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On talking

  • Published at 04:51 pm August 23rd, 2016
  • Last updated at 04:52 pm August 23rd, 2016
On talking

I was talking to this girl and she said, You know, you have this amazing gift. This gift of saying these beautiful things without actually saying anything at all.

I said, Really? Has nothing I ever said been real, concrete, something that told you exactly as I felt?

No, she said, never.

And then, when I was talking to myself, I said, You say real things, don't you? Sometimes? Maybe? You say things that you really feel, you talk about things that matter to you. You sometimes, maybe, are softer with your words, because you wish to be kind, or harder with your pretence of outrage, because you're trying to get laid, or you just say something you don't mean at all, because you're desperate and you're losing yourself by the minute, but you're saying something that's, at least in its intentions, true, right?

I was talking to my father and he said, Today, I did this. And that. I went and got myself a leather briefcase. I was going to pay the bills but there was so much traffic. The car's out of order again. Uff.

He's asking me, Where do you get your earphones from? I get mine from the rasta, 150 taka, max. That's good enough for me. Dhur, who spends so much money on this crap?

But I'm barely listening. I'm talking to someone on my phone, or as Joshua Ferris calls it, the me-machine. I'm talking to some girl who barely gives a flying hoot about what I'm saying back, but this is important. I'm talking to her as if the world rests on the end of this conversation, as if it will slip away from my twitchy fingers, tapping away at pixels.

I was talking to a friend of mine, one of those friend of a friend types, and he was saying, I know, know, he argued, that you’re wrong about it. You’re just wrong and I’m right. Your so-and-so logic and your so-and-so relativity arguments mean eff all. He spoke with such conviction.

How are you so sure?, I wanted to ask. But I didn’t. I wanted to say, Because, you know, there are people on the other end of this spectrum, who think the exact opposite of what you’re telling me right now, and who speak with as much conviction as you are doing now. But I know, for all the good it would do, it wouldn’t change his mind at all.

I was talking to this woman, and she was saying, You know, throughout history, women have suffered the worst kind of oppression. You know, women earn 70 cents to the dollar in the United States. Imagine Bangladesh, where it’s so much worse. You know, we need this-and-that in place, regulations, rules, we need a societal upheaval, we need to stop all these injustices against women.

And I want to say so many things, like that is a false statistic, like that oppression goes both ways, but I don't. Men and women, such a divide, such an impossible bridge to cross. I could sympathise, but never empathise. For all this talking, which is the only thing that could serve as a bridge between my mind and yours, only some of what you want to say comes through to me, and only a little bit of what I want to say will ever make it across to you.

And I was talking to this friend, a real friend, and she said, You never listen to any of the advice I give you. Like, I could be talking to you right here, and we’d be discussing what you should do, and then you just go on and completely ignore it, or do the opposite, or do none of the things we discussed you should do.

And I want to say, You’re right. And I do, I think, usually. But, it’s difficult. Doing the hard thing, the right thing. There’s what your brain tells you should do, and then there’s your heart that makes you do all those things you never had any intention of doing. Your heart and brain, they don’t really talk to teach other. Your heart is the real killer. It makes you feel things and feeling is the weakest of human functions.

I was talking to my mother, in my sleep, and she said, Son. That was it. Because I don’t have a personality that I can work with, I don’t have the memory bank that my imagination requires to provide her with authentic inflections, tones, a range of vocabulary. Ticks and tocks and time bombs.

And I was talking to this poet, and she said, Lover mine, it’s hard to forgive/If only you had been a bit more kind/Lover mine, Even though I was your captive/I’m sorry you never tried to read my mind/Lover mine, it’s hard to let go/Do you wonder where we would’ve been?/Lover mine, Why don’t you know?/After all that we’ve done, all that we’ve seen?

And I want to say, On my shoulders, I carry your pain/Like a boulder too heavy to lift/If I could do it all over again/I wouldn’t have squandered this gift/In the wake of all that we’ve done/And all that we could’ve been/The only thing that blocks out the sun/Is the memory of all that I’ve seen.

I was talking to this colleague, and she said, I’m talking to this guy. We’ve been talking for a while now. I’m not sure about him. He’s kind of dumb, really. But I don’t know. We’re talking, let’s see where it goes.

And I want to say, You’re talking? I’m talking to so many people. Are we talking or are we “talking”? Is it the mere act of conversation or is it the kind of talking I once did that led to two-and-a-half lonely orgasms in the middle of the day? Why do we, then, “talk” to people so often who really don’t talk about anything? Why do we “talk” with people with whom we want to say the most but end up saying the least? What are you even talking about?

And I’m talking to myself again, and I’m saying, I was so in love with you, and you didn’t even know it. And I’m saying, I just want to be understood. And I'm saying, Please, remember me. And I’m saying, The only thing that matters is the connection you make with another individual. And I’m saying, What does any of this really mean? And I’m saying, Did I forget to do something that I was supposed to do? And I’m saying, I wish there was a God who would talk back. And I’m saying, I wish I didn’t need to see a projector of the future to decide. And I’m saying, “too many options may kill a man.” And I’m saying, I wish, I wish, I wish. And I’m saying, Can I talk to you please? And I’m saying, Are you hearing me? And I’m saying, Are you even listening?

The writer is Sub-editor, Dhaka Tribune.

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