Fall 2009, #16
       "Woodchuck vs. the Hank Williams Zombie"

Loops and Arches

     by Munize M. Khasru

The taxi is careening past rolling golden meadows, big brown angus cows grazing. I am sitting somewhat stiffly because my daughter is sleeping with her head on my shoulder and I don't want to disturb her. Next to her is my son, all curled up like the little shrimp chimp that he is. Our baggage is rumbling at the back for there isn't much to keep it weighed down. With it rambles my mind, despite being weighed down with too much baggage.

Two suitcases, two children and three days later, I am moving on from Cambridge to London. Second part of our Summer Vacation 2009. I am struck by how life gives you deja-vu moments which seem the same, yet isn't quite. Or it isn't the same yet you feel like you've been here before.

 I remember moving on with two suitcases and two children once but that was thirteen years in its coming. I had no clue where I was going on that path or what would happen once I got there but I knew I had to steer myself down it as soon as possible before I threw myself in front of rolling locomotives. Sitting in Bangladesh where the highways were few and far in between, I knew I had to somehow get myself back on track, away from the marital roundabout that was going nowhere.

Today's trip is a no-brainer compared to that one. I know which London hotel I'm booked in. I know exactly which friends to touch base with. I know what I'll be seeing tomorrow. Wearing, eating, doing, reading. It's all neatly planned out in my head. So why am I looking at the beautiful English countryside with knitted eyebrows instead of closing my eyes and relaxing?
Well, first of all, because the taxi driver is enthusiastically talking about his home country Algeria and how he was a chef there but it is a ‘haram’ professional here in England because everyone cooks everything in wine; and he's married to an English woman who has given him citizenship but no bearings because she cannot bear him children; and he has a brother in Algeria who has a son for whom he bought a bicycle last time he went 'home' because "You know, sistah, the money, it be good here." And I am much too polite...although I be thinking it here...to tell him, 'Shut the fuck up! I have enough mad voices in my head without you adding to the menu."

Second of all, my kids are fast asleep and I really must stay vigilant in case...in case, what…I don't actually know. In case this Mad Algerian Taxiwallah kidnaps us? In case we get lost? Not that I'll even know if we get lost, nor what to do when we get lost. At any rate, I feel lost so many times in a day, yet I always manage to find a pillow to rest my head upon by night. So, in case we crash and..hmm, no that thought cannot be thought. Another non-ender.

I'm such a great one for non-enders. Just as I am a great one for being vigilant regarding my kids. Which reminds me that at some point I need to make a decision about what is definitely the biggest non-ender of my life; especially if I am to continue having a vigilant role with my kids. Do I sign for a second time on the dotted line and divorce? Or maintain this stony silent state of separation? Is this status quo a no go? Or can you only become a go-getter when you start from point zero? Did I just say I was a great one for non-enders? Actually, scratch that. I'm a great one for looped thoughts. The loopy loony one. The loopy loony lonely one. Plus two.

So here’s the next question. If you do something for the plus two but you know it will be minus one for you, do you still come out ahead of the equation? Ah, but that is a social equation. Where is my truth in it? What does my soul say? Wait a minute, where did I hear that before? Did I compose those lines or did someone ask me that recently? It's all very confusing. These anti-allergy medications have shifted my neurons into neutral gear it seems.

My friend Jennifer, whom I was visiting in Cambridge, has doped me from clogged sinuses up to the ears in order to fight off my hay fever attack. I didn't even know I could get hay fever. Apparently all that prolific pollen is a little too rich for this Bengali woman’s nasal passages. Whereas it alights on English soil and recreates, the finery trapped in my cilia only irritates.

How does one get allergies so late in life, anyway? At thirty nine, is it really possible to do something new? Strange that I should be questioning this now when I hadn’t stopped to think back then. But I did ‘get’ something. I got a revelation. I got it that he didn’t get me and the next step seemed inevitable. The old-women’s network in my hometown Dhaka had shaken their traditional heads. “No, no my dear. Your time is over. Now you must think for the children. The children only. Forget these westernized thoughts.” I had tried. Honestly. With my every being. Till I stopped being. Living a life with no thoughts. Non-living. It was a hopeless dopey life.

I sniffle in, snuffle out trying to somehow breathe inside this taxi. A taxi whose reckless speed matches my thoughts and non-plans, kilometre by kilometre. I know I am making funny noises. But at least now they are mine to make as I please.

Mad Algerian Taxiwallah asks, "Are you okay sistah?"

I'm about to answer him when, through the grubby car window, I see a rainbow. An honest to goodness rainbow! When was the last time I saw a rainbow? I can't remember. It makes me so happy suddenly. For no fathomable reason. Which is precisely why I feel happy.

Despite the smudges, I am seeing a rainbow for no fathomable reason. I am all clogged up and can barely breathe and I'm going round and round in my head and I'm a total non-ender flying down an unknown road and yet I have a vision of a rainbow which is beautiful and delicate and precisely arched against the infinite blue and no one knows where it begins nor where it ends. That too is mine to discover.
So I tell Mad Algerian Taxiwallah, "Yes, I'm okay, thanks."