Are you the man in the photograph….Mr Koreana?

November 3, 2015

For Miss D. D for different from all other girls. The only reason why Mr Koreana possessed the uncanny power to step with such remarkable ease into her heart without even trying to do so – was only partially explained by his condition of being different from all other men that mirrored her own estrangement from the world which she undoubtedly considered mildly attractive.

There was however a far more compelling reason which accounted for Miss D’s attraction for Mr Koreana. For one she was convinced Mr Koreana’s apartness from the world brought forth by just being different from all other men distinguished him from all other men.

Miss D had gone on enough dates to know other men well enough to appreciate their limitations. That’s could be why she much preferred to regard them simply as…other men. Her experience with other men led her to the irrevocable conviction – since other men could really only think, behave and regard her like all other men. Her relationships with them all invariably started and ended in precisely the same way….going nowhere…deepening her sense of estrangement…always leaving her exhausted.

Usually they would regard her difference and apartness from the world as a merely a minor and correctable affliction like perhaps how one goes about correcting a duck gait by either being conscious of how one walks or simply reminding oneself not to walk like a duck – that is to say, the failing common to all other men was their tendency not only to underage her condition of being different. But worse other men would attempt to explain away her difference as merely details in the greater scheme of things which she considered to be a form of character appropriation.

Miss D was also acutely of her own misgivings as well when it came to relationships with other men. She knew it only too well, that cosy insiderism where at first she would be contend to play along with many false assumptions they formed concerning her difference from all other women – that she reckoned was her fatal mistake, to go along with their version of why her difference wasn’t really such a big deal – knowing all along deep down, they were all dead wrong about her only for the relationship to eventually fizzle out simply because their militant insistence that she was not really different from all other girls had the effect of wearing her down to a point where it became impossible for her to even muster the slightest interest to continue holding the relationship.

With her dearest Mr Koreana, there was no possibility of that ever happening…no chance at all! And that must have been a relief of sorts brought forth by the heightened fear of history repeating itself again…and again…and again.

Since Mr Koreana could only differ markedly from all other men by virtue of his difference, there was the real possibility no matter how faint, their narrative could go beyond the structural limits usually imposed by other men – no matter how long the odds. Miss D harbored the belief only Mr Koreana who was different from all other men possessed the uncanny power to wordsmith her narrative to take an unexpected turn and even deepen it.

That was the reason why Miss D felt a deep yearning to search out for a dated edition of the National Geographic article that featured the Nicaraguan war that evening. Sometime back ago Mr Koreana had casually mentioned he once planted sugarcane in Honduras only to end up fighting a hopeless war….he even mentioned, his picture had once featured in some magazine which he was contend to deny to everyone was or could possibly ever been him. This he told her, he did by simply insisting – he trades coffee with an air of finality. Something about that conversation had stood out, there was a lingering sadness in his tone when he spoke about this other life in South America, like the way displaced émigrés speak with long pauses whenever they recount the emotional turmoil when leaving loved ones behind. She recalled his distanced look which had filled her that evening with an intense curiosity to probe further…to find out more….and when she had enough breadcrumbs to follow the trail that led her to ferret out the actual edition in the fifth floor of Bugis library that evening.

Eventually she found the photograph – somewhere in page 83, there was a man in a photograph who resembled Mr Koreana – the only reason why she felt the need to qualify it with the word resemble and not him was there was something almost indescribably forlorn about the eyes of this other man. He was attired in jungle fatigues. Camouflage. His boots were muddied. Face stained. Standing on what appeared to be a burnt out shell of a tank with a knot of tribesmen with spears and strange markings smeared over their faces squatting like birds on the turret. They all looked tired. The man sported a shouldered holstered pistol. He had a cigarette sticking out from one side of mouth. His features looked strained. Taut. Pensive. Yet drained at the same time. As if they had all just returned from a nocturnal raid.

Yet the one feature that drew Miss D deeper and deeper into the tragic image was the expression the man wore as he looked squarely at the camera – it was his expression that drew Miss D deeper and deeper into this one character in the photograph…as if he had suddenly caught sight of something he longed to see so very far away just at the outer edge of the horizon the very moment when the picture was snapped. His searching features betrayed the desperation of a man who yearned to reach out and touch this mirage all the way through and beyond, out into the cold vacuum of space into the future perhaps right into another age…time…life from where he actually was. This image exerted such a powerful force on Miss D that it impelled all of her towards him. As he appeared almost to jump out of the pages and was now right before her looking straight into the depths of her eyes, she felt the momentary shudder of that unexpected connection. She did not resist….could not – she even allowed all of herself to pour out into the depths of this man’s hungry eyes and for the briefest moment – Miss D was able to sense his pain, missed opportunities, shattered dreams and lost hopes – it was a if she had been transformed momentarily into him. There within the kernel of that one solitary moment in time. Miss D was able to sense the sum of everything Mr Koreana had once experienced, ever said or done, every hemisphere of pain and joy, every layer that was entirely him that rendered her heart as weightless as a feather to the very moment when their eyes first caught each other in the MRT…it was the same expression.

With these thoughts swirling in her head, Miss D began to cry uncontrollably for her dearest Mr Koreana.

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