Podcast: The Strong Show Season 2
Hi, and welcome all of you to the Radio of Resistance. As you may, or may not, have guessed from my voice and the title of the episode, I am once again bed-ridden and thus, I have no other choice and no other enjoyment that to read to you the next 3 chapters of my novel, “Strong.”
So without further ado, let us immerse ourselves once again in the Strong show. The magical and spiritual world of The Lover, The Man, and Becky the wise cat. The sadness and beauty of longing and solitude. The dead and the living. Here I am, your host, and I will be guiding you through the foggy forest of dreams and dying hopes.
Strong – Chapter 2: It’s funny how
People can die just like that. At a flick of a finger. A breeze of some strange influenza. A wrong bullet that ends up where it shouldn’t be. All bullets end up where they shouldn’t be.
Or at the bottom of a box full of clonazepam.
Let me put it in a more succinct, blunt way: So I died.
Not long after I ask a friend whether he is thinking of dying recently. Far, far too long after The Lover’s death.
Long enough for me to move on. I got a better job at a distant place, where no one knows about the me and him. I rented a flat. Not too large to feel lonely by myself at night, but not too small that it failed to remind me of him. I joined a ballroom dance community, where I would hold a different lady in my arms each night, and things always stay right at that threshold.
Long enough for me to move on, and yet, no one is getting over that fucking threshold. By saying “no one,” I mean me.
I know that if he were here, he would just laugh at my pathetic face. We used to have a conversation about how pathetic and obstinate I am about letting go. I never let anything go.
Say, what if one of these days, I die? Just like that, at the flick of a finger.
What bullshitting things are on your mind again?
Just a thought. Like any other thoughts I always have.
I don’t mind your other thoughts.
But you mind this thought?
Of course, my darling, I should have put more attention to that thought. Were you already dying then? Could I have saved you, saved me, and saved the poor people who discovered your corpse if I had said that I minded. I do mind it till now.
The Lover always says this sentence in a mockery tone, full of sarcasm and irony: You know it’s funny how –
…fucking long it takes for you shitty head to get here.
I lift my head up at the weirdly hoarse voice. This is not the warm baritone The Lover had.
The fuck ya looking at? Never seen a fat cat before?
No, but –
Don’t you fat shame me, bastard. Now get a move on, we have a long journey.
In front of me is the ugliest cat anyone can ever imagine. She (or he? Does it even matter?) is, as she puts it nicely, a fat cat. Her fur is perfect, and that should be enough to call her beautiful. Yet she always seems to have this old lady’s frown on her forehead, and she always looks down at me as if I am her exclusive servant.
What journey? I ask. And you do seem strangely familiar. Have we met before?
Nice try, son. But that pick-up line doesn’t work on cats. It works on him, though.
I follow her glance. Next to her is this white misty thing, which swirls around in a circle.
Can it speak, too? And again, what journey?
It can’t now, but it will be able to speak soon enough. For now, it can only speak in song. And again, a journey means a journey. Are you dumb or what?
Before I can form sharper words and a sharper tongue, the fat cat walks away. The white mist stays where it is. It seems like the mist is on a threshold. It does not know whether it should stay there with me and listen to more of my lame pick-up lines, or it should follow the cat. And right when I hold out my hand to touch it, I hear it sings a familiar song –
You know, it’s funny how –
Strong – Chapter 3: The first song
You know, it’s funny how snowflakes exist
Just to melt away after all the cold and lonesome winter days.
Say, do you suppose they know that they will die right away –
Like all the beautiful things on Earth.
And you know, it’s funny how there are people who’re gone
and there are people who stay.
Say, do you suppose the ones who stay bear a greater pain
since the dead souls have no emotion.
Or is it the other way: there will be another place
and the people who’re gone stay there
watching their beloved ones suffer from a loss that no money or fame can recover.
You know, isn’t it funny how people invented a whole lot of things to measure
and yet there’s nothing to measure the pain
of those who stay and those who have gone away.
Yeah, but I suppose there will be reasons. Silly ones, good ones, neutral ones. All kinds of reasons for those people.
The white mist looks at me – or to put it in better terms, I think the mist looks at me, and for a brief moment, the strange yet familiar sensation envelopes me in a warm embrace.
You know, it’s funny how I would end up making the same mistake again
if I were to be given another chance.
There is love, and there is heartbreak.
And after a while, you don’t even know if it’s the love or the heartbreak.
Then years go by, and the heartbreak will soon turn into a heartbreak.
Darling, darling, darling – I loved you, and I love you still,
but no amount of love can save either me or you.
Darling, darling, darling – I loved you, and I love you still,
and yet, I am the first one to cross the hills.
The white mist stops singing, but it still maintains that weird stare at me. It kind of feels like the mist is trying to make me remember something. As if the song is about me, just like all the other songs it will ever sing. As if it had been through the heartbreak, and I am but a heartbreak. As if – oh well, but what do I know about talking cats and white mists? After all, I already died.
Ready to go?
Always. Let’s get this over with before this fucking misty thing sings another sad love song.
Man, you are still the same old you huh?
What do you mean?
You only see what your eyes want to see. You have to see it with your heart, too.
The fat, ugly cat walks away and the white mist trails after her. Somehow, the melody of the song gets stuck inside my head. I mumble as I follow the weird couple’s footsteps.
Darling, darling, darling – I loved you, and I love you still –
A voice from somewhere – some scenarios – far away stabs at my heart and tears it apart:
You know, it’s funny how the heartbreak will always turn into a heartbreak if you give it enough time.
Are you going on about those depressive bullshits again?
No, but answer me. If I were to die before you, will it be the heartbreak for you? Or a heartbreak?
I put down the book I was reading as The Lover wrapped his bony legs around my neck and shoulders. It’s as if he will use the strength he could muster from his legs to strangle me if I refused to give him an answer. This he will never know, but –
A heartbreak, perhaps?
And by perhaps, I mean you will always, always, always be the heartbreak for me. Darling, darling, darling, I loved you, and I love you still.
Strong – Chapter 4: Hello darkness, my old friend
You sure there’s nothing wrong with that white misty thingy, eh?
Why? What’s wrong with that white misty thingy? And furthermore, the Misty Thingy has a nicer name than the Misty Thingy, you know.
The fat cat walks idly on a dark, earthy trail leading to an even darker forest. The closer we get to the forest’s border, the more I feel like the Misty Thingy is going to disperse and mix in with the mist above the tall trees.
I just think the song he sings just now is weirdly familiar.
Then try to remember it. The cat looks at me with contempt. It’s as if the sad songs and the weary melodies the white Misty Thingy produces are because of me. There might be many reasons, but the main reason will always be me.
I can’t remember it. It’s weird. I am usually good at memorizing things.
That’s all the more reason why you can’t remember it now.
Wait, what’s the name of the Misty Thingy again?
You really are a special kind of idiot. You always have been.
The cat hisses. I don’t know why the cat is so angry at me, and I don’t know why the Misty Thingy stares at me with sadness and cold. I can’t see its eyes, but the sadness and the cold feeling are always there. After all, the eyes cannot convey anything.
So this Misty Thingy will only talk in verses from now on?
Nope. None. Just that I don’t like verses.
You never like verses.
I like them if they were your verses.
He looks at me with those glistening dark irises which always convey more than what needed to be said.
That so? He said.
And by a simple ‘That so’, he means that I am a liar. A terrible liar at that. And from that ‘That so’ moment forward, he will never believe in whatever bullshitting things I say again.
Yes. Yes, my darling. That is so.
What’s wrong? Move it along, will you? We don’t have all day in this forest.
Nope. Nothing’s wrong. Just that I remembered something.
Then that’s good, ain’t it? The most terrible thing in this realm and the other world is forgetting things and never know what things you forget.
But this thing is very sad. And painful. And uncomfortable.
That’s all good my man. All is well. You know what that’s called?
It’s called ‘living’. And as long as you can feel that in your heart, then whatever that uncomfortable thing is, it’s a good thing.
Somehow, I think of an impossible idea. That maybe the myth is true after all. Cats do have 9 lives, and this ugly cat has been through her 9 lives with a lot of wisdom, lessons, and suffering, too. How this wise and other-worldly ugly cat blesses me with her saintly presence and leads me to my next life, I don’t know. For a brief moment, I was focusing on the white Misty Thingy. I want to touch it – to grasp it tightly into my hands, lock it away in my heart, and consume its entirety. Yes. Yes, my darling –
Man, I think I do enjoy some verses here and there. I say.
Why? Do you regret not liking verses? The cat sneers. Her whiskers move up and down in a sarcastic, mockery motion. But nevermind, nevermind.
Yeah. I regret it. Wholeheartedly. I say, my eyes try to find those familiar glistening dark irises on the white Misty Thingy’s whole body. But there are no traces of them anywhere.
Yes. Yes, my darling. I wish I could have loved your verses more. Your ridiculously childish talk. Your meticulous organizing habits. Your weird way of interrupting me whenever I tried to hold you. Everything everything. I guess when I said, Yes. Yes, my darling, I meant –
I wish I could have loved you more, my darling, I wish it so damn much.
So, that will be the end of this week’s episode, although it’s not the kind of ending I wish it to be, but here we all are.
You know, sometimes I do wonder and marvel at how love cannot save everything and yet, we continue to worship it the way we worship our one true God. Or how regrets always come too late and furthermore, what else can regrets do but to further the pain and deepening the wounds?
During my little time on this Earth, if there’s one thing I had learnt, it is that human is the most fragile species alive. Not that because we are prone to making war and killing each other. Of course that should be the main reason. But more than that, worse than that, it is because we can feel the throbbing pain of surviving.
I guess within this episode, I am being in conflict with my sole purpose for establishing the Radio of Resistance. But I find a beautiful strength in that fragility. I find it beautiful how despite feeling the constant pain, the desperation of Sisyphus in seeing the stone rolling down the slope every single day, we persist and keep on living anyway.
So my audience, wherever you are, I hope you stay safe. And more over, I hope you stay strong.
That’s it for now. If you think that this podcast deserve to stay, there is no better way to support it than to make a donation to my Patreon account, which is linked in the description. With as little as $6, you will get an access to my audio poetry book, and with $9 tier, you can get more audio chapters from Strong and new updates on my upcoming projects.
On to other news, my poetry collection, A Rose for My Mother, is now available worldwide on Amazon. You can search for the title with the author name, Bipolar Psyche, or Thanh Dinh. The collection includes all the well-received poems on my blogs and lovely illustrations that I made for your eyes only.
And that will be the end of my shameless self-promotion. I will see you in the next podcast with (hopefully) more beautiful content about Arthur Rimbaud, his verses which were soft with sorrow and his imagery which was adorned with a love for sadness.