Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Old Bottle


There are things that you talk about and there are things that you don't talk about. Imagine filling up a glass bottle near brim-full and putting it under your bed, along with the rest of other bottles that every now and then you pull the box underneath and open a bottle or two to fill in new things. This one sits in the corner of the box, separated from the rest. Its shape is the same like the rest, but not what it holds.

It sits there alone over the weeks and months and years. You don't go over it everyday. You don't hold it everyday. You don't peek under your bed to know it's there when you go to sleep at night. You don't fall on your knees after your shower to know it's still there in the morning. Even when you take out other bottles this one never itched your hand to even make a move for it. You just look at it, put back the other bottles in their place and push the box away from view. But you know it's there. Always.


It gathers dust slowly, thickening millimeters by millimeters over many years. Even the label on this bottle wear out unlike the rest. Worn out over the years by the aging process and not by touch or handling. The "Us" in cursive that you wrote with bold marker pen pales by being in the stale air for too long (but not by the heart). The brown paper label strangely peeling away fiber by fiber like the inside of an old paperback.

From outside it looks so murky, just how you'd see an object being left out in this desert country for too long. Dust collects (and so do memories). 


Then a nudge. A slight budge, if you will. You miss the old bottle. But you're scared. You wonder what happens to the water inside? Is it still clear? Is it still pure? Is it murky? Is it smelly? Carefully, one night, you picked it up by the neck. Then you let the bottom stand on your left palm. You held it away, just looking at its state.


It's the same bottle, you told yourself. But why does the water looks so murky... It shouldn't be this way! Oh that knot tightens ever so slowly. The regret you feel for letting the bottle be forgotten for so long. You loved it. You used to love it even it's only by yourself and for yourself. The pitted feeling of sorry when you pull the cork slowly, you see dust that collected between the lip and the cork freed into the air, like it has always wanted to be set free.

And then, you hear it. The silent expiring sound. The bottle breathing its life after so many years. The air inside has been there for so many years. It's years older than the air outside the bottle and after so many nights left alone, wanting to be let free, pounding on the glass, screaming for help and begging for life - it's finally out. And you can hear it thanking you as you see it dissipate into the air. The pressure has been balanced. The pressure has been balanced. 


You let it breathe, just like you'd let a good wine breathe first before pouring because it's just that. The little things that make it more appreciated. You give life to it after being abandoned for so many years alone in the cold and dark basement - the first thing you'd do, the right thing to do, is to let it breathe.


You take a piece of cloth, carefully you wipe away the dust and the many layers of sorrow. Hello there, you smiled. How have you been? 


It's not exactly what you wanted to say. Because you always knew what to say. But you just felt like saying it because there's no other thing to say. Because you feel sorry for leaving it away far too long. You're filling in that hole with something as fragile as dried leaves. That the moment you step on it you'll only fall in. But the bottle didn't care. It was glad you've finally come to greet it like an old friend. Because to it, you are an old friend. The only friend it ever had and will ever had. It just wants you to visit it. It'll always welcome you with open arms, holding you in its embrace and saying that things will be alright. And you bite your lower lip as you hear it whisper to you, I forgive you for leaving me for so long. 



And there's one thing left to do. You remember that one time your mother told you to tell a real crystal glass cup is to strike it and it'll produce a musical sound. And you struck it. The ringing fills the void where laughters of old days past once were. A dark monotone dragging, like it refuses to quiet down and you hate it for the fact it mockingly fills in the emptiness. Then gradually it disappears. And the deafening silence resumes.


You pour it out into the crystal glass. A slight ting to the glass lip and you set the bottle upright again. You set the bottle upright. The water swivels and swirls happily in the cup, slowly as it calms down and come to a still. You just watch it. You're calmer like it. It was still when it was inside but it wasn't free. It wasn't breathing. It's still now but it's free, it's breathing. And that's how you are now. Calmer, but breathing. Not the same air for so many years. But breathing a fresh air.

You see, you're never meant to bottle it up and keep it away for many years. Each water in each bottle has its purpose but the main thing, the only thing it needs, is to breathe. And what you've given it that night, that life, you also give it to yourself.

And that's all the bottle ever wanted.

That night, the ten minutes walk suddenly became a mile too long. Night air is always fresher and cooler. Night air makes you really breathe. It's quieter. It's calmer. It's more honest. That's why I love the night - it lets you choose what to do with the pure air. And tonight I choose to give it to the old bottle. S



Aulad Hilmi, Hayyu Sabi',
Cairo.
June 15th, 2016

1 comment :

Atiqah Diyana said...

"I forgive you for leaving me for so long."

I needed to hear that.