When I first arrived in my new house in Kuala Lumpur, I stayed up all night, watching lizards in the kitchen, the corridors, and the toilet. I was worried they might come into my room. I slept on the sofa. It was the first time I ever saw a lizard. Luckily, that moment was temporary.
I have always dreamt of having a private room. A private room where I can listen to my kind of music all night. Where I can speak out loud to myself. Where I can sing to the walls, and recite poetry to the mirror.
When I was a kid, my family and I lived in my grandma’s house. She had cancer. Our family had to stay together in one room. A small room. Me, my father and my mom. My brother hadn’t arrived yet at the time but I had a companion; a cotton pink wolf. I used to wake my mom up each night after hearing a crackling voice in my head telling me that my cotton pink wolf had come alive and wandered into the living room. But those moments were also temporary.
My grandma died, we moved into a new house.
My brother and I, two sofas, one blue, one red and a desktop. An old one that my father brought on a windy day. I had a new room. It was not a proper room, just an extensional space in the living room. And I shared this space with my brother. At night, I used to chat with the girl I love, on the keyboard. With letters and questions, we played a game, a game of questions. That was the only way we could express our love . My brother used to mutter in his sleep. He would speak in gibberish and then suddenly in all seriousness say : “Mwaffa your typing is annoying, go to sleep!” But that was temporary.
We moved into a new house, a bigger one, where I could finally have a private room. It had a big balcony where I kept 10 love birds that eventually died, where I grew a small pot of jasmine plant that dried up, where a sniper killed boredom and saw how war is just like life. All that happened.
I drew on the walls of my room, wrote poetry, slept on the floor, invited my girlfriend, smoked secretly, read about socialism, watched revolutionist videos. Cried.
But even that was temporary.
I left for the city after graduating from school and chose to study far away from my hometown.
On campus, I shared a room with four friends. One of them has since left to Europe. Another died in a prison. The third guy is living somewhere he doesn’t have good enough signal to send me voice messages on WhatsApp and The fourth got married in happily ever after.
Together, we had made jokes and mocked everything, from the space and limitations around us, to our dreams and country.
And we had big dreams. But all those things were also just temporary.
I keep asking myself, what is the definition of loneliness? I had an answer before, a simple one; it is the absence of others. It is the presence of none. It is four walls, a locked door. It is only one glass of tea. It is headphones on the train. It is night thoughts. It is typing. It is WhatsApp. It is laundry on weekends. It is one ticket. It is a huge bed with one pillow.
But now, I feel like I am the definition of the answers that I sought for.
In 2018, Malaysians chose a new government. But who am I to talk about that. I, who live on the fringes of a poem. The one who stands close to the door in the train, who rents a room in a shared house, who registers himself at the guard house with an expired passport when visiting friends.
But I did witness the victory of the Malaysian people, I heard the voices of their will, after midnight, when they celebrated the new government they had chosen.
This was going to be something temporary too.
It must be tiring to choose a government. It must be confusing and tedious. Like how I feel everyday at lunch time when I ponder: What shall I eat today?
The night the Malaysians chose their government, I didn’t feel alone. I was with millions of people who were watching the news, following the elections, and the lizard was also there.
My room here is spacious. With a big balcony with orchids, plumeria and other baby plants.
It can fit every person I ever shared a room with. I picture all of them. My brother, my friends, all of them could live here. We could have tea together.
“Your room is spacious,” a Malaysian friend once told me.
“Nothing is free” I replied.
I had hung all my memories on the wall but my friend couldn’t see them. They are afterall, invisible.
“Your view is nice” my Malaysian friend had also said. I look back now and wonder, could they really see what I see?
“Your vote matters,” I once told my Malaysian friend.
“My voice matters too,” she said. And we screamed from the balcony and chanted a poem to the birds nestling on the railway tracks below. When a train suddenly passes through at night, all that too, would become temporary.
It was raining last night. “No government now,” my Malaysian friend says. The king chose a new one, but it is meant to be temporary.
Hundreds of people are now sleeping on the borders of Greece, but this will be temporary. Life has given me a private room, one I had chosen myself. Isn’t it going to be temporary? I wonder.
My room is too big for me, too spacious for my fears, too dreary sometimes. But today I feel that we all are in this very room. I hear a weird voice. Their voice. Our voice. I hear a hissing.
A very wise noise, a very calm voice. Calling me.
And wherever I look, I see the lizard of my room. Big and clear, beautiful and unique.
He comes closer to me and looks at me with wide-open eyes and says:
Everything is temporary.