The Wisdom of Regrets

December 31, 2012

Every one of us have regrets. Those who claim they don’t are liars! We all have regrets in one shape or form to varying degrees.

Shattered dreams, what could have been, if only…. lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back. That’s part of what it means to be human. Somewhere deep in our heads, I reckon – there’s a little temple and if you walk in – you will probably see the many symbols and metaphors in this building written only in an alphabet only you can understand. And no one else. A dress, shirt, color, voice, smell, feel, sound, touch, sensation – and these are really all the sum of the memories of our regrets as they intermingle with the present coloring the future. We may not even be conscious of this exchange where so much of the past can always be trusted to wash up ashore to the present. Or how it may even be responsible for coloring the future. As in truth, we all have absolutely no idea how so much of what makes up our entire being is to be found in our past and so much in our regrets.

To regret is not a bad thing. Not at all. As it could well be the only reason for those who know this secret of life to always strive to live in the present instead of the past.

Darkness 2013

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“If you ask most men in their death bed what is probably their greatest regret in life – it will really boils down to, I could have been a better son, better husband, better father. This shows you that regrets are not all bad. Not all the time at least. I see it like good and bad cholesterol. The good regrets can point you to do what is right and even sensible. The bad ones can either cripple you for life or leave a scar so deep that it will always be the only thing you will ever see in the present.

Regret. Are you ready? I am a father of three kids. I regret that I cannot be a better husband and father.

But as soon as I write this. I am seized by an almost instinctive need to defend and qualify myself by underscoring the defense in plea, that’s because I have to turn the wheel of life outside Singapore as a farmer. Now let’s consider this a social experiment and ask: Why do I feel this compulsive need to defend myself? Maybe I am trying to take the edge off, softening the blow even. As if what I really meant was I regret that I cannot be a better husband and father. Then I think it should just end right there, as it is. And there you have it regret in the palm of your hand.”

The Future

December 31, 2012

The best thing about the future is that it unfolds one day at a time. One day at a time is just right with me. As the pace is quite easy going, not too fast or slow. Just right for all else to follow thereafter.

She knows I need to return back into the meeting. I just nipped out for a quick brunch with her. She is wearing the orange dress I bought for her last evening. The suffused light from the skylight extenuates the shadows of her long legs making them run forever on the plush carpet. I half ignore her and tell her, I’ll make it up to her tonight by taking her somewhere exciting. She complains that I don’t spent enough time with her. She even tells me, if it’s going to be like this all the time, she might decide not to follow me for business trips any longer. I know she is lying.

I look on and listen to her as I sip my tea and scan the WSJ. The school teacher looks at the honey along with her camomile. She reaches slowly for my hand, spreads my palm like a leaf ever so gently. Looks at me warmly before pouring honey into my hand. It feels warm like a glove. I don’t stop her. I know she is trying to do something that she considers important. Necessary. Essential to her being. Most people choose not to understand this idea, but I understand it.

This thing that propels her to think the things she thinks. To even do the things she does. Cannot be denied – as it is a primal dark force that drives her deep within. A force that would often swell in her heart for no rhyme or reason like a fluttering flag crying to be torn to shreds by the scolding wind. A force that marked her out as different from other girls during the moment of her youth. A force that at times even turned her into someone who she didn’t even know herself – a dark force that was apart of her yet so much part of her like darkness and light. I looked at her and I realized my eyes were reflected in hers.

I understand. I understand completely.

She begins to lick the honey sensually while she looking at me all the time, licking every single drop of it, right down to the very tips of my fingers.

As I looked on. I wondered to myself…yes…perhaps, this is her way to stop time. To hold it so very still, till it no longer creeps forward like flowing amber encapsulating an ant for eternity. I found myself wondering, is it really possible? For he to stop time.

It was then that I noticed the world had suddenly stopped completely. Yes imagine everything just grinding to an abrupt stop. Every thing. No sound. No blur of shadows. No flashing colors. No reams of click flacks. Just silence that is so….silent. Every person. Even the clouds all pinned like dead butterflies in a picture frame that reflected in her eyes. Then as soon as it happened, the world rush back again like a torrent of sights and sounds.

I continued looking at the school teacher for so very long time as she slowly stretched herself out in this strange mysterious space where she buried her face and hair into my hands. And then I realize nothing else exist any longer, except this one moment in time and space. Yes, she has done the impossible it seems, stopped even time completely….not every woman can do what the school teacher can do.

When a woman is with the man who she loves with all her heart. Nothing is impossible. And everything suddenly becomes possible.

Yes, time has truly stopped.

Darkness 2013

the school teacher and me

December 30, 2012

As a general rule. I don’t like my women dabbling in business. I much prefer them to be in their own world of endless trivia and useless diversions. But I think there should be exceptions…. I listened to her throughout dinner. I placed down my fork and knife. I listened precisely like an interrogator and I was captivated by what she had to share. She seems to understand what I am facing. She knows what the stakes are. Above all, she seems to be able to follow the endless twist and turns of the plot – strange then, that she should ask, whether I trust Max. I didn’t reply and when she asked again looking at me in mirror when she took off her earrings – I simply ran my tongue along her naked back.

Why does she need to know? Or maybe I am just paranoid.

What a strange question. The answer is I trust no one. Not even her. Max is finished. Even he knows, he’s finished. It is nothing personal, but at the current price of palm oil. He’s hemorrhaging millions every day! Besides, I don’t see what value he even brings our consortium. It makes for more sense to break up his holdings and sell them off to increase our liquidity. The last thing I need now is a hanger on.

She can sense my other reservations concerning Max. How does this simple woman know so much? She is just a bloody school teacher for god sake! Or maybe she is not. Has she been reading my papers secretly? Yes, she is right – if the Chinese have been stockpiling crude palm oil for the last six months. Then I need to know what the Arabs and the Indians have been doing for the last six months to get a clearer picture of what’s really happening. Getting it wrong can spell disaster. It may even set me back a whole year. Only Max knows. But he is not telling. Not at all. Why?

She seems to understand how important this is to me. She even senses my fears. She wants to be part of my business life. Maybe I should teach her? I understand. I understand completely. A bird after all must spread its wings and simply learn to fly. It’s the most natural thing for a woman to do.

I need her to find out what Max really knows about the Arabs.

Darkness 2013

question-markWhen I look at a woman who is decked head to toe with everything that just came right out of my wallet. I say to myself with an intensely satisfying rush- “I own all of you!” As I derive an almost opium aired high that simply comes from just looking at her as she struts up and down like a peacock. I would even go so far as to prescribe this as a cure to those who suffer from a chronic inferiority complex. I even feel it’s worth mentioning – this has to rank as one of the most unalloyed and edifying manly moments for a man. To feel that he owns a woman. To believe that he can. The temerity! Yes. Goodness. I never knew money could ever give me such a rush. I thought it was just good to buy more power tools. A man owns a woman. Owns like he would a prized racehorse or rare exotic breed of bird.

I realize that some people feel it is wrong for a man to hold to this attitude. They feel its old fashioned. I feel its necessary to tell u i dont really don’t care what they think or even feel that harboring these view is somehow demeaning to a woman. Not at all.

You see I stand quite apart from other men – when it comes the darker side of womanhood. Infact, I belong to one of those men who even look up with admiration to a woman if she tells me the real reason why she loves me has everything to do with my money and nothing else. I even admire the purity of such a woman’s cold intent. It is so brazen and vulgar isn’t it? Yet I admire it. For what else can it be, except womanhood itself. You see. Or maybe you don’t. Let me explain. A woman really only knows her worth, if she knows how to make the man pay for it. Its really as simple as that.

Here what you have isn’t just something that you come across everyday in a blog. For a man, it is a profound moment of awakening. For a woman, it may well be your destiny. The path that u were meant to always walk.

A woman really only knows her worth, if she is able to make the man pay for it!

As I don’t think I ever want to go out with a woman who doesn’t even feel the need to aspire to the finer things in life. Or is so indifferent to money that she probably doesn’t even give a damn about it. Or doesn’t even feel the need to crave the feel of silk between her legs from time to time along with other diversions of that corresponding nature.

My point is every woman is naturally hard wired to be materialistic, mercenary and self serving. That is the natural state of a perfectly well balanced female. If she isn’t like that, that means she’s hiding her nature. She’s repressing it. She’s holding all of in like a hand grenade waiting to explode.

That is why I believe it is wholly unnatural for a woman not to be herself – neither is it healthy for men to continue to delude themselves that there can be any other type of female except the one and only existing type who will always aspire to be what she was always meant to be – this is why I believe when a woman goes out with a man it is perfectly natural for her to be cold and calculating about it – how successful will this man be? Will he be able to take care of me? Or will he just be staying with his parents till the day he dies? Every woman should also be discerning and even demanding of what she decides to call her own. As a general rule, I do not like sloppy women. Not at all. I like women who insist on equality even less. Don’t even talk to them. Neither do I like women who prefer to speak indifferently about money. I feel that these women are not realistic or worldly. Worst of all, they deny their womanhood absolutely.

I like all my women to be slightly demanding of the good life from their men as this points to a confident and well adjusted attitude where I know such a woman will always be looking out for her welfare first – if a woman looks out for herself first. 99% of her problems will melt away like lemon drops. This I can respect. What I don’t and cannot respect – are women who will just love a man unconditionally – to me this has to be one of the dumbest things for any self respecting woman to do. As I really cannot think of a better way to demotivate a man – just tell him, I will love you even if you are penniless – guess what, he will end up penniless lah!

Neither am I really fond of women who keep on telling me that they are simple and not materialistic – in my view that is just another way of saying, I don’t really care for the finer things in life – and that to me is just another of imposing limits on oneself -  if I were to go out with a woman who doesn’t care about clothes, fine craftsmanship or even quality – to this woman a dress will only be a dress and nothing more – a watch will only be to tell the time and the story starts and ends there – and a handbag is just a duffel bag to put stuff in.

If I were to buy a French couture dress for this woman – this woman probably wouldn’t appreciate the number of man hours that went to selecting the material and sewing together. She probably wouldn’t even know how to begin to even enjoy this dress. She wouldn’t even be able to feel how it can merge and become one with her body to bring out her sexuality, sophistication and femininity. It would just be a dead thing to this indifferent woman. But give a woman who can appreciate and insist on the finer things in life from her man and the same dress and she will probably strutting around as if you have just given her a pair of wings. See the difference.

Give a woman a finely crafted hand made Swiss watch and she will wear it as if only she can stop time itself and no one else. As she wears a very rare and coveted thing. See the difference.

That is why I strongly believe it’s perfectly normal and healthy for women to be slightly materialistic and even demanding of the good life. I have never ever faulted a woman from demanding a slice of the good life from her man. Never. As that is really another for them to say, I will always aspire to live life to the fullest. To enjoy the most exciting men. To taste forbidden fruit. To go where no woman dares to go, except her. As when a woman insist on all this – all she is really saying to her man is….. I am worth it! You will never find another one like me. That I think has to be one of the sexiest things around – a woman who truly knows her worth and even knows how to foreclose on it.

I find that as I grow older, it is so easy to make a women happy. I wonder to myself when I was younger why didn’t I just spend more time making money and talking less, had I done that I think I would have been much more successful with women.

Darkness 2013

The 70 year old Hainanese man servant did not lay out his masters usual pressed Khaki bush jacket with matching slacks along with mirror polished shoes that morning. Instead he had been instructed to lay out a open neck short sleeve shirt, flared ridding breeches, mirror polished tanned knee high boots complete with shoulder holster and an usually unwieldy sidearm that his master had never once worn in the field before.

Before the door to the walk in wardrobe clicked close – the Hainanese man servant surveyed the strange field attire that he had only seen his master wear in an old photograph in the hall – he stood with a few dark people carrying spears with their dicks dangling. The Hainanese man servant had once caught the laundry maid and one of the kitchen helps sniggering at it and had felt it necessary to put it away discreetly – not that his master ever noticed. As for years that offending black and white photograph had remained in the darkness of a drawer – today it was hanging up again.

“How unusual.” Thought the Hainanese man servant as he shook his head from side to side.

At five minutes to five, the tribal boy would return from the river bank bearing a razor sharp parang. The man servant inspected the edge slipped it into the sheath and placed it beside the man’s field attire looked at the smiling tribal boy indifferently and handed him a can of condense milk.

At precisely five. The dining table was laid out for breakfast. At one minute past five, the radio turned on automatically to the BBC world service. The man servant knew the ritual well. It was a strange voice from another world that the man servant knew his young master found comforting. From time to time, he had noticed his master would stop everything he did and strain to listen to this strange and foreign voice. As if it had the power to stop time in one breathe. In one word even – all the man servant knew was he himself found the rounded tones and ebb and flow pitch strangely melodious. Like a strange musical instrument that he had long grown accustomed too. At half past five, the driver brought the car to the front. At quarter to six, the tribesmen who guarded the man when he slept began to retreat into the preamble of the jungle. Though, the man servant had never seen them so much as once. He could always sense their presence. They were always nearby and never too far away.

Thrown across the polished baby grand was a ripped nightie – on the side table a half empty bottle of brandy with two fish bowl glasses. One stained with lipstick. A pack of cigarettes. Car keys. The man’s trousers. Shirt. And his violin was on the floor. All this had been discreetly picked up earlier by the man’s servant who had raised an eyebrow when he had first seen this unusual arrangement of…..he had no idea. Coming to think of it, no one saw him come him. Or did they come in together? No one knows it seems – the 70 year old man had even turned to the laundry maid and said,

“I’ve worked here for so long and there hasn’t been one time when I have ever seen the master forget to put his beloved violin in his case.”

The laundry maid turned to the driver who could only manage a befuddled look as one of the maids picked up the strewn clothing and sent them to be laundered. While the Hainanese man servant sighed as he expressed,

“The master seems to be like a different man these days….today he even asked his eggs to be runny and his bacon to be flamed with cognac…how unusual. And now instead of wearing his usual base ball cap when he goes out to the field. He prefers to side part his hair and sweep it all back like a Shanghainese playboy…..he seems to be like a different man….a man that I can hardly recognize any longer…”

By six even the largish dog that had stood absolutely motionless to attention in front of the master bedroom door began to stir restlessly.

The man servant, boy, cooks, chambermaids, gardener, driver and dogs all waited – in the mansion located in the middle of jungle, the clock chimed six times. Yet there was no sign of the man. Or for that matter the school teacher. Only the sound of cogs and wheels from the grandfather clock turning rhythmically and the flashing lights from the Christmas tree that stood along the French windows in the plantation mansion on top of the hill filled the silence just before the rise of dawn.

me2 6133296Truth is. It’s darn difficult to be truthful to myself! Nonetheless I am going to try and let it all out in the way a man empties his bladder in one uninterrupted stream of consciousness – I have too otherwise this journal wouldn’t serve its purpose.

Truth is. It is easy for me to believe that I am the only one who is present in the person who, I claim to be truly me – never mind that I have always known all along there’s actually two of me running around in my head – never mind even that my other dark half must have probably lived longer and probably experience more of life than this pathetic other half whose writing this right now. Never mind that by even insisting that there is only me who makes up the sum of who I really am – all I am really doing is masquerading as a normal person and worst of all that may have even corroded whatever semblance of normality I originally possessed.

Truth! I can’t deny my dark side anymore than I can deny the side who i looked on then when he made love to the school teacher – who has by now begun to cling and kiss him like a lover lost in her own bluish white light. A lover who has finally reached a point where she knows she doesn’t have to struggle and charge on any longer as he now has her in his arms – the expression she wears on her satisfied face says it all, she has arrived….arrived…. in the way a river suddenly loses all its strength and vigor when it discovers the infinity of the sea.

What a look? I bet you could walk down Orchard Rd ten years every single day and never see that kind of spent and satisfied look on a woman’s face.

Truth! He’s the one who she truly loves. Correction! He’s the only one who knows how to love her with the right mixture of hardness and softness that I can never aspire to understand? Truth! This isn’t the first time they’ve made love. She knows his ways too well. He knows what turns her on – he knows, how to hold back just enough to make her crave for more and when she can’t bear it any longer and is just about to explode like a grenade. He charges her with just the precise measure of sheer ecstasy of twirls, swirls, pirouettes that she soars high in his floating world – he’s got it down to a science. It’s always been that way even when we were teenagers. Something just hit me then. This can’t be their first time – they both know only what lovers can know about each other. Yes, how silly of me…..

me2 6133509Truth! The school teacher had always known he was buried deep inside me – that day when she had sunk her teeth into my flesh and peered deeply into the depths of my soul with those obsessed searching eyes – she was trying to seek him out desperately. She was calling to him, in the way a lone woman stands on a promontory of some desolate mountain range as she shouts out the name of her lover in desperation. Truth! Only he and he alone could have planned his own resurrection by using her – the look of love that she wore on her face then when they both coiled like serpents was an aching longingly to bring back the dead to the world of the living - her longing, a distant light shining through billions of light years to finally reach a cold and desolate wind sweep planet and spawn the meadow of life from something that would have remained entombed in death – when she waxed and waned, relented and yielding, feared and surrendered to fascination – she was simply going through a process of breathing life into her lover. Now I understand why she behaves the way she does –  she had no choice but to continue searching for him even if it meant she had to turn the world upside down and run helter skelter to find him. She did not care what would happen to herself. She would have done anything and everything to bring him back from the dead!

It’s all slowly starting to make sense to me now  – Truth! The real reason why I can never see myself having a life with the school teacher probably boiled down to despair. I was in despair as I didn’t know how to love her. Didn’t even know where to begin – hence my decision to do nothing, absolutely nothing at all: my action would consist of a militant refusal to take any action at all as deep down inside me I have always realized, it was him that she had always loved and not me.

brandy234Truth! This stranger didn’t suddenly emerged from the so called “I.” He has always been there like a dark substrate of soil that runs only at one level of level of consciousness. Truth! I wouldn’t have been able to be the man I am today if it weren’t for my dark side. He always knows what to do. He never hesitates. Never vacillates. Never procrastinates. Truth! I’ve lived off his back. Truth! I’ve always secretly hero worshipped him – as he is so diabolically clever, ruthless and efficient. Truth! He’s the cool and composed one and I have always been the fumbler who never really knows what he is supposed to do to get through a day. Truth! No one really wants to fuck me. I am just a hump back with a broken violin. They all want him – it’s been that way eversinced I could ever remember – he was always the ladies man. I was the one who would steal nervous glances and go back home and secretly masturbate.

me2 6133379Truth! I have always had a tug of war with Darkness and one day he just lured me in, seduced me with the simplicity, clarity and purposefulness of the way he saw the world. I could nothing to thwart the inevitable – his way is always way superior to mine – he always bullies me with reason and math. He knows how to flatter, bully and cajole to get his way. I just ambled along hoping that human kindness in others would secure my welfare – always the cool and deliberate machine – Truth! He’s gone there, done it. I am the one who likes to stay at home and pick my big toe when i surf the internet while eating pot noodle. Truth! is the school teacher and the commanding man – they have story that is written in their own alphabet, that only they can read, one that I can never even begin to understand. As I haven’t really been present in the whole business of life as much as my dark half. That’s why I hate him and that’s just another way of saying I can’t ever be part of that wonder he shares with the school teacher – and I wonder where does that leave me now?

Maybe I should just vanish?

 

RSCN1544

All my life, I have struggled with the awareness of an irreconcilable contradiction in the very nature of my existence. You could even say, ever since I could string a stream of thoughts. I had tried in vain to resolve this dilemma, there is and will always be two different persons within this person called, ‘me’.  Like all contradictions – light and darkness, the sun and moon, black and white – if my world changed, I would cease to be the person that I am, and if I changed, my world would cease to be what it is. That as incomplete as it stands is the extent of what I considered ‘resolution.’

Now I that I found myself sitting on the dining table with the school teacher bandaging the wound on my arm – this awareness that I have always struggled with began to swell slowly within me – only just a while ago, when I stood before the knot of ladies in the garden party, when they were all admiring the school teachers new engagement ring. I could feel that other dark side of me slithering across my consciousness. I had sensed him trying to lance through the bubble of my mixed emotions all week. And when the school teacher feigned horror by exclaiming, “Oh dear you’ve hurt yourself!” – I felt him uncoiling like a spring in my belly just then.

When Mrs Chee brought out the first aid clumsily and the school teacher led me away from the party with her trailing words to the other ladies, “He has been without a woman for so long, he doesn’t know it will get infected if it’s not attended too. It’s so sad ladies.” They laughed. That was when I felt him tearing like a blade across the very essence of my flesh – I knew then, there was no way to stop him from coming out that day.

As I sat beside the school teacher on the table in the secluded dining room – who seemed only too preoccupied with putting on a seamless charade even when no one was around – I sensed him again, this time he had began to make his way out in the way a man surfaces after a long dive – the room suddenly began to darken almost imperceptibly. The furniture began to grow smaller. A shift had occurred.

Somewhere in this dangerous world where even the air itself was filled with bristling needles and even the gentle breeze that blew felt like razors against naked flesh – the sound of the grandfather clock grew louder till it acquired a singularity that seemed almost to obliterate all else – I remembered a sepia photo with happy bygone faces who all looked on placidly standing out in relief from the crème color walls. I wondered to myself, ‘do they know what is about to happen?’ –  like something that was once tensioned breaking loose from its moorings deep down in mysterious waters. Now it was making its way inexorably to the surface - bubbling upwards with a force that could no longer hold it down. 

Suddenly, I found myself looking at the school teacher attending to the wounded hand of a stranger.

The man before me looked exactly like the man that I have always known in the mirror – only this man was different. So very different as I watched on transfixed as a terrible ugliness began to unfurl like a cobra raising its head and casting a menacing shadow across the soft twilight that suffused the whole room with a vapor of danger.

When the man raised his head slowly and looked at the school teacher, she suddenly resembled the creature that I had once met in the pavilion by the lake on that starry night – gone completely with hardly a shadow of trace was her deliberate and confident demeanor. Now an expression of fear and fascination traced across her features as she began to be drawn into the world of this man who sat beside her - the same velvety mood that once played out against the placid lake began to unfurl in the dinning room – a languid mood set against the backdrop of the moon and the stars, the shimmering clouds of the night, the mysterious mountains which bordered the lake with the magnificent silhouette of the pointed cupola of the pavilion – all set like sparkling jewels amid a velvety canvass of darkness – the school teacher’s lips began to tremble ever so slightly revealing her white teeth as she continued looking at this man who she must have recognized…Yes.. realized had travelled through an ocean of time and space from another world to be with her that day – the man’s eyes radiated a pure expression that said without having to say,

“Yes, I understand. I understand absolutely and completely.”

He reached slowly and took away the tweezers from the half frozen-in mid-air hand of the school teacher – placed it down ever so gently with a clink – lighted a cigarette and leaned back into the chair – all the while staring at her with an expression that radiated complete and absolute understanding of and for a thing that he knew he had to deal with – it was the completeness of the scene – the economy of his movements - the way he had so easily breeched the high wall of her womanhood. The way she had even given in to him with an almost hypnotic awe struck submission that suggested she must have known what this man would do next - that compelled her to suddenly rush to the kitchen so abruptly that the tray that held all the first aid contents tumbled to the floor with a loud crash. No one could hear her in this dimension. It was after all Christmas. They were all partying outside the garden.

There was no one in the kitchen. It was an elegant narrow space with a window at the end. The school teacher looked right and left then downwards fleetingly glancing upwards at the man who now stood by the door way.

He had broad shoulders and an atheletic frame. She brought her trembling hands to her throat as he walked towards her. His knee high boots resonating against the polished tiles like a drum roll – she darted left, then sharply to the right to try to slip past him –he did the same to close the way, all the while moving closer towards her with the determination of an unstoppable steel prow that churned and left a scaring wake across that ocean, that sliver of time and space, that dangerous world that they had both suddenly slipped into.

The school teacher trembled. Tears began to stream down her face. Her body began to shake like a leaf. She swallowed hard and gasped for air like a fish out of her element –  she had one hand across her breast and another wrapped tightly against her abdomen. Her body was turned away from his. Her cheeks and neck which were white like spring snow just a while ago were now stained with a reddish hue as their bodies collided and fused – his crotch pinning her hips firmly like an iron vice against the kitchen counter – while his hands began to lift up the helm of her dress as he reached between her legs. She struggled, but it was no use. All the while the man fixed his gaze on her face – as her expression waxed and waned, relenting yet resisting to some unexplicable force that she feared, yet enthralled her that she had begun to even undo his pants - mystery was furiously and secretly at work – when the man pulled her hips into his violently, she gasped, a muffled cry of boundless ectasy radiated through her writhing body as her eyes began to roll over till only the whites filled them - this went on and on and on - as if he was trying to draw something deep out from her womanly essence – suddenly, her head snapped back violently, as she coiled her arms around him tightly as she wrapped her legs around his hips to bring him deeper – at that moment something deep within her had been stirred releasing a storm of pent up memories, joys, passion and humiliations that cried out to be unleashed… released…like a fiery meteorite tracing across the night sky giving everything it once kept so jealously to itself in the icy cool eternity of space was now in a single moment giving it all back again in this one fiery descent to earth - and in that instance when this great conflagration exploded and vaporised everything in it’s path…only stillness remained and she fell limp.

Even after this, the man continued to look on at the school teacher with distant aloofness bordering on cruelty as her body hung like some lifeless string puppet in his arms – it was the way he carried himself, his demeanor that suggested that only he and he alone, knew how to deal with this thing – and now the job was done – this thing that not so very long ago had a huge sign board called ‘hubris’ – ‘unknown quantity’ – ‘incomprehensible’ – ‘area 51′ - pasted all over it was now like a cracked bank vault that had all it’s cogs, wheels and complications strewn like coins on the pavement.

When the man withdrew, the school teacher collapsed into a nervous heap on the kitchen floor sobbing uncontrollably – it was then that he crouched down and slipped the Rolex off her wrist and peered intently at the reverse side only to mutter slowly to himself, HAPPINESS which ended with a sardonic cluck of the tongue. As if this word belonged to some bygone age that was so distant like some faraway star that it might not have even existed at all.

It was then that the commanding man turned his gaze towards me. A contemptous look now clouded over his hard granite features as he repeated the words, ‘happiness’ mockingly.

I looked down at my feet to avert his cruel eyes that seemed to burn my flesh like fiery laser beams. It was then that I noticed there was a hole in my left sock.

Darkness 2013

 

Many years ago in Africa….

The Chinaman Cocoa planter who stood ramrod for hours on the hill scanning the Northern horizon with his field glasses knew that trouble was brewing up north in Uganda  – three days ago a strange metallic pod was found on the Western part of his lands – he had picked up a fragment of this cigar shaped container and surmised, it was a recently jettisoned fuel tank from a jet fighter – the Cyrillic and Arabic markings with the hyphenated “Jin,” suggested it was a Sudanese jet, probably a MIG-21 – through the whole of last week, the Chinaman had stood on the same spot and traced out jet vapor trails high across the far Northern steely skies – he could make out from the neat trident shape of the vapor trails high above, they were military jets probably on a bombing sortie – even in darkness, the Chinaman Cocoa farmer had stood on the same spot and watched the eerie glow of arklight throughout the whole week, as they waxed and waned in the distant horizons to the far North – he knew it to be heavy artillery.

Even in the early morning, the Chinaman had still stood on the same spot – he had noticed how even the red footed falcons that usually only began their long epic flight home to the Russian steppes in July had began their journey earlier that year – he noticed, that his fine feathered friends who flew in from the North were all tired, so tired that some even rested in the rectangular apertures that the Chinaman had constructed to allow many of his fine feathered friends to rest, hunt and fatten themselves before they began their aerial marathon across the Ugandan Great Rift Valley and swung off sharply Southwards towards the Indian Ocean through to the Himalayas to make the 10,000 mile flight all the way back to the Ukraine.  The Chinaman had even looked closely at his fine feathered friends – he noticed the tips of their feathers were stained with a fine powdery white substance – when he plucked the feathers out and brought it close to his nostrils, he recognized instantly the deadly yet sweet smell of cherries that he knew to be phosphorous mixed with paraffin – napalm.

Even the yellow fitches that usually flew through Kenya and rested in Lake George of Uganda to the far South did not come his way that season – the man surmised his fine feathered friends had taken the treacherous route northwards through the falcon invested Sahara instead of the northern arid plains through Chad and Egypt that led to the Mediterranean  – the Chinaman realized even his fine feathered friends, the yellow fitches knew that there was trouble brewing somewhere northwards.

In the evenings, when the Chinaman strained his ears to listen to the wireless – even that only seemed to confirm his suspicion that something was amiss – he had been in Africa long enough to realize that the white man was the first to leave a sinking ship like crafty rats – for the last three consecutive days, the VOA, the Voice of America had began to play, Bing Cosby’s, “White Christmas.” Even though it was only June – as for Radio Moscow, it had been more subtle yet equally revealing – He had noticed how the news announcer who usually spoke with a fake Bostonian accent had used two consonants on three consecutive sentences during the beginning of each news broadcast of the African service for the last three days – this the Chinaman realized were secret codes that something terrible had broken out to the North. Neither could he count on the UN which the man considered to be the UNITED NOTHING. As for the legion he surmised even those cowards had secretly pulled out in the cover of darkness and had now begun the long retreat back to  Djibouti.

That evening the Chinaman drove to the German school teacher’s house at the edge of his plantations – this time, he had insisted that she pack up her bags and he was here to drive her all the way to Kampala proper where he knew she would be safest in the German embassy in Kololo – the nun had refused vehemently and even protested at considerable length, but the Chinaman was in no mood for a prolonged conversation – and when it seemed a war of words was just about to flare up between the school teacher and the Chinaman; the latter had slapped her so hard that even her habit had come clean off. He had regretted instantly what he done and when he had reached out for her, the woman cringed away. And though she was none the wiser as to why he had behaved in such a brusque manner – the nun began to pack up her belongings.

That night as the Chinaman sat behind the half sobbing nun in the car; the car stopped on the fork road – the road to the South, he reckoned would probably be filled with LRA militia and the entire Acholi tribe all the way to Kampala by now – so he instructed the driver to take the longer Southern Westerly less used village road which would have doubled the journey time to Kampala. Hardly had the car proceeded more than 20 kilometers – the car was stopped at a makeshift checkpoint. In the half glow of the crescent moonlight – the Chinaman could just make out a man in his thirties armed with a semi auto along with a couple of other kids perched like birds on the metal railing blocking the car – he saw the way the man looked at the European woman with the long flowing blond hair – he knew what would happen next – without even so much as a word, the Chinaman stepped out of the car drew out his revolver leveled it at the man and shot him squarely in between his eyes – the boys immediately cocked their AK-47’s but the man could make out these weren’t battled hardened child soldiers, their weapons lacked the patina that came with regular use. So he stood his ground fired another shot into the man and after lighting a cigarette he shouted in a booming voice,

“Aki Shahidi, name tombu mama kaba di mabuto jia-kimba!” (I am the Shahidi, now run or I will kill you all like this pig. Obey me!)

They dropped their weapons promptly and ran like hell. The Chinaman looked relieved. His gamble had paid off.

That long night as the German nun and the Chinaman sat at the back of the car as it barreled towards Kampala –– it was as if both of them were hermetically sealed in their own world – the Chinaman features looked distant and implacable as the few passing cars from the opposite direction illuminated his granite face and blood stained bush jacket from time to time – it seemed as if he might not even have been aware that the nun had gripped his hand so tightly throughout the entire journey. Harder if not impossible to really know whether he was even thinking why she needed to do such a strange thing – perhaps she realized then that she had meant much more to the Chinaman – perhaps she realized how naïve, stupid and irresponsible she had been to have kept on insisting to stay on even when he had previously pleaded with her to leave and now that she had pushed him to this point….this point when all hell had been unleashed….the point when the man even knew deep down. It was really impossible for him to ever run away from whatever he was running away from – when he decided to settle in Africa to turn the well of life as the Shahidi – she knew only too well at that very moment the Chinaman may have once lost someone dear to him and he was not going to ever let it happen again – he had crossed an invisible line in his head to that other world that had brought him all the way to Africa – but when the Chinaman had made a decision to protect her no matter what the cost. He not only cared. He went back into that other world in his past – a world that he once turned away from. In that world, he did not have the luxury to care. He had after all made a decision to protect her.

Even if it meant that she had to see a part of him that he had never ever wanted her to know about him…..never….never ever. A part of him that had probably brought this Chinaman to Africa in the first place. And with these thoughts she griped the hand of the man who she knew probably cared more about her than even the God she served and worshipped with all her heart – the man who she knew may very well have been the devil everyone said he was….but that night Eva Meyer, the woman and not the nun had crossed an invisible line….like the man who now sat beside her in the speeding Mercedez……he too had crossed a line….. with these thoughts her grip on the man’s hand tigthened further as the car barreled through the velvety night towards Kampala.

me2 6133380Woke up at the break of dawn. Hit the fields well before the sun stood high on the ridge - inspected the Southern reaches of my lands to see for myself how bad the flooding has been while I was away. Not too bad it seems. Could be worse – might have to shore up the banks next week to make sure they don’t burst like last year.

I know the Christmas spirit is probably in full swing back home in Singapore. But it’s really just another working day here in the plantation – Christmas seems to be very faraway from where I am standing - could well be on the surface of the moon judging from the way the farm hands go about their daily chores with hardly a trace of expectancy.

The reeds are tall this time of the year along the riverbank – they’re razor sharp and cut against the wound on my forearm – I find myself suddenly turning to the SMS’s the school teacher sent me last night

3.27 – Does it hurt Darling? I am sorry. But you really shouldn’t have pushed me to the edge. What did you really expect. 

3.53 – I realize there is two of you.

4.37 – The man who I met me in the pavillion by the lake. He’s not you is he? No, I don’t imagine that man would have allowed me to do what I did to u. No. He wouldn’t. I just know, it’s a womans thing. I could see fire in his eyes when I called him a common thief. I could feel the heat of his anger. His manliness as he came for me.

4.54 - Boy, I want to tell you, when that man sees what I have done to you. He’s going to get really mad. He’s going to get even. He’s going to come after me. That’s when I’II give all of myself to him. Did you really think it was so easy to get rid of me.

5.06 – You can watch if you want. It will be like that dark moonless night by the lake. That’s all you r really good for Mr Scady Cat.

I looked at messages again and asked myself just then – what does she really want….except maybe to explode, light the sky for an instant and just disappear.

When I went back the plantation mansion – I checked my journal. I had after all kept detailed day to day records of my liaison with the school teacherhttp://dotseng.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/the-pavillion-at-the-lake-with-the-school-teacher/

Nothing…absolutely nothing….what is school teacher talking about when she mentioned… “it will be like that dark moonless night by the lake..” With these lingering thoughts I drove half heartedly to Telugu estate.

The Chee’s were planning a Christmas do for the tiny Singaporean community that had to stay back this year and though I was not really in the party mood - I felt that I should at least try to snap out of my stupor and put my best foot forward to play my part the best I can to keep the spirits up – after all the specter of hardship looms over the countryside and 2013 is going to be a tough year.

When I pulled up to the porch - Mrs Chee and the other ladies were tightly knotted at the far side of the garden – they seemed to be preoccupied with something or rather. When I approached the knot of ladies, they parted revealing the school teacher who was seated demurely dressed in a modern lace cheong sam; she seemed to be showing off her new engagement ring to the other ladies - a huge solitaire diamond - when the school teacher looked up at me, at that instant it was as if the bright disk of the sun had suddenly exploded the sky for an instant.

“Merry Christmas.” A voice boomed followed by a hearty back slap. It was Max. “We just thought we will drop in to keep you company. Don’t look at me. It was her idea. She can’t bear the thought of you spending Christmas alone in that big house all by yourself.” It was then that I noticed the school teacher staring at the wound on my forearm – she was wetting her crimson lips.

Darkness 2013   

—————————————————————————————————————–

Dear Readers

I feel there is a need to set the record straight. As many have written to me to enquire about starting an agri business. Firstly, commercial farming is a very serious business – for every 100 farmers that venture into this industry, only 1 succeed. Starting off on a right working assumptions is jugular – COMMERCIAL FARMING SHOULD NEVER BE CONFUSED WITH RECREATIONAL GARDENING.

How big a land to do you need? This a delicate question. If the land is too big – one dimension is that you may reap more. But it also means when there is a shift in the market, you will also go under pronto. For optimum yield computation. This is really quite a complex process since all arable produce are commodities. Hence the price is always subject to daily fluctuations due to market demand and supply. This basically means it is really quite impossible to use standard spreadsheeting methodology to compute ROI effectively 

I use a rolling accounting method that is a hybrid of ABC that takes into account price fluctuations which I have developed in conjunction with the guilds – I find this gives both accuracy and allows for fine tunning to achieve short term goals.

Even so, determining your optimum hectarage will not be easy. In my case, luck played a big role. Maybe 99.9%. I am not kidding. As when I started the price of oil palm was trading at a historical all time high. So that meant I was able to pay off the banks within a record 5 years. But if you ask me today to pull off that sort of act – it will not be possible as the price of PO has plummeted by nearly 50%. Many planters now face bankruptcy. Many big plantations are currently operating at a loss to the tune of millions per month. This just goes to show you that luck will always play a big role in the success formulation.

Financing, Passion and Networking: Your other hurdle will be financing. Land under any practical definition is very expensive – one acre of arable land for PO will easily averagely set you back 70K SGD anywhere in S.E. Asia. In Africa you may get it for a dollar per hectare, but you may have to build your own roads, power grid along with oil mills along with hiring your security services and it really works out to be the same. For critical mass you would need any where between at least 100 to 1,000 acres – so as you can see this is a multi million dollar business. Not something that can be pulled off by just selling your car and house. Again I was very lucky as I was able to secure cross financing from venture capitalist who I previously had a working relationship with – so they know me and I know them and that went a long way to dispel many of the hurdles that would normally have arisen. It is doubtful that if I approached a bank (especially a Singaporean bank or any GLC) they would even bother reading my working paper – as banks simply have no understanding of agriculture – as for quasi govt orgs, all I can say is they should stick to trying to make firms like Olam float before venturing into full scale commercial farming – what I feel is so often discounted is the reality that modern farming is really a science. As the goal is maximize yield under a given hectarage and this should really be left to hard nosed professionals who know how to farm. This is really not an enterprise for people who believe they can manage it in some cubicle in some skyscraper.

In my case. I spent at least 7 years researching this industry and probably a bit more time to save up the money. I was lucky as I happen to have a boss that allowed me to work part time and still be paid a full salary. I was allowed to take Mondays off to do my research to build up core competencies in farming methodogies.

Coupled to this, I also an outdoorish sort of person who is very lucky to have a big circle of friends who are all extreme sportsmen and many of them also wanted to venture into this business. As they already saw things in Singapore going pear shaped. Many I might add were remesiers.

This I find is very important. As there are real limits to try to grow something without strong men who are able to endure the daily hardships of field life. Many I should add have thrown the towel in as they are simply not able to successful condition themselves to prolonged tour of duties in the field where they had to battle relentless loneliness, isolation along with tropical diseases. In many cases, these men have not been able to return home to their wifes or sweethearts for years! 

Interest in farming is also key. Again I happen to be lucky as I am really good at computer games and even managed to win a tractor in Slovenia when I came in first in the farming simulation Olympics. The only reason why I mentioned this is to illustrate the nexus between how gaming can be retrofitted to simulate real life farming scenarios to add value and accuracy to model outcomes - this we have found to be particularly useful in developing our own proprietry range of software and affliated services to better manage scientific farming endeavors.

My feel is the right mix of interest and attitude is definitely a key factor in driving so many aspects that can increase one’s chances of succeeding as a commercial farmer. Even before entering commercial farming. I had close to nearly 3,000 contacts worldwide that I could rely on to provide FOC directional and instructional input. Networking is key. Networking is strategic. Networking can either make or break you! 

Having said that I cannot emphasize enough the need for the prospective planter to build up core competencies in scientific farming methodology. Hard work is not nearly as important as knowing how to farm professional – at the end of the day the commercial planter is really just fundamentally a very competent farmer. Everything else just comes thereafter.  

Risk Mitigation, Hedging & Maximizing Opportunity Cost. The other business aspect of running a plantation is to hedge against single crop risk – this will require you to diversify your range of services. In my case, oil palm is really ONLY my bread and butter – that’s to say, it pays the overheads, fixed cost, labor etc, but if I just going to rely on PO to grow my business that is going to be challenging under any circumstances. Truth is PO alone can’t make you a rich man any more than running a corner shop selling sweets alone can make you rich. It may infact be a liability, if all you’re doing as a commercial planter is grow PO and nothing else. As that would really mean you have placed all your eggs in one basket! 

To really leverage on what you have to good effect – it is necessary to seriously consider a strategy of mixed diversification from the onset. This is where I feel, my plantation serves that goal very well, as it is very good platform to showcase to many of prospective clients some of my methods e.g scientific farming, fertilization methodology etc. 

My marketing strategy is simply this. I run a tight ship. And I am not afraid of anyone coming in and aditing me on safety right up to housekeeping – this I’ve found to be one of the most reliable ways to create a high level of competence trust with one’s customer base – as there remains limits to bullshitting and just relying on glossy brochures.

My feI first went into agri business I was mindful of the limits of just relying on a single crop so I started diversifying from day one into swiflet farming, horticultural consultancy, food security advisory services, risk assesment and mitigation services etc. So today these services are really 3 or 4 times bigger than plantation themselves.

At the same time I am looking at developing products for the oil palm and related industries – these include high flux centrifuge to refine crude palm oil to high torque pumps to facilitate irrigation and also military application of cross terrain vechiles etc.

As you can see by now – this is a business that I really do not recommend to anyone who is just casually looking for an easy and stress free way to turn the wheel of life.

I know that when many ppl see my videos or read my essays. They may mistakenly draw that conclusion – I am very sorry if those representations have in some way led to many forming a romantic image of a planters life. However, what they often fail to see is I work 7 days a week, I work in all weather conditions. Even on Chrismas day proper I will have to go out to the field. Even when I  get bitten by siaow charbor I have to somehow go to work and work is really the only thing that I really seem do.

I hope this will for once and forver dispell any illusions or misconceptions regarding the life of a commercial planter – my goal is simply to set the record straight. As I don’t want to responsible for giving others false hope. In tirring times like this, it is best to call a spade a spade.

Darkness 2013

RSCN1544This morning as I was packing to return home to my village. Max called and suggested that I stay in KL for another day. After all the helicopter service was fully booked due to the stream of planters who were frantically lining up to return to their plantations after the marathon round of meetings in KL - since I had already made up my mind to drive back before lunch. I saw no reason to stay for a while.

Within the hour Max was in my room in the Planter’s – Max being Max suggested a hearty dim sum breakfast in Bukit Bintang. The only reason why I went along with the idea was in part due to the cheery mood of the school teacher who seemed most jovial and almost a different person from the one who had sent me all those SMS’s. Looking at her – I even excused it to melancholia and I didn’t really hold it against her. Besides I am not the sort who makes a big deal out of texted messages – not at all.  

We dined in a private screened room – the food was excellent and the conversation was a potpourri of business and trivia pursuits. As for the school teacher she seemed her usual reserved and demured self as she listened intently while both of us spoke at length about everything from the falling price of palm oil to what they planned to do. I was especially taken aback, when I had heard that Max had already introduced the school teacher to his family and judging from the way things were proceeding – I was genuinely happy for both of them and even drew the conclusion: how silly it was of me to have hastily drawn the conclusion those SMS’s sent by the school teacher were sinister - somewhere in all this Max had to excuse himself for a business call, leaving me with the school teacher all alone in the enclosed room.

It didn’t take me very long to realize, her facade of conviviality was just an elaborate front that masked a darker intent - as now she glared at me with an almost unrestraint contempt bordering on rage. Though no words passed between us. I could feel her anger nonetheless – and as if it was the most natural thing in the world – she slowly put her hands around my forearm, raised them and sunk her teeth into my flesh. I did not resist her. Neither did it hurt. Not at all. As I have long sinced cultivated an unusually high threshold for pain that comes from years of martial arts training – pain may well be unavoidable, but suffering to me has always been optional. Something that I have trained my mind since youth to turn off like a switch. 

I did not stop the school teacher. Not even when she had begun to make sobbing guttural sounds while she fixed her eyes on mine as she sunk her teeth deeper into my flesh – I merely looked at her impassively which only seemed to strengthen her resolve to sink her teeth even deeper into my flesh as she began to draw blood.

One might perhaps ask, why didn’t I consider this so odd to even feel the need to shout out or draw my arm away uncontrollably - the only reason I remained unruffled may have something to do with the irrevocable fact - every single woman that I have ever gone out with since my averagely miserable campus days (without a single bloody exception) had alway taken to bitting me in one form or another at one time or another.

Fortunately, the extent of their manias extended only to body parts above the waistline. And since many of these women were in every sense well balanced and perfectly even keeled to suggest that they were normal and perfectly law abiding in every sense of the word - it never really occured to me this was something that was odd at all. While I concede it may be odd to other men. Odd even to the perceptive reader who is reading this now. Odd even to the vast majority of people on this planet. My point is it would be much odder for me had the school teacher not done what she did that morning after witnessing her rage and contempt for me.

One could even say, I have always considered this failing to be quite natural of ANY woman just like many of their other failings like not being able to reverse park, read maps to making sound business decisions - but the most compelling reason why I have always considered this quirk perfectly natural to all women is simply because none of them who suffered from this prediliction to inflict pain on me from time to time were even remotely connected to each other – and the fact that they should share such commonality of behavior can really only mean to me as a man: this form of vampirism is to all intents and purposes quite a natural primal condition to the female species.

From time to time, the school teacher would stop and look at me intently as if searching for something she yearned to see in my eyes – during those times I would respond by looking deeply into her eyes and asking her ever so calmly, “have you had enough?” – “are you satisfied?” – “can I please have my arm back?” Only for her to be seized by yet another uncontrollable fit of convulsions that made her bite me harder and deeper.

This went on for such a very long time.

By the time Max entered the room – the school teacher had more or less recovered her composure. While I promptly insisted that I should really be running along. When Max waved me good bye in the foyer. I looked at the school teacher – she looked satiated and smug like, “You will never forget me now!” That was when I felt the pain in my arm – it was painful.

I will never ever understand women. Never. 

Hell has no fury stronger than a woman’s scorn.

Darkness 2012

2.53 am – Max has asked me to marry him. And all u can say is congratulations???

3.15 am – You don’t think I’ll do it, do u. U don’t know me.

4.30 am – Coward

4.32 am – Deceive everyone by all means. But dont deceive yourself. You r such a weak man and to think that so many ppl even fear u?

5.10 am – I hope the helicopter that takes you back crashes and you end being eaten alive by crocodiles. Cowards deserve to die a thousand deaths.

5.24 am – I am sorry, I didn’t mean what I said. Then again u should not push people to the edge if you want them to be nice to you.

5.46 am – what do I need to do to shake u out from your fantasy world Mr Scady Cat? Do you want to do what u did to me in the pavilion by the lake?

6.27 am – I am sorry. Forgive me. I want to c u for breakfast bfr u leave.

Please note this emergency report has been compiled by the ASDF. Due to FULL MEASURED RESPONSE mode currently imposed on this site and other sites in District 16 - this report is will be treated as CLASSIFIED. To read the full report, please log into either SLF 1 to 6 and use the enigma code to access page 1 to35 / appendix 3,4,5 is currently not avaliable – ASDF will require another 16 hours to prepare them. This report has been wholly sponsored by the Interspacing Mercantile Guild based in Primus Aldentes Prime.

Please note the Laanstrad will be opening an intellution channel to discuss this matter @ 0130 GMT 23-12-12 / Primus Time: 790300 onboard the Legation Starcruiser KDD Majestic which will be orbiting the Planet D’ni – a scheduled run of simulation using holographic vision tech will be used during presentation / pls note the Munich Gessenschaft Guilds will also be present under observer status.

Speakers:

Chapter1 to 6 / Multi Effects of Short Term Price Dips – Vollaraine2012 / Nacramanga

Chapter 7 to 9 / Holographic time on price dips simulated across ranges – Kadjal 2012

Chapter 10 to 12 / Mathematical Analysis of Simulated run – Darkness 2012 

Chapter 13 to 16 / Economic Impact Analysis based on Simulated run using Mordecai 16 – Harpoon /Scholarboy / Astroboy

ATTENDANCE IS COMPULSORY / DRESS CODE: OFFICIAL / SEATING: NUMBERED / ALLOCATED TIME: 3 HOURS  

At a very basic level. Every amorous relationship between a Chinese man and woman has to be a sort of ‘wenyi pian’, which is to say it is not so different from the Chinese equivalent of the Western soap opera.

As from first impressions. Both are indentical in narration style, twist and plot and they probably seek to entertain along with providing an emotional outlet for the audience – but where I think the wenyi pian differs from the Western soap opera genre on a basic and fundamental level, is that it has to follow certain fundamental tropes, lietmotifs and themes that are intrinsically Chinese. And one of the most robust themes in the Chinese story telling genre is no matter how outlandish the characters are – what usually forms the main montage of the classic cinematic ending in a wenyi pian is never the Western Hollywood conception where the man and woman kisses passionately and they both walk into the sunset and it all ends happily.

I think this is something that is often lost to both the Western and Asian audience if they are not mindful of the reoccuring themes that’s so often played out in the Chinese story telling genre – as although the characters may spend alot of time gallivanting and flirting with the idea of being unfaithful or committing some sort of intimate act, but in the end – one is never quite sure that they even came to that stage where they actually crossed a line – as one aspect of choreographing a really spectacular ending requires the narrator to structure the plot in such a way where either the man, woman or both of them have managed to come out of this emotional roller coaster by being able to keep their moral integrity intact by surrendering to inescapable sense of duty. And all too often this all has to come at a terrible price of having to bear regrets.

In this sense denial or turning away from a good thing is something that I think is a fundamentally Chinese way of ending a love story that can really only appeal deeply to a Chinese audience – that if you must know is why most Chinese love stories have tragic endings. It really doesn’t matter whether it is a classic like the Butterfly lovers or a modern stylistic film noir like Wong Kar-Wai’s, “in the mood for love.”

And that incidentally is the same reason why when a Chinese woman says to the love of her life that – another man has asked her to marry him. It does not mean that she loves him any less. Or that she really even wants to marry that man at all. Rather what we have here suddenly is the growing realization that what we may actually be witnessing here is a story within a story. A story that is never really narrated. A story that only exist within the pheriphery of the consciousness of the audience – it exist yet it doesn’t. And we see this in the final scene of in the mood for love – where you have Tony Leung recounting a dark secret into a hole. Here the audience is never really sure what he wants to get off his chest. And that I believe is what’s so tremendous captivating and arresting about a quientessential Chinese ending – as the real story is never shared at all. As the man can always be counted to keep it all to himself like some mysterious secret – as that in the wenyi pian, it is never about love or it’s poorer cousin – does he or she love her or him – as it remains the case of a what should be said, but was never quite said, what should have happened, but didn’t quite go through as someone lost their nerve etc - and since all this is frame in this omnipresent continuance where everything is perpetually in motion, time goes by like a giant steam roller crushing everything in it’s path – hopes, dreams, aspirations… except maybe the lingering feeling only endures - it could have ended much better….it could have ended much much better….and there you have in the palm of your hands, the bitter sweet Chinese ending of a love story with just the right combination of regrets, bitterness and shattered dreams of what could have been.

Only this isn’t a love story is it Gentlemen.

Darkness 2012

(This excerpt of conversation was captured in a secured thread to discuss the falling price of oil palm for the Cerebus 6 / South American / African market – the chronicler does not know how to categorise this entry – so after prolonged discussion, it was decided by the Chronicler to enter this as an adjunct to The Moon and the School Teacher – The Brotherhood Press 2012)

Last night at around half past eleven when the last of the planters streamed out from the Mounbatten Room in the Planter’s – I felt a wave of relief. I have been in the city for the last two weeks attending round after round of meetings. From what I can make out, many appear to be optimistic that the price of palm oil will recover again. To them it is simply a glitch brought forth by market forces – but I don’t share their optimism. I am convinced both the Chinese and Indians have been stockpilling crude palm oil. They may have started as far back as June last year. This impasse is likely to be a long drawn affair – lasting probably two to possibly three years.

Many will go under. But I console myself that this may actually be an opportunity for me to buy more land at fire sale prices. But enough of business.

As I walked out into the moon lit lawn of the East Wing – I seetled at the pavillion and asked the waiter to fetch me a bottle of brandy. I checked my phone and there was a message from the school teacher.

“I shall not be returning home with you tomorrow. Max has asked me to marry him. Can I see you off tomorrow?”

I sent back.

“Congratulations. Max is a good man. I wish you the best. You deserve to be happy.”

I lit a cigarette and looked up at the moon after the sending the message. And then it came to me. A moment of epiphany. However precipitous the future might seem, time is what really matters. As time goes by, you, I, the school teacher, Max and the rest of humanity will be carried inexorably into the mainstream of what has to come to past. Everything will just find a level. A happy settling point where it will all just come together – not in the way we all planned or even expected, but it will simply have to reach some form of resolution.

In truth I have allowed the matter between me and the school teacher to simply slide. As I find the conflict within me so impossibly hard to resolve. So hard that I may have even taken refuge in doing absolutely nothing. Neglect can kill almost anything. Everything in this world comes to a natural end once it’s neglected long enough. Even the purest love that flows from the heart of the school teacher if neglected long enough, the act of neglect itself would begin to affect the situation, and someone else would step right in. So it didn’t surprise me in the least that Max had stepped right into my shoes. I had after all created so many opportunities for both of them to reach a happy denounement of sorts.

Besides, I am comforted by my beliefs, Max is a top drawer sort of bloke. He is a whole and complete man – not the wishy washy sort. A real four posted planter with his feet solidly planted to the ground, not one of those half or quart men who will go left or right just because some tin pot leader tells him to go left or right for trinkets – a thinking individual, not a mindless robot who is merely a member of a faceless group – the school teacher could never have found a better man. I am sure this is all for the best.

I know this is not the way things are supposed to end. I realized there was supposed to be a bang and brings it all to a happy close. But I cannot pretend to tell you or myself otherwise – in truth, I just can’t decide. And I don’t want to decide. It may seem a trifle reckless, but through these two weeks when I glimpsed the school teacher slowly turning towards Max – all I could really do was watch by helplessly – it was as if, I was there yet apart from them – and what I saw, I knew deep down to be something that was beyond my grasp. I tell you it was so terribly far and distant from me….this idea of wanting to be part of the school teacher’s perfect love…like the pulsing bluish white light that comes to me only in my dreams. An unattainable light. Everything, really, has this quality of sacredness, but we can desecrate it at a touch.. Yes, this is what I told myself time and time again whenever I saw them together. And the more I looked on, the sharper that sense of estrangement that I have always felt for happiness was heightened. Till I could take it no more and had to just leave them and walk back into another meeting. And another. And another. What could I do, except fashion myself as a pennant, dependent on each gusting wind to take me down a listless path that saw my heart dwindle and flare without direction or purpose to finally settle in this final state where I told myself, I will neglect her love. Deny it even in the way a man holds something he loves most underneath the waterline – till it suddenly stops moving and remains so very still. How incomprehensible. Yes, how utterly incomprehensible. As how can you possibly know who terrifying a love of a woman is – love if you didn’t know has the power to destroy, rob and much more it seems – I rather face off against ten men in a street fight than to find myself struggling to beacon out the murk in that place called love. No you cannot understand. How could you. No one can. Except perhaps I myself who knows first hand the terror of how it is to be loved and not to be able to return that sort of love. I can do many things. I can even throw money at it till it fills up the whole room to the ceiling. But I can’t return that sort of pure and unadulterated love. Never. I must have given up completely when I realized I simply didn’t have it in me. As all I really have is my crumbly idea of duty – the idea of being the keeper of the wheel in my little community. Such a man can never aspire to understand something that is beyond him. And if he tries to do so, all he will end up accomplishing is a mess.

I remember thinking to myself – everyman should be contented with his lot. And not fill his mind with abstractions that he hardly understands. Simple men like me should stick to simple things like how to fix a tractor and find beauty in the mundane and not the supernatural. I have absolutely no business dabbling in this in the first place. What was I thinking? That I could just put on a pair of gym shoes and run off with her? Why can’t it just be simple like a movie or a paper back love story? Why do people have to be this lonely? What’s the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the earth put here just to nourish human suffering. But despite my bitter sweet reflections of what has come to past – I do not regret this at all. No not at all. As I am really just a humpback after all. And it’s not everyday that I get to be so close to pure love – I reckon at most, it happens once or twice in a man’s life. And though I may not realize how important this may be just yet. I am sure one day when I reflect on it – it will move me just same as how it has shaken my world in these last few weeks. For this I thank the school teacher and will always continue to love her in my own way.

As I walked in darkness. I heard a faint clap from the shadows beneath the ficus trees at the edge of the lawn – followed by a garbbled “well done…” I did not try to look beyond the shadows to make out who it was. I knew that it was him. In these last few days, I’ve seen the commanding man – yes, seen him looking at me like a hunter in the faceless crowd, studying me with his sardonic expression. But enough of him.

Somewhere between pouring myself another glass of brandy – I must have taken it all in – the school teacher, my own life, Max and how it had all managed to come to a bitter sweet denounement of sorts and it was then that a poem came to my mind and suddenly I felt a deep peace that had eluded me for so very long.

花間一壺酒。 A pot of wine, under the flowering trees;
獨酌無相親。 I drink alone, for no friend is near
舉杯邀明月。 raising my cup I beckon the bright moon,
對影成三人。 for her, together with my shadow, will make three people
月既不解飲。 the moon, alas, is no drinker of wine;
影徒隨我身。 listless, my shadow creeps about at my side
暫伴月將影。 yet with the moon as a friend and the shadow as a slave
行樂須及春。 I must make merry before the spring has ended
我歌月徘徊。 to the songs that I sing, the moon flickers her beams;
我舞影零亂。 with the dance I weave my shadow tangles and breaks
醒時同交歡。 while we were sober, three shared the fun;
醉後各分散。 now, we are drunk, each goes their own way
永結無情遊。 may we long share our eternal friendship,
相期邈雲漢。 and, meet together again in paradise

With these thoughts, the man in the shadows disappeared completely and it was just me, the moon and my restless shadow and the unfurling night.

Darkness 2012

The Commanding Man

December 22, 2012

komuIn the palatial colonial house on the top of the hill where the Chinaman Cocoa planter of Gabundi estate lived – the legionnaire deserter who worked in his kitchen knew that his master always preferred his eggs runny and his bacon flamed with Cordon’blue for breakfast.

He also knew that his master found the sonorous background drone of the BBC world service comforting whenever he scanned his estate from the upper deck of the alfresco roof top dinning area – usually, the deserter could make out that his master always began the morning by looking through his field glasses at the tiny village at the edge of his lands – the legionnaire deserter servant could tell that whenever a smile tore across the Chinaman’s face – that meant, he was training his eyes on the only well in the village where he delighted in feasting his eyes on women balancing earthen pots on their heads as they walked in straight neat lines early in the morning.

But that day the China planter did not smile as he peered through his field glasses. Neither had he smiled for that whole week either. Perhaps not even for longer – even the Chinaman’s tall Matabilli tribesman bodyguard who was a wired framed muscular man in his late forties who always seemed to follow his young master everywhere couldn’t remember when he last smiled either.

The only person in the vast expanse of Gabundi Estate who really knew the last time the Chinaman Cocoa planter smiled – was the new German school teacher, foot doctor and scientist nun called Eva from Germany who replaced – the sixty something two metric ton Fraulien Gunther from Muchen, Bavaria – who the Chinaman didn’t really care very much for.

With Fraulein Eva it was quite another thing. The Chinaman planter not only smiled very often whenever she was around. He even made it a point to improve himself – he had even exchanged his flared ridding breeches, boots along with open neck khaki shirt complete with shoulder holster and revolver with a stylish bush jacket and laced shoes that came in by special courier service directly from Cape Town.

The German nun and school teacher had even approved of this new look and mentioned that the Chinaman planter now looked like a dapper “gentlemen planter.” She was so pleased that she had even invited the farmer to attend a reunion party which she had arranged in the school to celebrate the return of a lost child that had been recently found by the ever wandering medicin sans frontier who had discovered the half dead boy somewhere along the porous Northern Sudanese border. The nine year old boy from the Adomako tribe had gone missing a year or so back ago along the river bank and had somehow been magically reunited with their parents – it was a one in a millionth – and the whole village had come out in full force to celebrate with beating drums, asseki juice along with generous lashings of K’du leafs which the women folk chewed.

Everyone remembered how happy the farmer had been as he stood beside the German nun – the boy had after all being presumed dead by all, eaten probably by a crocodile and now he had been magically reunited with his parents – who seemed eager to show off their child to the rest of the village.

The nine year old boy named Komu had after all learnt a range of tricks that seemed to enthrall the rest of the villages since his return – he knew how to drive a truck, operate a generator. But one of Komu’s most impressive tricks involved field stripping an AK-47. When the farmer watched Komu remove the linchpin of the Soviet Amotov with a small horn tip by clamping the entire barrel and stock against his tiny neck and limbs that held together the breach and firing mechanism he realized that the boy already knew the AK-47 had 8 parts – the hardest section to remove was the gas piston assembly and the cumbersome spring mechanism that often proved so unwieldy that even adults struggled with this section. In many cases giving up completely – in this case, the boy had used the Sudanese horseback open palm method of slapping this complicated mechanism apart in one single smooth action – everyone clapped. Except the farmer. Who insisted that Komu do this again. And again. Which he did specially for Dada Shahidi – as he was after all the guest of honor.

For the grande finale, the young boy was blindfolded and within a matter of seconds, he assembled back the 8 parts of the semi automatic flawlessly – the show ended when Komu finished off the show by cocking the assault rifle menacingly which the farmer knew chambered the first round into the breach and smiled to the rapturous applause of the villagers – that day, everyone smiled except the Chinaman Cocoa planter who looked stern and grave as if lost in his own thoughts.

That evening as the Shahidi approached the innocent nine year old Komu seated beside his happy parents – his eyes seemed to radiate an awareness that bordered between fascination and fear. He leaned close to the boy and in a slow and stern voice whispered,

“Komu tell Dada (in Africa, the prefix father follows before, as a sign of respect) Shahidi who taught you how to do this.”

From that day onwards the German school teacher and nun who ran the only school in Gabundi noticed the Chinaman Cocoa planter never ever smiled again.

There are only really two varieties of men who go to that God forsaken interior of the deepest bowels of Africa to turn the wheel of life. The first are of course those who are stupid enough to join the French Foreign Legion to try to escape from their averagely miserable lives.

The other was that variety of man who lived on the hill overlooking the vast expanse of Gabundi Cocoa Estate. The Chinaman Cocoa Farmer who was now looking at a spent heat stroked white man with cropped auburn hair who claimed to have lost his way somewhere along the dusty road between the Seritati and Kafuri road 200 miles from Kampala. 

The Chinaman knew he was a deserter from the Legion – it took him exactly 5 seconds to form that conclusion – he could make out the bruised callouses on the outer edges of the man knuckles – a physical disfigurement brought forth by a design flaw on the cocking device of the St. Entiene standard issued FAMAS that the legion used – the last two laces of the man were parallel and finished off with a butterfly knot. The Chinaman knew again, legionnaires used this to keep out fine sand from their boots on long marches. 

But despite all this – the Chinaman nodded to the tribesman who had brought him in that hot afternoon. At first the Matabilli tribesman looked to the rest of the braves – he too had after all known that this was probably a deserter from the legion. The tribesman had wanted to say something to the Chinaman Cocoa farmer, but he had been cut short by a stern voice as the farmer narrowed his eyed and now the tall Matabilli tribesman had looked down submissively.

The deserter was taken into the plantation house by the Chinaman’s servants – the Chinaman was after all the Shahidi – a chieftain and medicine man and above all rain maker in his own right. Such a man commanded respect in these parts. This was how politics was conducted in the deepest bowels of Africa. To the far North, East, West and to the southern reaches of Uganda where the confluence of the Nigiri and Togoba river met – the Shahidi was known to all the tribes, the Adomako, who were once descendants of the fierce Zulu. They guarded the Chinaman’s estate. Only the Adomako were permitted to roam the grounds of the Shahidi’s plantation. To the South, the man knew the Kashari who once transported salt cones on caravans of camels across the barren plains of the Sahara – they served as the eyes and ears to the Shahidi and had told him the legion were scouring the western plains in search of the deserter.

The Chinaman was the Shahidi – the rain maker, the man who could open the heavens and bring down the water of life. This he did by firing his world war II antique 88mm canon which he filled with silver halide at clouds to seed rain – the tribesmen considered this a form of magic. And so they all obeyed him.

The following day a column of legionnaires in light armored entered the gates of Gabundi estate – the officer who was in charge was mindful of the Chinaman Cocoa farmer. He had heard so many things about the Shahidi that he ran an illegal goldmine in Nariobi that stretched even all the way across Burundi, had dabbled in the illegal ivory trade in Kenya and had even smuggled arms right up the Serengetti through Zambezi and Congo rivers – he had even once saved some of his own men from certain decapitation three years ago, when he had intervened and negotiated for the safe return of two kidnapped legionnaires and a French TV crew with the dreaded Askhali tribesmen who made it their living hijacking tankers off the coast of Burundi. That day as his armored column approached the planters house at the top of the hill the young legionnaire officer was wary that he was very far from civilization. As the armored column passed by the many Cocoa trees, the farmer’s Adomako tribesmen who eyed them suspiciously as they cradled their AK-47′s – while the younger braves looked on with their spears. 

When the Chinaman planter was shown the picture of the deserter – he was brusque and replied in crude African Pidgin French also called Guinea Coast Creole Francaise – this was the lingua franca, or language of commerce, spoken deep in the interior of the heart of darkness known as deep Africa. And had been used since time in memorial along Western coast of Africa during the warring period of the Atlantic slave trade. It had all been lost – but in these  remote parts where only the omnipresent law of the AK-47 ruled – this dead language which was once used by all stretching across the Coast of Guinea had come alive that day.

The officer of the French foreign legion who wore his pristine white kepi blanch knew that the Chinaman cocoa planter could have used, le français standard, le français normé, le français neutre – civilized French which he much preferred. But that day, the Chinaman had chosen to reply to the representative of the French government in Creole Francaise – perhaps he was simply reminding the French officer that he was very far from civilization. It was the Chinaman’s way of conveying to the nervous French officer that in these remote parts where only a godless sky ruled – a man could very well die in a thousand and one ways – the legionnaire realized that it was pointless to continue the conversation. He realized only too well, that it wasn’t worth trying to intimidate the Chinaman Cocoa planter. He was after known to the Legion – and his superiors had warned him – “we may need his help one day, so don’t push your weight around with him, otherwise you may end up having to go back in a plastic bag.” with these thoughts, the young French officer turned around and left. After all this was how politics was conducted in deep Africa. This wasn’t Kenya, Nariobi or Cape town – the laws were malleable here, elastic to the point where it even meant so very little. And everything under the sun was negotiable. Besides all the Shahidi had to do was snap his fingers and half his men would probably be cut down by machine gun fire – it was after all the legionnaires last tour of duty in this God foresaken part of the world. Besides he only had less than a month to go before returning to wife and kids in France. The last thing he needed now was to stir up a shit storm. So that day the French light armored column did a U turn and drove right out of Gabundi estate.

That same evening as the man dined with the deserter on the thirty or so feet long table on the plantation house on the hill – he was impressed by the man’s cooking. He has earlier allowed the man to wander around his kitchen. Somewhere between desert and cognac, the man turned to the deserter and asked in a slow and grave voice like rolling thunder,

“Tell me why did you run away from the Legion?”

The deserter knew instantly the Chinaman who wore flared ridding breeches and ankle high mirror polished boots with a revolver slung from his shoulder holster had seen right through him like a pane of glass – he was transparent – he had known it all along and pretended not to know till this moment when he had raised the question when he was most relaxed and comfortable.

“I couldn’t take it anymore. I rather take my chances on the run than to spend another minute in that hell hole.”

The man nodded his head. He murmured, “I understand completely.” Then he continued, “it is not easy for a man to run away from the legion….tell me what will you do if it was possible for me to arrange to get you the right papers to make it all the way back home safely?”

“I am a cook. That’s what I do best. I am happiest when I am in the kitchen…..”

The Chinaman sighed as he emptied his third cognac that evening – he began to loosen his shoulder holster and remove what to the deserter seemed like an oddity – an old Webley revolver. He knew instinctively that the Chinaman knew his weapons – as only this clumsy British firearm was the preferred side arm of the Bedouin as only such a weapon could stand up against the fine ochre red dust that blew from the North to the South every year clogging and jamming even the best modern firearms – the deserter had once served in Sudan and Chad. He began to look at the man – and wondered whether perhaps the respectable cocoa farmer, illegal gold miner, rain maker who the tribesmen called Shahidi with his magic rain making canon might have been a man who had also once seen the terror of war. 

“Yes, I understand how it must be like to be hunted…to be on the run….you should stay here longer…..when the coast is clear…..I shall make arrangements……meanwhile please be feel free to cook wander around kitchen….cook for me…..and one day perhaps many years from now…..we may look at this time and place….and even laugh out loud…..you see civil war will rip through this country very soon…. I have really cashed out…soon you wouldn’t even need papers to walk from here all the way to Kampala. But for the mean time…..you will be safe here.”

The deserter was relieved. And thought this was where the man had felt that the conversation should have ended. For some inexplicable reason – he felt compelled to ask one more question – perhaps it was the effect of the fine Cognac, the faint and calming murmuring of the cicadas or the gentle breeze that blew that day from the Kalahari.

“Tell me what would you do? Where will you go when this country explodes into civil war?”

He hadn’t expected the man to reply, as the Chinaman seemed to be lost in his own thoughts. But he was mistaken, that evening the Chinaman was happy to have a dinner guest. He seemed to be in a talkative mood.

“I want to go to a place where people don’t regularly point guns at me. I want to go to a place where I don’t have to carry this with me.” he gestured to the old Webley revolver. “I want to go to a place where if I call the police, they will come. I want to go to a place where I can write a cheque and use a credit card and not carry gold bars in a lorry with ten men armed to the teeth. I want to go to a place where I only see tanks and soldiers during parades. I want to turn the wheel amongst people who only care to talk about what schools they should best send their children too or which restaurant they prefer to have dinner in - I want to sit down in a coffee shop and eaves drop on housewife’s as they vex about the colors of their curtains or some harmless rash their children seem to have caught from school. Above all I want to just want to lead a normal and peaceful life….maybe even join a church….help out and believe that the world is filled with good intentioned people who are working hard to make happy place…maybe I will go back to Singapore….Maybe I will met a nice girl and marry her….yes, when all hell breaks out here Uganda….Singapore….”

Dream III

December 21, 2012

2011_Mercedes-Benz_CLS-Class_AMG__1The dream started off well. There was no sound. But it was in high definition Technicolor – the type where all the colors pop out and everything is sharp like cut glass. I was driving with the school teacher beside me. The road was silken smooth with just enough slaloms to keep things interesting. The gear shift was buttery smooth. The suspension hard the way I like it in a sporter to always feel the road. As for the power delivery – it was like an angel soaring to limitless heaven as the speedometer just keep going up and up. From time to time, I flashed a smile at the school teacher. We were so happy cruising along. There was no beginning or end. Just the road that layed ahead of us like some great highway that could always be counted to deliver a better tomorrow.

Suddenly smoke began to fill the cabin. I looked down at the gear stick – it was smoking. I braked hard and tried to smolder with the fire with my hands, but the smoke just got thicker while school teacher coughed. I tried to undo her belt, but it just felt like one piece metal – and this went on for a very long time, so long that I almost gave up. But before I passed out completely, I remember looking at the rear view mirror and there he was – the commanding man.

Just looking at me with that familiar act of detachment as if he and only he alone in the whole wide world knew that it would all come to this.

What does this mean?

 

Dream II

December 20, 2012

Last night I dreamt of running in tall green grass fields again. This time there was sound. I was just running as fast as my legs could take me. I felt the wind against my cheeks. The biting cold drops of rain against my eyelids. I just ran and ran without hardly a care in the world. There was no end or beginning. Just the act of putting one foot in front of the other as fast as possible – the sensation of my feet against the ground and the momentary flight which always seem to last longer in the dream – cutting across the air like some bird- then suddenly a loud bang – followed by a sheering pain that ripped through me and next thing, the world was blue with white curly clouds overhead. As I layed there, I waited for the bluish white pulsing light to take me away…but nothing happened…I just layed there staring out into the blue yonder of the skies. It was then that I could make out rustling of leaves. Then I saw a shape of a commanding man dressed in flared ridding breeches and knee high boots. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t quite make out his face. He was standing over me, looking down– I wanted so much to look at his face, but he had the sun behind him. Then I heard the school teacher calling out my name – and the man crouched over me and placed a large hand over my mouth. I realized then, I was that man.

What does this mean?

There were really only two varieties of men at the tea reception held in the Sweetenham Conservatoire that opened up to the vast grounds of the Planter’s Club that afternoon.

The first who all wished without a single exception, they could carry a bush jacket with as much élan and panache as Max Cheng. And the man who simply called himself Max, who could always be counted to look dashing in a bush jacket on every social occasion – even as he introduced himself and kissed the school teacher’s hand at the tea luncheon that afternoon.

Though the exchange lasted only momentarily – there was something profoundly intimate that passed between them, like the glint of the moonlight against dark waters when a mysterious creature suddenly surfaces for air.

I should have felt a wave of jealousy like a shard of glass through the flesh just then – Why didn’t I feel jealous? In truth, the only sensation that sweep through me was a deep sense of relief – what accounts for this relief?

You could even say I deliberately encourage Max earlier in the day when he turned to me during the meeting in a somewhat sheepish manner and asked quite directly whether I was romantically involved with the most beautiful school teacher in the world – I merely used the word, ‘friend’ to describe our association – perhaps it was the metallic way the word ‘friend’ was uttered that emboldened him - when he pressed on to ask whether it was necessary to seek my permission to…. - I merely cut his question short with a quizzical look that suggested, “Is that really necessary Max?”

Again I can’t seem to understand why I am encouraging Max to destroy the very object of my fear and fascination – what is this thing called love that I suddenly find so terrifying? Why do I seem to have so much difficulty in seeking oneness with it? Why can’t I just feed myself on love like a hungry man – to even allow every corner of my heart to be filled with love, till it bloats in the way a man eats and eats till he can stuff himself no more. Why is it so difficult for me to do what I have always wanted to do?

Above all why am I allowing the school teacher to slip slowly away from me. Yes, she is slowly drawn into his world.

As I looked on at Max and the school teacher from a distance I wondered to myself - whether it may have something to do with my terminal condition where I have always seen myself as an exile from that place called happiness?

Yes, only an exile from happiness can possibly feel comfortable with the sense of estrangement that comes from being so close yet, so far from the one thing he desires most -love. Such a man I don’t doubt may talk about love from time to time. He may even write about it. Dream of wanting to be part of it’s suffused light. Covet it secretly even in his heart. As he walks around searching for this elusive sum of who he wants to be a part of. But once he’s confronted with the object of his desires -  he’s really not so different from a prisoner who steps out of his four by ten cell, suddenly, this man comes into a wider world. As while he was in prison, there were only two worlds for him – the world of the captivity, and the world outside his cell. Now that he’s free. He walks as far as his legs can take him. He even revels in his new found freedom. Yet he is not satisfied and soon that gnawing feeling grows on him till it turns into a form of terror that sends a shudder through him - when he suddenly realizes, he is in a no man’s land, a barren desolate place – where there is no third world that is neither the world of the cage nor the world outside the cage that can possibly accomodate his new found ‘freedom’ – Yes, only this can account for my utter resignation. Only this can account for my complete lack of faith in myself. Only this can explain why I have allowed to let it all go to waste. To even allow myself to be part of conspiracy where I become the assassin of my own happiness. I know it sounds tragic – but I really cannot help it. I cannot.

I can’t be part of this can I? I only think, I can. But in truth, I cannot. And not only am I unprepared to take it and call it my own. I am even prepared to watch it slip away from my fingers – to allow it to seep away from me like sand through my fingers.

Love after all is what transforms this world. Only love has the power to change everything. Only love alone is capable of transforming the world, while at the same time leaving it exactly as it is. When one looks at the world with love, one realizes that things are unchangeable and at the same time are constantly being transformed.

Maybe I am afraid of what love will change in me. Maybe secretly, all I yearn for is to see love from a distance…to remain so far from it that it’s light will never blind or burn my flesh…

As I sipped my tea quietly and observed Max and the school teacher – I felt neither happiness or sadness, only perhaps acceptance for a thing that I did not quite fully understand. A thing that I was so near too, yet so far from. It was then that I looked up at the yellow finches high above as they flew East and murmured to myself,

fly, fly…. fly.

Darkness 2012 

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