One day, while you stood picking kale at the grocery section of Nakumatt Supermarket, you sang along to an old blue grass hit. I watched you and wished that I’d listened to more old classics in my younger days; just so we could sing along to this particular song together. You did this silly dance in public whenever I started singing something, which would always make me stop singing so I could beg you to stop embarrassing yourself. You would say, “But I’m not embarrassed” so I would move away and act like we weren’t together.
You used to say random stuff like “The mind is a whiteboard, wipe it clean” when I couldn’t sleep. Or “Your head is a tea cup, if it’s empty or it’s turned upside down it cannot receive new knowledge”. My favourite was your response to the news of my admission to a campus overseas. I had put it off for so long, I was sure I could not get in at my age. Even though I would not be going because I could not afford it at the time, you said, “You got in. That’s what counts.”
I’m seated by my desk in my small studio apartment wondering what I should say about you tomorrow. I’m struggling to strike a balance between an upbeat toast to someone I cared for dearly without letting anyone in on our secret lives. You alleged that nobody likely knew you as well as I did, but that was probably someone else talking. You were less candid about things when the lights came off and we were seated on the floor with our legs crossed and the shadows from the single candle were dancing about on the walls and ceiling. You were more open, but by far less willing to upset the perfect aura of quiet satisfaction. We were such a wonderful cliche. Keeping things platonic, steering clear of each others’ office hours, meeting once or twice a week just to eat and talk and free ourselves and be ourselves. It’s the only reason why I didn’t stay the night after that first time; I was too comfortable around you already.
I will have to settle for a mediocre speech. Surely you can understand that there would be too many questions. Already, your sister clings to me as if I have the answers to the questions she is too afraid to pose. Because I too can see that she is wondering why you got to leave and, even though I was sick too, I got to stay.