Rambutans

Why can’t I let go
Of this memory
The one that I never had
With you?

The one where
We’re sitting at the canal
Looking at the water
Together

Peeling rambutans

Biting into the soft white flesh
Me masterfully pulling
flesh from
woody skin

You gazing off into the distance
Musing about
Jesse and the
Ants
He’s writing his PhD
On

And I silently wonder
How many more rambutans
We have left

The poem above captures an imagined scenario of hanging out with my sister. She talked about it one time, when I wistfully mused about how I wish I could just chill and eat rambutans by the Sunset Way Canal. (See picture above)

She said “Sure, we can go do that, why not?” I felt heartened by her easy carefree way of talking about hanging out. A big part of me wanted to spend time chilling by the canal with her, but in the end, it never happened.

Why not?

Because I rarely had anything meaningful to say to her; most of the time she would dominate the conversation and talk endlessly at me about some guy or another that she was dating. It would get really boring after a while.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have problems listening to my girlfriends tell me about guys they are dating or interested in, however, I draw the line at 1 hour sessions hearing an endless litany of musings about her current crush, about what he does and this and that.

It’s really boring.

I wonder if it’s because I just wish she would tell me instead what she’s doing. What was she doing apart from hanging out with these guys that she gets so fascinated by and who are just stringing her along and wasting her precious time? Is she doing anything with her own life to attend to her own emotional, spiritual and mental growth?

Also I wished she would actually be interested in me for once. And listen to me without judging me and talking down to me about the things I was doing, saying or thinking. I always came away from our conversations together feeling shit and completely misunderstood.

I never said anything explicit about our relationship in the past because I did not want to cause her offense. But upon writing the poem and having had some time to think about it and what it means, I realize that I wrote it to capture the dynamic in our relationship which was always marked by an abject lack of psychological, emotional and mental connection.

All of this stymied our relationship and led to dead-ends in our conversations. When I tried to tell her honestly how I felt, she would inevitably turn on me and criticize me, saying that I was too harsh or that I did not listen well, or that I had some serious anger problem.

I used to feel really bad about it. There were times things she said would make me feel like ending my life.

I used to think if only I tried harder to be kinder, nicer and more patient, or that if I were more self-aware and tried to sift out the truth of what she said, that we would have a good relationship, but now I realize that somethings just aren’t your fault.

There are some things you are never meant to carry – it’s not your responsibility. Good relationships require mutual respect, understanding and reciprocity; emotional intimacy involves holding space for each other.

She never once held space for me.

I have finally learnt to let go of a relationship that was never good for me.

I have developed what you might call ‘self-respect’.

Below is another poem I wrote about my sister which captures some of the nuances in our relationship.

MY SISTER LOVED ME

My sister loved me
But she broke me
In so many ways
So many splinters in my soul
So many fractures
That never healed whole

Did she know?

And what if she did?

Was the pain she held
Too much to contain?

Did it have to spill over
Messing everything up
Like that?

The seeping spread
The septic wound
The sopping rag
Couldn’t stanch the flow

Of life
She drew out from me
With her harpooned words

I was beached
Like a whale on sand

Gasping for air
Each ragged breath
Drawing sharp
Stabs of pain

The pain that
Tore through
Her soul
A cancer that
Threatened to consume
mine

But I have released her

And

Today,

I’ve found my way back
Into the water

I’ve found my way back
Home

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