Shai with the Joneses

It has occurred to me that in actuality, I may be mad… I give the bell a firm push, grimacing through the trilly bird song that lasted much longer than anticipated. I cannot help but notice the contrast of the gleaming gates to the unpaved, trashed, and filthy road behind me. I cast my eyes to the horizon and realize that a thunderstorm was brewing. Again I push the bell only to have the gate swung open by a sour faced maid. I give her a genuine smile, as if it were she I was coming to visit, only to be glowered at. Failing in trying to melt her icy exterior, she leads me through the overstuffed garden, filled with every shrub imaginable. Though nature and the outdoors are my inspiration for life, the setting of the manicured lawn with tastefully placed flowers of all families, a sight that blinded you with perfection, was quite tasteless to me. I hushed my harsh judgement and paid attention to the sour faced maid.

Quietly with haste I followed her through the maze of a house, passing countless sitting rooms that were only a blur to me. She paused at the hundredth living room (well that’s what it seemed like) ushering me to be seated till my hostess was informed of my insignificant self. I was aloof to all the splendor that surrounded me. Priceless vases that cost more than my car in the States littered the room. Designer furniture specially made in Italy were strategically placed but never really caught my eye. I could only smirk at the plant placed next to me. Yet as I leaned closer to inspect it’s origin, it turned out to be an imposter, a fake wannabe P. dactylifer… a.k.a The Date Palm. Losing interest in the fraud I began counting the seconds that were slowly ebbing away from me.

Being lulled into complete boredom by the soft hiss of the A.C. I come to attention when the hostess finally graces her living room. I hold out my hand wanting to give a firm friendly shake only to be rewarded with a limp, lifeless one. The smile that I had held so effortlessly began to feel stretched, as the muscle at my cheek began to tick slowly. Giving me the customary kisses on the cheek (air ones), she quickly complemented me on my original style, on how chic it was. I nod, and began the torrent of questions of the health of her family and so on and so forth. It was apparent that my hostess loved the sound of her voice, so I had no choice but to give my cued sighs and ‘Walahi?’‘s with complete rapture on my face. Finally something to fiddle with had arrived. A young Filipino maid brought in a tray of shai and sweets. As she began pouring our shai my hostess admitted she would be nothing without her Filipino maids, and how she simply doted on them. I noticed how her henna was so black that it glistened as she effortlessly lifted her arm weighed down with chunky golden bracelets to sip her shai. These days she sighed, you cant simply bring a maid from the street. She looked for my cued nod. I could only smile and explain that a poor student such as I wouldn’t know of such things.

Her words were clattering on my brain non-stop. I was mistaken by the notion that she loved the sound of her voice, when in fact, she was well versed in the art of conversating in SBS (Silly Bullshit). My skin began to feel too tight as I began noticing my lack of perfection. While her nails were manicured, mine were bitten to the nub. While her hair looked as if it were spun from silk, mine was unruly and curly. While her clothes were tailored to fit her form, mine were bought to fit my comfort. And while her skin was fair, mine was constantly darkened by my thirst for the sun. My heart sank as I slowly realized that this vision before me was the beacon of society. This woman is what countless aspired, schemed, prayed, and set their hearts on being. Is this the best that the beau monde had to offer?

Pausing from her SBS, she looked down at her designer watch and exclaimed how time passed far too quickly. My bones now frigid and my brain in a trance, I ungracefully rose to give my hostess a farewell. My body went to auto pilot as I offered her my limp hand, and air kissed her cheek. The sour faced maid came to escort me out, but I had no genuine smile to offer.

Standing outside my fathers house in our simple lawn, I hesitantly come out of my trance. The rigidness seeps out of my body and in content I soak in the last rays of the sun. Infectious laughter of children playing with a deflated ball reaches my ears. I tell my parents I have one last errand to run before the thunderstorm arrived. Walking across the street I smile at the store owner and tease him over the loss of his favorite soccer team. He only laughs and I tell him better luck next time as he hands me my merchandise. I walk to the playing street kids and throw in their midst a brand new shiny soccer ball. In a flash a sneaky squirt snatches the ball and runs, only to be followed by shrieks and demands to share. I know it’s not a future I hand them, but I truly believe that at least one of those urchins can be the beacon of society. Closing the gate behind me, I feel drops hit the top of my scarf. I pause, remove my shoes, let down my hair, and wait to be engulfed in sheets of rain. Inhaling and exhaling I feel a shard of that ever elusive peace, and grin. Because it has come to my realization that I was truly mad.

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