"A man writes because he doubts, because he is tormented."

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Writing for a Birthday

Just like every year before, A's girlfriend, N, demands a writing for her birthday gift. In return, she will write one on A's birthday. Back then, A and N were separated for more than 900 kms, so exchanging gifts in the form of writing was more of convenience and budget-consciousness than a romantic gesture. But they are now in one town, already for two years. They no longer having to deal with the perils of a long distance relationship. Yet the writing grew to became a ritual. None of them weren't sure who decided this to be a yearly ritual.

It is better, A thinks, that N asks for a dinner in a restaurant or a handbag than a writing. Not that A is rich, of course. He's just a staff, a middle-class at most. Moreover the company A is working can only manage to achieve 50% of this year's target so A is expecting his wage to be cut in half. But A'd rather giving up his lunch to save for birthday gift than to write. He thinks he can no longer write.

Every time A looks at his laptop trying to write something not related to work, he feels numb. Years of writing corporate letters and mountains of data renders his mind bureaucratic, if not robotic.

"I cannot write anymore," said A to N on one lazy afternoon.

"Just write something about me. Something about us."

A looked at the wall, waiting for some divine inspiration. The divine inspiration came and told him of a trap question that's about to come.

"Or... is it that you don't know me at all after all these years?", N broke the silence.

The divine inspiration was right.

No, of course A knows N. Well, most of her. He knows her habits and quirks, her traits and personalities. He knows her family. He knows some of her secrets. He knows their stories together even though he's often forgetful. He knows what a decent boyfriend is supposed to know about his girlfriend. A just feels that telling her about her, repeating the same points and stories he's made in his previous writings is of no use.

A can write N a romantic letter – words of praise slapdashed with poetic phrases copied from Pablo Neruda's or Shakespeare's love sonnets. But the romantic era is over. At best his writing will be as cheesy as a double cheese burger designed to kill its consumer. N will laugh at his silly poems, and everyone else who happens to read his blog post will get eyesores.

A can also write their stories during this year in detail, like a diary of an obsessive person. He may try to write it in long, winding prose like that "great" Pulitzer winner Jonathan Franzen. But that verbose writing will more likely make N yawn, and everyone else who happens to read will probably think that they've just read a brickwall.

After a long meditation, A finally gives in to N's idea. He will just write something about her as usual. It's not that difficult. After all, they have some similarities. For instance, they both love eating and sleeping – the actual, literal sleeping, not the one involving nakedness and child-making. He remembers that one Sunday when the sun was so hot up high it was almost blinding. The road was reduced into a platform of dusts, with walls of torrid wind sweeping here and there. They were both hungry. But the heat that separated them with the food vendors nearby was too much of a hassle that they rather sleep away the hunger.

"Perhaps one day we'll die because of our laziness," N commented at that time.

"You know what's sadder than that?"


"That those damn online news portals will cover our stories for days and turn them into profits."

"And your friends will make statuses of us, complete with hashtags."

Eating and sleeping are not marvellous quality. A thinks that they are the most boring hobbies that a child usually uses to describe herself on her biodata, besides reading. So he thinks of their differences.

He opens his laptops and begins to write.

"Frankly, my dear, I don't know how you could fall in love with me. I am even more confused how could we last for years. Back then, I predicted that we only last for three months. Why three months, you may ask. Three months is usually the time one realises that she's dating a jerk or she's dating someone much worse than she expects. And I think you couldn't pick someone worse than me, especially your other potential suitors were more successfull and better than I am..."

A proceeds to list their differences. He is sloppy, she is organized. He is so-so, while she, who always aims for the great things, is herself great. He is the armchair-theorising leftist whose best activism is sharing news contents online almost no one in his online friends actually pays attention. She, on the other hand, is a full-fledged disciple of capitalism, a proud corporate slave, and a devout Über (and other sharing economy apps) user. A lists several more but then deletes them, concerned that they actually gives N comprehensive reasons of why she should break up with A.

He looks at his laptop.

What to write for a birthday?

How to write good as a gift?

A remembers, long ago, a god apparently gave someone to be crucified as the "greatest gift for the world". One unknown man, inspired by this revelation, write about that thusly: in the beginning was the Word.

A begins to type.

"In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was Love..."

And the Love was her.

And that's enough.



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