In the company of incoherent thoughtsTreading through the tides—of memory and of the moment.
He used to write me emails from his office in an American town where he lived. How odd that I can’t even remember where that was. He must have been around my age when he left home at that time. He read Namesake on the bus to work and back, and at work, as he sat at his desk waiting for customers, he said.
When he returned home to Nepal, he handed me a worn-out copy of Namesake and said, “Here, a friend in my loneliness. For you.” I would imagine him bobbing on the bus, reading the book. I would picture him sitting on his desk, his eyes watching the deserted stretch of the highway. I can sense that loneliness right now. I’ve probably inherited it.
I boiled a potato, thinking I might be able to make aloo ko achar. But it turns out that I will need mustard oil. The main ingredient for some of these traditional dishes I have loved and never realised is mustard oil. I used to tell Mamu that I hate the intense smell of the oil, whenever she deep-fried cumin seeds in it and set the house on smoke. And now, I realise without mustard oil, there will never be any aloo ko achar. I can try and fry it like Mustang aloo, but for a similar shape and size, the potato tastes nothing of the mountains.
I hear my neighbour. S/he is eating something that isn’t soupy, with a spoon out of a bowl. I can hear the spoon clang gently against the bowl. I say bowl because the sound of eating out of a plate is quieter. You pick from the surface. When you eat something un-soupy out of a bowl, you drag it over the surface and then the spoon might hit the edge of the bowl one more time before the morsel travels to your mouth. I wonder what my neighbour looks like. I have only seen the car and the lights. Maybe a middle-aged woman? I saw some bras hanging on the clothesline. But there were also some large, plain t-shirts. So, maybe a couple? Or maybe a woman who likes to wear plain t-shirts. Or a transman. Or anybody. Neighbour.
It’s quiet now, so my neighbour must be done with dinner. I think I also heard the gate. I’m not sure if the sound came from the house behind mine or the one on my left. I think it’s the one behind me. I saw a man go out the back door in the afternoon.
I spent the day watching Chernobyl and finished the entire series. It was made possible by the guy who came to fix the internet. I’ve had internet all day today, which feels like a luxury. Internet is expensive here, and mostly dysfunctional. It’s crazy.
I didn’t cook fresh food this weekend. I mostly reheated and recycled leftovers. I’ve always wanted to do a cookery show about leftovers.
The weekend went okay. I was able to buy a big box of dinosaurs yesterday, while I was out to register a complaint about the intermittently dead internet. And then I fell sick. Today, I was mostly at home, watching TV. The couch became my bed, my diner, my refuge, as my body heat competed with the outside temperature. In the evening, I pushed myself to ride to the convenience store to get water. Then I rode my bike around the village.
I’ve started talking to strangers when I walk around the village. I mostly talk to people who own dogs.
I’ve come back home today after being away for ten days. It has been good to be away. I think it isn’t that I mind being here alone, but it kills me to have to eat alone. How ironic that is, when all my life, I had imagined the best thing to do in life was to eat alone at restaurants and pay my own bills. I saw that as a mark of women’s economic independence. Do your job and pay your own bills. It is, actually. Precious freedom. But it screws with my mind to have nothing to do on weekends.
Maybe having dogs around would make it easier. I think they take care of my sanity. But might be hard for the dog?
I’m trying to go out as much as I can on weekends after last week’s experience. Last Saturday, I think I hit a very low tide of depression. I couldn’t stop crying. Everything and anything was making me cry. I couldn’t speak to anyone without tearing up. I reached out to Bea after I felt like it was getting a bit too much. I spent Sunday with her in the city, and then I felt like I was in a much better place.
I cannot understand my own space when I’m depressed. But Bea said something about making peace with depression, about embracing it. Not rejecting it, but confronting it. Maybe I’ve started doing that unconsciously after my conversation with her. Bea thinks that my depression has always been there and it disappears when I’m around distractions, but comes back when there are no distractions. I have had all my time to myself lately, and it is every reason for depression to come to the fore.
It’s even ironic that I have all this time to myself now. Certain years in my life, all I wanted was a room of my own, where I could be with my thoughts without interruption. And now, without interruptions, my thoughts still have no coherence. I think I’ve partly allowed myself to feel guilty for living in a big house all by myself, because for how I was brought up, women always share and put others before themselves. But being in a house of my own has always been a dream, which I’m finally living. Yet. Yet, there’s internalised guilt at work.
Once I go back to living with my family, all the little arguments and differences we have had over the over-steeping of tea, the crunchiness of buckwheat pancakes and the state of curtains will probably resurge. And I will then have to learn to live with the situations, and make peace with everything.
For now, I have peace and quiet. I have the sound of the night. I have evening walks, bicycle rides, neighbours’ dogs. And in the mornings, I have the sound of birds.
Maybe these were his thoughts too, as he watched the stretch of the highway from his desk. He must have paused at the peace around him on some days, missed the chaos in Nepal, and thought: I am solitude. For now.