Without warning, this longing.
For years, I have lived in exile – from intimate emotion, from touch. I learned to live without, and felt stronger, superior even. I was untouchable in the Western sense: unreachable and thus invincible.
There were reasons for this – years of rejection, renunciation: a palimpsest of neglect. This was followed by my own rejection – of Ben, the alcoholic, whose odour and appearance were alien to me, and repugnant. Thus began my ascent over myself, my conquest over longing and need.
I found shelter in solitude, dug a moat around it. There I remained, watching from this fortified outpost, determined to stay until the end of my days. There, I am still.
But my dreams betray me. The things I see betray me, too. One day: a middle-aged couple at a bus-stop, speaking, laughing. The man puts his arm around the woman. They are across the broad width of a highway, but I can still tell that they are smiling.
One night, in my sleep, I feel the memory of an embrace holding me. One evening, loneliness feels less of a friend. I am seized by mordant longing.
Each time I see a casual expression of intimacy or love, I am reminded of what I have lost. It feels intolerable – impossible, even, that I shall remain here without. Even more impossible that I should experience it again.
I have become Untouchable, in the Eastern sense. A paraya, a figure dwelling on the margins of society whose very presence is defiling. I retreat into motherhood, my work. I try to ignore the loss, claim it as a deliberate choice. And fail.
Without warning, this longing… is upon me.
Don’t get any big ideas, they’re not gonna happen
You paint yourself white and fill up with noise
There’ll be something missing