Love & hate, hate & Love

 September 2020

Whenever I try and single out one race or one nationality or one sexuality for crimes and injustices past and present, I am very shortly after struck with how hopeless doing this really is. What does pointing fingers really do? Are the people who are doing it any happier? I know I’m not. I know the people who are pointed at are not.

I am in Birgu, Malta. At sundown today, I was walking the steep slabs of polished limestone looking for somewhere to eat when I heard the sound of a hymn being sung timed to the bellowing of a church bell. I walked into the dark humidity of the old Norman church that opened out and above me into a magnificent, cavernous space, sparsely congregated. I put on my face mask, quickly blessed myself and took a seat at the back and bowed my head. The priest was blessing the Host, praying aloud in Maltese. I did not understand anything except the interjections of “Josef” and “Maria” and “Ġesù”. But I heard the language of my Mother who is some ten thousand miles away in Australia where she left this country for when she did not know much of the world. I thought of these colossal, tiny, Maltese women. How gigantic they will always be to me! I thought about how many people have died this year. How many will still die. Suddenly I was crying like a lost little boy. Silently, completely and uncontrollably. I cried so hard my mask filled up like a cup with snot and tears and I knew I couldn’t use it again the rest of the day. The mass ended quickly after that and I had my eyes closed, too soggy to make contact with the old ladies I heard shuffling out beside me. My convulsing shoulders were giving me away. I had to pull myself together. I had the feeling that the man sitting by the door was waiting politely for me to leave so that he could close up. He smiled graciously at me as I wiped my eyes.

Outside the sun was almost gone, I walked in a daze gasping the furiously sultry air. One day all of this will be gone. We will not be here to see it. But it will all end. Just then, a man my age from Africa walked past me and we made eye contact and I smiled at him. He was shocked and greeted me with a raised hand not extended in greeting but rather meant to keep me at bay. The look in his eyes was fear. I felt hopeless at this moment and I wanted to hug the man because it seemed we needed each other then. If he could have seen me but two minutes earlier he would know that he had nothing to fear. If we could all see one another at our utmost vulnerable, just even once, without the endless masquerading and circus acting. What we can see is that there is fundamentally nothing different between any one of us. We all, very much know grief, sadness and pain. We all want to laugh again. We all want to love and be loved back. We all want to swim in the water. We all want to fuck passionately and without shame. We all want to eat good food and drink our thirst. We all want to sleep-in. Nobody wants to die alone.

So much damage has been done. Everyone plays their part in turn. I myself swing like a heavy pendulum between love and malice. The pendulum only ever falls still for a moment and yet I know that malice exhausts me. It sucks me dry completely. When I am feeling good, love is no effort. None whatsoever. It is natural and easy as the tide and the moon. It drips and oozes like honey. It refreshes and revitalises everything. I hum like an old man meeting his old friends down by the bay where he trades fish he caught that morning himself and they are so pleased to see him again and be recognised by him, and are loved just as unconditionally.




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