Filtering through all dense retrospection, I began to remember her last words. Just before she died, Maria said, "Unfed explosions." With blood-wheezing and spit-coughing, she made it to bed just before she passed. It's the depth of reasoning why I always (re)remember her philosophy when I retire for sleep.
This night, on March 4, 1971, as my enzymes quiver to the redress of sleeping, I remember, "Unfed explosions," again; and again I crawl through my head, retracing Maria's quest for 'indifference.'
At 20, she trained herself to peel fruit with her eyelashes. Using only the wisps of hair from her wrinkle-swarthy eyelids, she could peel a pear in 61 days. After accelerating her time, she moved on to grapefruits. Then, just after being able to peel a ruby-red in 57 days, her family told her she was wasting her time and energy and physics degree. I disagreed, and told her to reach for the stars.
"Silly," she said, "no one can reach for the stars—besides, I'm a thin woman of Singaporean grace. We don't do such things."
On her 30th birthday, she was able to peel a sugar-baby watermelon with her eyelashes in 25 days. Just a week after her 40th birthday, she peeled a full-sized watermelon in a week—feeling weak, she gave up 'eyelash peeling' and tried her physiology at rolling dust balls from our carpet into boulders. When she first started, I asked her, "But what constitutes a boulder? How big is a boulder? How small is a boulder? Define boulder?"
Maria pop-creak-hobbled down to the carpet to begin collecting dust, and answered back to me without a glance (but with a Singaporean wink), "My dynamite husband, who's optimism can make the glaze of the sun whimper and dim, you have not lived. You, the caretaker of my pessimism, feed on beams of swollen light and think you can live by throwing whispers at other people—think you can live in my swarthy shadow for warmth, but don't know that I have just made a boulder of dust from our carpet—and even without noticing the sacred wisdom of Geometry." Maria handed me the sphere of collected carpet remnants, and held me—as if dew poised. As if a different man, I knew I would never live like her, never die like her, never try like her.
Of course, it's easier to sleep alone, and gain fatigue while sleeping, and feel everything while dreaming; but, the difference is, Maria never slept. Since I first gotten to know her, I never saw her sleep. Not one night. Of course, it's easier to catch her sleeping if I'm awake to witness it, but the indifference is, is that Maria never slept. Since I first laid eyes on her, I never saw her sleep. Not once. Not even a dew-poised nap. Of course, it's easier said than done, but the difference is, Maria did more than she said—she did, she tried, she escaped, she unlocked Freedom and chained herself to its hip...And myself, I let her slip into unconsciousness without noticing anything she said...