A Taxi Ride: Dear You

Coffee stains in the car. Dusty windows. The wheel is not a wheel. This car is not your house: put your feet down. On the phone: six messages. The last one said, “The world is a scary place. It has become harder to laugh. I am glad you are home safe.”

Don’t reply.

Let it sink in.

A little deeper. Settler. Doppler.

I hit send.

Another message: “Goodnight, goodnight, dear heart.”

It’s a line from a movie, isn’t it? Or the title of a TV episode. Testatement of age. A stage. When you can, you try. Where you fail, a tailspin. I am the empress of a forgotten soil, the sultan of grief. “Don’t cry,” the message continued. “It will all blow over soon.”

If I live to be 88, I will love you still with the ferocity of an 18-year-old. Defying myths. It is the only thing that does not, will not change.

Does the wind ever stop blowing?

My mouth: a chimney. A thick mist. Evaporates into thin air. A kiss.

I grieve for the lives lost in the skies, on the ground, deep in the crevices of unknown valleys underwater. Scream! Not this. Not again: a jetliner carrying 69 passengers plunged into the blue ocean after making a 90-degree turn. You have two minutes before the lights go out. Mayday! I can’t, I can’t, I can’t…

A straitjacket.

The world is a traumatic place. Life, a traumatic experience.

How do you erase the memory of what ails you without killing the thing that gives you joy? Light and darkness. Near and far. If it is all the same, then might as well. Remember: not all is wasted.

I imagine being with you, lying on a bed of grass and staring at the dark sky. Do you recognize: Andromeda? Astrologists swear by it, that it holds the key to a vast universe of lies. Tell you what…

If I live to be 88, I will love you still with the ferocity of an 18-year-old. Defying myths. It is the only thing that does not, will not change.

To be, or not to be. I am me.

A child grows. In old age, she withers. If we are lucky, everything else stays the same. Insanity is a name they give to obsession. What is delusion if not perceived reality? This is mirth. Revel in it. Find your peace.

Per chance to dream.

Hazelnut toffee, salt-water taffy.

We ride away into a smokescreen. Delirium: I am alive. I am not. A particular sense of humor is not funny. I recognize the familiarity from a distance. Unchallenged. To be, or not to be. I am me.

A banyan tree. Flowers. Don’t step on the grass. Make room. I spill coffee in the car, the stains are visible and ugly. The driver turns the wheel.

It is 10.04 am.

I have arrived. I am here.

A message: “Evil is inherited.”


© Maggie Tiojakin. 2016. 

Note from the author

I wrote this piece in a taxi on the way to work. Not sure what I was getting at, but traffic was pretty bad and I remember thinking what it would be like to process a certain kind of hurt which you can’t really talk about. In the news, word of another plane crash was abuzz. I read the news feed in the taxi: EgyptAir Flight 804 crashed into the Mediterranean Sea, killing all 69 passengers. I remember thinking the world is a different place now; and it scared me that I could no longer recognize it.

Dear You is a project that allows you to write and express your inner thoughts. The ‘you’ is always abstract and the point is to give yourself (and your mind) the time to let loose. That said, ‘Dear You’ is an abstract letter-writing project initiated by The Jakarta Post Writing Center.

Soon we will open a submission opportunity for those who would like to write their own dear you’s. Stay tuned.