by Janice Williamson
4 June 2019
That insane night when you think that your daughter has been kidnapped and her phone is at the bottom of the sea near Malacca. Because when you look up the way this new app works, you discover the WhatsApp checkmarks tell you your message was sent but not read. & NOTEVENDELIVERED!!!!
And then a few sleepless hours later you receive a message from her with photos from the day trip she took with a friend by small boat to a small tropical island. And you hear her voice in a video walking and talking, her silhouette carving out her space beside a huge rock on a deserted beach. You see her bobbing in the Strait of Malacca, her face hidden behind stylish sunglasses. Hair piled on top of her head in a familiar top knot. (You remember how quickly she twirls her long tresses with a twist of her wrist into a shape that can hike or play soccer or volleyball or just sit to chat.)
And you long for the time when you travelled at 21 and letters took days and weeks.
Was knowing nothing a comfort?
My mother says, “I found not thinking at all about you was best. But your father was different. He had endless confidence in your well-being.”
Finally, you fall asleep at dawn. Awake a few hours later, your first conversation with yourself is:
“For gawd’s sake, woman – get a life!”
Your own life!
Find your own small boat to ply the waves – the Andaman or Java or South China Seas.
Seek out your own island.
Stand on the other side of those greyed out checkmarks and stare across the Malacca Strait towards Sumatra.
Or at the very least,
as my friend Jun advises,
— “Just empty your mind.
Leave nothing there….”
[Ed. Writing helps. It introduces me to myself as slapstick character or horror movie director or crime detective.]