(After Édouard Levé)
It has taken me 15 years to learn how not to grit my teeth in a nettled rant when strangers try to correct the spelling of my name from Scherezade to Scheherezade. The first person who dubbed me “Waffles” died earlier this year. I miss the wingspan of his eyelashes. I am a polyglot who often chooses silence. My happy days are when I can wake up to Mahler and lavender roses. I think melancholy looks like the rain-rinsed, cobbled pathways of Girona where I once witnessed two 18 years old park their bikes & stand under an anime printed umbrella in mute love while sparkling splinters fractured the thin shroud of air around them.
In summers I take mandatory cold water baths at 12:00 am. In winters I run the entire stretch of a cafe au lait beach four times a week. I have heavy bones so if I were ever inclined towards drowning myself, I could leverage my anatomy enough to not need a gaggle of pebbles stuffing the pockets of my sundress. I once ate a dozen cupcakes in 5 minutes. The sugar rush made me hang from a tree branch so long that the next day a thick layer of skin peeled off my palm. I think I may have effectively decimated my fate-line with that piece of skin. I read Carl Jung when I was 14 and decided that studying the human animal was a fair game. I read Virginia Woolf around the same time and decided that I am a riddle of constant departures. I think half of my soul lives elsewhere. My physiology depresses me. I can tolerate my mouth but strongly detest my nose. When I was 8, I used a nail filer to whittle my nose down to a more desirable aquiline shape. My father sometimes called me “buttons”. When he died, I hadn’t heard his voice in over a half year.
I cut my own hair when I feel a certain phase of my life deserves severance. I think I will shave my head before I commit suicide. When my boarding school mate floated onward to the concrete after negotiating the distance from 14 or 15 or 16 floors above, his jaw kept moving even when his heart had stopped. I sometimes wish I was around when this happened. In high school after a dissection practicum in zoology class, I did not stitch back my frog unlike others who then tried to race theirs. I did put it in a biscuit box and gave it a solitary burial underneath a mulberry bush. When I was diagnosed with an incorrect illness, the first set of things to be confiscated from me were copies of Celan’s poems and diary entries I had compiled over months. My self-proclaimed saviours promised to pour a calculated voltage through the corridors of mind to cure me. I was 16 then.
When I recovered I promised them that for the rest of my life, I would do whatever it took to make sure no kid should ever have to feel hunted for being different.
I only started reading Deleuze as a personal insult to Sartre whom I detested. I easily abandoned all in favour of Dickinson. In school, I believed I was Louis Antoine Léon de Saint-Just’s second coming & wrote “Faithful to the Terror” on my history book in wonderful calligraphy. I was sent to 4 weeks of psychological counseling. The counselor introduced me to absinthe & The Roots.
I have 6 wisdom teeth. I have 3 and a half very visible moles (beauty spots) on my face and one on my eyeball hidden by my eye lid. When people ask me what is my trade I tell them I am “jardinera de rosas”; a rose gardener. I think God is a joke. I have been laughing for long. I rarely answer phone calls, any echoes of my own voice annoy me deeply. I think you don’t acquire solitude, you earn it and for that you need to shut off all voices, including your own. I once had 3 fingers caught in a door following which I saw my nail slip off with the ease of rice husk and I realised that you can never be too attached to this fugitive body that is always so willing to lose its trajectory.
I want to live everywhere at once. I think if I were sufficiently soulful I’d best describe myself as a torn map or the cracked window mural of an abandoned church. I am firmly opposed to the adage that you should live in the present. I think the spectacular grid of memories [ past ] & dreams [ future ] is the most appropriate safety net we can ever consider to save us from the brutality of being alive. I have been carried up 3 flights of stairs by a boy who was in love with me. When I left him, the night sky was exploding like a coal mine and I did not leave a note behind. I don’t think emotional closures are a good idea. I think stories we weave should be like a hemline undone; a thread losing its path in the bunched up swathe. I think destiny is handmade broacade. I used to think I don’t want marriage. Now I recognize what I don’t want is the subtle masochism of marriage.
I leave a pair of slippers at every place I travel to. I discovered rhubarb jam recently and I can’t believe I have gone so long without it. I do not eat eggs cooked by anyone else but me. I have convinced chefs at hotels I have stayed at to allow me this little relief. I feel deeply uncomfortable when my hair is touched or attempts are made to hug me. I live with fibromyalgia and PTSD. I don’t drive often because a relapse can induce temporary paralysis. I am stunningly scarred. I have years of injuries from martial arts & my own mind. I have a pillow shaped like a puffer fish that I carry on airplanes. My stretchmarks aren’t tigerprints or battlewounds. They are just stretchmarks.
I am interested in everything and nothing holds my attention.
I want to live as fisherfolk in an Andalusian town and run a supper club. I don’t think I can belong to anyone seeing how I have barely belonged to myself all these years. I like collecting knives & compasses. All my writing is accomplished on window ledges. When I enter a room, I gravitate towards open windows. I never eat on flights. I only got to really know my father after he died. I shun all human interactions as my birthday inches closer. I think this may be because on my 10th birthday I overheard a neighbour tell my mother how she should give me up for adoption & start her life elsewhere because a young divorcee with a mixed-race daughter was impractical & unwanted. During summers, my grandmother and I slept on the roof of her home and she would teach me how to spot constellations. I miss her because she baked cakes for my dolls on their birthdays.
My dog died when I went on a camping trip. I released my mother’s guinea pigs into a basket of freshly washed clothes when I was little. When our parrot eloped with another, my cousin and I bought a new one & tried very hard to teach it to say “Zahi : 7 am. Wake Up. Wake Up.” It never did learn. I can befriend any dog, cat, otter, guinea pig and rabbit. I don’t feel this sort of affinity for people. An American at De Gaulle airport once asked me how to say “you are beautiful” in French because he assumed I was pied noir. I told him “la petite mort.”
I sleep in 4 hour cycles at night. I always go see a drag show and/or a ruin/graveyard in every city I visit. I would have preferred a number instead of a name. I know water will have something to do with my body’s end. I am quickly disenchanted by cosmopolitan holdings. The most satisfactory afternoon of my life was spent volunteering at a school in a village in rural Maharashtra.
When I finally left the greatest love of my life, someone said the best way to rise above the sadness was to sink to its lowest depth — “Inscendence” — the impulse not to rise above the world (transcendence) but to climb into it, seek its core. To hope that the ocean would send you back up with new, self-soothed secrets. I took this advice literally and went deep sea walking. The hardest part was letting go of the rail at the descending ladder’s last rung. When I sighed my way back to the surface, I didn’t find that the sadness had left me just that now I was fairly comfortable swimming with it.
I was born on 1st July at 12:05 AM to a single mother who’d been exempt from her psychology viva because her feet were swollen to the size of temple bells. I am told I am a crab; a water-sign; a moonchild. I guess this means I walk sideways to get ahead, like to pour my whole self into that which I nurture. And even at my calmest, I can easily eclipse the most prominently fire-faced behemoth in my surroundings.
I think the greatest indignity is not suffering but to transform yourself into your oppressor.
I think I am finally learning how to love as a prayer for improvisation.