New Year's Eve, you are standing with the other drunks on a patio outside a restaurant wishing anyone who walk by a Happy New Year. You hug and kiss the ladies as they stop in front of you holding their boyfriend's or husband's hand. It is as close to unconditional love as the world possibly allows. The full embracing of anything that you come in contact with is aided by several bins of alcohol you consumed that evening with the others. When a couple of cops come up to you, you settle your differences and hug one of them, telling him that life is wonderful and love is the essence of all human existence. The cop turns to his partner as if seeking for advice but then stops, "Happy New Year to you too, son!"
Your friends drop you off in front of an apartment. You drop the keys a couple of times before you stumble inside the living room. Inside your bedroom, you dial your cousin's number, and she answers.
"Happy New Year."
"Oh, It's you!"
She recognizes the desperateness in your voice.
"How are you?"
"Fine. You had a good time?"
"Yeaah, I did."
You fall off a chair and wake up under the chair's swirling legs. You press the redial button.
"Heyy, Happy New Year."
"Happy New Year to you too!"
"I have to tell you something."
"I love you."
You fall asleep and wake up with a bad hangover.
Since New Year, you have been on a drinking binge. Whenever you call her number, there is either a busy signal or no one would pick up the phone. You have two to three hours of sleep each night because of this. At work, your coworkers and friends comment on how tired you look. After work, you try to get some sleep. You would doze off only for half an hour or so, but then you would wake up feeling restless again.
Five days now, and your eyes begin to show its red blood vessels intricately weaving a nest of festered flesh.
"Hey, how are you doing?"
"Fine. So what's up"
"Do you know why I call?"
"Yeah. You're my cousin and you care about me."
"Did you know why I called on New Year's Eve?"
"Yeah, to wish me a Happy New Year."
"Oh, fuck! Cut the bullshit."
"Remember what I said to you before I hung up?"
"Okay, then. What did I tell you?"
"Why don't you tell me, you're the one who said it?"
"You already knew how I feel about you. I want to hear you say it, please. I'm tired, Kanha, and I have to go to work tomorrow, I just want to hear you say it and to know how you feel about it."
"Don't, please don't."
"I love you. Do you have any feelings toward me?"
"You're my cousin and I care about you."
"Don't use the C word, I can't stand it anymore. Whenever it comes up I feel so god-damned guilty."
"I don't want to hurt you, but I already have someone."
"Who? That boy? Oh Fuck, fuck me, Christ, fuck me!"
"He's nice. My mother and father like him. I like him too."
"I love you, Kanha."
"You know what happened when someone said that to me, I told him, 'go to hell.'"
"Who did you say this to?"
"My boyfriend. I was giving him a blowjob and he said, 'I love you,' and I told him, 'fuck you, go to hell.'"
Her words rip open your chest, pull out your heart, throw it against the wall, and watch it slowly slide down and lay quietly in a dusty corner.
"Did I scock you?"
"Yes. But go ahead, I have to take in everything right now, I can't stand not knowing anymore."
"We fuck every day now. Before I go to work, I stay at his place and we fuck. I love fucking. I think I'm a nymphomaniac."
"I don't care. I love you. Let me speak, please don't interrupt."
"Like anything else with the world, my feelings for you began innocently enough. I have such sympathy and such compassion toward you. You were so messed up when you were sixteen, hanging with the wrong crowd, those Asian Boyz. Then my sympathy slowly developed into something I had no control of. Trust me, you don't plan love. It just happened. There is no conscious act on my part to fall in love with you, to be tortured with the mixed emotions of pleasure and shame. I fell for you when we were just talking to one another, like right now. You seemed so vulnerable and in need of some sort of guidance then, and I'd do anything to help you get through those tough times, because I could identify with you. Remember, I was your age once but worse, I was an orphan, alone and new in this country. It is impossible to pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with you. . . are you listening?"
"Yeah, I'm here. Hey, you want to listen to a poem I wrote?"
"It doesn't matter. I just wanted to get some weigh off my chest a little. Sure, go ahead and read your poem."
She reads a few of her poems. The subject in all her poems is love. She has mixed feelings about it. First, she feels like she is being used for 'pleasure' by her lover, and this realization dampens her spirit. Then, in her last stanza, she too finds pleasure in the lovemaking games that they have been playing and she feels shameful because of it. It is remarkably clear and honest. You tell her that you love her poems.
You talk for two more hours with her. You tell her that all you have learned from your studies in comparative literature is this: Love is everything; the essence of life. People go to work day in and day out. They are in good terms with their friends and coworkers, but something is missing if they don't have their loved one. There would be no meaning in their existence. There would never be that closeness and comfort in being aware of the cosmic order: of life and death, of suffering as being a big part of human existence. Instead of kindness and compassion, there will be fear and loathing in their human heart. People would curse not only themselves, but the whole of human race and anything they come in contact with. They are much worse than serial killers, because those killers have no conscience of the cosmic order. People without their loved ones are bitter about the strangeness of life; they are indifferent to its horror and beauty. In short, they are the saddest among friends!
"I love you, Kanha. And I am glad that you are happy with your boyfriend. If you think he is the one, then you should stick with him. Love is important in human life because it defines the person and his existence in the cosmic order; it gives meaning to life itself. I won't ever try to hurt you or him. You are lucky that you have someone to love. Remember, I am here if you need me. I don't know much about life, but I here for you nevertheless."
"Are you mad at me?"
"No, I am glad you have been honest with me. Honesty, integrity and dignity are important to a human being. Man is not a beast. Besides rationality and emotion, he has something deep. It's godlike and unexplainable. Man is beautiful, and life is great, especially when you have someone to give and receive comfort from. You are lucky to have found that key. I am tired right now, but I have to see you for one more time. Please, I am asking you."
"You won't do anything strange will you?"
"No. I'll never do anything to hurt you, or your friend, or my uncle. It's not in my nature to hurt someone. I'd hurt myself first before I hurt another human being. It's one of the reasons why I kept ignoring you when you came over to visit. I didn't show you my love because I did not want to frighten you. Rather, I would lock myself up in my room and curse. Oh, I have said too much. I will see you Thursday, okay?"
Wednesday night you dreamed about her.
"O, stop hiding from me!" Your cousin giggles. She pulls your foreskin back and exposes the shiny gland. She puts you in her mouth and tightly grips you with her full lips. You close your eyes and see the dark universe before you: the stars placed quietly against the darkness of the sky. You hear the distant waves of the cosmic ocean and you open your eyes. Her stare holds you very still like a giant snake wrapping its crushed prey. You dare not say "I love you" to her. Her hands claw your chest until you came in her mouth. She looks up at you as she wipes the mess with the back of her left hand. Her right hand is still stroking you. She stands up now, and her eyes pierce into you as if she were mad at you about something. You are afraid of her. Succumbing to the smell of her, you guide her down on the bed, your tongue licking her clit. The sight of her parted pink lips and her scream get your dick hard again. You get on top and begin mounding her. Her arms wrap around you, pulling you deep into her dark love. It is wonderful. She puts up no resistance.
You wake up and see your guitar lying on the floor. To you, the guitar is the most beautiful instrument in the world. Its shape is like the curve of a woman, but unlike a woman, it does not refuse you. It is your best friend, your cheap psychologist, your religion. It settles you down when you are up. It picks you up when you are down. You tell it things, and it listens to you. Your fingers go up and down the frets, telling your troubles, confessing your desires, seeking the guitar's advice, and looking for comfort. Do you remember the time when the white kids had ganged up on you because they had nothing else to do and because you were different from them? Whom did you tell this incident to?
You begin playing REM's "Everybody Hurts." You sing those lines that seem so natural to you. It is new to you, although you have listened to "Automatic for the People" about a zillionth time. Yet, it is as if Micheal Stipe had written it just for you. You are crying. You know what you are going to do tomorrow.
You hear a door slam and you look around. You are in a Chinese Restaurant on Cherry Avenue and South Street right across from the shopping center. She sits in front of you eating fried noodles. She is enjoying herself. She looks so young with her round Asian face and full lips. Her skin is fairly light. You hands are gripping the bottom of your seat as you sit smiling at her. You have not been listening to what she is saying. You keep on thinking about Tolstoy's "War and Peace." Life cannot be learned, cannot be mastered. Once it is mastered, written down, it becomes history: Dead lives. You don't know what is going to happen next, but you know you will be kind. You have to. You cannot force her to love you. It's one of the basic laws of life. Don't expect anything, just live!
You see yourself as Pierre and your cousin as Natasha. Earlier, Pierre does not see Natasha as his lover. She is young, fourteen years old, playing children games with her cousin Sonya. Then when she is older and has broken off an engagement with his friend's Andrew, Pierre visits her often and nurses her broken heart. At some point during this nursing, he realizes that he has an immense love for Natasha. It is the same between you and Kanha. During the time spent with her in a sort of counseling, you began thinking about her in the most ordinary of moments. While brushing your teeth, you heard her laughter. While picking up a fork, you remembered telling her not to follow the crowd, but to be an individual who is able to think for herself. While reading Dostoevsky's "Brother Karamazov," Grushenka reminded you of her. Kanha is Grushenka, and you become Dmitri Karmazov, crazed for her presence. You have been in control over this craziness five years now until this past Holidays. You got the Holiday Blues. You heard somewhere that suicide rate skyrockets during the Holidays, and during the Christmas party given by your friend you could have become a part of that statistics. But your friend knew and held you back with their words.
Words. You hate words. They can be a tool for evil purposes, for cutting you up in tiny little pieces, then throw you into the water where the hungry sharks await you with wide open jaws. Yet, words have made you happy on many lonely occasions. You have written stories of sexual escapades between you and your cousin. And you got off with them. A webmaster has even published your work on cyberspace. But in truth, these escapades are and will always be fictional. They did not happen. She did not fuck you. She did not suck your dick. She did not use your dick as a toothbrush and your sperm as toothpaste in that morning. You have lied to yourself. You hate yourself. You hate words: They don't take you anywhere. While some writers would die for words, because they are so real to him, the ultimate truth, you, on the other hand, would never die for words. Fuck words. They don't take you anywhere.
Leaving a tip on the table, you get up to follow her. You are on the city streets following the motion of traffics. You realize that she has been quiet for sometime now. And you also realize that you are not going along with the plan. Life is uncertain, and plans will fall through. You will still be pathetic, and you will still love her.
"I don't know what I'm doing anymore. I have nothing else to say."
"Just keep on driving. We're almost to my home."
"I like to ask something from you."
"You promise me!"
"I know, I know. But I don't think this is going to hurt anybody but myself."
"What do you mean?"
"I won't hurt you or your boyfriend, trust me. I just want something to remember."
"I'm not touching you."
"You won't. I want you to be happy with your boyfriend and life in general."
"Not exactly. I'd like to masturbate with you in my car. You don't have to touch me or anything like that. Just sit in the backseat and look me in the eyes. That's all. I'd be in the front seat turning around, of course, so that I can see you. It's all I want. It's safe. I'm tired, please."
She looks at you and is quiet for sometime. Then she nods.
You drive around looking for a place to park your car. There is an abandoned Hi/Lo store that you have just passed. You turn the car around. In the parking lot behind the abandoned building you realize how cold her hand is as you help her climb into the backseat. She watches you climb into the passenger's seat. You turn around and your hands are shaking as you unbutton your fly. Your penis is withered with fear and loathing. You pull your foreskin back and forth, beginning to masturbate. You do not look at her. You are concentrated upon your self. But it is no use.
"Is everything okay?" she asks.
You do not answer her. You continue pulling back and forth. Fifteen minutes. Twenty minutes. It is no use. You body shivers. Your fingers are cold. The head of your penis reddens. But you cannot get off.
"I am done. Thank you."
She stays in the backseat because you told her that the passenger's seat is all wet with your cum. You get out of the parking lot and drive her home. You sneak a look at her in the rear-view mirror and find out that she is trying to concentrate on the city scenery. She keeps on looking outside the window until you have reached her home.
"I don't want to see you anymore," you say to her as she gets out of the car.
You feel the head of your penis is wet. You have just cum, but you are not glad.