estranged.
Take it please, go make up your mind.
To where and how is just another testament to this pitiful kind.

I sit and watch with tears in her eyes as she struggles in her solitude.
So I will sit there alone with her and sing out loud to what she once was.
To what she once was and still could have been, but just to sing is so longing.

This was the song that let herself go.
Like a raging animal lost in the midst of their own basic instincts.
Can she sing out loud again in another tune.
To awaken who she once was from the deep slumber the boulder put her in.
I plead to her for I am trapped.

Sing out loud one more time with a haunting drag.
May peace be upon her, do get out of them tired rags.
For it is only I who needs this song to sing out loud to a child once left behind….

Never stop to think you know what you want, because when you have it, it could be the very thing that torments your inner child in its purest form.

Daily Prompt: Express Yourself

My Fiancé thinks I am a Junkie!

Yep that is right, my to be husband believes that I am a person who is on the pursuit of being on a perpetual high. Not drugs or any narcotic substances! If that were to be the case then this anecdote would be heading in a completely different direction or not or maybe I would just start talking gibberish.

To him, I am every bit unpredictable as a Junkie. Boiling it down, my fiancé thinks I am an emotional Junkie, who wants to score the Happiness pill and when I do not then all hell breaks loose. To him I can go through numerous emotions – Highs & lows over the course of a day.

And here I was, thinking I was an emotionally stable & mature sweetheart.

My fiancé is by far the most rational person I have ever met. Whose rationality sometimes (okay mostly) edges towards pure irritation (especially when I know I have lost an argument). I myself like to believe that I am equally rational & realistic about what is happening around me. But, here is where I get the reality check from my fiancé (let’s call him Señor Rational).

Here below are some situations and the reactions of us both as seen from his eyes:

Emotional Junkie

These are just some normal events that occur in our lives and how we both go about it – in the eyes of Señor Rational. He is always calm & collected and I on the other hand am suffering from symptoms of a crazed Junkie.  So as you can see he clearly is to win the accolade for Most Rational Man of the year (ummm ya right..more like Mr. Exaggerator of the year).

I wonder if this is a man vs. woman belief or the fact that we are from two different cultures. Maybe age, self-awareness or ego. Who knows – all I can say is that if anyone were to ask us separately about the same situations as above we would probably both describe each other as the emotional junkie.

Truth be told, I have exaggerated a bit. And only because it is fun to make light of who we are and not to be taken seriously at all times. We are different and yet the same.

My fiancé may see me as a junkie riding on an emotional roller-coaster; but then again I do also see him as a “tyrant” who is hell bent on being rational and right. And that is what makes us perfect because we are not two peas in a pod! We are never on the same level of sanity, which makes everything we do a bit chaotic. One thing I guess we both are working on is the patience to tolerate each other. Okay just joking, we are not at that point just yet. Or at least I hope not, especially since in a couple of month we will be getting married.  Otherwise that would be an inspiring start to holy matrimony!

So coming from the emotional junkie – People be ALIVE!!

Who cares if you are seen as an emotional pendulum swaying from hot to cold?

Be passionate! About everything you do.

Be angry! Show them that you are to be feared when you disagree.

Be ecstatic! Love & Smile –happiness only makes you live longer.

Be sad! It will make you cherish what you have lost.

Be in denial or even lie! Not always of course, but it will help you learn more about who you are.

Be a drama queen! Well, what to say other than it is just damn fun!!

BUT just remember to coat it with your own form of Señor Rational – be it your friends, family, pets or even your own alter ego.

P.S. If you all do not hear from me in the coming days then you will know that I am being punished by my Señor Rational for labeling him as a tyrant. Help!!

Daily Prompt: Sad but True – I had written this piece over the weekend as my fiancé was complaining to me about being so volatile. At first, I was quite upset – criticism is always harsh. But then after reflecting on it I thought it is true as we all have flaws. So I thought I would flip it around and have a laugh instead! Nobody is perfect right?

From Every Mother – Hush

My mother is millions of miles away from me, but whenever I need her she is there for me, be it a Skype call or in spirit. Since I was very young I was in a boarding school and then I went abroad for my further education. Now working in Switzerland, while she is back home in Nepal, there is not a day that I do not miss and need her. In times of facing my biggest fears, difficult situations or scariest dreams, she has always been able to console & soothe me.

Although now already an adult in my mother’s eye I will always be childlike and she will always be there to put that smile back on my face or hush me to sleep.

Sleep

Child, lay still,
for you shall awaken your Fears.
Child, do not shed anymore tears,
for you shall wash away your Smile.
Child, do not hurt,
for you shall bury away your Happiness.

Child, the moon shall shine for you,
for you have asked for a brighter night.
Child, the rain shall fall tonight,
for you have prayed for a clean start.

Child, she shall look down on you,
for you need to know she is still here with us.
Child, I shall cradle you to sleep,
for you have longed for a good night’s rest.
Child, close your eyes now,
for you have the chance to live your dreams.

Child, hush now, for you have had a long day.

Hush my child, hush.

Mother

Daily Promt: Childlike

Part 1 – Knowing of Not Knowing

Knowing of Not KnowingAre we trapped in our knowing of not knowing?
Not knowing whether we choose to look away
Knowing that if we looked we would find disdain

Disdain – as I find myself refuting to change
Yet I lament & mourn on why it is so

Caught between my inner struggle of living in routine
And inspiring to be more than what is seen on paper
Laughing at knowing the not knowing of all the how to(s) in life

Am I wayward if I obliterate all feeling of knowing?
Knowing and not doing anything – a fool I am
Why? What has elapsed in me that I cannot overcome?
Squirming to be free, I am left stranded with no inner peace

Challenge me! Challenge me to transform.
Let me amend the gaps in my life
Let me no longer question what I know
Let me be the 14 year old girl who once knew of just one thing
That to know about what you do not know – is what drives one to evolve

Yet here I am pinned down with my mumbling thoughts
With my chaos
With my distress
With my shame

I strive forward with my prayers of confiding in the bigger picture
Of achieving what that 14 years old once aspired for
I stumble incessantly with each blow to my person – body, soul & mind
Will I reach there? Will I free myself of knowing of the not knowing?
Will my inner struggle defy me and rise up to defeat me?
All I know is that these questions question my not knowing….
All I know is that I yearn to believe what I looked away from knowing……

Daily Prompt: Land of Confusion