I remember this song from a movie I once watched with D. I remember that when the soundtrack played, we were both very silent for the whole length of the song, and then, a thousand thoughts had ran through my mind. It still is, when I am with people that my soul is at rest with – that there are sometimes the knowing silences – we are sharing, caressing each other’s thoughts while impressing on ourselves the selfish other worlds that we keep within ourselves- and when we return, at the end of the silence – we are so awakened by the intensity of the moment, and the other gives me nothing but a knowing, secret smile. Dark, secret desires from our solitude, but there is the fragility of other things to think about when we return back to life.
R shared of this Arab-esque moment too once, with me and S, and how she returned to reality and the world too fast. We are afraid to fall into the silences, and yet when they come, there is an endearing obsessive quality about them – the way one is in the middle of a game – in the intensity to continue and throw and risk everything in that moment. It is selfish, but also ardently precious and beautiful.
R and I are like that – we are eternally falling in and out of love with other people,but so secretly and nonchalantly, that they may never know.
I found an old photograph of when I played Blanche Dubois from Tennessee William’s A Streetcar named Desire. R and I, R was my Mitch. I loved being Blanche, her manipulative, vulnerable ways, the ways to play with light in the setting, the darkness of the underlying subtle denouements, the screeching of the train rails – Tennessee Williams remains one of my favourite and most respected playwrights of all time, and I still have fond memories of his plays – especially Streetcar named Desire and The Glass Menagerie.
BLANCHE. You love her very much, don’t you?
BLANCHE. I think you have a great capacity for devotion. You will be lonely when she passes on, won’t you? [Mitch clears his throat and nods] I understand what that is.
MITCH. To be lonely?
BLANCHE. I loved someone, too, and the person I loved I lost.
MITCH. Dead? [She crosses to the window and sits on the sill, looking out. She pours herself another drink] A man?
BLANCHE. He was a boy, just a boy, when I was a very young girl. When I was sixteen, I made the discovery — love. All at once and much, much too completely. It was like you suddenly turned a blinding light on something that had always been half in shadow, that’s how it struck the world for me. But I was unlucky. Deluded. There was something different about the boy, a nervousness, a softness and tenderness which wasn’t like a man’s, although he wasn’t the least bit effeminate looking — still — that thing was there … He came to me for help. I didn’t know that. I didn’t find out anything till after our marriage when we’d run away and come back and all I knew was I’d failed him in some mysterious way and wasn’t able to give the help he needed but couldn’t speak of! He was in the quicksands and clutching at me — but I wasn’t holding him out, I was slipping in with him! I didn’t know that. I didn’t know anything except I loved him unendurably but without being able to help him or help myself. Then I found out. In the worst of all possible ways. By coming suddenly into a room that I thought was empty — which wasn’t empty, but had two people in it … the boy I had married and an older man who had been his friend for years …
[A locomotive is heard approaching outside. She claps her hands to her ears and crouches over. The headlight of the locomotive glares into the room as it thunders past. As the noise recedes she straightens slowly and continues speaking.]
Afterward we pretended that nothing had been discovered. Yes, the three of us drove out to Moon Lake Casino, very drunk and laughing all the way.
[Polka music sounds, in a minor key faint with distance]
We danced the Varsouviana! Suddenly, in the middle of the dance the boy I had married broke away from me and ran out of the casino. A few moments later — a shot!
[The polka stops abruptly. Blanche rises stiffly. Then, the polka resumes in a major key]
I ran out — all did! — all ran and gathered about the terrible thing at the edge of the lake! I couldn’t get near for the crowding. Then somebody caught my arm. “Don’t go any closer! Come back! You don’t want to see!” See? See what! Then I heard voices say — Allan! Allan! The Grey boy! He’d stuck the revolver into his mouth, and fired — so that the back of his head had been — blown away!
[She sways and covers her face]
It was because — on the dance floor — unable to stop myself — I’d suddenly said — “I saw! I know! You disgust me …” And then the searchlight which had been turned on the world was turned off again and never for one moment since has there been any light that’s stronger than this — kitchen — candle …
[Mitch gets up awkwardly and moves toward her a little. The polka music increases. Mitch stands beside her]
MITCH. [drawing her slowly into his arms] You need somebody. And I need somebody, too. Could it be — you and me, Blanche?
[She stares at him vacantly for a moment. Then with a soft cry huddles in his embrace. She makes a sobbing effort to speak but the words won’t come. He kisses her forehead and her eyes and finally her lips. The polka tune fades out. Her breath is drawn and released in long, grateful sobs]
I want to dance the Varsouviana again.
Sometimes…there’s God…so quickly!
I love the pure beastiality of this moment. One of the finest cinematic moments of all time – and Marlon Brando was just awesome.
In many ways the veneer of Blanche is so similar to mine own – and it may be that Nat King Cole’s ‘It’s Only a Paper Moon’ is a song deservedly mine as it was hers.
Cheers to all the women who read this blog and know exactly what I mean.
And on a lighter note…yes I still rely on the kindness of strangers:
Afternoon cakes, a gift from my dearest SH, from Patisserie. We loved the cakes so much, and I indulged especially in a darling blueberry confectionary.
The last week … has been unforgettable, to say the least. I went on exploratory journeys with JRV and old friends…walking the streets late in the night singing for supper…having lamb moussaka in random Turkish restaurants, JRV recounting Persian food in Germany. Walking under the rain with J and co. in City Hall, the quiet light of old hotels under the rain, stories of little Korean girls who fall in love with J, finding out what Orchard Towers is (I have lived in naivety in the past 23 years yes,), japanese rainbow salmon/yellowtail and Dir En Grey becoming a centerpiece for a hunger song on the third floor of Raffles City, girl techno in the bubbly happy darkness next to a war memorial, having dinner with the lovely K where we shared about love and loli, an incredible and very, very epic Black Alice tea party coupled with almost thirty girls, in the car with ZT talking about Fanny Brawne and John Keats, falling asleep to JRV’s last message.
How can I even start.
(from WH’s album, my photos have not been processed yet):
Will share more about the tea party next time. A thousand things to finish – lots of work and other administrative matters.
When I finally get my car…I want something like T’s Honda Civic Type-R! It was gorgeous.
I am so happy and weary- but a good state to be in.
I wish I could finish my insider trading/ margin calls cases soon before June sets in – to finish all my cases on hand before I go for the bar course.
I’m sorry to all my law juniors and literature tutees that I may not have reverted to all your recent essay queries yet! Things have been so busy! I’ll try to be back and will answer each and every of your messages soon. ^-^
The red roses and still thriving, and are the first thing I see in the morning. Thank you.
I am different from you Beansprouts, flowers keep me alive. Of sorts. (I’ll let an orange tulip take the brunt of your legal rebuttal)