Getting to know someone…or maybe…maybe.

February 5, 2017

We can invest a lot of ourselves time and energy to know another person, but in the end, how close can we really come to that person’s essence?

Yes…I imagine. We could perhaps take comfort in the idea that we put in more of ourselves – we would eventually know the other person well, but do we really know anything at all?

Do we?


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‘There was this time when I thought I would always stay in Singapore. Forever and ever and ever. I know looking back now, it sounds rather silly. But that was how I saw it back then.

Or shall I say that’s how other’s saw it – usually thru their eyes.

I even told Dotty about it….I would stay. But she never believed me.

One day during one of our mid afternoon cycling trips, when we were just lying on the grass and looking up at the birds in Changi Village. She turned to me sadly and told me that one day I too would just take off like a bird.

It wasn’t what she said. It was the way she said in a tone like someone would express themselves years after that event happened.

I laughed. But when I looked at her I could sense the depth of her despair…the finality of her belief that it could only turn out that – it wasn’t just a run of the mill despair, it was a like an invisible vine with tendrils that could reach out from one soul to touch another – the sort of despair that could even whirl it’s way right into the narrow of my nines, winding and squeezing me from deep inside.

It was so disturbing that I found myself holding her head with both hands as she refused to look at me and asking her – how could she be so sure?

Dotty told me it was the way I looked at the birds whenever they flew overhead – she said it was the yearning that she saw reflected in my eyes. She said it was as thought – I could feel the same tug those birds felt – the very same stirring only birds could sense just before they took off. She went on to say, that I may believe I am a man, but in reality I have falcon blood running thru my veins – I am really half man, half bird and nothing in this world would ever change that, not even if I willed myself to be normal like everyone else – a day will come, when I too would sprout wings and take to the heavens like a bird.

I told her she was just in one of her crazy melancholic moods. She was dead wrong. I would always stay in Singapore. I even promised her.

Years later when I shared with Dotty my plans to seek my fortune abroad as a planter. She reminded me of the promise I once made to her – and whenever she did so, there were always long lapses of silence that I always felt the need to fill with words. Anything. It really didn’t matter what came out of my mouth. Could even yaba daba do. I just wanted to kill that awful hole of silence by filling it with as much sound as possible. To even banish it away with a hail of words. But try as hard as I did, every now and then I would feel a violent stab of loneliness….no. Estrangement. The very water I sipped, even the air I breathe, would always left a metallic and foreign after taste…reminding me that I don’t belong here…I am not supposed to be here. Even the linen on the table felt strange – when I ran my fingers across it, the texture reminded me of fingernails against a blackboard. It was a sound that only I could hear and all I could do was surrender myself completely to this sea of loneliness like some flotsam.

We met a couple of more times thereafter. But whenever our conversation lapsed into those awful moments of silence I always felt same threatening sensation of estrangement. It was as if this feeling that swelled inside me was some creature with razor-sharp tendrils gnawing deep inside me. It was so crippling, so devastating, and unrelenting that all it seemed to ever want to was to work itself out of my bones burrow thru my muscles and lance right out of the flesh of my backbone – wings….

Eventually that was what I did – I flew off without saying good bye. I did it as she said I would, like a bird that just wakes up one September morn, joins a flock of birds on a line and take right off into the blue yonder.’

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