It’s ok if you forget. We all forget things from time to time – faces, voices, images, emotions … and words. We even forget the words we speak. No doubt they can be fleeting, but it is dependent on the listener to take them in, if he so chooses.

In my time, I have been the recipient of many words, more spoken than written. Some of them I chose to listen. Others I discard because they either don’t sit well with me or I don’t think they are valid. I’ll let them slide, fade and fleet away into oblivion.

Then there are others I hold dear to my heart.

They exist mostly on cards – things that don’t require much to jolt memories. Well-wishes, birthday wishes, words of encouragement, bits of note, letters – yellowed with time, etc; all kept in a box which I rarely open, except when I have to stuff in more cards. Altogether, the box contained close to two decades of words and could roughly chronicle that same amount of time of my life. The nice thing about growing up in a non-PC age was the fact that most of those words were handwritten – as neat as the author wanted them to be.

Encased in time, those words could mean a lot and shores up my heart on a bad day. I could even well be saving them for a rainy day, when I would open them up – like a child on Christmas morning surrounded by his presents – at my dream home, a cup of tea beside me, soft jazz music and dimmed yellow lights, and then read every word, try to remember every author’s face, and if life permits, smile to myself.

Then again, these words were written at a particular time when friendships have yet to be separated – some more prematurely than others – and lives entwined in thick yarns of those adolescent years of sunshine, rock music, sand and cycling at East Coast Park. Reading them twenty years later would mean little now because they no longer stand the test of time or perhaps they would not be relevant anymore.

Words, how they wreck the sweetness of life!

There are also those spoken words, which can be easily forgotten and tossed to the wind almost carelessly. An indication of how my life has been lately would be how all the words I can remember recently were those that lead me to a downward spiral – to the extent that I could no longer question their validity or if they are objective. Would it be true that life stops once I stop remembering?

Over the weekend I was asked by someone I met (but not conversed) for the first time how I deal with silence if I don’t speak, I don’t share, I don’t reveal and I don’t pour my heart out. I gave a simple reply, either I delve deeper into the meaningless white noise that comes with living in a crowded city or I embrace the silence.

I no longer share as freely because at a young age, I was taught a hard lesson by life about the judgmental nature of humans.

I no longer reveal much about my private life because nothing from it will make the world a better place.

I no longer pour my heart out, even to those deemed close to me, because empathy is like a forty-year-old whore standing with a cigarette in her mouth and touting for businesses from elderly men with huge beer bellies and body odour.

As a friend lay on a hospital bed after a botched suicide attempt – a result of trying hard to derive meaning in her life, I think about words and the meaning they bring to life.

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