Pet Sounds: A series in which teaching staff and students from the English Department reflect on a piece of music or song. [Read all entries.] [Revisit the “Headspace” series.] [Revisit the “Ongoing” series.] [Revisit the “Interrogative” series.]
Artwork by Danni Chen
Oasis – Live Forever
The streets are soaked in a shade of green, of jade or of atrovirens.
Perhaps it is the green ceramic tiles of this Italian café that have coloured every other thing green. Staring at the crumbs of blueberry cheesecake on my plate, I am waiting. I stretch my fingers clumsily out of the down jacket, open the lid of the paper cup and try to have a sip of tea. It is way too hot. I have to put it down before it hurts my fingers. I watch the steam swirling into the air. I left a message for Rita before my phone battery died, praying that she would know where I am. I am likely to be stuck in this green box between fast food restaurants and convenient stores before she finds me.
There is not much going on in my mind, other than staring at Londoners, as they walk by under their umbrellas. I am hardly lost, but at this moment I feel like I am that awkward relative who visits my home during New Year, inspecting everyone with a pair of motionless eyes. I look at the pedestrians through the window. They cast a glance at me and walk on like tide washing away from the shore. A group of Korean tourists walk in, stare at the menu and discuss what to order.
It has only been two weeks before I ran away from university. The first two weeks of the semester were squandered. With both excitement and bitterness, I packed my stuff one Thursday afternoon and rushed to the train station. Rita is studying design and arts in London and we are supposed to explore the jazz bars tonight. I’ve been very close to her since my early teens and I know I am going to be very much spoiled by her tonight.
There is not much to be said about my teenage life. When I look back at it, I am as blank as when I sit in front of a computer in the public library, wondering what ‘interesting events’ in my life can be synthesised in 140 characters on social media. I stayed in one spot, mostly played the quiet and boring good student, except for those restless summers, except for that tiny rehearsal room where the guitar wires are always tangled together, except for the impetuous rhythm, leaping melody and incessant camera shutters.
I never managed to form a band despite my love for rock music, but I tagged along with my classmates and the band members, camera in my hand. I was the one crawling on the ground or being shaken by the beats while they were roaring on the stage. I was the one who edited the photos all night and posted them online the next morning. I was the one who stuck the letters onto the drum kit—‘S-O-U-L-M-A-T-E-S’ and they weren’t torn down, even after the graduation. When they went to other schools to play gigs, I was holding the video camera behind in the darkness. The professional cameraman who stood next to me told me, ‘Your hands are shaking. You have to stay still.’
I stayed still for three years then. I stayed still until the graduation. Nothing happened. Instead of a dramatic fight (which is the way how legendary rock bands usually break up), there was a mutual silent agreement among us—the tenderness that nobody should mention anything about the future. That afternoon, when the last note was played in that rehearsal room, nobody said a word. Everybody left. I locked the door.
As I am looking at the red double-decker buses outside, poking at the plate with my fork, thinking of finishing off the crumbs, a familiar chord floats into the café. It seems to have escaped somebody’s dream. The first beat hits me and my brain is dazed. It is the same song that redounded in that small rehearsal room every afternoon. It is the same song that I looped all night before the graduation ceremony. The barista starts singing along with it. I have known every beat and every note by heart. It’s “Live Forever”.
It is the first time that I have heard Oasis in the UK, even though people have told me that their songs are played everywhere. It is such a weird moment that I become deaf to all the other sounds. I try not to overreact to it but my eyes are wet, and I start humming in a very low voice.
Maybe you’re the same as me
we see things they’ll never see
you and I are gonna live forever
Somebody knocks at the glass in front of me when my tear is about to drop. Rita looks concerned. I smile. She turns and walks into the café,
‘What happened? Did I make you wait for a long time? You looked like you were going to cry when I saw you from afar.’
‘It’s just the song.’
She sits next to me and starts sketching something. We wait until the last note ends. When we walk out of the café, a familiar figure brushes away from us and walks into the café with a guitar on their shoulder. I can almost distinguish the sounds of their footsteps, like how I can tell the opening bars of Oasis’ songs. I turn to confirm, but the door closes and shuts everything behind us.
Pamela Wong is a student studying in the Department of English. She reveals her emotional world through poetry. [Read all entries by Pamela.]