Trying to be poetic (2) – Tenses (2)

But there is nothing as humanizing as the past.

As the lowercase D slips down the alphabet, plummeting into its fitting place behind everything you believed in, doubts and insecurities mutate into their hideous, malicious forms, engulfing you. Your love for tranquil nights was replaced by her fervor for the neon lights and bright beams – you began to enjoy the glitz and the glam; and only when she left did you realize she was the only light you have ever seen. You grew accustomed to her messy hair strands in the shower, her slurred words in the night, her flimsy embraces.

But she grew sober, too sober for your liking, to see through your thoughts, your intentions, your desires. You began to feel conscious – patching up your flaws, hiding shared bottles of liquor, pulling down your sleeves. Her scars on her wrists disappeared, forgetting the ones growing on your heart; her nights filled with other people, yours filled with the serene ambiance you once desired – and you turned your loneliness into words; when she can’t fill up your nights, you chose to fill up pages of fading emotions.

As she left, you are rendered a mess with burnt up photographs and crumbled up notes, the remnants of your love, fragments of your history, spilled emotions and booze.

‘I know what you need’ & What exactly is ‘love’?

As I was leafing through one of the best short story collections by Stephen King – Graveyard Shift, I came across a peculiar and intriguing piece named ‘I know what you need’. Long story short, the ever-gorgeous Elizabeth met Ed, an odd but sweet guy who seems to fulfill every single one of her secret desires/wants. With the death of her fiance and Ed’s ability to comfort or mollify her at the darkest hours, they started a relationship that seemed to quasi-perfect.

One of the greatest questions raised in the short, and I quote, ‘He’s made you love him by knowing every secret thing you want and need, and that’s not love at all. That’s rape.’

So what exactly is love? What are the elements that constitute love? Is fulfilling wishes a vehicle of forcing others to fall in love? Is it mental manipulation?

First of all, just to clarify, I am currently single and deem myself as a ‘forever alone’ prototype, thus I am nowhere qualified to state what exactly is love, but am doing so just to throw out some of my thoughts. Love, in my opinion, has a three-fold structure: Passion, intimacy and commitment (we are excluding polygamy in this discussion unfortunately) Passion originates from the attraction between the two, be it mental or physical, also the element that is considered as the rudimentary one. Intimacy refers to the closeness/proximity between the partners, the amount of communication and understanding that flows between the two. Commitment, on the other hand, is about the trust and confidence either have in each other. It should also be noted that loyalty happens both ways, needs both time and concrete evidence to sturdy their faith in each other.

Secondly of all, fulfilling others’ wishes or appeasing the other is, what I consider as, a form of understanding and a way of showing love and care. Yes, a relationship should be a two-way process with both of the participants willing to sacrifice themselves or strive to make the other happy. It is by making both of the people jovial in a relationship, but not one.

In the story, Ed is adamant in making Beth happy, peppering her with gifts, fixing chairs in her beloved positions, appearing in the moments of her life where she needed him. In my perspective, Beth is in need of the emotion support that Ed offers. My line of logic runs as follows:

  1. There is no fault in Ed, whose talent in detecting and deciphering other’s thoughts is natural – his gifts should not be deemed as sin. I think it is an agreeable fact that he has no wrong in possessing the talent that he was blessed with.
  2. Secondly, Ed’s acknowledgement and his actions bring no tangible harm to Beth herself. In fact, Ed is offering emotional support at the RIGHT times, when he knew she needed someone to come by – he actively took up the role of taking care of her, making sure that she wasn’t emotionally lapsing after the staged death of her fiance. As their relationship blossomed, he tried to perfect every little detail: the softness of the chair, the way she liked the house to be tidied, the level of physical intimacy she aspires to have. At her pace, at her liking. Ed never did rush her or force her into being intimate or into a relationship in the first place – as he clarifies, he wanted her to be with him when she’s comfortable, unforced and willing.
  3. Thirdly, his intentions. Sure, he did use voodoo magic to cause her fiance’s death – but one point to note is that Beth herself was forced into marriage with her then fiance, who also stated that she was unwilling and unhappy with the relationship. Instead of allowing her to go with a decision she would regret, Ed used malicious methods to save Beth out of the relationship crisis she was in. Not saying that Ed was right, just stating that he did try his best to cast aside things Beth dislikes, and in coincidence, his best interests are also vested in the death of the fiance coincidentally. One thing we can be sure of is his desire to be with Elizabeth – which has grown since kindergarten days. It is one thing labeling it creepy and unwanted, and another to say that it is a strong, unwavering desire. He definitely never overstepped his boundaries, given that he knew WHAT SHE WANT, and he fulfilled all of WHAT SHE WANTS. By realizing her wants, he gains her love and trust, which in this case, is a win-win situation. It may sound like a contract, but it is of unspoken terms, and furthermore, even if Ed can predict Beth will fall in love with him by doing those actions, what’s wrong with that? Many people endeavor to win the heart of others – some by buying flowers, peppering their crushes with attention and many more other tactics that work. Once this unsigned contract breaks under the condition that Ed can no longer satiate Beth’s desires, Beth can still choose to love him or not – at the end of the day, she is not bounded to Ed, but to her criteria in men and her own choices in everything that Ed is able to perfect.
  4. Fourthly, is it psychological manipulation? If he acknowledges what she wants, and fulfills her wishes accordingly – does it count as forcing her to love him? After all, many people wish to find a partner completing a set of criteria, ticking box after box of ‘handsomeness’ or ‘niceness’. In real life, should dreams be realized, it is an undeniable fact that some can fulfill absolutely every single wish the other has with extreme measures. So what exactly is Ed’s fault for accomplishing everything that Beth wants and needs? I personally think it can only be manipulation when he actively controls what she wants and thinks of, but fulfilling the wishes she thought of under free will is a disparate thing. By definition, Ed would have to change her behavior or perception to things to qualify himself as a cheap, nefarious con of emotions – but he never did. He created an image of himself that was sweet and caring, and as long as it didn’t falter or cease to be true, it is very possible that Beth will continue the relationship since she likes her boyfriends to be able to make her happy – a very understandable requirement. Ed was willing to change himself, to alter his own image to make Beth happy, and there is nothing wrong with that unless Ed uses this image to abuse Beth’s emotions and then reveal a horrific personality later on after gaining her trust -which is untrue in the story. He fit into his character seamlessly and was actually willing and happy to do so, and I see no fault in that.

 

Leaving (3)

She was fading quickly. The ivory white blended with her gown, the rate she was sprinting tells me that it was impossible to reach her. The distance is too long, my speed was too slow – for some queer reason nature had a way of sucking people into unfathomable dimensions, and she was one of the unfortunate experiments. I was just the control experiment, lacking of any reactants to push me forth. All I could see were the splashes she makes while running; the accelerating pace of her footsteps; the swaying of her soaked hair –

Something protruded my skin. Stabbed, to be more accurate. The stinging sensation rushed up, the sharp pain mangled with my frustrations, overwhelming my nerves. I looked back just to see tiny needles prickling my legs, these tiny objects covering most of my back, forming dots of blood and painting wiggly, irregular streaks of bright red. My vision started to blotch in crimson, the sourness of blood wafting to my nostrils, my thighs felt so powerless and tired. The needles kept sticking onto my skin, piercing my veins and blotching my pale skin with candy red coloration. The red came flooding in, at first drop-wise, then forming a puddle, and further on the road, began to faze in with the water.

It was pitch dark.

 

Leaving (2)

It was her hazel browns that caught my attention – sparkly and full of jovial exuberance. Her entrancing smile would light up the nose, her slight wrinkling of her nose, the intertwining of her slender fingers – everything about her was the epitome of beauty. Her angelic presence, her airy tone, her unintended chuckles, her rosy blush were all magnetic to attention and love. The way she brushed the strand of hair back, the way she covers her dainty mouth when she laughs, the way she focuses on her work with the pouted lips were engraved in my mind with intricate details.

All I could do was to run after her: to clench her forearm and pull her back before it was too late. The corridor glistened with an occasional raindrop that smeared on the walls, the sweat dripping from my forehead. I welcomed the patters of rain hitting on my body, the bouncing off my skin as I rushed to catch up with Alejandra’s pace.

As the miles stretched on, I realized there was no way I could go up to her and turn her back to where sanity lies. Curtain after curtain of rain splattered on me, obstructing my running. I was completely soaked from head to toe, with droplets of rainwater dangling from my bangs, mystifying my vision as I saw the white figure ahead of me frantically running along the endless passageway.

Biting down my lip, I summoned all of my strength as I charged with an unspeakable fury – my emotions swirling while our memories drip-dropped into mixture contained in my heart. While my sanity screamed for me to halt, to stop before I catch a cold in this pouring rain, telling me that there is no practical use when she is evidently miles away, my heart summons me to go straightforward. The blank walls flew past me as I stormed my way through the shower, her hair swaying past my face, her silly-sounding laughter whirled around, her slender fingers tapping my shoulders, everything about her were enveloping my mind – her floral scent invasive to my nostrils, her gentle touch making my skin tingle, her sweet voice ricocheting off the walls into my ears.

‘Why would you leave me deserted?’   

‘Why would you have the conscience to abandon me in this caliginous world?’

She replied with her resonating silence.

Thoughts on portrayal of women in horror films

I’ve always had a hard time deciphering how, and why do the people seem to view horror flicks or novels with distaste – as if they were the cheaper, less appealing genre when compared to sappy romantic movies that are just repeating cliches. What irks me more is when many question my inclination to watch thriller films – it seems to be a ubiquitous practice to which people stereotype my being female equivalent to my hating on anything remotely scary (doesn’t this say much about how women ARE STILL PERCEIVED AS DAMSELS-IN-DISTRESS??)

But this post is not just about being aggravated every time someone asks what I like watching – it’s fundamentally about how female characters are portrayed in the many horror flicks I’ve watched. As a awfully devoted fan of horror flicks, I am ashamed to say that there was not one woman that came across as memorable – not because they had mediocre acting skills, but because the scripts are misogynistic. Simply put, women are characterized as promiscuous, easy girls who are more-or-less made into ‘sluts’ that sleep around – thus somehow the director believed it would be morally acceptable to make them rape victims of the antagonist, as well as the first batch of people who would be executed in brutal methodologies (trust me, you would not want to go into it); as if their sexuality is a sin, as if their virginity is the key for survival, as if they simply deserved death if they wanted casual sex. Surely it sounds despicable and pretty much getting a ‘ew, gross’ or a ‘that only happens in the past slasher films’ from you, but I assure you, from Jaws to any classics – it will not only feature females running around for flashing their hourglass figures, but also feature docile damsels in distress that pose as the ‘final girl’.

In the eyes of a debater and an avid public speaker for female rights – I find it revolting that only with virginity, naivety and presumably good looks, you are able to survive a ominous murderer’s chase – completely incredible in real life. As much as I adore courageous female characters like Sarah Carter in The Descent – many many more of the females in the horror film industry are rendered as sex objects and a projecting of the 1940’s stereotype of females being timid, shy creatures who need men to protect them from all evil.

Haplessly, it is not just the potential female victims who are given stereotyped personalities – but the rare few of female antagonists of the film as well. Many films that feature female murderers often compose the female’s intentions/motives purely for romantic interests: If we are quoting Cat People in its 1942/1982 version – Irena Dubrovna is just a poor woman whose husband decided to cheat on her, and to exert revenge – she threatens her husband’s lover rather than calling it quits. Furthermore, her actions amplifies the message that the wrongdoer is the lover rather than her husband, who cheated and became disloyal. Besides, in the industry, many of the villains in the flicks are predominantly male and exert power over females – in many occurrences, females are just abused by them to demonstrate the ‘strength’ of the villains.

Most of you would probably be deterred by now – not just due to the horrifying nature of thrillers itself, but for the obstinate and unaltered state of female portrayal. Needless to say, this doesn’t only apply to the horror genre – but to the entirety of the film industry. As much as I adore the tension, the drama and the enigma – it is time to bid goodbye to misogyny in thriller flicks.

 

 

Life & Numbers

What is life?

It is about the exposure to the flair in cultures, the scent of literature, the touch of your soul in the spark of the moment.

But our lives are numbers.

Our days are numbered, our identity is numbered by the minuscule digits on our ID cards, our fate to be numbered by the lottery of life, and our success is numbered by the results we get from exams.

Life is just that simple.

But perhaps, just perhaps, we are worth more than the period of time we can enjoy Mother Nature before we cease to exist, and be buried 9 feet under in a tiny crate. Maybe we are worth more than just the alternate lengths of scrawny thin lines on our identity cards. It could be true that we can get enough luck to cheat destiny. And only if our value wasn’t just limited to the percentage we have got in public examinations.

Only if.

Numbers fill our lives and yet the irony is that some of us just never mastered the basics of mathematics. To some of us, we still obstinately believe that exams aren’t be-all and end-all. To some of us, we still have faith in the means instead of the ends. To some of us, we still consider life for living instead of getting through day by day.

To those of you out there, stay strong.