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Monday, 20 September 2010

Busy with Midnight Conversations

I really can't stand it. The operator's pre-recorded message says, "The person you are calling is busy, please try again later." This is a very normal message, except that it's now 1:15am and I've been calling her for the past 15 minutes. This wouldn't be so awkward except for the fact that it's not the first time that I've received this "busy" message ... my girlfriend has been on the phone with an unknown stranger for many a night, having late night conversations. If I ask her about the late night conversations, she gets upset, because I'm peeking into her life; and if I call her house, she gets upset, because I'm checking on her. She gets upset when I don't call, as well, but then again she doesn't call me. She's waiting to see how many times it is that I will call her for this day, this week, and this month. If I don't measure up to her expectations then she will unceremoniously dump me, just as fishermen dump an anchor off the shore.

Midnight conversations take place when you are lonely, when you need someone to talk to, when you feel like having a stranger illuminate your dim moments. If she feels sad about me, then I'll wager that she is speaking on the phone with some guy, who is making remarks about me, and passing judgment even at this moment. All I could do was send her a sweet (and short) SMS to let her know that I'd called her, and her line was busy ... I wouldn't be able to ask her why, or with whom, she was having her conversations with. But it's very telling that she calls me at 9:40am and tells me, "Uh... I just woke up, I had a late night last night." In my heart, there is a sinking feeling when I hear that, because she had a late night with her friend (or "friends" as she would usually call him) either on the phone or gallivanting somewhere ... with this unknown stranger.

Establishing new patterns with persons that we are familiar with, or familiar patterns with persons that we hardly know, can lead to heightened excitement. This much, I know, must be true. When you go for a movie with a new girl, the movie, however boring, becomes exciting because of the presence of this new girl. When you go to a new place with your long-standing wife, the experiences are new, and build new memories with your wife. In my present scenario, I need to establish new patterns with the old girlfriend, so as to borrow the excitement of unknown situations and import the freshness of unknown locations into the vocabulary of our relationship. As familiarity breeds contempt, unfamiliarity may inspire new passion out of these old bones. But my fear is that my girlfriend is trying to establish patterns of intimacy with new friends, or unfamiliar friends. Patterns of telephone conversations in the midnight hour, when the air is still and there is magic in the breeze, frequently leading to a kind of contented bliss in knowing that there is a listening ear out there, who will be kind enough to listen to us. My heart sinks that she hasn't returned my message, that she is still in conversation with this unknown Joe. It could not be that she is in conversation with her lady friends; they have all day to do that. In fact her lady friends call her regularly at the workplace, and they all know that there will be no reprimand for my beloved. But her men friends will enjoy coo-ing to her, like white doves at a wedding. Her men friends will take advantage of her troubled state (if troubled she is, indeed) to sneak in a smooth remark or two -- "Ah, 'tis a pity, for you are sweet, and unavailable! If you were available, every man would surely want you .. I know that I surely do." This, I can imagine, is the normal circumstance of things. And my heart, in knowing this, sinks ever so much more deeply than it has ever sunk. Half an hour since my telephone call to her, and I call again ... the telephone line is still busy.

This is misery, and misery is often left untold. Only on the pages of this blog do I find the opportunity to pour out my heart's discontent, for this unhappy feeling will not relent. I had five good years with her, and all of it is not seen by her eyes, and surely they must be invisible ... my deeds and my efforts for her. All these years and now she suddenly feels that I must prove my sincerity within the span of a month, a measly month, when her suitors (whether male or female) have been ardently pursuing her, desperately exploring the chinks in the armour, and making incisive stabs into her innocent heart by dropping vague, yet ominous, hints that the life we may have together, is no life at all. And like a besotted sow, she who hath drunk of troubled waters will soon succumb to the cooing of these dirty doves, these liars and these scum.

I can only try to recall the sweet conversations we have had at the start of this relationship that we now have; me on the phone, cradling the guitar and singing lullabies to her. She was a sweet young thing who thought that there wasn't a man who was interested in her then-chubby appearance, and yet -- there I was. Fast forward five years later, the baby fats have all melted away, leaving in their wake a seductive young woman who was ready to conquer the world and all the lovers the world had to offer. She was she, the Sheba of this future, the urban goddess of the lonely everyman, the quavering prey of the cunning Casanova of this age.

I call again, and this time the phone mocks me by telling me that again, the person I am calling is unavailable. I wonder who it is, but I will never know. She is too smart for that, because she gets the guys to call her. She isn't shy about shooting SMS's to them, but they have to call her, because the numbers appear in the bill that I pay. She knows that I can check if I want, and yet I haven't all this while, because there was no need to feel any suspicion. But just this last week she asked for her number to be separated from mine, so that she can pay her own bills. I'm sure that she has already planned to leave me at that stage, and wants her number for her own freedom. The mobile phone that I bought in Hong Kong for her, the limited edition of a common model, cost about twice the price the common model would have fetched on our local shores. And I am certain that it was this same phone that had become the subject matter of the conversation with whoever it was that offered to give her an iPhone or a HTC.

I have this sinking feeling, and it keeps sinking. She thinks that by leaving me alone I become more focussed on my work, but it doesn't work that way. A man who feels that he is loved can face death and work around the clock, for days on end, because in his mind he is working towards the realization of a better future with his beloved. A man who has fears in his mind, and heartache caused by his girlfriend's frolics with unknown strangers, can hardly put his 100% into his work! Insecurity will gnaw away at the sterling performances of even the most accomplished workmen, performers and professionals. Insecurity will make a person toss and turn, while the girlfriend is enjoying the attentions of another man.

Just who is that damned other man?!

Update: It's 2:20am, and I managed to get through her line. She says that she has been sleeping, and that I woke her up. She says that she wasn't on the phone with anyone. I told her that I felt unsettled, because I had been trying to speak with her about tomorrow but I just couldn't get through the line. I had felt ill at ease, and she asked -- "Why?" Simply because, I said, I thought that she had been on the phone with someone else. She snorted. "Buy me a new phone and you won't have this problem anymore ok?!" I apologised. (The right thing to do when you're uncertain whether it is true or not.) "Yeah, now I need to sleep," she said, and I bid her goodnight.

I keep wondering who the damned other man is.


Chloe said...

Psalm 34:18-19. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.