21 June 2013

Blame it on a black star

Walking up the road to Kajang station, I hear the sound and catch a glimpse of two bodies flung into the air from a motorbike. Ejected like from a catapult: they must have hit something in the road. I run out into traffic, my right hand flagging down a car to stop it. One young man on the ground, holding his right leg and wincing in pain, I tell him to relax and try to keep him from trying to stand up. The reaction of the body after falling is to try to stand. That's the reflex: get up and walk it off — it's okay, everything is okay. A woman behind me is asking if someone can call an ambulance; I give her my phone and the rider on the ground is now scooting across the blacktop on both hands, trying to get out of the way of the cars turning into the tadika car park that I just realise now we are blocking. Two others, Chinese Malaysians, come up and kneel down next to the rider; the woman who took my phone gives it back, saying that the headmaster has called the hospital. There's nothing I can do, really. I pick up my bag and walk away. 

A grey haze is floating on the campus, caused I'm told by open burning in Indonesia. No one is here, my colleagues are home or off to their home countries for the summer. I'm standing out looking into the palm trees, the plantation that surrounds the campus, and thinking of going home early. There is no momentum here: no energy. 

Momentum is a metaphor I employ to talk about relationships. This relationship has momentum. In relationships, you don't talk about concrete things, but put labels on feelings and try to explain what you want and need and pretend like it's something you can do: give any real sense of what you experience. I have a PhD in discourse analysis: it cripples me. At some point, the retelling of the past is too much of a burden, all the resentment that builds up in the course of being with someone over years and years. The past and present grinding against each other. Feelings are objects; movement is an object. Don't think too much about it.

The thing about good stories is that you cannot know the ending before setting out. Or rather, you can know the ending, but you must become convinced in the middle of the story, that you were lied to about the ending.  I've been struck by this: a successful marriage always ends in one person dead. Dan Savage and Andrew Sullivan talking about marriage discuss the case of a couple married for 49 and half years and divorcing, finally. One of them, Savage or Sullivan — I forget which one, comments that if a day before the wife had decided to leave, her husband had died, the narrative of the marriage would have been one of success. 

Who can say really.