1. Bachianas Brasileiras No.1 ‘for orchestra of cellos’
If you order a frappuccino from Starbucks, the next thing you most probably will do is to find a secluded spot, sit down, perhaps grab a newest novel, put your Ipod on and of course, slowly sip the coffee you just order. That is the magical thing about Starbucks. Although their main selling point is their coffee, most of the customers actually pay very little homage to the coffee. On the contrary, books, free internet, music or even chitchatting are those trivial additions that help to define Starbucks.
To prove my point, now I will like to invite everyone to look around the Starbucks I’m in now. I’m standing in front of the counter, admiring the varieties and at the same time, reluctant to make my decision. In the sweltering afternoon like this, it seems perfectly sensible to order an ice-cold frapuccino. However, macchiato sounds like a better choice for me. Nonetheless, I place my order for a frapuccino because I decide that frapuccino suits the ambience better. I look around me for seat. This is perhaps a less busy afternoon for Starbucks despite the scorching heat outside the glass walls. Then, I see two teenagers occupying the different tables. My deduction skill tells me, they are strangers. Two different men with two very different lives to live in. From first glance, it appears that the only similarity they share is their age.
I choose a table farther from both of them. To be frank, I’m afraid that my presence might displace the fine balance exist between them. They are indeed not much different from me and I’m not much older than them. Funny thing is, initially I wanted to join them, perhaps said hi and shook hands. Now, I’m slumping into the couch and very much relieved that I didn’t join them out of impulsion. They seem inexplicably special. Perhaps they can fly or they have X-ray vision? Ok, enough of crazy thoughts, my coffee is ready and I go over to the counter and collect it.
From now on, I will address two of them as ‘A’ and ‘B’. Pardon me for this seemingly rude code name I have given to both of them. Code names thrill me and if I’m right, special people do need special name like super heroes, don’t they? To my right, A’s mug is half full and he is surfing internet using his Dell laptop. To my left, B, on the other hand, has his cup full of ice-blended coffee. He is reading Times. Nothing I witness can suggest that they are somehow extraordinary in their own way.
I take my macchiato back to my seat. As I walk past them, none of them even lift their head or even move a bit in recognition of the presence of me. That infuriates me. Am I the only one here who is very much agitated? They seem phlegmatic. Bachinas Brasileiras that comes through from the speakers soothes them, but not me. Villa-Loboos’s famous suites that stylistically fuse baroque Bach’s and Brazilian folk songs are very strange choice of pieces they choose to play in this unusually oppressing afternoon.
When I’m back to my table, I continue observing them. A is still immersing himself in the make-believe world of internet and B is still reading his Times. I’m bored by their indifference and so, I take out my laptop too. Once I begin typing something in Microsoft Word, I can’t stop thinking about them. Perhaps I should write about them, shouldn’t I?
2. Bachianas Brasileiras No.2 for chamber orchestra
A is the boy who can have whatever he wants. He discovered that since his parents first played Bachianas Brasileiras from the compact discs. A doesn’t particularly like the suites. He finds himself hard to digest the clash of modern and baroque music. If he were to choose, he would prefer someone like Mozart, quintessential classical; Schumann, real romantic master; or J.S. Bach, the central figure of baroque music. A dislikes innovation although he knows innovation is inevitable. Come and think about it, A realizes that what he dislikes is the transition before the innovation. Innovation can’t just jump right through the window of intellectual restriction. Too much of innovation will be dismissed as utter fantasy. That is why A always pities Nikola Tesla.
No matter how much he distastes fusion music, he can’t bring himself to denounce Bachianas Brasileiras. Because this piece helped him to bring the first ever snowflake to this tropical country. When he was 9 years old, he had seen enough of snows to know what real snows look like. One day, when Bachianas Brasileiras was played, he suddenly wished he could bring snows to this country. The moment the idea formed, the temperature dropped, then the snows fell through the sky. The next day, the country’s prime minister declared the state of emergency to fight imminent nuclear terrorism. Too much new stuffs, people couldn’t take it, they reject them altogether.
Young A was very mesmerized by the beauty of the snows that stopped once the music stopped. Later when he was older, more classical music was played to him. There was one that really held his heart, ‘Winter’ by Vivaldi. In his mind, snowflakes with Winter playing in the background would be just magical. He couldn’t find any other substitution for ‘magical’. But, no matter how hard he tried, how concentrated was he to try to picture the snow, he failed to summon the snows he saw when he was five years old. He never told anyone about this and neither could he muster enough courage to put the compact disc of Bachianas Brasileiras in the player once again.
After the snowing incident, he came across with Bachianas Brasileiras in several occasions. Once in his college graduation ball, he was with his date when the hall sprung to life with Bachianas Brasileiras reverberating in the hall. His date immediately sensed that he was petrified. He couldn’t move. It had been a while since he last heard that in shop that sells guitars. Coincidentally, Bachianas Braileiras No.2 was the choice of the ball DJ. The idea of snow promptly came out of no where. Before his conscious thinking even started to kick in, snows had fallen everywhere in the ballroom. Everyone was in ecstasy, thinking the snowfall must be another meticulously designed surprise. The organizer never denied their involvement although they were no less bewildered by the snowfall.
A glared at his date, having hard time to concentrate. This would be the time to show off some miracles. He concentrated laboriously to change the snowfall into a vast field of lavender, knowing his date would like it. And he did it. Everyone suddenly disappeared. Only he and his date was now in the field of lavender. His date was more confused than surprised. It saddened him. Before he could make any amendments to the scene he created, the music stopped- and they were back to the ball room. ‘I must stop drinking,’ she groggily whispered to him.
So much for miracle. His ability only added more misery to him. He was born with silver spoon and he was well-endowed with brainy mind. Every relative adored his brilliant mind. He excelled in everything and his parents gave him everything. ‘He can be a lawyer’, ‘He can be a doctor’, ‘No, he can even be our prime minister,’ all sorts of prediction fell into place since he was very young. And they were quite right about it- he was indeed good in everything; except that very one thing they miss, his ability. His childhood was filled with endless bouts between his ability and his normal life.
How could he tell everyone about that? His life would be ruined the moment he told everyone about that. Assumptions would soon dictate their reprimands. ‘So you are not that smart after all? You use that piece of classical crap to cheat in the exam? How often you use that? What else did you do with it? He could foretell every merciless lambast. Sometimes he was very amused by the fact that burden of expectations can change so much of people’s perspective. If he is just a Tom, Dick and Henry with average grade in schools, he will just be dismissed as a fraud if he ever tells everyone about his ability. People expect something spectacular from him, but if he has something more to showcase, he will be once again denounced as a fraud, along with his past achievements. People more easily fall into the trap of taking refuge in the worst side of humankind. They can’t see past anything.
They certainly are good guessers no matter how flawed they are. He did ace his exam and now he has to face an impossible decision, to fulfill the expectation or to go against it. He was just informed that he was awarded a prestigious scholarship to study medicine in the UK. Once again, he feels the burden is crushing him. He could raise few eyebrows if he ever tells everyone that he doesn’t want to be that special. That means, he has to accept the fact that a predestined path will be his destiny. He will be ultimately ordinary. On the other hand, he has to be special, at least in the eyes of his parents and his relatives. To them, he is so special, so precious. Indeed, he is unique, not because of his brilliant mind. He is stuck in an irony he creates for himself.
Now, he is in a Starbucks. A painfully recalls what happened the day he went to that guitar shop. He was just 16 years old that day, a very frustrated one. Hadn’t he stopped himself from heading to the road of perdition, or hadn’t the music stopped suddenly, what would happen to him? There is no way to find out. Or does he have a way, with the same familiar music playing in the Starbucks?
3. Bachianas Brasileiras No.3 for piano and orchestra
B, on the other hand, is too extraordinary because of his uncanny ordinariness. He once suspected that his life helps to define what ‘mean’ is. He is most probably right. Throughout his life, he sails at the perfect straight line of mean. His result is the average or mean of the whole class. Among 5 siblings, he is the third, two before him, two after him. You would also like to call that a perfect symmetry. The clothes he wears are of moderately old because he gets it from his eldest brother. His eldest brother reads a lot, his youngest brother never reads, he reads moderately, not too zealot, not too repellant of books- just nice. If you ask him about his life, he can endlessly and tirelessly tell you everything until you get really bored. In the end, you can just easily conclude it as ‘symmetrical life that is more average than any other average people’ and you can’t help wondering isn’t he too extraordinary to be so ordinary?
However, even a perfectly average life has some kinks in it. B will passionately tell you with clarity that will perplex you. Some of the ‘out-of-ordinary kinks’ in his life are some distant memories that you won’t be able to remember. Only he would be able to remember this kind of trivial matters. You can’t really blame him, can you? He has been leading a perfect average life, something special is always worth commemorating, isn’t it? If you see B one day, you can open up the conversation by asking when did the first kink of your average(tragic) life happen?
It happened when he was nine years old. He wore his usual moderately wrinkled and old T-shirt and he was not alone. He was with all his siblings and his parents. On that fateful day, his father had been in his particularly good mood. ‘Let’s go to the beach,’ he announced to 5 utterly flummoxed children. None of them had ever seen their father in such a jolly mood. But they didn’t say much, fearful of the sudden cancel of the trip by his father whose mood swing was famously unpredictable.
Hence, they all cramped into his father’s car. The car was a bit to small to house 5 siblings and their mother. None of them ever complained. The trip proved to be rewarding and they all had fun. Even their mother who was normally emotionless enjoyed herself as much as her kids. At the same time, B couldn’t help wondering something was very wrong with his father. B could tell you in spite of his ordinariness, he has some privileges those less ordinary people will never have- attention. Nobody pays attention to him since he was young. B could just do anything without scrutiny under everyone’s watchful eyes.
That day, he was a bit, just a bit less ordinary. He chose to be alone while his siblings immensely enjoyed themselves on the beach. As usual, nobody noticed that. He picked a spot, sat down, wondering how his life would be if he were at the another extreme? He pictured himself to be under the limelight. He fantasized that he could perform special superhuman ability. And all of a sudden, snows fell through the thick curtain of sky. He felt a chilling sensation on his shoulder at first; then his head; then his right thigh.
He fixed his gaze on the clear blue sky above him. The sky was cloudless and he hated a cloudless sky. The temperature around him dropped but he didn’t feel the chill as if a layer of insulator wrapped around him like a guardian angel. Guardian angel? His mum once told him snow was the guardian angel of sinners’ soul. Although he didn’t quite know what sinners meant, he liked the idea of guardian angel.
Meanwhile, his siblings and his parents were all bewildered by the snows. His father quickly hustled everyone back to the car, ‘play time is over!’ B remembered very clearly that he was literally dragged to the car while he was awestruck by the snows. He kept looking out of the window, hoping the snows would never stop. ‘Why the sea water never freeze?’ B found his question fall into deaf ears. Everyone was preoccupied by the phenomenon.
Now, he is reading a Time in a Starbucks. His first encounter of something extraordinary in his ordinary life still humbles him. People have no idea what kind of life I have been leading, they have no idea, he ponders it whenever he tries to recall what happened next that day- how their car skidded out of control, how their car fell over the cliff and how all his siblings and his parents were killed.
4. Bachianas Brasileiras No.4 for orchestra
A’s life was a perfect life that everyone slaves for it. His result was splendid and he was even offered a scholarship, big time. A fought hard for the result and he was proud of the fact that never once in his life that he ever attempted to cheat using his ability. Why? He has everything he wants. Why bother to fight so hard for something he already has? A has different desires. He doesn’t want to become some world-renowned surgeon neither does he want to become a lawyer-turned-politician.
He wants his life, not something everyone wants.
That is the reason why he is sitting in the Starbucks now. He needs the internet there to search for something, a scholarship. He still remembers the day he forwarded his idea to his parents. ‘I want to study music,’ his parents’ reaction was almost reflexive. ‘No.’ ‘I think you don’t understand, I don’t want to study medicine, music is my passion,’ he thought he made a very poor case. As clichéd as his argument went, his parents rebutted almost spontaneously, ‘you think the life out there,’ they pointed at the front windows, ‘is a bed of roses?’ ‘Do you know how materialistic the world out there? You can’t possibly hope to make a living out of some crappy reggae bars you are going to play in.’
The rest of the arguments were as banal as soap operas. But, it did happen. A’s parents were as astute as ever. ‘You all will regret,’ he ended their heated argument with a really hard bang of his room door. Is always an uphill task to argue levelheadedly with his parents when they do have their point. A let himself fall on his bed in frustration. How he wished he could change their mind… the music, the brazillian, Bachinas Brasileiras… the ideas came in fragments. No, B promised to himself that he wouldn’t succumb to the temptation of his ability.
‘You think you can change your parents’ mind?’ That is the burning question that has been languishing him. He feels weak. The sense of hopelessness descends unexpectedly when he is browsing the net. The search result isn’t promising. The frustration of powerless against his own life rolls like a snowball, it’s getting bigger and the urge of using his ability grows incessantly pressing. Throughout his life, he has no control of his life, he thinks to himself. He doesn’t get to choose. Who gets to choose? No, he has to have choices.
Without any prior warning, low rumbling of cellos and solitude violin is omnipresent in the Starbucks. It is simple and he asks inaudibly, ‘what’s this song?’ Circumstantially, a very muffled answer occurs to him- Bachianas Brasileiras No.4. He isn’t terribly thrilled by the answer. But something terrific is brewing, he just knows. The answer he just obtained was an abstract answer. Did he finally manage to summon an idea?
A reminisces his bitter incident in the musical instrument shop. He never told anyone about what he hoped to become one day to come. How could he tell his parents he always wants to become a guitarist instead of some bigshot doctor or lawyer? The moment he stepped into the shop, he heard Bachianas Brasileiras No.2. He couldn’t help wondering what would happen if he started thinking about something. How about bringing Jimi Hendrix to the guitar shop? And pop, the legendary guitarist was there. That was his first ever conscious attempt. How about Villa-Loboos, the composer of Bachianas Brasileiras? No, it would be too creepy to summon someone that was dead. Then he thought of something else. A concept, to be more precise. He has been summoning concrete and real objects in his whole life. He toiled with the idea of summoning something more abstract, let’s say his future. It turned out not an effortless task.
It was harder than he could imagine. Partly because he was reluctant to see his future, partly because he had doubts. Why sudden urge to look into the future which would be possibly perilous? He fled from the shop, never looked back.
Now, he is still in that Starbucks, with Bachianas Brasileiras playing in the background. Again, future is within his grasp but does he have the courage to move forward?
5. Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 for voice and 8 cellos
B was orphaned 7 years ago. Just when he was expecting a sharp abrupt turn to his ordinary life, he was coerced back to his average-ness. He again found himself to be the perfect balance in his new home. His foster parent was now his unmarried aunty. His aunty put him in the another school in which he once again became an average student. His ranking was still 25th in the class of 49 students, 24 before him, 24 after him, no more no less.
He continued to live in the way he was. It never occurred to him that he was perhaps able to change. He just wanted to live ordinarily. It didn’t matter to him whether he could ever achieve anything magnificent. Nothing half as dramatic as the snows that orphaned him ever dawned on him after that incident. It was true that he didn’t want to be a standout. He detested it, as a matter of fact. The only time something out of ordinary happened to him, he lost everything he had.
So, he continued to live like any normal individual for another 7 years until the day he officially graduated from his high school, with average grade that would bring him no where. University would be a tall order for him. But he was not ready for the baptism of the society. What his aunty said now made a lot of sense, ‘you are too good to hit the street.’ After so many years, for once, he hoped his life could be little less ordinary. A higher grade would do. Sadly, reality worked in its mysterious way.
It was on the graduation ball that he realized he ought to be someone special, not someone that forgettable or someone that negligible. He went to the ball, alone. He didn’t have a date and he never wanted to have one. His high school years had been years of solitude. He hardly had friends and he was always seen alone during recess. When the class finished, he would be among the first to go back. Club activities were not cup of his tea. He did join some, as a normal member. Careful he was, not to show any enthusiasm when he joined any activities. Sometimes, he found himself running of excuses to defend himself. He brought all the ordinariness to himself.
Nonetheless, he did show up for the ball, to his classmates utter amazement. ‘Look at you, you are here,’ one of his few friends, Dan nearly dropped his jaw when he first saw him showing up with a suave tux. ‘Nice tux,’ he heard that compliments far too often that night. He began to suspect something was again, quite wrong. Uneasiness crept on his skin and the Goosebumps shunted him straight to the washroom. He could no longer stand the ball. He shut himself inside the washroom and let the turbulent emotion to overwhelm himself.
Then something magical thing happened. Somebody outside the washroom shouted, ‘Look at the snows! My god…’ Reluctantly, he dragged himself out from the washroom and he was instantly awestricken. The same snow he saw 7 years ago, the same texture, the same coldness… Everyone had gone insane with the snowfall except him. He found himself slowly walking to the middle of the dance floor. From there, he scanned the whole hall from that vantage point. His classmates and other students all stopped moving. They were dumbfounded.
Soon after he regained his full consciousness, a fear that was so surreal engulfed him. ‘What am I going to lose this time?’ He didn’t have much thing to lose after all but he was not sure whether he could take another big blow. Panic, like a fleeting white flash, seared through his whole body, shivering him. People might not notice but he knew he was shivering like someone with extremely high fever.
He wanted to flee from the ball and he saw a couple who danced rigidly. The girl looked confused and the guy was totally lost in his own world. Most awkward dance B had ever seen in his whole life. It was unbelievable to see those two still could dance in spite of all the ridicules. B reasoned, ‘they have no of the significance of this snow. Of course they feel nothing.’ He pushed back the crowd ahead of him to reach the exit. Once he was outside the hotel, he inhaled deeply.
What will happen to me this time?
Now, he is still in that Starbucks. Suddenly, the guy in front of him looked so familiar. The guy in the ball, the epiphany shivered him, not because of the fear. He was thrilled. Finally…
6. Bachianas Brasileiras No.6 for flute and bassoon
Surprisingly, both of them are very pale now. A covers his face with his palms. B is shivering with fear or excitement that makes his face paler than ever. I have been here, observing them for a very long time. My macchiato has turned cold and it is just too awful to drink now. I have been half-heartedly typing something on Microsoft Word but the truth is, I have been watching them closely.
B has stopped flipping his magazine since 10 minutes before. A has been hiding behind his palms for exactly 7 minutes 23 seconds and still counting. Something big will be happening here, right here. I wish I’m half as special as them so that I know what they think right now.
How is it to feel? No, it will be imprudent and impolite. Asking them risks exposing myself and inquiring too much will be a rude intrusion to other people’s privacy. I refuse to be known, like flute and bassoon. Flute and bassoon are always hidden, especially in a symphony. You can hardly hear any flute or bassoon when all the other instruments are played at full volume. The only time flute and bassoon can be heard is when they are doing solo. This is their show. I don’t want to be then who steals the show from them. As a matter of fact, I’m not capable of stealing show from them.
So, I continue to observe surreptitiously.
7. Bachianas Brasileiras No.7 for orchestra
A recovers from his struggles. He has been musing and weighing his odds. What if his future is not real? What if he won’t see anything? What if he sees something destructive? What if he can never change what he sees in the future? And he knows he has to reach the final conclusion. God knows when will they change the song again. Missed chance is no better than no chance.
Painstakingly, he tries to picture a concept in his mind. It proves a more daunting task. What is the concept of future? Instinctively, his brain will tell himself what it imagines. In his imagination, there’ll be kids, his wife and friends who are all faceless. He shakes his head in annoyance. Imagination is not what he wants because all the reality will be translated from his imagination. He wants the future projected to him, in its purest form, without the influence of his wishful imagination. He needs to know.
His vision suddenly becomes very cloudy. The interior of the Starbucks has turned dim and it is swirling in an irregular motion. It nauseates him. It is too dangerous to mess with the future. Before he manages to hurl himself out from the vortex of the swirling world, ever thing turns dark.
‘Dr James, Dr James!’ Who is Dr. James? He woke up and very surprised to find out there is no hangover. His vision is back to its normal clarity. He looks around, the same Starbucks. No, not exactly the same. Something is different. The design is quite different and who is that Dr.James? Somebody has been calling him over and over again.
He stands up to see where the sound comes from and he bangs against his table. The knife and the plate vibrate with the impact. Bewildered, he picks up the knife curiously. He sees something on the knife, perhaps the reflection. It is not easy to see one’s reflection on a knife with such an irregular surface. He stares straight into the reflection and he is alarmed. Something bizarre has been seen.
He turns around. There are two beds in a room. A curtain separates these two beds. Those two beds are not ordinary beds. One can only see them in a hospital and it only takes him a while to realize that he is now in a hospital. A stern-looking nurse is shouting straight to his face, ‘Dr. James’. ‘Dr. James, is this your stethoscope?’ He stares at the nurse intensely. The nurse was taken aback by the confused gaze and she apologizes, ‘Sorry Dr. James, I thought this is yours.’ And she walks past him, disappearing into the labyrinth of corridors.
‘What are you looking at?’ A voice startled him from behind.
Mystified, he turns to his back, finding himself in front of a lady he has never met before in his whole life. He touches her face and it feels soft. Without warning, he finds himself now in a comfy-looking living hall. In front of him, behind the lady, there is one television. On the immaculate wall, the clock shows 3.03pm. ‘I’m just looking at the clock,’ that is the first time he speaks since he finds himself in this peculiar realm of eccentricities.
She smiles. What a ravishing lady! He wishes to hold on to her for a longer time but something has changed. His vision becomes dark and cloudy again. Speckles of impurities mark over her face and the wall behind her. They are shattered and he wakes up, panting. That’s when the music stops abruptly.
He howls, ‘No!’ after realizing that he could never touch her face again. He pounds on the table like a madman with his eyes bulging. It takes 3 guys to hold him down. They, of course, don’t know what has happened to him. They only hear him muttering ‘I need to go back, I have lost her’ all the way back. Nobody knows what he means.
8. Bachianas Brasileiras No.8 for orchestra
B never stopped looking for miracles after that day onwards. Someone in the hall must have created the miracle. He or she was the one who was responsible for bringing B the most beautiful thing to his life and taking away the most precious thing from him. He obtained a list of people who attended the ball. 121 people were there. The figure didn’t discourage him somehow.
B started stalking everyone in the list. His ordinariness granted him some protection. None of the target he stalked was suspicious of being followed. Firstly, he would identify a target from the list. He would follow them and break into their house. Installing a spy cam in an unexpected corner of the house wasn’t an impossible task. Everyone had an untouched corner in their house. From the tv screen that was linked to the camera, he fastforwarded and rewinded the frames to check out every minor detail, every single frame might convey something and he must not miss that.
Day after day, he was hoping as he was going down the list, he would unearth that someone, who was responsible for everything. But as the list was getting shorter, the chance of finding that person was growing slimmer. He started questioning his rationale behind this. Was he wrong about the ball? No, someone, that someone must be there. How sure was he about that? When he was at the beach, no one was there except his whole family. His whole argument failed to connect with each other if someone were to probe deeper into it.
He had reached his bottleneck. None of the source yielded anything. He even hired a private investigator to follow some highly suspicious individuals. Negative, the result came back. ‘You have changed,’ his aunty commented. ‘Yes I am,’ offering no further explanation. It was true that he no longer cared to be constantly aware of being exposed.
He even called very few friends to talk to them, much to their surprise. They didn’t have to know the ulterior motive behind each call to sense that he had changed. He now went out more often. He started to buy trendy clothes. None of these changes was something he himself could explain. The only one idea was he was not supposed to be ordinary. He would find that person with ability and he would be the famous one. Although the idea of being famous still unnerved him, he was trying to get used to it.
Deliberately, he avoided being average. He sped, he swore loudly, he even modified his accent- just to be the extraordinary one. These changes were all gradual and subtle. Maybe he himself didn’t want those changes. It was the basis of his task that had thrown his perfectly symmetrical life out of the fine balance.
Despite of his numerous attempts, that person was still at large.
Now, B is sitting in a Starbucks, a café he previously wouldn’t even consider going. All the drama was unfolding in front of him as he gingerly put down his magazine. Watching that person who now appeared to him as the one who danced like a mindless robot in the ball, he laughs at his own stupidity. Everything has been so apparent, so lucid. He is the one. He causes all the problems. No wonder he still could dance!
As B walks over to help that person who was now seizing on the ground, he is all ready for this moment.
9. Bachianas Brasileiras No.9 for string orchestra
‘I’m his friend, I can handle this,’ B told the astonished shopkeeper. B moves A to the outside. I’m there to help A who is delirious. ‘You’ve got to move him somewhere else,’ and B nods in agreement. We move A to the backyard to avoid the watchful eyes of the passersby. I volunteer to go back to the Starbucks and get some cold water. ‘I need her,’ A is still in his semi-conscious state.
When I’m back with a glass of cold water, A uses his hands to support his body. A regains some of his consciousness back. B is watching intently on him, crossing his arms in front of his chest. A shakes his head and clears his throat, ‘can I have some water?’ I promptly give him the water. A takes it gratefully, ‘thank you very much.’ He gulps down the whole glass of water and he stares at both of us apologetically, ‘I’m so sorry for what has just happened.’
‘Why do you do this,’ B confronts A coldly.
‘You know what am I asking, how do you do whatever you do,’ he knows what he is talking about.
A’s face turns even paler. Any sign of redness has receded in favour of a sickly chalky white. ‘I don’t know. It’s just in my mind,’ A says without remorse. ‘I can’t believe you are the one, after so many years of searching, do you know how much have I changed?’ B is getting more and more agitated. Apparently, A understands what he is blabbering about.
‘Why are you doing this? You show me something miraculous and at the same time take whatever I have. Why?’ B kneels in front of A, tears are rolling down from the wells of both eyes. A looks straight into B’s eyes. ‘Do you know what it takes to have this ability? You will never know the misery. You have to constantly choose between being ordinary and extraordinary. Everyone expects you to be someone but you yourself are not even sure what you have to expect,’ B shakes his head defiantly and A continues, tears are visible, ‘I don’t get to become who I am. You know what did I see just now? My future, a future that is not supposed to be mine. I’m ordinary. If I’m extraordinary enough, maybe I can change it. But can I? I’m helpless in front of the impossible choices lie in front of me.’ A hollered.
‘You know what? At least you have choices. Do I have one? Everytime you perform your goddamn miracle, I lose something. I’m sick of everything you do. I’m sick of you,’ B whispers this softly, avoiding the eye contact with A.
‘What did you lose,’ A softens.
‘The ordinariness, the symmetry, the order, you take away everything. Because of you, I lost my family. I direly wanted to go back to my symmetrical life but I failed. Because of you, I had to search for you, abandoning everything that defines me and my life!’ B is shaking involuntarily.
‘I’m sorry,’ A concedes. Never once in his whole life he feels remorseful for whatever he has. With this exasperating guy sobbing like a completely battered soul, for once, he thinks he should stop blaming everyone for his downfall. ‘At least you have choices,’ B’s voice dampens his arrogance.
I witness their brawl from a corner. In my mind, there is a mind map of how two parallel lines start crisscrossing each other. No one can tell for sure how many times those two lines will cross each other again. Maybe they will never cross each other again. Maybe they will fuse to become a line. Many readers will be asking this question. Why not a proper conclusion? The answer is that simple. I never know what happens to them afterwards. I’m just a random point placed at the point of first intersection of those two lines. They move forward, but I don’t. to them, I’m just another customer they see in a Starbucks; I’m just another pedestrian that happens to be there to help them and witness everything. Thus, I’m not going to fool my reader by creating an alternative ending. A happily ever after ending will appeal to many wishful readers. A morbid ending is more of my liking. After reviewing everything I saw, I convince myself, ‘No, let the story end here.’
If there’s a Bachianas Brasileiras No.10, I might as well write about them thoroughly. However, that is life. Sometimes, just like A, we don’t have control on what we do, because it is life, c’est la vie. Perhaps everyone of us resembles B in a queerer way. We are just victims of being left option-less. And funny thing about their distinctly different lives, the one who has choices failed to change anything. In contrast, the one who is left with no choice, alters his course of life more than he can ever envisage.
But one thing they do share in common, they are both left hopeless in the course of their respective life. Maybe that’s how life is supposed to work, isn’t it?