This, My Friend, Is For You
I remember witnessing the same grey sky under your umbrella. We were broken with sadness as we watched the other “special” people with their smiles and happy colors. I twisted my arm with yours, took your scent in and cried as I wept. My sharp edges kept giving me cuts in places I cannot dab with cures. I was told of stories, both whispered from land and sea, that everything will be okay. But the closest I got to “okay” was drifting off to dream. Like a cannon ball shot to the sky, the smoke blurred us from the clarity or cruelty against fragility. I held you close as your flesh shook from the cold. I held you tighter to chase away the wintry feel in your bones. Our eyes were deep-set and darkened from worry. We always slept but when we opened our eyes, they resembled disturbed, contaminated waters. I lived strangely, while you preferred to be buried in halls nobody knew of. I held your hand tightly and kept it against my chest. I knew that one day you will fade like the clear clouds on a Sunday evening. All I could see were patches of black and gray. I wobble, as I stand where both our soles once marked the ground. I’m not the same anymore. My face got back its color. It’s no longer deep-set, but my eyes mirror our days that once was. I close my eyes and beseech to the gods. If there are any, may they defrost the chills that prison his heart. May he be in a happier place with clearer skies. I raise a toast to those dark days for in those moments, having you by my side was the brightest I’ve ever been. I know you are elsewhere and happier too. This meager whisper into the changing winds, my friend, is for you.
I once knew of a man who knew everything. He learned how planes flew, why mice had pink on their feet and why compasses pointed North. He knew everything and to him, learning was breathing. But there was a void inside of him that nobody knew about. It was a certain portion of space that was always left hanging. He wished he didn’t know so much so he wouldn’t focus all the more on the emptiness. As his knowledge grew, he became lonelier and craved for answers he will never have. I last saw him slumped at a corner down the road, chanting to himself, "I would trade all this knowledge for the ignorance of a past I cannot remember."
When the envelopes have flown
The papers have gone missing
There is reminiscent ink
On my palm and fingertips
The bottles on the floor
Remind me of our drunken days
And the cheers we made for betterment
Why, why, why - sometimes I’d ask
Until the questions turned to ellipses
And they turned to acceptance
I no longer ask myself
About asking about you
Still I raise a glass to you -
Thank you for the days when we were high
She knew she didn’t have much time. Jade’s fingers sped through the keys on her laptop, finishing off 4 pending articles for the newspaper. It was her last week before her resignation. She was terrified about being jobless but she knew that her part in the newspaper industry was over. Scanning through the hills of papers that rested on her desk, she sighed and continued typing. She heard the front door open and close itself shut. A heavy bag was heard hitting the living room’s sofa with a thud. Footsteps were drawing closer. Jade continued to face her laptop as a shadow appeared on the wall, blocking the light that shone from the outside room. A pair of arms wrapped themselves around her shoulders, a nose sniffed at her neck. "Hi, baby," Jade said cheerfully, "Welcome home." Without turning around, she lifted her arm, grazed her palm against Adam’s cheek and ran her fingers through his hair. Adam had been away for several weeks on a business trip. Turning around to take a look at her fiance’s face, Jade could see he was evidently tired. But she smiled as his playful eyes remained untouched - they still twinkled in all its purity. She stood up and gave him a tight embrace. "I missed you," Adam murmured. He buried his face in her neck and held her tight. Jade hummed in agreement, stroking the tight muscles on his back. He was stressed. She knew he had been lacking sleep. She broke off from him and told him to prepare for bed. He nodded, gave her a kiss on the forehead and went to get changed. Jade sat back on her chair, now distracted from her pending articles. She sighed and got herself a hot cup of tea. She continued typing, shaking her head now and then with disagreement with herself. She was not motivated. She was exhausted. It was almost 2 in the morning. Sleep was starting to rest itself on her eyelids. She heard Adam leave the bathroom. She wanted to sleep too, but the days ahead were keeping her awake. Jade was clouded with her worries when Adam sneaked up behind her, planting a kiss on her nape. Shivers went up and down her spine. She stood up from her chair and accepted defeated. Jade wrapped her arms around Adam’s neck and kissed him softly. When she pulled away, she gently blew the breath of Listerine that she got from his kiss. Jade and Adam got under the sheets and slipped into slumber right away, after a long while of being sleepless and apart.
I sliced an apple into 6 equal parts and rested them onto a porcelain plate. Mother told me to never use them unless the Queen came over to have a slice of cake with us. I wasn’t quite sure if it was true that Mother and the Queen were pen pals. But the scare of that in the past few years was slowly wearing off. Just like the several times I have disobeyed her, I unearthed a porcelain plate and placed it on the center of our tea table. I sat for several hours and watched the 6 equally cut apple pieces turn from blush, to shades of beige and brown. I could trace the veins of the fruit with my finger. I took a whiff of a slice before grazing it against my wrist. I smelled it again - this time, from my wrist. It smelled good. I dabbed a finger on the spot where the apple slice came into contact with my skin. It felt sticky. I licked my wrist and giggled as I got tickled. I placed the apple slice back onto the plate, continuing to watch them in silence.
My brother came in through the door. He shot through the living room like a twister. He grabbed an apple slice and descended it into his agape mouth. I screamed as loud as I can. His eyes widened and stood in his place. I continued to scream until I could feel the veins in my forehead appear. I still didn’t pause. My scream passed its 15 second-mark. Mother came frantic into the room, demanding answers from my brother. He told her that he ate 1 of my 6 apple pieces. I was already crying and still screaming. I couldn’t stop. I screamed even as Mother covered my mouth with her Clorox-scented palm. I hated the smell of Clorox. I wanted to stop but I kept going. Drool oozed from my mouth. Snot rested on my upper lip. From my reflection on the kitchen mirror, I could see that I was red as a beetroot. I couldn’t breathe properly. Mother called Father. She said he was on his way.
Father came in with an ambulance. My brother held his knees as he hid under the table. I could hear him crying. Paramedics were carrying me onto a bed as I continued to scream. I was trying to squirm away from their grip. Mother tried to whisper soothing things into my ear. It didn’t work. I could hear and see my heartbeat. There were spots wherever I looked. When we reached our front porch, it wasn’t an ambulance that was parked in our driveway. I couldn’t tell what was written, but I read something that was on one of the medics’ uniform. It said “Psychiatric Ward”.
I continued to scream even when my voice was almost gone. I started hitting everyone that I saw. My hair was all over my face. I was made to wear a jacket where my arms couldn’t move. It felt coarse on my skin. I was told to lie down on the bed. Mother and Father sat next to me as the vehicle drove away. Mother was crying. Father was comforting her. I could see us getting farther away from our house, our front porch, our driveway. My brother was left alone in the house. With the remaining untouched 5 pieces of apple slices. The thought made me scream harder.
It came over her like a flu. Maybe it was the flu. The weather was fine in the morning. But her usual cup of tea wasn’t enough to chase away the chills. There was a lucky feeling resting in the back pocket of her jeans. But she refused to use it today. The cubicle she’s in at work was far from the sun. She loved daylight and believed the sun followed her around for a reason. There were rolled up tissue pieces on her desk as she stood up to leave. She headed to the park, watching trained dogs walk leash-less next to their owners. The smell of corn-dogs wafted in the early evening air. She smiled as her blocked nose still took in the delicious air. She rubbed her palms together in time with her foot that bunny hopped in its place. She was starting to feel too warm, still she wore her pastel brown coat. She held it close to her body. The skies were painted in acrylic purple and orange. She took out her camera, peeked from the viewfinder and clicked the shutter. She placed the Kodak camera back inside her bag and rubbed her arms with her gloved hands.
The Way You Look Tonight
A child from our neighborhood woke me up this morning. I was lying down outside my house, flat on my stomach. Beer breath oozed from my mouth. Drool was dried up on my chin. The child poked at my face with a stick and I woke with a yell. I shouted at him before he ran to his mother. She looked at me with a grieve expression before holding her son’s hand and pushing the trolley in front of her.
I tried to get up, but the pain in my joints and muscles stung. I cursed out loud, until a few other heads popped out from windows and doors to look at me. I flipped them the finger as I limped my way to my house. Fumbling for keys in my pockets, I blinked rapidly and tried to focus my vision.
The fridge was empty and the cat has given up asking me for food. The couch was disarrayed with food leftovers. Cockroaches took comfort in them and I let them. I looked at my reflection from the glass cabinet that once belonged to my wife. My stubble has made me look filthy and homeless. She always liked my face clean. I can still recall her soft hands cup my face as I lean in for a kiss. Her sweet scent remains around the house. I am left distressed. Grabbing a bottle of whiskey by the counter, I took a swig and dropped to the floor.
I miss her everyday. I’ve lost count of the days since she has passed. She used to do my laundry and do something to it that made them emerge as the softest things to wear. Breakfast would always be ready and she’d make smiley faces out of eggs, bacon and tomato bits. When I would oversleep due to tiredness, I’d find her slip in with me. Her arms would wrap themselves around me from behind and she would kiss my nape. She’d stroke my hair and say that it was okay to stay home. I was her home, she said. We would stay in bed all day, her warmth healing every pain I’ve ever felt.
There’s loud knocking on the door. In the sea of voices, there was a familiar one. I’ve misplaced my phone and didn’t bother looking for it. Friends and relatives are probably trying to reach me. I’ve abandoned my job and took refuge at the bar five blocks from here. I approached the door and clicked the two other locks shut and proceeded to my basement. I slammed its door behind me, drowning out their noise.
I sat on her favorite sofa. This was where we watched our favorite movies. She would always have her knees up to her chest, her toes curled in as she focused on the film. She wasn’t a fan of horror films, but she only agreed to watch them if I held her close enough that she could hear my breaths. The basement was our favorite part of the house. It was away from bright lights and people. The sole bulb in the middle of the ceiling allowed us to trace each other’s facial shadows. This was where I asked her to dance with me to a Sinatra soundtrack. She saw me cry that night and she kissed my tears away. I kissed her and tasted my salty tears from her lips.
Slumped on the floor, my back rested on the edge of the sofa. I patted the spot where her body’s imprint was. I found myself closing my eyes tightly shut and calling out her name. I clawed at the floor, hitting my forehead against it. I wanted her near again. I wanted to smell her, kiss her and succumb to the fires of her skin. I wanted to hear her voice. The only sound that made me calm. I wanted her back. I’ve lost her for good. The gods have forsaken every prayer I have offered them. There is no god. My pleas were left unheard. The winds have carried my woes until they’ve vanished to oblivion.
The pounding at the front door got louder. People found their way inside the house. I heard footsteps across the living room and ones approaching the basement entry. My brother slammed the basement door open and ran towards me. My body was on the floor, just as how the child this morning had found me. I cried silently as I was lifted up to the sofa. I closed my eyes and refused to look at anyone. I have lost my wife. I have lost purpose. In losing her, I have lost myself completely. It was meant to be that way or nothing else at all.
The notes are hollow, but the rhythm makes the symphony whole.
I love how the twinkle in your eye resembles the tranquil surfaces of a lake mirroring the gloss of the moon. I love how the sun appears to descend in between your flushed lips, like two rose petals enveloping an orb between each other. I feel a fragment of the universe settle itself inside me whenever our lips touch. If I were to explode, it would be the most beautiful way to be broken for eternity, the most beautiful way to go.
I Wanted To Tell Him
I wanted to tell him the little secrets that writhed in my bones. They were stories that clawed at me when my skin was rid of its defenses. I hid my thoughts carefully in my hair. Every time a hair strand fell to the floor, I felt like my own body was giving up on me. My face wrinkled each time I made a sigh in front of the mirror. Seeing who I was made me turn away every time.
Moonshine that crept in my room both caressed and burned right through me. The sheets in my bed are never in place as I slither in and out of them. I was barefoot to the kitchen and back. I carried a small cup of hot chocolate in my palms, hoping the chill that resided between my ribs would thaw. I drank the sugary liquid and felt it burn my throat. I shook my face and felt a tear drop from my left eye. I sat on the edge of my bed and grazed the spot where his shadow once was.
It was two in the morning and I could hear cats squealing from a distance. As I placed my hand on the rungs of the balcony, I took in a deep breath of the evening. I could see the stars prance every so lightly in their home. Their shimmer distracted me from my gloom for a while.
The floor of my room was littered with unfinished books and creased clothes. I sat underneath them, stroking the spines of the novels longing to be read. I felt my eyes and cheeks get wet, dragging the edge of the bed sheet and quickly wiping my face dry. I kept my right hand dangling on the left side of my chest, patting it to the drowsy beat of The Cinematic Orchestra’s To Build A Home. Cradling myself back and forth on the floor, I buried my face between my knees. I could feel his shadow upon me. I could feel his smell on my skin. Like a ballad startling your soul, I was helplessly endemic to his parameters. Even without.
I could taste myself and I found it rancid. I was nectar only when he was around to consume me. His absence made me physically ache. I try to make my way in the dark until I fall and scrape my knees. The blood starts to feel like jam. My joints quiver. Like a whisper into lifeless walls, I call out to you in silence.
I wanted to tell him the little secrets that writhed in my bones. They were stories that clawed at me when my skin was rid of its defenses. I hid my thoughts carefully in my hair. Every time a hair strand fell to the floor, I felt like my own body was giving up on me. My face wrinkled each time I made a sigh in front of the mirror. Seeing who I am made me turn away every time.
When I tell you to go, stay.
Roui Francisco | Mad Makina
Whenever he reached over for a hug, I’d take a whiff of the cigarette smoke that almost always permeated through his clothes. When I’d tease him about it, he would break into a smile and bully me about it or not care at all. Twisting a cigarette stick between his fingers, he was all set to impart reasons and inspirations for being the founder and 1/6th of Mad Makina. His almost non-existent eyes darted from me and the stick. He started his tale about how what he did was all about sharing what he possessed inside him to the world that was always open, yet unaware. He took a drag of his cigarette and proceeded to talk about the drive of creating and having your creations talked about. We would break into laughter now and then when he uttered a wrong word or two. But his clumsy tongue and excitedness showed the sheer vigor that rested in his heart. Every person had burdens on their own. But this man was always on the search for replacing such weight with something that would lead to knowing more about oneself. I found myself nodding every now and then at the way he molded his thoughts into words. The average person found it difficult to be on point with their perspective through speech. But the heart he had in what he did allowed him to portray his inner-most intentions in creating and expressing. I despised the smell of smoke and often waved my hand to distract its course towards me. But his stories got me riveted and I was even more engaged than I was when he first spoke. He spoke of Mad Makina as if it were his child. He loved it more than he loved sleep, often daydreaming about how he wishes to take this collaborative group of artists to the next level. He wanted to be the push that would make them realize their potential. He wanted to watch them grow and penetrate the outside of the limits they’ve always found themselves in. He took a deep breath as he twisted the remnant of his cigarette on a small bowl. I was amazed by his insights on himself, people in general and the world. Despite having to deal with everyday clutter in the literal and figurative manner, he managed to weather through it all and emerge as a sturdy sailor. Graphic design was where Roui made his playground. It was his kingdom and his never-ending ideas were what kept it upright. The bond we both shared in spite of arguments and differences only made us closer. I reached an arm over his shoulder, feeling very warm and thankful for having a friend with so much greatness that the unprepared world needed to brace themselves
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Mad Makina will be at the Middle East Film and Comic Con from April 3rd to the 5th at the World Trade Center, Dubai UAE. Come support and show some love. ♥
Archie Niduaza | Mad Makina
For those who are four-eyed, we know that it is an inevitable mannerism to constantly adjust one’s spectacles by tapping it at the bridge or by the rim. Throughout our conversation, he did this several times. His aura was a very gentle one that I had to move closer and observe what his silences and facial expressions meant. Underneath his calm and serene exterior, his ingenious skills loitered in the fields of videography and 3D. He admitted that he felt like a person who began something and wouldn’t finish it, simply because learning new things distracted him. But it was visible that it
wasn’t everyday things that inspired him to create. He was seldom captivated by ideas, but whenever he was, it would be a strong surge of spirit and virtuosity that would be his adrenaline. His subtle nature threw people off which often became a good introduction to his actualizations. He performs harmoniously on his own, but he knew of the importance of teamwork, embracing the oneness and compassion it required. I looked at him with a sense of appraisal, trying to decipher the pauses in between his tales. The lights were growing dimmer as the evening comfortably set in into the sky. The trees in the garden whispered and the leaves rustled across its branches. I looked over at his face as the light of the night shed shadow on his face. Mad Makina was the company he spent most of his time with. He revelled at their ideas and enjoyed how they inspired the other to create, improve and better their output. It was typical to procrastinate and simply dissolve in the lazy hours for fun. But even in those mundane hours, they were never rid of their cries for creating art that often rang in unison. I nodded in agreement as he spoke about feeling a void when it came to attempting to make something. But often masterpieces would emerge from spur of the moments and constantly working to reach it. He shifted in his seat, pursed his lips and smiled. There was silence between him and I for a while but it was one that was worth cherishing. Even in the absence of sound, there is music. Within silences, there are truths. Sometimes purpose resides there and it’s all about listening closely.
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Mad Makina will be at the Middle East Film and Comic Con from April 3rd to the 5th at the World Trade Center, Dubai UAE. Come support and show some love. ♥
The fruit of the 24-hour project!
Doodle for Samsung Mobile's S5 by the Mad Makina lads.
Grab your April issue of Stuff Middle East magazine now!
My collaborative art group Mad Makina got featured in a magazine today. Yay. ♥