you were cliff
i was john
we didn't belong on the same planet
let alone the same family
when you discarded lumberjack shirts and blue jeans
i donned military jacket
put flowers in my hair
you stopped being a bachelor boy
i became a walrus
you had kids
i had orgasms
you - weeding
i - weed
there was no way that we were going to sit at the christmas table and share wishbones
you have your jag
i - an ageing rocksta
hidden in rubbery veins
red neck corpuscles
runs the same dna
at a time
there were times i would sit and stare out at the spindly breadfruit tree, knowing how hard the soil is and just how difficult it must be for those roots to push against the compacted soil; aided only by infrequent rain and chicken drop pellets.
other times the harshness of the sun would prevent my gaze, even if i cupped my hand over my eyes, trying to shield them from its rays, but still the blazing sun would strike through my pinkened fingers and pain my eyes, making them dry.
in the evenings, when it was a little cooler outside, i would sit in the gazebo and listen to the children playing by the ditch. i could hear their little squeals and squeaks of joy as they played with the water, or traced patterns on the hard earth then run laughing up the road to see the two white ducks waddling, uncaring.
i’m not sure if i missed her most then, or all those other times she was away. maybe it was all of them. maybe i just couldn’t find one single occasion when i missed her more than any other, they were all equally as lonely, melancholy.
i couldn’t tell her. i couldn’t or wouldn’t put that burden upon her. i didn’t want her to feel bad about leaving us. i wanted her to know that she was missed sufficiently, enough, but no more. i felt, in a way, that was my duty towards her, to swallow the emptiness i felt when she wasn’t there, i owed her that, surely.
that day, before she left again, we walked in the drying garden as she pointed out a fruit bud on the breadfruit tree, smiled, put her hand on mine, looked me straight in the eyes and said, i know.
Yusuf Martin was born in London, lived briefly in India and has finally retired and settled in rural Malaysia. He can be seen on NTV7 Malaysian national television and heard on BFM Radio. He has written several short stories published in collections in Malaysia including Silverfish New Writing 5 (2006); Silverfish New Writing 7 (2008); Urban Odysseys (2009); and an essay for New Malaysian Essays 2 (Mata Hari, 2009). Yusuf is currently putting the finishing touches to a book of short stories about kampong life in Malaysia (Kampong Tales) and writing two novels one based upon his social work experiences (The Unsocial Worker), the other about a bomoh called Melvyn. He has post-graduate degrees in Art History & Theory and Gallery Studies. His blogs can be found at http://fatmankampung.blogspot.com, http://correspondences-martin.blogspot.com/ and http://mondaymelvyn.blogspot.com/.