You only live twice. And twice I have lived. That is how I know I am about to die.
Out of the two of my desperately short lives, my only regret lies within such a gap that I left in between them.
I was born with the rain on a land constantly drunk with sunshine and oceanic salt among people who lived off the earth and superstitions. After that moment, bathed in blood on the croaky wooden floor between my mother’s legs, screaming and whimpering and choking on air, tears boiling down my gooey cheeks, I lived, on the soil, rolling in the mud, under the sun, among rainclouds, in the water of my father’s rice paddy, in between waves of the ocean, under the shadow of mountains, studying Buddhist carvings on them, up and down the trees, in between pebbles flying at me, on the sturdy buffalo back, underneath the floorboards, behind my fingers glowing red in the sun, in the air one second at a time, dashing and dancing among raindrops, barking in between barks of our dogs, sneaking in between kisses of the neighbours’ boys, bouncing in between punches of my siblings, in between the crackling pages of borrowed books, in between stories, in between lines, in between worlds that don’t exist in mine, in between the melodies of my father’s fingers on six extended strings, in between rhyming words of his records, in between meals, lost in the fog of my mother’s kitchen, during meals, lost in between the herbs and the chilli and the scents and the green and the red and the white and the brown and the orange and the purple and the spicy and the sour and the sweet and the explosions of heavenly pleasure reduced to a form mere mortals can comprehend.
But soon I tripped and fell and lost sight of what I had my eyes on and by the time I gathered myself and looked up, I was lost, in a trance between classes and schools, in between their righteousness and rules, in between pretentious values and ill-advised teachings, dodging glances of people, parents, teachers, strangers, neighbours, scraping by their sanctimonious judgements and impossible expectations, in between politics and the blood it sheds and the buildings it burns and the homes it breaks, in between history of my country and of my family’s vicious fights, in deaths and doubts and fears and unmentionable questions and scrutinising suspicions, in hypocrisy, in lies, in corrupted truths, in between boys and hearts they crush, in between friends and trust they break, in between why-did-dad-not-kiss-me-good-night and does-mom-love-them-more-than-me and who-is-his-new-favourite-girl and when-will-they-be-proud-of-me and why-does-nobody-love-me-as-me-I-am-just-me-but-my-me-is-good-enough-or-is-it-I-don’t-know-anymore-maybe-I-don’t-deserve-love-but-please-just-try-please-just-love-me-please-why-can’t-
And then, somehow, slowly, unknowingly, the sun returns to its previous gold, the sky its sapphire, the grey fog no longer blinding, and once again, I live, in his arms, in his eyes, dancing to the tunes of his laughs, surfing the curve of his smiles, in between sneaky glances and longing kisses, among caring touches and appreciating words, among the sights I see, soaring from land to land with him to hold my hand, among the crisp pages of all the books I own, among the melodies of my fingers on six extended strings, in the intoxicating intensity of things learned and to be learned, among my rhyming words scribbled on paper, among the things I create, among the love I earn, among the things I give and am given in return, in the drunken heat flushing and crushing and blazing within my chest filling it to the brim with something that glows endlessly and tirelessly, and I love and love and love and love myself, and I burn and burn and burn for life, for love, for memories, for poetry, for art, for every minute, for the years to come, for the people, for him, for me, for no one and nothing at all, and then for life again, I burn and burn and burn and my flames are about to set the skies afire and if I am to die with every part of me on fire, I would happily, happily, so happily expire.
Someone once said, you only live twice.
The first time is when life is handed to you, free of charge, bare and true. All babies drink up life with the savage, unquenchable thirst one can only vaguely remember and long for later on.
The second time is when you realise, with every single beating molecule of your brain, exactly why you must live. Mortal words rarely suffice this severe awareness of self.
Any time in between is merely wasted years.
And, oh, have I lived, oh, twice have I lived.