Tuesday, January 19, 2010
In the Shadows
“Aren’t you going to miss this place?” I remember asking her. “No,” she said looking right at me, almost defiantly. “I miss my family, Canada, everyone. I’m glad to go.” “Well,” I shrugged, “then I’m happy for you.” I lied. And I was sure she lied too. For how does one debar herself of nostalgia, I don’t figure. It’s always there, nostalgia, for me at least.
Through the mist that envelops my future I have to consider my present in context. So – will I miss it, I thought as I climbed the stairs two at a time. There are Nepali cooking on the second floor, one of their smelly dishes, surely, sticking their finger inside to taste, then licking it and sticking it right back. On the first floor are Koreans who giggle incessantly and barely mind me as I squeeze myself along the wall to bypass their flurry, their racket. The Chinese walk around in flip-flops unkempt and blank-faced, like androids. All irritates me, their obliviousness pressing hard on sore points, on years of loneliness. Will I miss it. It’s hard to imagine I will.
It’s hardly the first time I’ve asked myself this. Even though time’s not been kind to this memory I’m gleaning, there are good things here. Really, like what? I retorted. And to refute this skeptic intimation I took to taking photographs. Trying to prove something to myself. There is beauty alright. Plenty. But it is tainted, stained by what I know, the ugly side of the funfair, which doesn’t get printed in brochures and news announcements. The backwards of it, the pantomime, the energy that goes into appearances, all for form and in want of content. Well if it’s appearances I cherish, these tall trees and neatly-trimmed grass, red buildings and squirrels galore, the more the landscape dissolves into idyllic the more egregiously it deceives. If it’s only appearances I’ll miss then I’ll miss nothing, because there’s scarcely anything to miss underneath. I’m beginning to understand what she meant.
We watched Battleship Potemkin today. The sailors found worms in their meat and made a revolution for a decent meal. Women and children were killed but the insurgence held fast. Of course it was not food they were after. It was dignity. Dignity is to not be given food with worms in it.