the biscuits.

D and I are walking around a beautifully quaint part of the city. Cobble stones. Porsches. Ornate gates and glass doors. People sitting in bright orange plastic furniture. Cocktail glasses on tables.

I want a biscuit. We step into the nearest shop: a pink, white, unashamedly cutesy yuppie store. I head straight over for the three big biscuit jars. Peanut butter, greek shortbread, or crunchie. I turn back. D is standing there, with my giant material floral handbag flung over his shoulder, watching me amused. Are you going to get milk with that? he asks, smiling. I love him for letting me be me.

The best part of the biscuit-buying expedition is when they give me a square cardboard box for my two biscuits. Far too much effort, really, but it makes it feel as though I have the world’s treasure in my hands. My biscuits, settling into their new home, feel important.

We walk out. It’s at this point a homeless man comes up to me. Please, please, can I have that? he asks, point to my biscuits. No, I tell him. I just bought it. He follows for a while, but stops long before his pleas do. Even after he’s dropped back, I can feel his one good eye and his one slightly swollen eye watching the clean, white cardboard box in my hands. And inside the beautiful white box, my peanut butter cookie and greek shortbread are pretending to be dead, ashamed of the sudden tension in the air. To be given away or kept? What would be better?

That’s unfortunate, D says. Unfortunate? Little does he know. I can feel my biscuits huddling in a corner in the darkness. Maybe if we aren’t here, there’d be nothing to fight over. My poor biscuits. I want to tell them, it isn’t their fault, it’s mine. It’s my fault that I am so selfish and do not want to share them with this man whose emaciation is out of place in this rich part of town only because of his shoddy torn clothes and heavy smell. It’s my fault that I am so selfish that I pretended to ignore his hunger, make him to resort to desperate, piercing glances. It is my fault that my biscuits now feel guilty to be mine. I don’t want to eat them anymore. My heart says no. I feel slightly nauseous. My body says no. I want to go back, find him, say Sorry, I am so selfish, I’m sorry. But D says, he who never forces me to do anything, No. You must eat them. They’re yours.

I tell him all. I tell him how it made me feel, that man in this place, in this sickening wealth-bought serenity. How can I have so much when others have so little? I tell him all. I don’t have to try to imagine it – it just comes out as though the homeless man has crept into my mouth.

D worries about me – he’s said before my heart’s too big. Perhaps this is why he is always so kind, so good to my whimsical fancies. He tells me, kindly, to eat my biscuits. You’re going to go crazy if you carry on like this.

He makes it sound as if I have control over it. I don’t. The feelings just appear. The man. The biscuits. The stories, the words. They are in me. And the more I write, the more they come. And the more I write, the more I set the stories free. And the more I set the stories free, the more new stories come, having heard the call of the free. It’s a vicious cycle.

If I am to survive writing, I must cut out my heart.

~ by translating for peas on April 3, 2011.

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