The School Teacher and Max Cheng

December 20, 2012

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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