A Long Time Ago…

These are a series of conversations I had with someone years ago.

For both myself and the other person, I think there was a lot of confusion. Not that anything ever happened.  All we did was have phone conversations.  In all the time that we spoke, we never once had the conversation face to face – just the two of us. We were both very steadfast in avoiding that. We both had are our reasons but whether they were the same, I’m not sure.

The conversations spanned only a few months but until then, I had not, nor have I since, spoken to anyone about myself in such detail.

We didn’t really keep in touch after those few months.

Since then, we’ve both had relationships with men and I haven’t really had a similar experience with another woman. I don’t know if it makes sense that sometimes just that one person could affect you in a particular way, in spite of their gender.

Recently, she told me she had written her version of one of our conversations on her blog around the time we stopped talking. After so many years I don’t know why she told me but I read it and started thinking about that year again.

Part of me wanted to write this as retribution since she did and the other part just wanted to put it down once and for all and, in a way, move on.

We had several long conversations about almost everything – And I honestly can’t remember a lot of it. The conversations below are half of what I wanted to write and are roughly verbatim bits and pieces of what we actually said. The rest will have to be written sometime later.


– D






D: Hello?




D: Will you ever say hello?


M: No. Why do I need to acknowledge your presence with a word?


D: So that I know you’re there. At least make a sound.


M: Like a  grunt?


D: No arguing tonight. I think my pillows are brilliant. Soft, fluffy

and comfortable – All in the right measure.


M: Are they purple on the inside?


D: ?! No. They’re white on the inside.


M: Predictable. I would assume your life to be starched white.


D: You hardly know me.


M: I know you enough in my head. The external manifestations don’t



D: So what do you know about me?


M: I told you, you’re starched white. You’ll live a predictable life. You’ll study, work: Be rich and successful. You’ll have rich and successful friends. You’ll marry a rich and successful guy and have kids who will also be rich and successful.


D: I know there’s an insult in that somewhere.


M: Why? Isn’t that what you want?

D:  It’s not a bad thing to have ambition. In fact, most people think that’s a desirable trait. I know you equate wanting to be successful and wealthy with greed but you’re not going to convince me that my ambition is a bad thing. Besides, you are exponentially richer than I am so you’re really not shooting from much of a vantage point.


M: Firstly, I’m not rich, my parents are. And secondly, I’m not trying to convince you of anything. If you’re so sure about your motivation, why are you offended?


D: I know a little about you as well. You’ll study for the next few years, work for a few more and then marry some rich family businessman. You will live in an upscale locality, never buy your own groceries, have 3 kids and a dog named Monty.


M: I won’t call him Monty. That’ll probably be my husband’s name.




M: I can’t tell if you’re smiling or frowning.


D: We’re really different, M.


M: Why’re you using my name? I get scared when you say my name. Like you’re going to yell at me or say something serious.


D:  It is your name, isn’t it? I don’t know what kind of social interactions you’re having where people use your name only to scream at you or give you bad news.


M: It’s just you. Don’t say my name, that’s all. So, you were saying, we’re different….And yet the same?


D: No, M, we’re just different.


M: Say my name one more time and I’m going to cry.






D: So what kind of music do you like?


M: From the cry of a baby to the swish of the trees – They all qualify as music to my ears.


D: What? You’re always being vague and evasive. Can’t you just be real for once?


M: What was unreal about my reply?


D: From the cry of a baby to the swish of the trees?


M: Okay. Let me attempt an intellectually stimulating conversation!

Ask me something.


D: I asked you to be real, not intellectually stimulating. All you

have to do is answer the question.


M: Fine, point taken. Now ask me something about your death and universe



D: Issues? You make me sound crazy. And you’re still being evasive.


M: Just ask!


D: Do you think humans evolved for a reason or by accident? Do you think you and I are alive for a reason? And if we were a planned creation, do you think the universe or God was, in fact, embarrassingly inefficient about it?


M: Huh?


D: Okay, forget it. I’m not going to let you mock me.


M: No, wait. Let me think.


D: You don’t have to.


M: No, I don’t think we were a planned creation and I don’t think that we have a reason for being here. Especially you and me. And yes, I think the universe was supremely inefficient in making us.


D: Okay.


M: So that’s it? Intellectually morphed crap.


D: Just so you know, none of our conversations are ever intellectual.


M: And now you’re calling me dumb.


D: So, swish of the trees, you said?




D: What time is it?


M: 5.40 am


D: We’ve been speaking for roughly six and a half hours.


M: Really?


D: Yes. And we’ve been silent through most of it.


M: What do you want to say?


(long silence)


D: Nothing.


M: There you go.



D: How come you were at college today? Nostalgia?


M: I had to meet some people. You seemed busy.


D: Lectures and then some meetings. I tried calling you later. You

didn’t answer. You’d probably left by then anyway.


M: No, I hadn’t. I called right back. You didn’t answer.


D: Yeah, sorry. I saw the call later. So, how was your day?




M: How long have you had these panic attacks?


D: A long time. They started when I was six, maybe seven years old.


M: You just wake up scared?


D: I can never quite explain it to someone else.


M: Try.


D: You of all people won’t get it.


M: Still.


D: Fine, picture this – You’re about to fall asleep. Or at least your eyes are shut and your thoughts are wandering, as they normally do, before you sleep. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the immense blackness before your eyes seems unending and your mind goes to where the universe ends – Does it end? How? Is there a wall? What’s behind the wall? And then? Continuous space?

What is that? – What happens when we die? We stop thinking? How does it feel? Does it feel? It’ll go quiet.

And after? I won’t be there? Who thinks? Who sees? What happens? – And before you know it, you’re awake and your heart is beating really fast and you need to walk around, hear someone’s voice or say something out loud to just make sure you’re still there and that everything still makes sense.


M: Maybe you need help.


D: Gee, thanks.


M: I’ve never thought so much about the universe before sleeping. Or ever. And why are you afraid of death? There’s nothing you can do about it so why fear it?


D: Fear is not rational, is it? And it happens a lot less these days. My existential crisis seems to be getting caught up in academic fatigue. And anyway, I’m used to dealing with it.


M: But if you ever wake up like that and are afraid, you can always call…you know…people.




D: And say what?


M: You said it helps to know someone’s around or to hear someone’s voice. There’s always the phone and you can always…call.


D: Okay.


M: You’re still going to die though.


D: Never thought otherwise.


M: I’m just saying.




M: We should meet like normal people.


D: We’re not abnormal.

M: You know what I mean.


D: Yeah. Okay, let’s meet.


M: Fine. So, how was your day?




D:  Why is she mad?


M: My mother’s always mad at me. Now, she thinks I’m seeing someone because I’m always on the phone at night.


D: Oh. Well, you know, you could just tell her you’re talking to me.


M: That won’t help. She won’t believe I’m talking to a girl.


D: Right.




D: Listen, don’t cry. It’s not worth it.


M: Is anything worth it?


D: I don’t know. But here’s what I do know – I know you feel terrible about your life right now but really, all families have issues. No one gets along perfectly with their parents. But you know that they care. And you’re young. You’re going to do so much with your life. On your own terms. You don’t have to give these things more importance than they deserve.  You will do very well in life. I know it. I’m willing to bet on it. And parents always come around. It’s a given. If you just take a moment to look you’ll see that you’re really doing fine.


M: Hmm. After today, I’m not sure.


D: Okay. Tell me, what happened?




D: What time is it now?


M: Why don’t you get yourself a giant clock? It’s 6.15


(long silence)


D: We’re just wasting sleep and a lot of money. We haven’t saidanything for the last four minutes. All we do is breathe.


M: I’m too sleepy to do anything else.


M: Um, then maybe you should hang up.


D: Right.


(longer silence)


D: Okay, deep breathing it is.




Text msg – D: Hey. This is turning out to be a bad morning. I had avery late and argumentative night. What are you doing?


M: Nothing. Somehow, I knew you would message.


D: Really, how could you know that? Where are you? I need coffee.


M: I just knew. Listen, why don’t you come over?


D: To your place? Why?


M: It’s okay, you can come over. My parents are out.

D: *?!?*


Immediately placed phone call – D: Hello?


M: Yeah


D: M? Shit, how am I calling you?


M: What?


D: Hang on…


M: …


D: Fuck. Okay, sorry, I had no idea I was texting you. Last night, I saved your number in U’s [a guy friend at the time] name because, well, I was trying to get my sister off my back…about who I was talking to…Shit. I didn’t change the name back…I didn’t realize I was texting you…Sorry.


M: Oh, Okay.


D: Yeah…


M: Bye.


D: Bye.




M: Is there a very loud bird in your room or did your doorbell just ring?


D: Uh, doorbell.


M: You have visitors at this hour?


D: Actually, I think that’s the milkman.

M: Oh. Good night, then.


D: Good night, M.




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