Pain comes in waves. It is not constant. It just lies there, under the surface, like the dried chilli you used in your barbecue sauce. It stays there and ferments until you take a bite. Then it hits you. Its strong burn fills your mouth. You are unable to breath. It leaves you powerless. You just have to wait. Wait for your mouth to become comfortable with the spice. Then it goes away. Almost as abruptly as it came.

There is something within us that makes us drawn to pain. Something deeply masochistic. It must serve some purpose. But I don’t know what yet. But you can choose not to take another bite. To push your plate away from you. Get up, leave the table altogether. Go get some ice cream or something. But no. For some unexplained reason you stay. You look at your plate with the juicy dark red barbecued ribs. You know it’s there. You know it will come. But you don’t leave. Instead, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously you take another bite. And it hits you again. It hits you hard. You don’t know when the spice will stop torturing you. You have to stay still, with your mouth open, hoping it will disappear faster this time.

I’ve made my peace with pain. I can handle its piercing force. With how my mouth cannot cope with the spice. How my eyes start filling with tears. How my nose starts running. What I can’t cope with is the knowledge that it’s there all the time. No matter what I do. It will come again and again. It’s exhausting not letting myself get up and go for ice cream. People come by. Come, they say. Let’s go for ice cream. You really don’t need to finish these ribs. Let us take care of you. But I can’t. I make up an excuse. I don’t feel like ice cream. Please let me finish my dinner. Please leave me alone with my dinner. And they leave. I would too. Sometimes I wish someone would bring an ice cream to me. Shove it in my face and tell me: Eat. This. Now. Enough with this nonsense. But I am not a child anymore. I need to be the one going to buy ice cream. Or at least to ask for it.

But alas, I’m here. I stay at the table. I long for the next bite. For the heat. For the pain that comes with it. It’s the only way I can still have hope. Hope that it’s not all over yet. Pain keeps us together. If I got up for ice cream you would be gone. I would not be in pain. You wouldn’t exist anymore. That way, at least, you are here. Sitting next to me as I savour the pain. As I savour you. Your dark side. Waiting for the light.