I was taught in cramped classrooms that the earth rotates at such a painstakingly-slow speed, it is impossible to feel the ground move beneath your feet. So I made promises to traverse the canvas of this world rather ambitiously but somehow chasing all these milestones has left me spiraling out of control for it doesn’t matter how softly the world sighs, when I seem to be eternally strapped in a carousel of goodbyes. As if I am nothing more than a home to all that used to be. To the phantoms of memory that sleep soundly in the different crevices of my body as I continue to sprint towards a life that now looks rather empty.
For the curve of my neck is now home to all the faces nestled there at airports as I hugged farewell to strangers that became family, and soon for the family that will make a new home in a foreign country. The columned fingers extending from my palms now barren without the need to clasp around a brother who’s no longer a baby but rather an adult that swoops in instead to protect me. The grooves in my spine stamping memories into every bed I’ve ever called mine, from cots too rickety to a bed right next to yours till I turned thirteen, to the cheap booze-stained mattress found in every dormitory – I’ve laid my head on so many different pillows that the notion of home has drifted into a far-away dream.
I began bidding farewell long before I knew what it meant, back when I was barely twelve and a pervert tugged my hair and fleetingly slipped his hands between my legs, and even though I ran to safety, it took years to reacquaint myself with my own body. Which also then proved to be a futile activity for I gained all that courage and confidence only to find myself in my twenties, pushed into a back alley and robbed of my dignity. For I didn’t realize that the mark of entering womanhood, both as an adult and as a teen, would mean learning to sacrifice your voice for security – it’s a cute little delusion, that us women are free.
My body is a shrine for a brother lost way too early; his thumbprint hanging from my neck, his name inked into my skin, and his earring lodged in my ear as my favourite accessory. We had sketched out our lives together back when we were tiny toddlers avoiding bedtime by indulging in conversations far too naïve. We grew from best friends into enemies, and as we waved goodbye to all the angst that comes with being a teen, we gravitated back to one another like it was always meant to be. Planning our travel itineraries and hosting one another in our respective cities, clamoring on about being on each other’s teams but by the time I was ready to start manifesting those dreams, you snuck out the backdoor and left a note on the fridge that’s meant to placate us for eternity.
Ever since then it’s been a tsunami of goodbyes that doesn’t wait for us to get ready; it merely sweeps in and drowns out our cries as our childhood home is parceled off to some other family, and our favourite places are reduced to mere reminders of a life that used to be, as we let go of these tiny mementos of memories hoarded in our basement, thinking they might represent our legacy but it seems as though somebody forgot to tell me that the further I continue to go and the more milestones I manage to score, all the more I will have to let go. It's becoming increasingly difficult to ride all these highs, when they are birthed from incredibly painful goodbyes.