He Knew. What’s New?

He knew my every intention, even before I had formed them in my mind. How was that even possible? He knew my next move, the next task I needed to do or where I had to go. He knew the rain would come soon or that it would be wet outside. Somehow he knew without being told as if he had a secret cable that tapped into every synapse in my brain. Instantly, he impressed me. Initially, I didn’t believe he had those powers. Intuitively, I felt he was special. No one else had ever understood me so well in such a short time. We left most things unspoken yet the unsaid was clearly understood. We never argued or found each other distasteful. He was the most uncomplaining of all, not once did he show a disdain for anything I did wrong to him or his annoyance for anything I forgot to do for him. I’d never raised my voice or barked at him for any reason. I’d never yelled at him, not even when he farted right in front of me. He taught me to be truly free and not be curbed by social norms. After all, if we were alone in a room, would we need to restrain a burp or a fart? No. So, why should we restrain ourselves from our bodily urges such as a scratch on the crotch or relieve a bloated tummy just because someone else was next to us? Instead, I changed my behaviour and discarded long-held social etiquette. It did not matter to him. He knew it perfectly well to let nature do what nature does best; that it was alright to let our body do what it needed to do. As I peed, I let off a long fart. I was embarrassed by it, even though I was alone in the bathroom. It was far too early in the morning to smell a fart that was reminiscent of mud drying in a water hole and of rancid lamb fat. I let out a nervous retch that left a nasty taste in my mouth. I would be performing in a concert that night and a tinge of nervousness was beginning to upset my tummy.

It would not surprise me if he knew of the demise of the newspaper although we still subscribed to the Weekend Australian. Call me old-fashioned, but I would not read an e-book or an audio book. A book had to be printed on paper so that I could hold it. Likewise, The Mrs needed to do her crossword puzzles on paper – the main reason for our decades-long subscription. When I was a kid, my mother sold old newspapers to an Indian man for perhaps as much as ten cents per kati (600g approximately). She kept towers of them in the belief she would read them one day but the day never came. It was right that she sold them instead, otherwise the towers would have multiplied and teetered before collapsing in a heap. We had long practised recycling. Old newspapers were used as toilet paper when we ran out of the soft kind. My brother lined his bird cage and rabbit cage with them whereas my parents lined their shop display cabinets with paper too. As uni students in Sydney, we lined our drawers and cupboards with old newspapers in the crappy stinky flat in Kingsford and changed them with more current newspapers when cockroaches left too many black droppings on them. Call me old-fashioned but don’t call me irresponsible to the environment, thin strips of old newspaper were still being added to our compost bins recently.

He and I shared the same bed whenever he visited. Yeah, he was a frequent guest but our home was not his permanent abode. He knew he could come and go as he pleased. I was happier when he came than when he left. It wasn’t really a bed that we shared; I called it a bed but it was an inflatable mattress that was never inflated. My bad back preferred a hard surface and that was a good enough reason to leave the sinking marital bed, the bed, not the marriage. The Mrs resolutely accused me of being dirty, and then accused him of being dirty, so I had no choice in the matter and abandoned the bed anyway. But, he knew about her enough to accept that she was overly preoccupied about bedroom hygiene. He did not complain at all, not even when he found it uncomfortable to have stepped on me once in the dark. “If you sleep on the floor, you risk being stepped on in the dark,” she said. That’s fair enough. She was right, as usual. A light sleeper, he interrupted my sleep more often than my weak bladder did. But he knew I was beginning to be annoyed. So, he soon stopped demanding hugs and kisses during the night. I found his licks from his wet tongue most unwelcoming, endearing they might have been. The Mrs never showed such enthusiastic love for me, she complained about my bad breath. She was right, of course; his breath was bad also, and it was bad enough for me to end it. That morning, he was awake even before the cock crowed but he remained still on his side of the mattress and watched the dew vanish from the window pane as the sun rose higher and threw more warmth into the room. As I stirred from my slumber, the lovely dream in my mind ended abruptly. No matter how hard I tried to summon it back, it would not return to give me that proper happy ending. I sat up and heaved myself off the carpet. It struck me as odd that somehow I ended up sleeping away from the mattress. But nature called and I had to get up without further delay. Before I was fully upright with my sparrow thin legs hardly supporting my weight, he was already enthusiastically greeting The Mrs with a kiss and telling her to wake up. His body language was so obvious that she felt touched by his effervescence and somewhat delirious welcome. He knew how to please her. It was something I should have learned all those years ago.

I felt the excitement grew during the day. It was such a buzz for me to get ready for the concert. My life was being micromanaged that day by the minute. Lunch had to be light and finished by one pm. The usual walk had to be brought forward by an hour and a half. So, we went for our afternoon walk at three pm. Dinner had to be early and again only a light meal was allowed. I didn’t want to be queasy and sluggish with a full tummy. At half past six, I was upstairs stripping down to enjoy a hot relaxing shower. “Wash your hair!” The Mrs yelled from the staircase. And so I did. I would have anyway. I wanted to feel like a new man. A different man. A clean man. When I stepped out of the shower cubicle, I was ready to be a musician. Heck, that sounded like music to my ears. Me, a musician. So, I put on my musician clothes, a bright white shirt and a black bow tie around my neck and lifted my whole persona with the thousand-dollar Calibre brand black suit. I performed my second concert with the local orchestra that night. “The Burnside Symphony Orchestra sounded good, much better than expected, certainly miles better than the concert we attended during Covid time,” The Mrs said. I felt chuffed. Both violin sections were stronger, the new members, most of whom were younger, gave the orchestra a quality that was lacking during Covid. I imagined that I had played my part well too. During the interval, I walked to where The Mrs was sitting with a bottle of water for her. Hoping to hear some praise from her, I was instead pummelled by her ‘you should’ comments.

“You should brush your hair,” said she, as she started to use her fingers as a comb.

“Yes, you should oil it, make it shiny,” a sibling joined in.

“You should tie it into a neat bun,” The Mrs added, as she tucked some loose strands behind my ears and pulled one from out of my mouth.

Their comments were total opposites of the one I got from an attractive female Romanian violinist. She said I looked nice. So nice of her.

Unaccustomed to praise, I replied, “Thanks! You look noice too.” She was far from fubsy and her fabulous frizzy long hair complemented her piercing green eyes.

But, amateurs not only had to pay to play, we had to put up with criticisms about our looks, apparently. But, what was not so apparent was that amateurs had to help put away the chairs and dis-assemble the stage too, even before the audience had disappeared to the carpark. It was already past ten o’clock by the time I took off my black jacket to cool down, mentally admonishing myself for not having done so before embarking on hard labour. Who would have compensated me if I had torn a sleeve or burst a seam?

“Will you join us for a drink at the pub?” someone asked. No, it wasn’t the Romanian violinist. Even if she did, I would not have changed my mind. It was already late. I had to rush home. What’s new? He knew. I would rush home. For him. Murray knew all along – he’s the most important companion of mine. He is my son’s miniature poodle. I left the concert hall in a state of delirium. Music and particularly performing music to the public gave me such a buzz that suddenly every problem was of lesser relevance and every joy brought greater comfort. When I got home, Murray was pleased. He knew. What’s new?

Murray, waiting for me to finish his story.
Not blowing my horn but Dvorak Symphony No.8 was mind-blowing

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