In Remembrance

June 5th, 2014

 Many bytes and pixels have been used to express thoughts about the court case and the donations. I am not inclined to add more to the conversations (note: the word “debate” was passed over here), including the use of words such as “molehills”, “mountains”, “storms” and “teacups”.

Given that it is the 25th anniversary of some event today, my mind is occupied with something else.

In the past, I have not thought much about remembrance (or the need to remember, passing things down from one generation to another, even if the former generation was not there when it happened). On those lazy nights (be it the sweltering summers or the chilling winters) and after many hearty suppers, we would drive our cars to King’s Park in Perth and spend some time there, lying on the grass and gazing at the night sky above us. Sometimes, we would hang around a monument which was to remember Australian volunteers who lost their lives in the two World Wars.

I remembered how the words “lest we forget”, etched on the concrete, led to thoughts about what it really meant. Despite all of those social studies and history lessons in school, this wasn’t something that I picked up. But those words, in standard Times New Roman font and in a size possibly beyond MSWord’s limits, conveyed a sense of seriousness and respect.

While blame would be apportioned by various factions on who was the greater evil in any historical and social conflict, somewhere in our human consciousness was the need to remember those who perished or sacrificed because of someone’s (or a collective group of “someones”) agenda (hidden or otherwise). There’s no escaping the fact that someone’s father, mother, son, daughter, nephew, niece and beloved suffered such events, no matter which side of the fence you sit on.

Twenty-five years ago, people perished; some had tanks rolled over their bodies. Twenty-five years later, there is scant acknowledgement – let alone remembrance – of the atrocity in the country where it happened. And the New York Times’ commentary and image best express the general apathy that has afflicted most of the citizenry. There is also much ruminating about how generations after have forgotten or wish to think that it never happened.

Remembering such events offers societies an anchor even as we go about marvelling our achievements (be it scientific, medical, economical and even political). It draws our thoughts towards how our successes might have been built upon a time when people perished – even if their struggles were not directly linked to them. It puts our vulnerability to greed, selfishness, cruelty and brutality in a perspective that is easy to forget. It forces us to look even when we are just inclined to look away or pander to our (inherent) need to escape via ignorance when justice looks like it will never be served.

While there is always this need to satisfy the wanderlust for exotic locations in the world, there is now this new item on my travel checklist – to visit the park on a small island somewhere up north and join in the candlelight ceremony on this day in remembrance of the tragic event.

(Written on 4 June 2014)

Always knew she was an SPG

June 4th, 2014

Having stuffed his swanky Mac and the projector (with the cords) into his bag, he slung it over his shoulder and walked towards her.

She saw him — bespectacled, clean shaven, bits of white on both his sideburns and carried an accent he narrowed down to either Australian or British — coming and turned her body towards him.

He drew her body close to his, but leaving just enough of a respectful distance between them; his face closed in on hers.

They exchanged a peck on both their cheeks.

The rest of the womenfolk in the meeting room gawked at them for a few seconds. In the minds, the not-so-subtle exchange of glances between them during the meeting was now deemed a prelude.

A different perspective

May 19th, 2014

There has been much to say but every word dies just after the thought dissipates.

For now, it’s about skirting around the thoughts about how happiness can evolve and nursing multiple permutations of the theme.

Coming across a Calvin and Hobbes [1] comic strip a few days ago – with Calvin juggling the short and long term benefits of playing versus studying, the predominant definition in my mind about happiness was torn a new one. It’s simply because it goes against the norm in this society where success bleats around the corner and successful living is more of a commonly accepted term rather than a mild oxymoron.

I can directly relate to the new definition that was formed. The baby nephew (soon a toddler) is making it extremely easy to think about my role as a father (even when I am still single, with the chance of my manhood meeting a certain part of the female genitalia extremely remote). A slight refrain I’ve heard was how hard the brother-in-law was working and that he hasn’t been playing with the nephew as much as everyone [2] would have liked.

It’s not so much about male-bonding. I’d prefer to just leave out the “male” bit. All of these thoughts, though, would simply melt away when the nephew would greet me at the gate by wrapping his tiny arms around my legs. Though he hasn’t spoken proper words, his eyes would always be telling me about how much he wanted me to carry him in his arms [3].

I postulated this to how my thoughts would wire themselves out if my kid (imaginary) did this to me. A computer, much less my co-workers and even the boss (let alone the chief executive), would have never given me such surge in emotions or change in thoughts, especially whenever I see that orangey plastic bag containing the trash – from the dinner takeaway – sitting forlornly in that corner of my desk.

Then there was the recent blog post about how some gal in her twenties on some island (not this one) gave up contemplating about semi-retirement and followed the slogan of some famous sports apparel brand. The figure thrown up, with regards to the salary she’d live on for this lifestyle, was close to that of people you see pushing carts at food courts and hawker centres. Granted that the cost of living is lower there, it’s still pretty substantial (not the amount).

Her rationale? “Life is short.”

If she were to utter that to me across the table (figuratively speaking), I would quip, paraphrasing what Calvin said in the comic strip, “Life is about the memories.”

He (the nephew or the imaginary child I haven’t had) might forget the many nights when his arms wrapped around the legs of a man who is spent after having to deal with c***s at work, but it’s something I now live for and won’t forget (not even in a million heart beats).

Because it is a memory that makes me happy.

[1] Bill Watterson is simply an underrated genius.

[2] It’s the old adage about how marriage is being married into two families.

[3] 99% of the time I’d oblige.

Les Trois Femmes

March 3rd, 2014

Woman #1

“Can’t tell cos I don’t know what he is like now. His mindset. His beliefs. He boxes everything till no one can get through… but I wanna know what you are thinking and what affects you. Not just you listening. Friendship is a two-way relationship.”


Woman #2

“What’s on your mind?” she blurted. The two of them were standing amidst the late-night crowd in the packed train. This wasn’t the first time she asked this question [1]. He thought it was cute. Well, kind of (but not on hindsight).

Why?

“I know you’re deep in thought. It’s your eyes. They look distant.”

He smiled, relented and tore her a page from his mind.

At first, he could tell from her reaction, i.e., her eyes (and the size of them), that she was not a little fascinated. Perhaps she wasn’t expecting him to indulge her. But by the time the train pulled up at the next station, she wore another expression on her face. It was as though she was given all that she wanted but her desire was, in no way, satiated.

“Why do you think of such mundane things?” she commented, with her brows furrowed. “It’s not like thinking about them would bring value to your life.”

He could have told her about how having stuff going on in one’s head was much better than leaving it blank [2]. Or worse, being mindlessly entertained by images on the screen of smartphones or tablets, or games about birds that are flappy or falling candies in bright colours.

But he said nothing and smiled at her.

On hindsight, curiosity didn’t kill any cat, but it must have killed the relationship.

Woman #3

What he was told: “He was reserved. He was evasive.”

What he saw that they didn’t tell him: “He was pushy and didn’t know what he wanted.”

If he was guarded and evasive, she wouldn’t have had the time to gobble down the strawberry-and-mango tart she ordered with glee and that gleam in her eyes. Meanwhile, the blueberries sitting on the tart he ordered must have been – in her mind – desperately calling out for her to burst them in her petit mouth.

If he was pushy, it would be him who initiated an exchange of phone numbers so that they could “hang out sometimes” and do copious amounts of Whatsapp-ing [3].

If he didn’t know what he wanted, he would not have shared with her how much raising a family – based on the tenets of the religion they both believed – was important to him that it became one of his life’s goals.

[1] The first time she asked, they were in a car he was driving. It was a safe environment for him to be more casual about revealing his thoughts.
[2] Which would mean staring into space, zombie-esque and expressionless.
[3] Which, of course, led to a screenshot of their conversation sent to him accidentally.

This resonates…

January 23rd, 2014

Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.

— Fyodor Dostoevsky