Tiekoro watched Nadie busying herself with the children, and noticed the dark rings around her eyes and the nervousness of her movements. She was suffering; she was afraid. If she wavered, what would become of him? He would have liked to take her in his arms there in the middle of the crowd, as he had once before, and murmur: “Don’t be frightened. I’ll never leave you. Never. And I’ll never allow you to become a servant again. You’re the dearest thing I have in the world, now that my dreams and ambitions are gone.”
But how could you say such things to a woman?
A heartfelt moment that stopped short before it could become heartfelt, in a period fiction I love called Segu (by Maryse Condé). How do we say those things to the people we love? The short answer is that we don’t end up saying them. We can go entire lifetimes without letting the people we are closest to know that we respect them and love them and despite all appearances don’t exactly take them for granted.
This is not a ‘go right now and tell people how much we love them’ piece. It’s simply me wondering about how the strongest force on Earth is not love, hatred, anger, sadness or anything so literary. The strongest force is the social distance between people, the inability to reach out to people, ours and strangers, because that is not what is done; that indefinable social fear that prevents people from standing out in a crowd, the fear of losing face. It paralyses. There was a woman I once met who was writing a story about how politeness got in the way of a married couple’s relationship, and I though how true it was, and too inevitable.
I got into a slight row with my Mum today and apologised and I feel bad but worse is that I feel utterly incapable of truly apologising, of breaking down all those walls that are always there, the uncertainty and the discomfort I feel in their presence. It pains me that I’m taking a rare break from hiding out in my bedroom to type this downstairs and my Dad has wandered over to turn the TV on and I just wish I would be left alone and that he doesn’t talk to me, even though he’s a good guy. He’s probably the best guy around but I would barely know because I’ve never spoken openly to my parents at any stage. They’re probably lonely after thirty years in the same marriage, and probably expected that their high-flying child of fifteen years ago would have reaped a lot more by now, and I haven’t and probably contribute to the malaise in a small to immense way.
My little brother is my dude. I don’t have D’n’Ms with him but if anything that’s what makes it a good one, the fact that there doesn’t need to be, that I don’t need to know his stuff in order to still be important to him. I could walk away from this country without qualms but for my bro, my dear bro… but I could never tell him these things, that I would choose him over any chick, that some things are just more important than vagina. How could I tell him he’s number one? He intelligent, commerce at Melbourne Uni etc etc, but when it comes down to it he’s just a knockabout teen and would cringe at all of this shit.
Blood cements those things even without them having to be said. But I drove away she who must never be mentioned because we do not share common blood, because I needed everything from her and wasn’t happy with her simple assurances that I was important when her actions told me otherwise. For better or worse I’ve lost her and I don’t know anyone I can be heartfelt to anymore, it’s all just socially accepted small talk crap at this point, and I miss it, I really miss being able to admit my fears to someone.