The Empty Notepad
Boisterous and bubbly, that has been the you I knew since kindergarten. Always ready with a freshly squeezed tale to tell, as if you are leading a life filled with endless exciting adventures. With you around, even the night seems to be brightly lit. You were like the ambassador of happiness, the Goddess of Solace.
Yet today, I sat opposite this same frame, this same face, but streaks of wetness dampened your intricate features. Despair wounded in those tears, unravelled the otherwise hidden maturity that clouded your soul. Curtains of distance fell between us, as your shoulders rose and fell unevenly. The silence that hung in the air, only chocks and sniffs would interlude. There were only you and me; there were only the two of us, seated there, and the sun slowly lowering itself at the far end of the horizons.
What can bother you – a girl whom darkness and grief can never weigh itself on?
Even through your journal entries, all I could see were the mirth and joy you had thus far. The first times and the later repeats that have engraved enhanced and refined your beautiful memories.
Your favourite childhood destination, East Coast Park, was where you first learnt to rollerblade. Descriptions of every minute detail of how your parents held your hand and pulled you along, and the triumphant smile when you took off along the pavement to the jetty all alone, made sorrow seem to be a faraway tale of the forgotten lands.
7 years of classmates, 7 years of walking home together, 7 years of playing and learning together, 7 years of being best friends forever, but it was only today that I finally acquired the pass to step aboard this vessel through the river of your life. A sense of bitter-cold sourness clung to the walls of my heart, like a thin layer of glue sticking to the walls of my vessels, preventing the blood cells from reaching my lungs and clogging my body with dark blood… Blood tainted by remorse, marred by repent, stained by the agonising grief of apologies silenced by pride.
At least you start now. It's never too late…
And thus, the first line falls, "What's wrong?"
As if triggered by an unknown force, you began throwing your tantrum, something that is alien to me "Torture. These are all just a torture."
You wiped the journal from the table onto the messy floor clogged with practice papers. Today marked the end of the first term of your fourth and final year of middle school education. Watching as you vent your internal frustrations by kicking the books crowding the face of the floor off their original piles, I foolishly believed it was all the endless practices you have to do that had driven you haywire.
"Relax, you'll be out of all these knee-high revision books once the final year exam is over."
"No! You don't understand! This!" You swept the journal up and held it with a trembling hand, "It's this stupid thing that's making me who you are seeing before your very eyes now."
"You're overstressed… How about talking to your parents about it?" The ignorant me suggested.
"Talk to them? Can't you see? This is what they expect me to be. This is the me they want to hear, and the me that they only allow themselves to know, to hear, to see, to speak to. I am but a hollow vessel of plain happiness. If you would so like me to talk to them, then leave me be! I hate people who always pretend to help, but end up just directing me back to my parents. I hate my parents! I hate how they always take me like their little puppet that they think they can meddle and alter to their liking. Do you remember this poem you once wrote about a doll?
'The gentle smile sewn unto this face,
beauty in only the limit of its length.'
That's precisely who I am. A doll. A doll with 'A constant whirling network of thoughts, fostered by a dead heart and silent mind'."
"Hear me out. Even if you were to be a doll, you'd be, but the most beautiful of all, because you're my friend. Whoever is my friend will be beautiful and unique. And no, your mind, as you're showing it now, with all the erratic thoughts, this definitely not a silent mind… And your heart, for it can still feel, for it can still grief, for it can still create these tears, this is obviously not a dead heart. You had lived, is living, and will live on. I will grieve for your loss, just as you did for mine then. I will share your joy, just as you had for mine then. I will stand by you through thick and thin, just like you have always been doing for me. That's why you aren't fake, that's why you aren't a doll."
Your fume cooled off as you listened to my deliberately slowed speech and over-articulated words. Even though your hiccups had subsided, those two streams on your face still seemed to have no end to them. You kept drawing sheets after sheets of tissue, dampening them with your golden tears that I had never seen before. My words hung stationary in the air for a period of time.
"Tell me more. At least you can lighten your load." I added after the long pause, "And don't give me that famous line you always quote, 'One hurt is enough, we don't need more' To be hurt by a friend's sad tale, is what a genuine friend would do. I am and I want to be your genuine friend."
You began narrating your life, from the first day you could remember writing a journal. Journal was a weekly task. It was just like homework to you… Just worst. Your parents would scrutinize your entries and tear them off if they held any bit of negativity.
'I want you to refer to your childhood and be reminded of their happiness. Why write the sorrows down when you want to forget them? Keep the moments of happiness because only then can you then appreciate all these little joys of life that kept you going.'
Something your parents never failed to repeat. Often, because you still wrote some unhappiness in your writes, they would storm into your room and shake you awake to reprimand you for pointing out an issue which only showed a hint of despair or anger.
You told me the reason for the many different journal books and the reason for their thickness – You had to tear off many pieces each time you write because you would drift off into despair often as grief had begun to follow in your shadows because you had nowhere else to channel them to.
The greatest surprise of all was that this was the umpteen times you've broken down, just that in the past, you had always mourned alone. Oh how bitter it must have been!
We then spent the whole night chattering with each other, laughing and tearing at the lamentable and arduous moments of life. 7 years of friendship, but today was the first day we became sisters.
You were still sleeping soundly when I woke and decided it was time to leave. I left you a note, and I hope you can believe that note, and keep believing until nature calls you home.
Constraint to happiness,
the words you could write.
Limited to appreciation,
the markings made on paper.
Where your world's just darkness,
you seek for pain to reside.
Ignoring the contradictions,
you had your emotions tempered.
'One is hurt enough, we don't need more,
the line you use to cover your sore.
Forgetting the pain you hold,
a new hope blooms as one gets old.
Neglecting the growing wound in you,
tearing a hole right through.
Constantly bringing light to the world,
sharing joy with others through words.
You're but an empty vessel,
that no amount of joy can fill.
You're but in need of an ear,
that can sit by and hear.
Your life's but an empty page,
where vocab depicts no emotions.
Your soul's but only worn,
hoping for the day to reborn.
It's time to tear away your masquerade,
for history's pain will only then fade.
It's a waste to spend life in regrets,
there's just so much to experience yet.
It's time to break open the locks,
and put your past away in a box.
It's when you put down the bane,
and clear the remains of old stains.