asleep // awake

i think the thing i remember most vividly about my first night in london was how deafeningly quiet the night was. my room was facing nowhere near the roads and there was no low hum of the air-conditioner nor the constant soft whirring of the fan. this place didn’t need it. a far cry from tropical malaysia, london was dry and cool and on the first night i spent there, i felt utterly alone.

i remember the first night i came back to malaysia for good. it was warm – too warm – and the air felt heavy, full of humidity from all the tears i’ve shed in mourning. all of a sudden, the ambient noise from crickets and cars whizzing past on the highway and the air-conditioner – always the air-conditioner – bothered me. everything was barely a murmur, a distant echo – yet felt deafeningly loud. like the noise was closing me in, i felt trapped and all the more alone.

on my last night in london, i barely got any sleep. i stared at the white ceiling as an unspoken terror grabbed hold of me and silenced my thoughts. it was utterly quiet – both in the room and in my mind. i had spent the last few days and night agonising over the fact that i was saying a very prolonged goodbye to this place i loved and will never see again, eyes red and tired from the constant tearfulness at the stupidest things like how the bread i bought would expire after i leave – “it has more time here than i do,” i thought. but on that last night, it was quiet. not in an eerie way, not even in a lonely way. it was peaceful.

when i first fell asleep beside H, and woke up in the middle of the night to his snoring, i felt safe. in this incredibly quiet room, i found safety in his forceful breaths. as soon as i gained enough consciousness to realise i was sleeping in the same bed as H, i quickly shut my eyes – oh no what have i done he must hate me i’m so sorry i’m always causing trouble – thinking that i’ve ruined our friendship forever. but i snuck a peek anyway – if this was a dream, i deserved to be lucid, and so i fearfully opened my eyes just a little. yet somehow after the initial anxiety, the sense of security never left. and suddenly my nights were filled with his life – warm body and sleepy face and always, the forceful breaths. eyes open and basking in the pleasure of each other’s presence. suddenly i had realised that there are many forms a quiet night can take, many forms of silence – some i liked more than others.

but these nights, i have woken up to phantoms of my memories. as if on my own deathbed at the funeral of my past. live burial.

my nights are strange. some days i come home, soul weary and body weathered – only to find myself energised by solitude. some days i come home, soul full of love and body nourished – only to find myself paralysed by fear. some days are just that – days which pass inconsequentially and meaninglessly.

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