And yet again I let you slip between the gaps of my fingers. I always pride myself for having words as my sword and my shield but you — you always manage to disarm me. My lips are forged into a pair of frustration and denial; my tongue tied like a knot.
“I’m okay, I don’t care”, chants the unsung hero in my sleep. Another night of deep sighs. Another night of uttering the words I will never get to say. There is no easy way to get to you, is it? I was always a step behind your smile. Too close but not close enough. Now I’m a step behind the aisle. And you… you will always be the wind I fail to catch with these hands.
It took me sleepless nights and a slit wrist to unlove you. My eyes, once insignias of misery, now glow beneath the cloudless sky. I no longer freeze on a Bublé song. No longer break on the streets where you used to hold my hands. The forget-me-nots have died under my pillow. And on moonlit nights, I dance.
It took me sleepless nights and a slit wrist to love myself.
Now, I wear a tint of blood on my lips To remind you of what you left And will never ever get.
Honey, let me tell you what your eyes refuse to see
When I smile at the man who dares touch my skin, All my insides turn upside down My ribcage strain to hold out anger My chest is empty of breaths and full of violence A curse has latched itself into my bones ─ It peels. It burns.
Beyond my Cheshire smile is a war Between words I want to say and the world that won’t let me My heathen tongue is shut by the thing that you call “joke” So I bite down a wrathful scream Swallow a coil of sorrow, Bury it deep in a mass grave of apologies
For being a woman who can’t fight.
Honey, you see ─ or perhaps you don’t There is no safe place my kind Against the devil and you, the accessory to the crime Who thinks a touch, A tap, A graze, A pinch Is just being “playful”
I am not a toy.
I am bones and flesh held hostage By prejudice and wealthy monsters Who use my lack for their gain ─ Leave your pretense on my doorstep For I have long died My smile ─ no, my mouth Is now an open wound for the flies
Open your eyes.
I know that I said I won’t let current news and affairs affect me. That I would take care of my mental health first. But there are just those days when people’s stupidity triggers the anger in you. This is one of those moments.
The excitement of being lost wears off rather quickly(p.21). As bad luck would have it(p.31), the fantasy was primarily an adventure story(p.33). As I grew older(p.35), I spent half my waking moments repairing(p.50), retaining some degree of dignity(p.65) over the years(p.66). I cannot tell you how long the ensuing battle lasted(p.81) — years(p.104), a few days(p.102), an hour or so(p.114). Why is it so difficult(p.175) to perfect the art of whining(p.186)?
Weekend cleanup led me to discover this piece written on an index card. I cannot remember what particular book I was reading or when did I jot these lines down. I’m curious to know though what’s on my mind that day… What struck a chord in me? Was it the thought of losing our childishness and childish spirit? Was I missing the outdoors? What was I trying to whine? Is this piece even finished?
Short Synopsis: Humbert Humbert — scholar, aesthete and romantic — has fallen completely and utterly in love with Lolita Haze, his landlady’s gum-snapping, silky skinned twelve-year-old daughter. Reluctantly agreeing to marry Mrs Haze just to be close to Lolita, Humbert suffers greatly in the pursuit of romance; but when Lo herself starts looking for attention elsewhere, he will carry her off on a desperate cross-country misadventure, all in the name of Love. Hilarious, flamboyant, heart-breaking and full of ingenious word play, Lolita is an immaculate, unforgettable masterpiece of obsession, delusion and lust.
What I liked:
1. The plot. The ingenious way Nabokov toys with the reader’s mind. You get a self-confessed madman — a scheming pedophile who has a taste for young girls. And not just any other younglings at that. Humbert Humbert did not find Lolita sexually attractive because of her beauty and wit (which are almost non-existent), but because she is a nymphet. An ideal combination of childishness and preadolescence.
As Humbert presents the story of his affair with Lolita in first person, this is where Nabokov’s brilliance as a writer shows. Humbert comes across as an intellectual and romantic, detached and fixated. He is both ashamed and proud of the steps he takes to gratify his passion (or obsession). The moral and emotional conflicts that Humbert goes through are so human that he could trick you into thinking that, perhaps, what he has done is excusable. While I personally was wary of Humbert most of the time, there was one instant that I had to rethink ─ is this really love in a very weird form? But then, when you see through his manipulation, you get pentapod monster (his own words) not a man.
2. No pornographic sex. I know Lolita has been frequently described as an erotica but some people tend to overlook its beautiful prose. Nabokov writes about sex in the language of metaphors and figures of speech. While contemporary novels are filled with explicit descriptions of sexual acts, Lolita introduces a one-of-a-kind orgasm through Humbert.
“I entered a plane of being where nothing mattered, save the infusion of joy brewed within my body. What had begun as a delicious distension of my innermost roots became a glowing tingle which now had reached that state of absolute security, confidence and reliance not found elsewhere in conscious life.”
3. It gives you glimpse of a predator’s mind. If we look at the sexualization of women then and now, not much has changed. Lolita shows a clear picture of the schemes that are often used by abusers. When those accused of sexual crime defend themselves, they often say “she wanted it” or “she started it.” They consciously or unconsciously misinterpret a laughter, soft voice or tensed hands as gestures of consent.
Reading the book is a tough journey (for me especially as an ISFP) but a good one. It’s the kind of read where I had to constantly remind myself not to draw hasty conclusions because of my principles, politics, personal reservations and emotions. I had to look beyond the romanticism and be critical at how the characters are portrayed. At how pedophilia is being normalized. At how women are being objectified.
What I didn’t like: Nabokov did a splendid job. Too good that his work still reflects the plight women continue to face up to this day. There are still many who romanticize Humbert’s depravity and many who blame Lolita for being naïve. The world is still filled with enablers and complicit to the crime.
“Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece”
“We live not only in a world of thoughts, but also in a world of things. Words without experience are meaningless.”
“We loved each other with a premature love, marked by a fierceness that so often destroys adult lives.”
“Life is just one small piece of light between two eternal darknesses.”
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.”
“I shall be dumped where the weed decays, And the rest is rust and stardust”
“We all have such fateful objects — it may be a recurrent landscape in one case, a number in another — carefully chosen by the gods to attract events of specific significance for us: here shall John always stumble; there shall Jane’s heart always break.”
Final Thoughts: If age is just a number, what makes Humbert and Lolita’s relationship seem wrong? Would you see through lust if it was clothed in love? How would you draw the line between the two? There were a lot of irony and moral conflict to digest in this book. Kudos to Nabokov (again) for a thought-provoking read. But like what I said when I finished it last May, I don’t agree with the featured comment on the cover from Vanity Fair. It was far from being convincing or a love story to begin with. No, no. It was calculated rape.
Fingers tapping softly on the table, each second a louder beat of the heart. Murmurs, inaudible conversations— your voice drowning the noise of the crowd. Two seconds ago we were strangers, standing at the opposite aisle of a bookstore. You on conspiracies; I on poetry.
Stolen gazes… knowing smiles… paperbacks…
Life’s grand orchestra Plays a loving melody For just you and me
I remember this climb. In the darkness of the dawn, we hiked in full packs between huffs, pants and coughs. I remember asking myself, why did I have to bring so much load? I should have left that extra shirt. I should have left that extra jacket. Did I really need an extra pair of pants? As the earth gradually piled up under my feet, I realized that climbing mountains is not so different from living life.
Truth is much of what weigh me down are not mine to carry — the troubles of the world, other people’s problems, inexistent futures and such. Like how I pack for a climb, I also tend to carry things that does not fit. Things that I should have outgrown and moved on with. Like emotions and memories.
Some nights, my knees and chin almost touch as I lay curled on the bed. Tired of living. But just like mountain climbing, no matter how hard the climb (and life) is, the peak will always be worth it. Those moments of ups and downs will not be wasted if we take every step by heart.
And I hope what I felt when I ascended 2819.78 MASL to reach the summit of Mt. Wiji — that pure happiness and bliss — will be just the same when I reach the summit of my years. I want to be able to let go of all those extra baggage in the end. Arms wide open, surrendering to the beauty of nature. To the beauty of life.
She basks in the honey-tinted sunshine. Her hands carefree, her heart light.
Today, I want to tell this beautiful soul that I love her. Not through poetry or paperbacks. Not through comfort food or a good sleep. Not through self-care. Not through deep breaths. I want to hug her and hand these three bold words: I LOVE YOU.
For fighting the battles from within and without. Even if some wounds are self-inflicted. For trying to figure out the unknown. Even if answers seem nowhere to be found. For keeping the faith in life. Even if sometimes hope is eclipsed by doubt.
I want to kiss this unsung heroine — gather all the many selves that reside in her little body and give her a hero’s welcome. Because she made it through. Day after day. Night after night.
Today, my country celebrates National Heroes Day. As I commend the great men and women of the past and present, I would also like to take this time to thank the one constant hero in my life. Love you, self. 🥺