Old People

by Chua Han Au

I get reminded of lonely old people whenever I drive past barren trees. Sickly branches and wrinkled trunks parallel to that of aged paper-like skin, where their protruding veins are similar to that of the coarse barks. They say that old trees have a spiritual entity residing in them when the time comes, to safeguard the tree and to guide lost travellers. I take their word for it.

At dawn and then at night, I witness the callous draining of youth away from your face, like a reversed injection, slowly and noxiously. Dining together is the thing I cherish timelessly. We talk about Buddhism, my seeming metamorphosis to a misanthropic, our similar taste in music, relationships and many more. Somehow, I knew you’d be plagued by and by. Please, don’t get consternated by this biological process, love and philosophies will be retained. Pain and hunger will soon away.

Youth like water is wasted. The beauty of it only appreciated when solitude overwhelms, when tranquillity coerces the radically reverberating heart to quieten down. Alas, epiphany always has her way of settling herself comfortably in the seats of one’s soul, ever late in her arrival. The only thing that can accelerate it is when tragedy is a moiety of it. Just as how humans begin to see their creases on their faces, it is a cue for her set in.

It is in youth that we repress the seeming voices of maturity, creating a crater that breeds a dearth of appreciation. Maybe this is why old people are so pensive, yet fervently filling the rooms with constant chattering. They appreciate presence and they value self-awareness. Afterall, it is in experiencing something palpable that one is convinced that what is going on internally is real.

Then again, perhaps there isn’t much to think about ageing. The cinematic visualisations of men and women sitting comfortably in rocking chairs, where silence is their solace have been presented since time immemorial. Otherwise, the gravely distressing portrayals of depressed grannies breaking out in speciously wicked laughters, for they declare, “If you never laugh, you’ll never scare the depression away”.

woe
how painful it would be to age
where the gurney is our supposed haven
‘n ailments seem to tear more than heal
born alone, leave sole

    heads hurt
      like the periodic gonging
of the grandfather clock
  muscles ache
    like the subtle breaking of bones
born alone, leave sole

grief-stricken
pull the curtains
we’re not zombies but sunlight
ails
don’t kick the bucket (I implore)
born alone, leave sole

I hear your sporadic gasps
I hear your outcries
I hear your lamentations
I hear ye drops of despondency at irregular intervals

I am sorry, dear body.

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