by Alexandra Claudia Manta
Languidly, I squeeze ink from my wrath. Purple ink covers these soul-peels like little fractal veins circulating my unloaded anger. My moth-mouth stares at daylight wide open, burnt by the unexpected gift of foreseeing. I am legion, but I am squandered. Split I am by your eye blink, and unlocked to future visions. I am legion, but my sterile God is One and with the power of a thousand suns shall he burn the skin of my face until I uncover my real ugliness and my sickness, and my unnatural sin. I have bathed in the worldwide orgasm of linguistic signs. The word is a body I take pleasure in. I am the sun of wrath and sinfulness. I am Many, hidden and misunderstood many that claim recognition. “I was born by your bodily pleasure; I am the child of your sex. Mother-Father-God-Sex, acknowledge my flesh and my bones, and my dry breast, and my slender body-shape, a glass coffin, breakable and spectrum-like!” Through my diseased flesh, divisible and abandoned to a werewolf kind of love, I color this world in disaster. I am torn apart, I am torn apart, and I am no more undivided. My sore pulsation, my sore chest, my sore hands breaking each other’s fingers in rhythmically mourning songs – they are all orphans, and they lack procreation. A Cruel God is too good-hearted a human being.
Women do not write with their bodies. Women write with their hands, and their fingers, and their deeper emotions, and with their trained intellect. Women write to become mothers and to spread their infinite love, their uncontained love, their loathing love, their criminal love, their hypocrite love, their truthful love; spread love, women, spread it like dust-seed and wait for deserts to grow, for hermits to mate and for wisdom to sex itself. Wait, brave women, for the world of men to bloom in a wide-open vagina encompassing a ‘dark continent’. What do they know about writing? What do you yourselves know about being women? I lack erection, and I am monstrous. I have many erections in my fingers, in my every touch; in my eyes, in my every sight. I take much pleasure in living outside my own body. But also many contraceptives – I abort myself each day in your comfortable lap and ask you: ‘What do you say, darling, would I have made your perfect bastard son? Your true inheritor is no more than an illegitimate bastard. Descendant of your dried blood and cold semen, I am your perfect lie, the receptacle of your sins, your perfect Grail-Christ. I bear all your sins in my pores, waiting for them to bloom in cholera or leprosy or perhaps love. I am here to carry my cross- which happens to be my worthless body.’ Mammoth, you whisper, Mammoth, the son of the Devil, Mephistopheles and the entire hoard. Gabriel, I whisper quietly, I love you. But I cannot bear the burden of life. Anorexic, I refuse your nourishing love. Gabriel, come closer, time has come, and I need to tell you my secret: I never bloomed. I was never a holy/whole human being; for as much as I tried, I never could.
What matters most is that words are empty between us, and sound like a vacuum cleaner. I cry out my pain, and your past echo is there to remind me you once knew how to heal me. You were a great healer once – you took my pain away, without noticing it. Now my tenderness is absence: the absence of a proper name for my emotion, the absence of you as its source. I came to recognize wholeness and life in that very second when absence no longer contours my body and no longer spreads along my tongue through my throat to the very center of my stomach. An absent heart is better than no heart at all, is it? Can you tell the difference, anyway?
I asked you one day, a long time ago, to write questions and answers for me, and I said I would do the same for you. Questions and answers. A dialogued monologue. What could that mean to you? What could it mean to me? I needed so much to get to know you, to get to see through your eyes and touch through your fingers this world that crushed down on your delicate feet and separated them from your whole being so that now you had to walk with your words through this fucked up world; and I needed so much to confirm to myself that I wasn’t mistaken in my dream of what you were. I needed palpable proof. I needed your handwritten body between my hands, since women write with their bodies, since they write their bodies over everything else, or so they say.
I remember I got one blue notebook. I remember smelling it when I had got home. I remember touching the pages, smelling them, one by one. I remember reading it once, twice, thrice, and endlessly. Memorizing everything. Living it. Writing myself in it. In between the lines, in between the gaps, since I am myself a gap, a hole, a cavity, a crater, a bomb-womb exploded and bearing ripen corpse-fruits on all my branching-worlds. I slept with it in my arms, holding tight to it. I could slip further, from one word to the next, from one sentence to the next, one page to the next, lead by and leading Derridean “differances”. I was clinging to meanings that slipped away. I surfed meanings and I was afraid that that notebook might surf me and slip from my hands to my shoulders, to my neck, to my head, to my mouth, to my stomach, to my belly, to my bowels, to my anus, finally ending up digested, assimilated and expulsed in a wicked Freudian pre-Oedipal chain of semiotic pleasure principles, but it meant I would have lost its materiality, the feeling of it being there, grasped by my clutched fingers, the pleasure of it lying sleeping on my chest, on my pillow, next to my cheek.
Several months later, I tore it apart while I was lonely in my room and screaming. I might be mad, I am not sure. I am not afraid and I don’t want other people to be afraid. But it happened this year, in a weekend while my roommate was away. When lonely, I get a feeling of safety in my room. I felt safe enough to clasp my knees to my chin and cry, and lick my own tears, like animals do with their wounds. I guess I am more of an agoraphobic than a claustrophobic. In my room I was like in a womb, and I wanted to fill it up again with the amniotic fluid of my tears. They were feeding me, somehow. I have this crisis from time to time, when I fight my own Mr. Hyde. At those moments, everything I deny myself to feel and everything, which I loath and scorn, all that unnamed darkness invades me with violence: rage, despair, jealousy, blasphemous God-hatred, desire to hurt, to avenge my pain, to inflict it further. At those moments, I scream in many different voices and I always talk aloud. I shout my unanswered questions aloud. Am I addressing God? Am I addressing myself? I don’t know. There are never answers for me. I am just asking questions and giving myself treacherous answers which I imagine I would be given if god ever spoke back at me or if I ever spoke to you. I discourage myself and deny all I don’t want to deny myself. I end up hitting my own face, my own cheeks, my own arms or boxing with the pillows. I end up on the floor. I end up silent, like a little baby soothed by the mother’s bitter milk. Poison. I insult myself. I tell to myself the nastiest words I can possibly imagine. I call myself all the names I can think of and imagine new ones. I blame myself, hate myself, and hurt myself until my heart bleeds. Then I realize why I am so alone. Then it all ends, and I get up, wipe my tears away and I look like a newborn Cain. I get out of that tiny room and life hits me in the face, afresh. I smell the cold air of every new beginning and contemplate the sleep of my demons. I always know it’s not over yet. They will come back. They unmistakably do.
Then it was the diary which I gave you on your birthday and which I took back. You never guessed why I took it back. There were two reasons. I said I had done it because I had been a coward. I lied. I took it back in anger. I was angry at your being silent when I had already said/written too much. I expected you to say something. Anything. Any question would have made a difference. ‘Why?’, ‘Can’t you stop?’, ‘Why are you doing this? Do you think it matters? Do you think it will change anything? It’s a damn sick thing to do!’ etc.
It was horrible of me. It still is, this writing, which I’m conceiving now. But it’s the last horrible, and cruel, and shameful thing I’ll offer you. Primo, because it’s the whole truth, not pieces of it. Segundo, because I’ll no longer take it back. Finally, because this short piece is the end of a chapter in my life. All this writing encloses within it has been already said, already lived. You’ll see, this “connectedness” or “nearness” which I think I feel when I’m next to you will evaporate like alcohol on fire. We have one more year to go and a year so full of obligations and duties and tests, and closures. This is the end; it is indeed, I can feel it. The second reason for which I took my notebook back was that you said it had been livened with syrup coming from the fruit tart. I felt stained. I knew it had been an accident, but in that very moment, my head burnt with a single word inside, like a lamppost: “FUTILITY”. Or even better: “WORTHLESSNESS”. Or even worse “TRASH”. That trash was mine and I saw it was meant to stay in the trash bag which my life was, which my hands were, which my heart was, even when I was sitting there, next to you, pretending I spoke meaningful words and being human. Secretly I was trash; you had seen it and showed me you had seen it. White trash exposed – kitsch since I was wearing make-up. Second hand. Wasted trees. Wasted paper. Wasted life. Wasted feelings. All in one book stained with pink syrup. Then I said to myself: but life does speak when it wants to. Life does speak to oneself and sometimes it even makes too much sense at once.
I am sorry. It was my baby and at first I wanted you to be its mother, but then I changed my mind. I faltered and I said: This is my child. This is made out of love, with love, for love. So I faltered. You had love in your life; you didn’t need any children, especially if they were someone else’s.
Notebooks and peeled skins: handwritten in invisible ink, under the moonlight. I wanted to be a lightsmith, not a blacksmith; I wanted to take the sheer light of the night and craft it into little barbed wedding rings and marry that love which made me bleed. One ring upon each finger – my harem was still monogamous. All those love stories were stories of reincarnation, of transhumance, of remembrance. I looked for scars in the pretty faces; but I found beauty only in thorns and wrinkles, and bruises, and sad eyes. People were masks, but I am no puppeteer – I grew so tired of this world. Of course, life was easy for me in certain ways, but not easy in certain others. I have both my parents – and it seems like they were with me since forever; I was plagued with both their protection and grew to feel useless and redundant. I will always be a child while they are still alive – they always prevented me from adulthood. I must seem unprepared to bite this forbidden fruit with my milk teeth. It’s a terrible thing: to feel useless and to be made feel useless, unimportant to the world, to be constantly reminded you owe all you have and even more to other people’s sacrifices which you never truly asked for in full voice, for you were not born that day when they sacrificed together, and had sex on an altar-bed, and had babies- that is you – and stood together, and fought the world, but mostly each other. I am not a full human being in my house: I am always a child, that is – a doll. I am murdered and they think it’s good for me, because I am avoided other pains and other lacks. I lack freedom, self-confidence, maybe even strength. I do not know; I never found out, I suppose I will – but it’s a pity I am still ignorant in those matters.
I am constantly reminded I am not strong enough; I am constantly reminded I do not know how to survive the world and its magnificent power to engulf and digest human lives. And when I try to make a first step – to actually do something, take this poor life of mine into my hands and walk away, I am asked to stay. They do know what’s best for me. “You have plenty of time to go and find your way later, after we’re already dead.” I have plenty of time to get born and start living then. They all claim I had freedom, and understanding, and love. I merely was provided with a frame within I could move. With a cell whose bars were transparent, made of glass, almost invisible. I could move, but not touch the thorny world, the goddamn bitchy world. It’s like fire: I was taught it burns you and that being burnt hurts. I can’t really say from experience – I‘ve never been burnt. But still I can’t bring myself to touch the flame. It’s so beautiful, and it constantly threatens to burn me.
I told my mother about you. Not about you like the actual person who lives there, and does that, and reads this and that, and says this and that. It was a short, revelatory mother-to-daughter talk which brought the following meaningful surprises into the foreground:
‘So dear, do you have someone you’re dating these days? You’ve stopped talking about going out with someone for some considerable time. I thought you must hide things from me.’
‘No mother, I am not hiding anything, I just didn’t anymore’.
‘And why is that? Was there really no one whom you fancied?’
‘It was because I am in love.’
‘Hmmmm (smile upon her face; excitement; youth). What’s his name? What’s he like? Tell me everything!’
‘I don’t think her name is important. Just the fact that it’s not something mutual – so you have nothing to worry about after all, do you?’
And there was silence. I didn’t look at her till three minutes later. She was still pensive, still silent, eyes fixed on the floor. She knew this was a problem – but had no solution at hand. I had to repeat what I had said: by repeating I felt clownish. I could sense she wasn’t going to believe me. She wasn’t going to do or say anything significant of her feelings because she couldn’t have any. She supposed I was joking and perhaps was waiting for me to start laughing and say: ‘ok, got me. His name is Mr. Dick.’ She waited long enough; I wasn’t going to add anything. And then she smiled and found the answer she was looking for. Buddha had blessed her with the revelation:
‘Dear, this is just like what happened six years ago. Your anorexia, then your bulimia – it’s just a phase. You’ll get through it and wake up one morning and find out that it’s there no longer. You have no real problems, so you make them up. But this is just a phase – you still haven’t met that guy….’
At this point, I was laughing inside, I was laughing with all my heart. ‘But mother,’ I wanted to say, ‘I am still a bulimic. But mother, you are the one kept away from my real problems and dealing with the imaginary ones. But mother, this so-called phase is my life. Six years is not a joke. It’s not a phase. It’s a full circuit.’
2 thoughts on “Tell me how you love, I will tell you how sick you are”
a very powerful text, allow me to say, even if not perfect. there’s lots of talent by this writer