November 4, 2015
As Miss D laid down on the deck of the sail boat and stared vacantly at the full moon. She wondered to herself why it didn’t surprise her that Mr Koreana owned a boat. He didn’t even mention it. It wasn’t the luxurious sort that came with a plasma TV or even air con – like Mr Koreana it was simple…basic…a tool. The sort where if you wanted to wash your hands in the tiny sink below deck, you had to step on a rubbery ball to pump the water out. The sort where the table slides to the side and opens up to make a single bed.
She turned to watch him at the otherside of the boat. He was unfurling the sail and turning a winch like device that made a ratcheting sound while pulling on the ropes. His hands moved surely like he had done it a thousand times before – that was when Miss D was struck by a rare moment of epiphany. How strange it is when the Big Bang event in one’s life happens, it’s simply just another way of seeing things. Isn’t that a strange! She wondered to herself while screwing up her lips. That absolutely nothing has really changed at all, only that one sees the world slightly differently from the way one has always seen it. Nothing has changed. Yet nothing is the same again.
Somewhere within the gyre of this one realization that one suddenly now sees the world differently as a consequence of having undertaken a perceptive shift that has the power to change everything forever…completely…absolutely.
That it even has to the will of force to obliterate all one’s fears and render only this one sensation of feeling alive and being able to see things realer than ever before.
Unlike other couples they didn’t need to speak. Words would have only sullied the unalloyed moment of tranquility. Not even when Mr Koreana edged to her side and slipped his arms underneath the nape of her neck that brought her to lie down on his chest while they both stared at the full moon. All Miss D could do was bask in the new found moonbeam of seeing the world slightly differently from the way she had always seen the world – the muffled whisper of waves being gently ploughed by the prow of the boat that rose ever so slightly up and down like a rocking chair, the sensation of the forward glide and the cool touch of the wind against one’s face, with all these thoughts swirling in her head. Miss D wondered perhaps this was the reason why she had suddenly lost her resolve to ask Mr Koreana more about his other life in South America…how many people did you kill?….are you a wanted man?….are you on the run? Suddenly all those questions that she had clutched on so tightly that evening when she first stepped on his boat, began to fall into the oblivion of the sea. Truth was Miss D couldn’t care. It was as if the rare moment of epiphany she had experienced earlier had impelled all of her to yet another direction and she was content to go for the ride to wherever it might lead her for better of worse. Maybe she realized the futility of her questions. As even if Mr Koreana had told her, he killed…he’s wanted and on the run…she would still stay beside him. When Miss D asked of herself how could her resolve to confront him lose all of it’s momentum so suddenly? Nothing emerged. Then slowly like a swell, a thought began to bubble and slowly surface…..maybe this is how it really feels like when newly minted Christians talk wide eyed about the love of their father in heaven for the very first time or perhaps…..just perhaps… this is how it feels like to love and be loved in return for the very first time….all that exist is the nothingness of the moment when she was entwined in Mr Koreana’s arms.
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.
November 2, 2015
It’s quiet natural for a woman who is different from all other women to cultivate a detached attitude even when she is marinating all herself in the world.
That observation traced briefly like a lighted meteor across Mr Koreana’s thoughts as they dined together – the mere hint of a suggestion of one having successfully cultivated a detached attitude was the one essential quality that continued to draw Mr Koreana to the woman who was sitting right before him that evening….it must be…he murmured to himself as he looked up at Miss D again. Then yet another thought flitted past him…surely only a woman who can hold on to such a detached attitude longer than all other women only to call it her own would have earned the right of passage to that secret knowledge – there might exist such a place as a transit zone.
The transit zone. The world that exist, yet doesn’t…that in between space in the linearity of time, where one is there, yet elsewhere only because that’s how life really is. At least to those who know of it’s existence. Mr Koreana regarded that sort of understanding for things like flying saucers, once you seen one, it’s virtually impossible to convince you…aliens don’t exist – unlike that rest of humanity who are content to subscribe to the unshakeable belief – the best way to get from point to A to B is by following a series of incremental steps each working towards the final goal. Both Mr Koreana and Miss D, D for ‘Different’ in the way she differed from all other girls could only believe this to be a sort of nonsense approaching hocus pocus. To them, the best one could really do was to plan one’s life only to be ruled by accidents. They weren’t necessarily ambivalent to the idea of planning ahead. Only they couldn’t help but see it as an act of futility as so much that accounted from their difference from the world could only have arisen from having failed so many times to past from the land of theory to reality.
In a sense what bound these two souls together wasn’t solidarity or for that matter even common belief. Rather it was the victimhood – they both wore the badge of honor of being different in a world that expected everyone to be the same.
Though both of them never once spoke about the subject concerning that commonality of belief that such a domain like the transit zone might actually exist, that in between space in time, where one is there and elsewhere only because that’s the only way for one to get from point to A to B – that hardly suggested each in his or her own right did not express their understanding and knowledge that such a domain might actually be where they much preferred to live rather than the world that the rest of humanity preferred to live in.
For Miss D, the singularity in the manner Mr Koreana much preferred to be referred to a man who trades coffee merely confirmed her suspicion he had long since been a honorary resident of the transit zone – in perhaps the same way die hard socialist often refer to themselves as citizen of the world. It wasn’t so much Mr Koreana’s insistence he is the man who trades coffee that betrayed his irrevocable inclination, he much preferred to live in the transit zone than the real world. If anything it was the uncanny ease and comfort in which only Mr Koreana and him alone could have retained his composure when he uttered the words….I trade coffee… that suggested such a man not only knew of the existence of the supernatural transit zone. But since he had been a wanderer there for longer than he cared to remember. He had even managed to acquire a savior faire ease in the way only a solitary soul marooned on a deserted island for so long time eventually stops scanning the horizon for passing ships and has long reconciled himself to his state of estrangement and desolation from the rest of the known world.
Truth of the matter is Mr Koreana was perfectly comfortable with the idea that virtually everyone who he told, ‘I trade coffee.’ Didn’t really believe him completely. He was so perfectly at ease with that momentary lag of disbelief that usually followed this statement along with the quizzical expression of those who were convinced he might be dabbling in more besides just coffee that it didn’t even bother him in the slightest any longer….only perhaps, because he had long since reconciled himself to being always different from the world.
Miss D thought to herself, only men like her dearest Mr Koreana -don’t mind being hiding the truth from the world…..as they possess a certain arrogance of will in perhaps the same way mountaineers never ever talk about mountaineering to those who are flat footed and never ever climbed before.
As for Miss D – since she was different from all other women and could really see this strange encounter with Mr Koreana as an aberration in a life where she had long resigned herself to be different and in world that could never hope to understand her. Now finally…after so many years of being a lonely émigré in the transit zone – she had suddenly chanced upon another soul who came in the form of Mr Koreana…an unlikely soul who seemed to all intents and purposes to resemble a curious archeologist uncovering ancient text covered by mellenia of dirt and grime intent on studying her – with each encounter with Mr Koreana, Miss D felt his fingers running across the deeply etched relief of the strange language that made up her very being and existence…and she relished the idea that someone…anyone…. would and could even try to understand her…appreciated it, reveled in the very idea of being touched by a man who saw her difference in the very same way it mirror his whenever Mr Koreana gaze fell upon her.
Perhaps that heady mix which could only come from a combination of fear and fascination of being suddenly discovered after so many years of languishing in the desolate plains of loneliness and finally to be appreciated for who she really was, was what really provoked Miss D to regard Mr Koreana as a sort of kindred spirit…even when she knew, he was may have been many other things beside the man who simply trades coffee.
To miss D who could only see the known world differently from all other girls only because she could be nothing other than different. Who Mr Koreana really was or whether he was or wasn’t Mr I trade coffee was a matter of profound indifference…what really mattered when they were together in the ever churning sea of randomness that had filled every aspect of her life where she had seen the need to fashion all of herself into a solitary vessel that crossed the vast ocean of time she knew to be her life line…she had suddenly spotted a curious shaped silhouetted of another vessel across the distance of the infinite horizon that had always remained featureless and the only thing that mattered now was training her eyes, ears and every cell in her body to this mysterious vessel which had suddenly appeared from nowhere, changed course and was charging straight for her.
It was a thought that filled Miss D with a mix of trepidation and excitement. For somewhere in improbability of her known world that she had long resigned to spend the rest of her days all alone ploughing the desolation of the sea all by herself.
It was as if Mr Koreana’s sudden appearance into her life possessed the quality of a stretched out arm to which she could only reach out too. And as improbable as it seemed, in that one moment of unity, when their hands came together and closed, they had given birth to something approaching the miraculous – the crumbly idea, Oh my God! There are actually people who see the world like me!…..I am not alone after all!
This thing they were both holding was unlike all other known things in this world. If anything, it resembled a faint invisible and odorless vapor that exists only when one believes in its existence and disappears as soon as doubt takes hold.
The task of nourishing it’s embers may appear simple to those who may not be conscious of the transit zone or even it’s existence, but both the man and woman who dined that evening in complete silence as they both exchanged looks of mutual understanding knew it to be an act that required the ultimate refinement of scaling the odds that made the task nothing short of demanding consummate skill like two perfectly timed tango dancers – it was this tenuous understanding that both Mr Koreana and Miss D tacitly shared and agreed that bound them as kindred spirits….they both knew, their life long search for a partner had come to an end.
October 28, 2015
I know the symptoms of depression only too well. I seem to have lost my appetite completely. That’s the first sign. Some days I make do with only one meal. Second. Sleep is erratic and impossible to sustain. I am becoming more and more reclusive and paranoid. Withdrawn…. This could all be due to a series of set backs that I have experienced recently.
Everything seems to be conspiring against me….the weather isn’t playing ball – it’s supposed to be a fucking El Niño year, but for some strange reason it rains just exactly around the time when I started a massive earthworks project – 9 out of 10 these days, I can’t read Mother Nature for shit! I’ve given up on her lah! Because everyday when it rains – my heavy equipment can’t do shit all except grind to a stop, that’s depressing. As the cost runs into thousands everyday!
Bearing witness to myself passively these days can be quite depressing and comical – it’s like watching a man trying to plug ten holes with only two plugs and he’s forced to use his body parts like a yoga expert just to stay above the waterline….it’s depressing lah.
As the unexpected rains have completely turned my roads into a river of mud, my harvesters have to work triple hard. As for the lorries that pick my fruit most of the time, they are stuck in mud.
It’s all my fault – I made a wrong call.
Everyday when I return back to the safe house – I am covered in mud and everything is just wet and damp….so fuck you lah Mother Nature. Fuck you so called weather boffins as well, because I believed in you and while we are ducking everything, fuck the weather satellites as well…because all you are good for is five chili disinformation cum inspiring suicide.
Enough of my rants.
I need to kick myself out of this vicious cycle that is eating me from within.
I need too. I need to jump right out of this pit of shit!
For starters I have decided to give up smoking completely. It’s not as if I haven’t fallen into this shit hole before. It’s familiar territory to me. So I know how to climb out of it. Even have my bag of nifty tricks to kick start it back to the way it used to be.
‘Imagine this. Being able to just fly to the moon….just imagine being able to step into a rocket ship and just taking off to the moon like it’s a car. Just imagine that idea….it’s wonderful.’
October 28, 2015
Outwardly everyone can only see a man of steel. This comes naturally to me as my square jaw, piercing eyes, 5% body fat frame and panther like demeanor conveys the belief such men are not to be trifled with.
I have even been immortalized in Kampung folklore as the man who once single handedly took on ten landowners only to out smart them time and again with wit and cunning – but this is all a paper mâché impression…..it is….nothing more.
‘There are times when I have to take risk that can…might and possibly break me in half like a twig. The pressure can only be described as fantastic – as very often I compelled to operate in an environment of resource scarcity. It’s strange how I am able to commit so much of myself into the corrosive nature of such an enterprise…stranger still, how I often react to this pressure by often waking up at three in the morning feeling lost and not even knowing where I am. The sensation of being marooned…alone…fearful may only last just moment – but it is indeed very frightening at times – perhaps it’s my way of reacting to many of my doubts and fears and hopes – as to whether what I may have begun will end up controlling me to such an extent that I can no longer hold on to anything any longer only to be swept away by a gigantic wave..this I imagine will always remain a perennial contradiction to even myself as I lie there in the dark all by myself.
Indeed what the world sees and what I am is truly two entirely different beings.
October 26, 2015
In life…it is possible to experience both blissful happiness and profound sadness at the same time.
‘Had it not been for my one and only love…my life would have long disintegrated into a thousand pieces. The combination of pain and joy is truly an irreconcilable contradiction…..yet I cannot help but feel this is what makes me truly the happiest man in this world…how strange…odd and curious.
There is so much more that I need to learn about myself….even more to be exprienced in a life that I may believed to have known….yet how little I know of it….how so very little.’
October 24, 2015
If you all take the trouble to peruse thru the contents of my blog going back some ten years ago.
I have always maintained these mega church leaders are all WITHOUT A SINGLE EXCEPTION a bunch of cheap con man – Mr smoke and mirrors lah….pulling out rabbits from his top hat to mesmerize dummies.
No Yahweh…No Da Vinci code there lah…No mystery even….for me I have never ever seen the need to mince my words concerning how money and religion when combined together can only produce poison and lead to one outcome – grief for all!
Because of my firm stance and clarity in the way I have always seen this subject.
Regrettably many of my once close friends and regular readers of my blog who don’t share my views have labelled me as an ‘incorrigible recalcitrant’….’compulsive troublemaker’…..one group even started a Facebook account to ferret out the identity of the indian barber who regularly cuts my hair to search out whether I bear the 666 mark of the anti Christ!…I am not making up stories…this is all true…I was evenly openly denied a position in a firm because one of the managers was conscious of my views and took great exception concerning my stance on this subject which she considered ‘anti social’… I have even been threatened with numerous law suits on three specific occasions to withdraw what I have written – I refused. Instead I told those cheap pirates in the tone of Idi Amin…one day I will be a very rich man and I will want you to run back to your masters to tell them….I will never forget this! There after I ended the meeting Biblically by requesting them to go forth and multiply lah!
The pressure was so great that on one occasion I even considered keeping my views to myself like a man marooned in his own skull.
Recently the truth was splayed out a la pasar malam style for the world to judge whether I was simply a deranged or wise man to hold such strong views….I will leave you, the perceptive reader to answer that question for yourself (otherwise I may be once again accused for attempting to hypnotize the masses).
However I want to be crystal clear. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with religion per se…all religions…even the fringe one’s such as the Hare Krishna’s movement…all preach love, peace and compassion.
I am not saying it’s a good or bad thing…all I am saying is all religions preach love, peace and compassion.
The main problem as I see is when the con man appears in the scene with his top hat and begins to supplant the idea of God by amassing so much wealth from the unassuming and naive public by twisting the ‘word’ of God to further his own nefarious designs – this is perfectly understandable….because there is so much room for improvisation in ALL religions – and anything and everything once written, once mentioned, move referred too as ‘sacred’ can be interpreted in an infinite variety of manner to further whatever designs in the contorted mind of the con man.
Let this be a lesson to all.
As for the con artist. I don’t give two shits about what happens to him and his clique…as for those who once followed the con man blindly and even gave him their loyalty, faith and love without ever bothering to use their brain (God presumably gave them), they too cannot absolve themselves from some measure of culpability and responsibility for this circus show….as they inadvertently fashioned a false God with their own hands…so I have very little sympathy for you, the Mr die die must give 10% of my salary to the church….as without YOU, the con man would just be selling koyok in Bedok bus interchange and very little else.
After all…consider this…. who might the bigger fool be? The fool who leads…or the fool, who follows the fool…blindly without once ever even questioning whether this might actually be the will of the maker?
If that stings…take two Panadol lah and hit the sack before twelve lah.
October 23, 2015
To me the haze is not just a minor annual concern that has a nominal affect on people and planet. I don’t disagree that may well be how some politicians speak about the haze. I want to be very clear! So that I want to call a spade nothing other than what it should be called….a spade. The haze is not just an inconvenience – it affects the health of millions, destroy livelihoods, weakens economies and constitutes in my opinion a national security threat.
The only reason why those fucked up politicians continue to speak about the haze as if it’s like having a couple of flies buzzing around when you’re trying to chow is – because they are too lazy, complacent and flabby to sit down in a quiet place….draw a line on a A4 paper…put a plus and minus on two columns…..and calculate the cumulative cost of the haze.
If they just bothered with that simple exercise. I have no doubt by the end of it, they would just exclaim, ‘Oh my God! We certainly have a very big problem here!’
‘You know one of my greatest regrets in life is not joining the illuminati. You see I went to all the right schools. I even have my Harrowian tie that I wear occasionally just for la effect. Stayed in a Hall of residence run by people who you just know – see the world like some giant chess board of possibilities.
But regrettably in the moment of my youth, I didn’t think much about Opus Dei…didn’t really have a firm grasp power and politics either. To me then, all I saw were a bunch of pretentious young men who were in their twenties trying to pretend as if they in their seventies.
Let us assume that I could somehow step into a time machine that takes me back to the period when I could have signed on the dotted line….then things would be very different today. I could issue an order to the grand council to snap up all the corn and soya oil futures from Honduras to Nebraska from March to July…corner the entire market even. Then I will issue out an invitation to all these palm oil barons for a wine tasting event comprising of cellared Napoleonic vintage extramadura – it’s an elegant garden luncheonette in my chateau somewhere in Alsace, it’s a classy affair with even a string quartered playing Vivaldi’s ‘le quartre saissons – and all I need to do to put an end to the haze is merely hint to all these fat cat cigar chomping Chinamen businessmen with a congenial smile of mutual understanding like when you ask the very dignified concierge in the Savoy hotel….could you please arrange for me to have a crumpet…the horizontal variety..only for this man to respond with an unalloyed expression of cosy inderism that hints of an understanding of the way the world IS and not how it’s usually depicted – like one of those boring foreign film noir where we all rely on subtitles to follow the plot – what it reads is this: if you daughter fuckers don’t get your act together by July and it’s going to be amateur hour again as to how you fucks continue to mismanage your million hectare land concessions and cause grief by creating another haze – then I might just decide to make a call to my broking houses in Zurich, Amsterdam and Brussels to dump all my soya and corn oil futures simultaneous during the high yield season, that would just be like dropping a regime change atomic bomb that will send the commodity price of palm oil nose diving to the abyss of oblivion.
To perforce the point…to amplify the hidden implications only because it is indeed very rude to speak obliquely in polite society…I would turn my gaze indolently at the majestic Bayeux tapestry that hangs radiating it’s ancient grandeur..my attention seems to be drawn to a one particular section just beside the words Isti Mirant Stella that depicts a comet…one of the many hidden images of the all seeing eye…and directly beneath this image commoners and even kings and princes with expressions of complete and total fear and trepidation fill their strained faces – it’s as if, the very same mood of fear and trepidation these confounded ancients once experienced has suddenly pervaded the grand dinning hall…the all seeing eye…..that omnipresent image of the ages that is responsible for the thrill of defeat and agony of defeat since the dawn of mankind.
And just in case, these chinamen belong to that vulgar lineage of the nouve riche and you can always tell, as they always bring along their well heeled daughter’s just perhaps to remind their host being cultured does not necessarily have anything to do with bacteria or BO – whose daughters all seem to revel in pursuing useless disciplines like the classics in Clenthenham ladies college….being a host requires a certain conviviality… so naturally, I would turn to one of their giggly daughters and ask of them prosaically in a collegial tone, ‘by the way, are you familiar with Faust?’ Naturally girls being girls will reply with great enthusiasm, ‘yes of course…terribly sad story though.’ To which I would probably cluck my tongue merely as an expression of understanding that one should always be mindful of the fragility of success only to perhaps lean over to the girl and whisper, ‘perhaps you should give your daddy a dummies version of that sorrowful story concerning how everything in this world has a price.’
For the sake of la effect. I would stab my vernisom served in creme de la truffles…the sound ripples like fingernails across a blackboard sending ripples of fear thru out the dinner…..only to the repeat the words…..’yes….how true….everything in this world has price.’
The point would then be conveyed as clearly and surely as a razor sharp tip of an épée thru flesh, bone and into the heart.
Bear in mind, when I am having this tete a tete with their daughters these people are suddenly sitting at the edge of their chairs. Some have even begun to lose their appetite. Others are dabbing their cold sweat as they reality begins to sink deeper….and deeper into their minds as they too begin to resemble the fearful figures on the tapestry in the grand dinning room.
I am of course wearing my dark blue Zegna suit complete with discreet Illuminati cuff links. Surely such a man only means well even though he seems to have a prediclition for barbed repartees.
After all…what else could it be…we are all dinning on the finest antique bone china with the words Novus ordo seclorum emblazoned majestically in gold lettering with Prussian styled oak leaves edgings…the mere suggestion of a hint…we never make threats…we only fashion reality with the hidden hand…..mere servants are we not? Never fuck around with us!
At that stratospheric level of the game of power and politics. Everyone on the table would know we all live in a world of consequences and implications….and just in case there is even a shadow of doubt as to whether this is bluff or a veil threat that can be seen to it’s logical end – I would even causally share with these gentlemen and their fat wife’s that ‘we’ have bought that entire cachet of the mineral futures as well that is used to make fertilizers.
I can guarantee you, if I could do that – there would be no haze…only clear skies.
But since I am not Dan Brown or for that matter a closet member of the Illuminati and just a simple farmer with a small veggie patch.
Maybe the only way to tell these fat cat oil palm barons who own millions of hectares of land in Indonesia – as a consumer, I am not going to buy palm oil to fry my chips. I will instead use corn or soya oil….could be slightly higher in NTUC…but I don’t mind paying the extra just to put my across my point that I don’t agree with the way you fucks run your business and inflict unmitigated grief on people and planet.
My point is even at the bottom skimming level of a humble consumer I have the power to vote for or against you…the corporation with the my wallet.
These days we no live in a world where corporations can do anything they want, those freewheeling Laissez faire days of United Food is consigned to the dustbin of history. Neither do I believe the key to solving the perennial haze problem lies with governments either. All they are good for when it comes to the problem of the haze is to give us all an reenactment of that sartorial movie ground hog day.
Real power these days reside in the ordinary consumer. Only they have the power to force wayward corporations who are responsible for the haze to cohere to a code of ethics along the latest sustainable oil palm management know how – we may all still step on ants, but there are certain unethical practices that if we don’t take a firm stand on…then nothing ever changes.
That is the reality……
For example if I know an exquisite Persian rug is been auctioned off in a private sitting in Sotheby’s…..but it came at the terrible cost of twelve year old Abdul being chain to a loom twelve hours a day somewhere in Kashmir, while his eye sight fritters away and he can’t even watch Sesame Street or go out to play – then Dowan lah! Forget the thread count lah! Or even how luxuriate it may feel under my feet! Dowan lah!
We need to be sensitive to the actual cost of how things come to us – if we remain bovine or choose to be ignorant, then you forfeit your tight to complain….them I say go live the life that you have voted with your wallet! And if you come to men like me to complain, I will give you a hard slap!
Know your power! That’s what these oil palm barons don’t want you to know. The greatest power you have to create a better tomorrow with clear skies – is simply the power to say No! And by doing just that…you have the power to change everything.
As someone who grows palm oil, you all have no idea how much regret and how ashamed I feel to share all this with all of you….but like I said, a spade should always be called nothing but a spade.’
October 22, 2015
Kutty is a six month Rotweiller and Alsatian mix pup. She is the latest addition to the pack of eight dogs in my plantation. Since I spent most of the daylight hours these days in the field – I’ve taken the opportunity to train Kutty.
The problem with Kutty is she hails from the city – and for dogs to thrive and survive, they need to be slowly broken into the harsh realities of plantation life. Otherwise, they wouldn’t even last a week, simply because danger lurks everywhere in a plantation even if it seems to appear benign….hardly a garden in a house lah!
As a rule. I’ve never been partial to the stupid idea of using a leash on a dog whenever I am in the field. I much prefer my dogs to shadow me naturally, fall into my rhythm and intuit my will.
Creating the idea of an invisible leash may sound easy, but unfortunately dogs like Kutty has certain bad habits she picked up from the city and her previous owner that she needs to unlearn.
To bring out the best in canines, one needs to get into a mind, one needs to know them from the inside out. For starters. They don’t ever see the world like us, so much of how they perceive the known world is largely thru their ultra sensitive noses and radar ears. As for eyes, they are just slightly better than us – all this needs to be reprogrammed and finely tuned for them to function effectively in a plantation setting. So a lot of dedication and patience is required to retrain a city dog to be effective in a plantation setting.
The goal is to first create a solid connection between master and dog – that is what I call the foundation….it needs to be solid.
Kutty has a natural advantage here – she is half Alsatian. I happen to know the breed very well and their temperament is much closer to a sheep dog than a gung-ho special forces Doberman. Both require very different handling techniques. Since Alsatians are by nature calmer and much more suited to my own temperament….it’s easy with Kutty.
By just allowing Kutty to tag along when I work in the field. I am sharpening her skills to intuit my will and fall into my natural rhythm and she seems to be fitting in quite nicely – I don’t believe in bullshit Hollywood dog whisperer techniques like having to shout, mind game my pets, handle them with a plastic make belief alpha male attitude, pull on the leash hard to show them who is boss whenever they go out of line or even the need to bribe them with reward bites just to keep them in line.
That is all TV marketing bullshit to mesmerize city folk who shouldn’t even be keeping dogs in the first place because they have absolutely no idea what they’ve got themselves into.
I don’t doubt Mr dog whisperer techniques may work in the city only because dogs there are just casual pets and expected to do very little else except remain cute and bark occasionally at the postman, but in a plantation setting – dogs are workers just like army or police dogs. They are professionals. They need to have a very strong sense of mission….that idea needs to be conveyed to Kutty in the clearest possible way when her brain is still malleable.
Most of the time I do this by first creating a silent language to establish a very clear mental link with my working dogs – for example, when I stop abruptly, they have to know, there is danger nearby. Or if they sense danger first, they must do the same to be able to warn me. If I assume a warlike posture, they automatically fall into combat mode….100% prepared to kill! Must be automatic…no fumbling…professional.
Totally different ball game from the way of city dogs.
Fortunately, all dogs are born with an uncanny ability to intuit the will of their masters. Even toy dogs can do this – they can sense an entire range of human emotions because they have natural ESP much keener than humans and words are usually unnecessary ranging from nervousness to anger. I once told a distraught lady who had what she described as a dysfunctional terrier who had a habit tearing up her sofa and bitting everyone for no apparent reason – ‘you just need to be manage yourself and be calm and consistent and everything else will fall naturally into place.’ Thereafter her so called pet from hell was transformed into a well behaved bundle of joy – that’s the key with dogs – one just needs to be calm…consistent and 99.9% of the time everything falls into place perfectly. There is no need to force it, let their natural instincts flourish. All you’re supposed to do is facilitate that transformation…it’s a bit like agriculture.
For example, it’s not unusual for my dogs to switch automatically between these mental states…only because I trigger it…they can naturally intuit my mental disposition…but that’s advance training – for the time being, the first lesson for Kutty is just to remain calm and learn to walk close beside me without being too distracted by butterflies, strange noises and unfamiliar scents…to be so in the flow of the way of master and dog that this creates that essential baby building block to build other skill sets on.
Without this essential quality of calmness and most importantly the ability for the master to build a solid building block based on trust to a puppy like Kutty. Nothing further can be developed….love….respect….duty can never be come from building on a weak and chaotic foundation. All you will end up with is a psycho dog.
That is why I believe there are so many hyper and dysfunctional dogs in this world, simply because the vast majority of dog owners don’t realize how much their own state of mind, attitude, preferences, prejudices can actually influence the behavior of their pets.
In many respects, dogs are very highly evolved creatures when compared to us humans – we only think we are intelligent, rational and can always be counted to make the best decisions….but since most of the time, we don’t even bother to develop the basic life skills like how to intuit what’s in our partners mind and heart or even bother with the whole idea of striving to be in the moment and forgetting all else because we have conditioned our minds to be so caught up in pretending to be someone who we just think we are in the stupid hope to seek acceptance, validation and respect from people who are probably just as confused and lost as us – the ultimate irony of all that can be reasonably said about the sum of human relations is most of the time it’s a bloody right mess – as all we ever seem to do is bring out the worse in ourselves and others.
I’ve never ever had that problem with dogs.
To me, there is nothing in this world more pleasurable than for a farmer to walk his lands with his dog during the evening just before the light wanes….to bask in happy litany of calmness…to be in the embrace of harmony between man and beast….to me right in the moment without ever being rippled by the shadow of the past or future…..just to be in the moment – when all this is done right, love…trust…respect comes naturally.
I reckon, dogs can teach us (humans) so very much about not only how to live a harmonious and happy life….but even to provoke us to think deeply about why so much of our lives seem to be so messed up despite trying so hard to make the pieces fit…if only we can see the world more like them….if only…I for one harbor very little doubt all our problems will disappear like lemon drops….if only we can learn from these noble creatures….dogs.
On the earthworks front. I have started a series of bold landscaping projects to totally transform the lower section of my lands – roads will be widened, unproductive trees will be up rooted, drain pools will be constructed along with an attempt to raise the water table by twelve or so inches (if my calculations are spot on) so that it’s not always swampy and to prevent root rot.
Huge quantities of earth have been moved by stripping off earth from a hill – this is usually dangerous work that can usually never be undertaken during the wet season – but with the onset of a longer than expected dry season – this is perhaps best time to undertake such a big project without running the risk of being responsible for anyone dying, mud slide or one section of the terraces caving in due to rain – this is usually how it is in farming. Since I’ve been keeping very close tabs on the weather of late the combination of lower humidity and near zero rainfall makes is ideal for such dangerous work….so when conditions are right, decisiveness is key! There is no dilly dallying!
If things go according to plan. I would be able to raise the level of the ground in my lower section. Widen the roads and make optimal use of whatever spare earth I have to improve the contouring of my lands in the lower section.
October 21, 2015
Oil palm yield has dropped drastically due to the haze that seems to show no signs of relenting.
The haze affects the palm yield in a two known ways. Firstly, it hinders photosynthesis and secondly, it reduces the number of insects that is vital for pollination thus reducing the number and size of new fruit bunches drastically.
I have every reason to believe the fires in Indonesia are beyond all hope of control this time round. According to my sources even oil palm plantations are being razed to a cinder. The fires are truly out of control. While this apocalyptic scene continues to unfurl…politicians throughout the region continue to indulge in childish sand box politics by reassuring the public – these fires can be snuffed out by the latest water bombing toys along with sending troops with fire hoses to combat the fires.
To me, this is all kiddie talk, as it all fails to take into account the limits of men and material against Godzilla scale of such a juggernaut event.
The fires will continue to burn! That will be reality.
Haze will be a feature of life interspersed with clear days when the winds are favorable. That will be reality.
Only the November rains can snuff them out. That is the reality.
But this year is very different from all other years. The winds have yet to shift. It is still blowing from West to East with a strong south easterly slant – I can only draw the logical assumption, this is may be due to the weakening of the monsoon trade winds that usually begin just around this time due the onset of El Niño.
It is conceivable the haze may not stop even after the end of the year.
The way I see it, far too much emphasis and misplaced faith has been placed on Mother Nature to snuff out the fires…..along with what I can only describe as a gross failure to scale the magnitude of how resilient these fires can continue to scissor thru the fields. The November rains may have worked their magic before…but what if they don’t come like they usually do? What if again Mother Nature decides to throw out a wild card like she did with El Niño? What if…what if…what if. Then the haze will simply be a fact of life that we have to get used too.
That’s OK if you’re just a salary man in Singapore…but as someone who puts bread on the table on the grace of the good earth and benevolence of Mother Nature…this is going to be one of those epic shitty years.
All my arrows must hit their mark…there is no room for error this time round.
October 20, 2015
This used to be just a slow running creek. Couple of inches deep at most. Last night in the cover of darkness I secretly brought in three heavy lift excavators to transform my creek into a river.
By the end of the week after the work is completed….once the rainy season hits – it will be transformed into a raging river.
Why is this all necessary? Because the evil landowners downstream have conspired to gang up on me by secretly construction water locks so that when the rainy season hits…my lands get flooded.
And how did all this come to my knowledge? About three months ago? A fifty three year old spinster (who I have never met before) who incidentally works as a private secretary for one of the evil consortium landowners told me in a trembling voice with tears in her eyes, which I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever had everything to do with her guilt ridden feelings concerning their evil plans that has been causing her sleepless nights , ‘I know you to be a man who has renounced all forms of evil…and since I do not want you to go back to your evil ways….it is necessary for me to warn you!…’
Thereafter I was able to gain access to the entire blueprints of these water locks along with other vital intelligence with only a bouquet of $1.99 cents made in China plastic roses and a very buxom secretary who had a curious of asking me every two minutes whether I was interested in prospecting for either friendship or marriage. I promised her to answer all her questions only if she showed me to the filling cabinets on the pretense…this was perhaps the most intimate and private place to reveal information of such nature while training my eyes on her fun bags. Out of sheer curiosity or some inexplicable compulsion to be part of the known truth, she even gave me a tour, since her boss was overseas. Naturally I moved like a well trained Mossad secret agent as best as I could with fun bags the size of basketballs and eventually got everything I needed out of that rat hole office with the aid of an old fashion Minox spy camera. Enough at least to plan a counter attack in absolutely secretly.
Heavy machinery was moved in torrential rains. Once thought to be impossible to muffle sound. Radio silence was maintained thru out the night. Only hand signals were used and the best stealthy mountain cyclist kept out a look out….there was no match…it was like a well trained Roman legion facing off against a bunch of cavemen with sticks and stones.
Based on my calculations. These locks are under designed by a factor of 10 to the strength that I plan to unleash. They will not be able to hold the torrent when the rain comes. It is too late to redesign…mitigate…or for them to even plan a counter attack….finito!
When their lands are completely flooded and mine happily dry and above the waterline.
Then and only then will I commence negotiations to buy their estates. Between them, they don’t even hold a single ace….game over.
I have recounted this to many people on countless occasions. Especially here in my blog. I am completely blameless. If anything, I am a poor and helpless victim of evil people who bring out the very worst in me. As in truth…I have truly renounced all my evil worldly ways.
However one reality will always remain true. Business is war!
Never ever fuck around with creatures with teeth! Never!
October 16, 2015
A revelation. For the woman who sees herself as different from all other women….the prospects of being not entirely so different from all other women can indeed be a very frightening proposition.
For such a woman it was almost a matter of unalloyed derived pride to being different from all other women. Suddenly, this woman is pushed off the edge, only to free fall and, at the very last moment, something reached out and caught her in midair. This unsettled her terribly. As that thing, that force, that had suddenly caught her and arrested her fall could only be the power of love.
Despite every effort to deny, to obliterate and to cast into the depths of the ridiculous that notion – this she knew deep down in the marrow of her bones was the only thing that could stop a woman from falling, powerful enough even to negate the laws of gravity thereby obliterating in a single moment, all the years of her irrevocable belief that she could be estranged from love.
As the woman who now considered herself not so different from all other women looked at the mirror that evening – she was convinced without the slightest shadow of doubt, only the man who has all the power to stop time itself could be responsible for her transformation – She resented him. Hated him even for what she considered to be an act of appropriation of who she had always believed herself to be, yet a stronger undercurrent of emotion left a an indelible mark on her. For she relished it. This the new world that he has suddenly led her into and what surprised her even more than her initial resentment of Mr Koreana who seemed to have all the power to provoke a storm of emotions she had never felt before in her life was she liked it.
Perhaps that was why she laughed at herself before the mirror only to feel a wave a embarrassment shortly thereafter that forced her to lower her eyes – and to believe a man who prefers to refer to himself as someone who trades coffee could possibly turn her entire world on it’s head without even seeming to even try. She kept her eyes lowered for no other reason then maybe what she would see reflected in the mirror that day had she dared to look up…all her fervent hopes and aspirations was had now suddenly broken loose of it’s moorings like some something mysterious from the depths of her heart thrusting itself thru the murky depths to time to finally surface.
She did not dare to look in the mirror.
Mr Koreana the man who trades in coffee was truly the accomplished practitioner who excelled in stopping her line dead in it’s tracks…with these thoughts the woman who now considered herself not so entirely different from all other women reconciled herself to the ridiculous proposition – she was indeed in love with the man who much prefers to refer to himself as a man who trades coffee….how unusual…improbable and above all remarkable, that was all she could conjure in the image before her in the image in the mirror that evening…Mr Korena….the man who had successfully intercepted her line life and stopped time itself.
October 16, 2015
For the woman who is different from all other all women. It is not unusual. Not at all, for her to regard an act no matter how well conceived to resemble a pinball bounced from one thing to another, to go up, down only to be flipped up again, slide, run against, jostle and bumped only to be repeated all over again.
As only a woman who has acquired the unusual habit of regarding life in this strange manner to even see it prosaically without even the slightest compulsion to question why the sum of all life could be nothing other than a series of random events at play could be drawn inexorably to such an unusual person like Mr Koreana – for the woman who was different from all other women, only such a man like Her dearest Mr Koreana was capable to harboring the seemingly ridiculous idea that a person heading in a planned direction could ever really reach it – as somewhere in that causal chain, chance has ever prerogative to suddenly appear like one of the many invisible lines that only the girl who is different from all other girls can sense and intercept that planned trajectory…only for it to take a sharp turn in mid-course, pause, drift and end up in a place quite different from the one it was supposed to reach.
As the girl walked into the museum, she saw Mr Koreana sitting on a bench before a painting…it looked like an abstraction of sorts. The type that struck her as mangled…jumbled…random – what struck her most intensely then was the acuteness of how she was suddenly aware of how this desolate figure who seemed to be there and yet somewhere else – was so different from all others who walked indolently around each exhibit. For as long as she looked on, she couldn’t but help resist the very idea, these curious wanderers were merely like protagonists who were following a well choreographed script. There was a sense of nihilism about the these people who flitted by Mr Koreana – as if only he was the true protagonist while the rest were merely there as props to lend the scene a patina of reality like in movie set. While this observation may seem anything but particularly new to the girl who is different from all other girls – this was the one indelible feature that drew her to Mr Koreana.
Standing behind him from a distance – he was indeed there…part of the world even, and yet at the same time there was a detached quality of inaccessible about him – it wasn’t his demeanor of mild interest in what hung before him. Neither was it the curious manner in which he had the habit of turning his head to one side from time, as if to make out a shape or pattern. For the woman who was different from all other women, only she could sense a hidden door that nestled deep within Mr Koreana at that moment, that could never be penetrated, a mysterious center of hiddenness that from time to time she merely caught a glimpse of – like the moment when he told her, ‘I trade coffee.’ Or how he had suddenly stopped on one of their unusual silent nocturnal walks that seemed to go nowhere, yet everywhere at the same time only to look at a building as if conjuring some distant thought stirred up by the past.
That was the moment when the woman who is different all women was suddenly filled by an inexplicable compulsion to participate in that mystery that was Mr Koreana – the man who knew her so well. But as he turned to look at her just then, suddenly like the wind that had snatched away a thought and ripped it into a thousand pieces – she was filled with the realization that one could never really know such a man…not really. One could perhaps approximate…postulate…draw lines only to lead to dead ends….there were simply too many lines that ran thru this man and in that moment she felt naked before him. As if he knew what she was thinking.
It was as if he knew what streaked thru her mind like a solitary meteorite crisscrossing the night sky.
During dinner Mr Koreana spoke nothing whatsoever about the future….past only the present. Though he did mentioned just once, ‘I trade coffee.’ It wasn’t a statement, not to the woman who was different from all other women – rather the words rolled deliberately…slowly…like amber from ancient wood to emphasis that he was indeed very much of the world that she knew he had was an exile. She liked the way he spoke – it differed markedly from the same everydayness conversations of her friends, colleagues and acquaintances, whose names she hardly remembered. Only because of her acute realization she could be nothing but different and this compelled her to at least appear to remain congenial…friendly…and the opposite of different..that’s how girls who are different get by…she even made it a point to get accustomed to the litany of conversation for conversation sake. During her office lunch breaks in the luncheonette, they had talked about sometime that always ended as nothing, and now, when the woman who was different from all other women was with her dearest Mr Koreana all that she could be reminded of was the the hopelessness of that misguided passion to be same like everyone else and to even relish her difference – as all other conversations she had ever once experienced could never once compared to the man who never once spoke about the past or future….only the present truly mattered to Mr Koreana and it was this characteristic about him that truly validated and even approved of her condition which she had always seen as an affliction, her difference.
Its hard to say for certain what goes thru a woman’s mind especially a woman who is different from all other women who spends the evening dinning with a man who trade in coffee…harder even to fathom whether perhaps she wore lipstick, mascara and an evening dress that she had bought on a moment of impulse…only to look at herself with a mixture of curiosity and apprehension in the mirror and murmur…I am not doing this for him…I am not! only to wonder thru out that dinner that seemed to stretch on for eternity that perhaps it was really only all for her dearest Mr Koreana….thereby proving without a shadow of doubt he was most certainly the only man who had the power to intercept her life line and stop it dead in it’s tracks by holding time in the way only the woman who was different from all other suddenly realized that she could perhaps be like others as well…..
October 13, 2015
The man who much prefers to introduce himself as ‘I trade in coffee.’ Hardly inspires much faith as someone who possesses the extraordinary power to stop time. But that is only because one is necessarily led to belief such an act would require some métier extraordinaire.
For Mr Koreana the accomplished practitioner of stopping time – required only the most mundane of what I can only refer too as a life dissipation. He had a habit of wandering into museums with no precise intent and purpose other than to fashion himself as an allegory of one of those exhibits, he frequently leans forward and peers at with an expression of mild interest. Like a man who seems to be oblivious to a point where he’s not even beholden to the time itself. To embody the expression to be nowhere, yet everywhere at the same time, like the aged exhibits in a museum – radiating their life stories as best they can across the the sea of time thru two inches of bullet proof glass – to Mr Koreana, who was accustomed to being the sort of man who never ever felt like so many other men, the weight of being anywhere specific except where he found himself at any one point in time that was the first precondition of being of able to stop time….to regard time itself with utter indifference…to such a degree on his best walks when he found himself lost and in a place that he could neither recognize or conjure out with any sense of familiarity – Mr Koreana relished it.
That if you didn’t know is the precise attitude that one needs to cultivate to stop time itself – indifference.
(I need to cook now. I will write later)
October 13, 2015
It’s conceivable two people are drawn together to fulfill a compelling need besides simply to be with each other. Or to be part of love and be loved in return.
The only reason why I feel compelled to use the word, it’s conceivable is only because some people don’t have such a thing as a choice and even less in the way of a design as to how things are going to pan out – other than to be drawn inexorably together. I wouldn’t go as far as to describe it as unity or solidarity, or even how two magnets can really only be naturally drawn to each other. If anything it probably has something to do with the endless crisscrossing lines that so intersect serendipity, epiphany and chance to all alter and change fate, destiny and fortunes.
Take the next bus. Only because you missed an earlier one on account of being distracted by a pretty girl in a short skirt. Sit next to the window seat at the rear only because you feel that’s where you least have to rub shoulders with others. After all it’s going to be an awlfully a long journey home. Lose your balance on the edge of a pavement that sticks out more than it should when you’re stepping off the bus that makes you lose your balance even more only to find yourself stooping before a leaflet that says 50% off on coffee and cakes between eight and ten that someone had probably just dropped on the floor. Glance at your new watch, that you’re still yet to know loses five minutes daily because the factory that made it wrongly labelled the pallet as quality passed when it should have been thrown out. Its eight forty five. By the time you stand before the perfidious face counter staff who tells you, it’s five past ten and the offer is over like she is reading off a laminated card. The girl next to you overhears it and she offers to buy one for you at half price since her transaction isn’t technically over yet…she’s still vacillating whether to go for a tiramisu or papaya flavored cake. You share the same table with her only because it’s near closing time and half the area is cordoned off except on free table with two seats….and here contained within this chronological account termed everydayness – your whole life changes. Then again it could remain exactly the same.
Had anything changed from the moment you missed the bus that you were supposed to board to the time when you stood before the counter to place your order. Had anything. Even the most imfinitesemial been different in the causal chain…the outcome would have turned out completely differently.
As the girl whose different from all other girls decided to take the long walk across the park to the MRT that evening to meet Mr Koreana. She realized even her simple act of engaging her muscles that propels her forward by putting one foot in front of another had all the power to change her life or keep it the same – to her understanding of the known world. This accounts for why one regularly sees long lines forming outside a lottery shop during the monthly big sweep – everyone who stands on that line may well hold out the faint hope all the numbers they have scribbled will magically line up to transform their averagely miserable lives.
But what the girl whose different from all other girls knows so well that she can only truly be different from all other girls in only her own way is – millions of invisible lines are crisscrossing with every passing breathe…..it’s happening everywhere….all the time….even presently in the mundane act of walking while carrying a NTUC plastic bag. Probability may well feature, but if does, it’s merely a punctuation mark like those long lines of hopeful punters never seem to bother about…if it really it, it’s arguable, there would be anything resembling a long queue of people waiting to buy a lottery – for the girl who was different from all other girls, what really accounts for the long queue in the lottery shop was something that had nothing whatsoever to do with actuarial science, probability or even chance…this to her was the highest human testament that mystery was furiously working behind the stage of life all the time…everywhere…even right now when she walking to meet up with Mr Koreana.
To the girl who is different from all other girls. This understanding for a process (for lack of a better word) wasn’t a supernatural or mystical force that may account for why saints are always painted with hallows – in her understanding of that process – one life which had absolutely nothing to do with another resembles a line that intersects another life that takes the shape, form and randomness of her own line. That was precisely why to the girl who was different from all other girls – the whole of idea of meeting Mr Koreana and how either she, him or their combined entities and destinies had weaved a field of possibilities and dead ends before her could not possibly include love as a fait accompli…mutual attraction possibly…but never love…she was not yet convinced – as all they really had to call their very own in this process that the girl who is different from all other girls understands clearly – was this brief moment when two lines intersect like how trains sometimes run opposite so close to each other, where all one do is make out and hold on to a few blurred images only for it all to return to the vacuum of how it was before.
That was the only reason why the girl who was different from all other girls was so intrigued by Mr Koreana. Not the version of Mr Korean who much prefers to refer to himself as a man who trade coffee. Rather the Mr Koreana who when he jumped back into the carriage that fate full evening and fell below her feet reflected the unmistakable expression of a man who not only possessed the temerity, but perhaps even the arrogance to believe that he had the almighty power stop the mythical line from ever moving forever.
To just stop it….dead…at the point of intersection.
If anything it was this one notable feature of Mr Koreana that continued to intrigue the girl who was different from all other girls. It might have been the only reason why she continued to see Mr Koreana was driven by her perverse need to slake her thirst that the world consisted nothing more of random crisscrossing lines and no more.
Yet beneath all that layered jaded pessimism of the girl who is different from all other girls….even she harbored the faintest flicker of hope, if there ever lived a man who had power to stop time…it would certainly be her dear Mr Koreana.
October 11, 2015
He certainly did – trade coffee, that is. He bought low. Or what at least he thought to be low. For most the time, eight out of ten Mr Koreana managed to sell high or at worst even out his losses. Mr Koreana was adept at playing the game of caprice against the vagaries of the coffee commodities trade.
He preferred to deal directly. At source as he liked to call it. Usually traveling along the neckline of the bay of Guinea shaped like a shoulder of a sleeping woman – he bought only between the months of November and December just before the dreaded Harmattan when humidity drops to less than 15% when weights and scales are truest.
In the curelean evenings when an almost paraffin blue sunset renders the Sierra in Leone Mr Koreana knows that’s a sign the ochre winds will blow relentless from North Africa to the cape of Guinea, sailors in the Coite de noire cursed as the sea of blood. He buys again then only the Parsees gypsies who caravan salt comes deep into the interior of Africa in April when the sun is at it’s highest and moonlit as pirates on moonless nights. Besides they don’t ever take exception to the shoulder holstered pistol he wears beneath his summer creme suit. He thought them reasonable and considerate.
Only to sell them high thru out the rest of the year like how De Beers corners the diamond trade to keep the price of diamonds artificially high thru the successful marketing illusion of creating scarcity when there was more than enough to go around – that’s how Mr Koreana squared off the lousy odds when the market dealt him a curve ball from time to time.
During the hard years when it’s impossible to beacon out the murk of Mother Nature’s design . She can’t help it Mr Koreana would often remark on deck only for the capricious wind to steal his words as if even they feared the sea herself would hear it…usually, he mad allowances for that siaow charbor often remarking – she can’t help it, the bloody moon affects her – when the loses mount while his wins dwindle and Mr Koreana makes do with maggi mee and one egg. He always instructs his secretary to send his khaki linen suit to the dry cleaners along with a Panama, changes out his a wafer thin Constantin for a Rolex submariner – he was a man who always like to go to the very source for produce – like the man from Del Monte – that what they called him Dumon only because in Creole Francaise along the Congo, the common failing amongst the coreoleans was the inability to curl the tongue at the ridge, which made Dumon much easier than Del Monte. In the Congo at the prestigious shamagh , they considered him an honorary Le Sapuer de Extraordinaire Afrique… Mr Koreana the man who only wears a well pressed khaki suit and Panama who likes nothing better than to refer to himself as Mr I trade coffee, wasn’t you regular foreign businessman in Africa prospecting for new markets or in search of the highest quality coffee bean.
He knew Africa as only someone who has lived another life in Africa could. Knew it so well that he should never ever stop even he saw a corpse lying in the middle of the road in Lagos, because the moment, you touch, then you would have to pay for the man’s funeral that typically last for seven days and nights and involves the entire village and probably includes free flowing nooch…he knew Africa with that sardonic bitter sweet condescending grin like how during an internal flight when from Nairobi to Uganda, when the starboard engine burst into the flames all he could do was look at it with curiosity. A trait one only acquires in Africa. He knew Africa well enough to make out the odds of whether to call off his bets…walk away within his winnings on the magnetic rigged roulette table at the Metropole in the french quarter. Or to play thru the night. Knew like knowingness – strange don’t you think so for man who seems to be able to just manage to blurt out whenever the conversation turns to work – I trade coffee.
Knew Africa so well that he knew when coffee supplies ran dry as they sometimes do due to the Amsterdam cartels successfully cornering the market by snapping up all the bean futures – the bazaars of the clove paradise – Zanzibar would always have a surplus stash of contraband beans hijacked by the Kaia pirates. They much prefer to regard it as their version of free trade African style which they refereed too as ‘Shimah!’ When the sun hangs high. Somewhere in the tiny Arab quarter where the streets are still so narrow that only one person can walk at any one time – where everyone lounges like lizards with a hookah laced with hashis and speaks in murmurs and sip cardamom laced tea – In the wide open court yard Mr Koreana trades beans along side the Omani Kiswahili merchants whose Ma’ai negro bodyguards armed with gold plated a-47’s guard over their masters. In the square north east of the Arab quarter where the third minaret of the Masjid stands like the leaning tower of Pisa and perhaps no where else on this planet – bids for illicit beans are conducted by strange shapes one makes with their fingers like how slaves were once sold and bought during the Atlantic wars – Mr Koreana installs himself in a rattan chair to the east facing balcony that was once the preserve of the Medici’s, who once prospered thru slavery and the clove trade in East Africa – a young boy holds out the earthen bowl with beans. He picks only one and rolls it between his thumb and index finger and brings it to his nose. For a moment his eyes glisten with interest. Beneath him the rest of the traders jostle in a human swirl of frantic hands making a field of strange gestures like plants that eat and when it seemed the bid could no go higher, the whizhar (auctioneer) looked up expectantly at the man seated at the balcony….who incidentally just happens to be the man who the world knows to be Mr I trade in coffee. He man responds with a casual jab of the index finger followed by three flips of last three fingers..it’s sold…in a dead and forgotten language that only those who once traded in slaves could understand…’his teeth were bad, but I bought him nonetheless, this would make up for the three guineas less than what I am supposed to pay you! The elders seated in the West balcony, turn to each other and begin murmuring, while the traders beneath stilled in anticipation…then slowly the elders begin to raise their white canes…it’s sold.
But tell me my dearest perceptive reader – what’s really was sold? Mr Koreana would of course insist – I trade coffee.
Truth usually lies at so many levels of lies – when a man responds with a casual jab of the index finger followed by three flips of last three fingers at the auctions in Zanzibar….it could mean one of many things…it could mean exactly what it meant as I describe it earlier with not the slightest embellishment…but that day in the crowded courtyard of the bazaar – it meant, he would pay in what Africans term white gold – ivory.
Mr Koreana now the man who just doesn’t trade coffee…he also dabbles in illicit ivory as well.
Maybe that could be the reason why Mr Koreana smiled wryly like a fox two weeks later when he returned back in Singapore – perhaps that’s the girl whose different from all other girls was seized by an inexplicable compulsion to pause. Put her knife and fork down during dinner only to turn and ask of him…
‘Do you really just trade in coffee?’
To which he answered, ‘I trade coffee.’
October 11, 2015
He trades coffee…buys low and sells high. Mostly out of Amsterdam That was what he told her. It wasn’t the way he told her that gave the girl the impression he was holding back. Rather it was just the way he told her…I trade coffee. He didn’t carry a name card, said he didn’t need one as he has only two customers, one whose based in Cairo who calls him at three in the afternoon everyday and the other, a commodities clearing house based in Switzerland.
That’s how it is when a man with a past speaks about the present – it’s as if one part of him is right there, yet another is somewhere else in the darkened interiors of the past and it all comes up usually in the form of….I trade coffee and very little else…no follow up on what’s the difference between Arabica or Robusta…or even why coffee beans seem oval shaped on the months between November and March….just I trade coffee.
That could be why she decided to visit him at work the following day at Chevron house. You see Miss D…D for Different from all other girls knows….Mr Koreana is a man with a past.
It wasn’t slyness that one associates with a used car salesman when he kicks the tires of a car and exclaims, ‘it’s a bargain!’ that you’re considering putting a down payment on that gave Mr Koreana away. Or even the way he shied away from the subject….if anything it was the clarity of his reply, ‘I trade coffee.’ That marked him out singularly as a man who did perhaps really trade coffee for a living but that was really only a punctuation mark…there was something more besides the whole idea of a man who sits there before a computer screen punching buttons the whole day…it was perhaps his ambivalence in that trailed off at the end as if trading coffee was some transit point – like one of those forgettable airports one has to be in only to catch a connecting flight. Or a desolate platform where everyone stands there looking at their watches because they need to be elsewhere besides there…..that’s how it is when a man with past says, ‘I trade coffee.’
It’s not a statement of what he does to pay the bills. Rather it’s a just a point in time…like maybe how a bird decides to perch on the ledge of some building as it looks out furtively into the steely skies before taking off again.
That’s how it is when a man with a dark past says, ‘I trade coffee.’
The lobby looked old and austered. Not old like run down Formica tacky old. But old in the way timber can only acquire a polished sheen with the chastening passage of time…like a lobby of an old hotel. Even the receptionist was old – in her dark blue somber suit when she intoned, ‘he will see you now.’ with that all too familiar look of suspicion that says, ‘what’s your business here…we don’t ever get types like you!’
Mr Koreana did not get up from his seat to greet the girl as she enter his office. He should have. Most men would. Especially someone who really trades in coffee….perhaps he knew why she had come here…seen it all in his minds eye of how it could really only end up this way, like a moth drawn to solitary tongue of a candle light as each circle draws it closer to the very source of all it’s fears and fascination…each circle drawing tighter and closer till the final moment when the moth charges into the all consuming flames…that was at least how a man with a past would see things…events and even the explain why the girl who he met just the night before was now standing before him.
‘Yes he definitely trades coffee,’ that at least was the expression the girl wore when she took a sweep of the room for the first time – she noticed the silver stationary set with it’s crystal ink holders and wondered perhaps whether the man who sat across her much preferred stationary than e-mail. Or could it that’s just the way his clients preferred it. There was no computer, no screen…just a heavy oak table with some papers nearly arranged in one corner, a tabula data sheet file opened slightly curled at one corner, highly ornate eighteen century stationary set and a old brass table lamp with an old world incandescent light bulb where one can even make out the warm wan of the bright filament…and of course Mr Koreana himself who wore the expression of a man who knew exactly why this girl was here…had to be here…couldn’t have turned any other way except this way that he had envisioned thru out the whole morning and now she was before him.
Mr Koreana…a man who may have perhaps so many things to say just to fill the blankness of silence like a splash of paint on canvas – but for all that should have been expressed but wasn’t all he could manage was,
‘As you can see…I trade in coffee.’ To which the girl smiled supremely. Had she not been a girl different from all other girls – she might have blurted out something like, ‘I was just passing thru…so I decided to pay you a visit.’ Or maybe just try to make conversation…but all that seemed unnecessary…which is a very clinical word, but apt nonetheless as a necessity is born from will and there no impulse that really brought her there that day except perhaps maybe how Mr Koreana expressed himself to her the evening before…he trade in coffee.
That’s really the politics of how two people really engage in a conversation when they met each for the very first time in the transit zone – no one really knows enough about the other except maybe they have only one thing in common…to be somewhere else after this moment. Beyond that, it’s all up in the air – but this was no ordinary run mill transit point that these two strangers had stumbled on….if anything it was a temple of sorts where one sought solace from the idea of simply watching two separate lives that suddenly crisscross.
What might happen thereafter hardly matters at all – that at least is how a man with a past sees the world, prosaically in a way a man reads about himself without the slightest curiosity as so much of who he is resides in his past. That’s how someone in transit sees himself in this world – he’s there, but not there at the same time because there are so many others lives that he has once lived that makes it’s presence always felt. Enough to remind him – that this is perhaps all he can have…or deserves to have…and since he’s there…he might as well just let it all happen without every trying to change a thing.
It’s not ambivalence or defeatism or for that matter anything else that compels a man with a past to resign himself so completely in such a way – such a man doesn’t seek redemption by turning a new leaf in life in the way ex convicts make a resolution that they still don’t know they can hardly keep – to go straight this time on a cold September morning when they have served their time – for the man who has no other choice but to live with past there is no such thing as a cheap ‘get out of jail’ card. All he can perhaps do is take comfort from the reassuring sound of the words, ‘I trade coffee.’
It’s not a proud testament of how he earns his keep in this world. Or even how he wants others to regard him. Rather like the parlance that only belongs in the transit world, that ‘in between’ space that only comes into existence when one is there, but not really there….I trade coffee just means…see you again to a stranger who you know, you will never ever see again only because it’s so improbable that it can only be equalled by the same improbabilities that brought both of you together.
That’s what I trade in coffee really means to the man who says it who belongs to a very dark past.
October 10, 2015
Between the seventeen and eighteen lamppost. Mr Koreana stops. The girl looks back and she wonders why he’s suddenly stopped. He managed a weak smile and they resume their walk like the unity of two strangers bound together so tightly by destiny or was there something lurking in the reeds…it didn’t matter where they went or for how long they would walk that night or even whether there would go around in circles or would there be any portable toilets along the way… They just held hands and walked thru the night. At times, Miss D would catch the man’s features, they seemed hard against the bronze street lights catching deep shadows – a shudder went thru her that he might be someone with a past.
Some men have that air of danger about them – it’s never really there like no ever ask in a crowded elevator ‘who farted..would the person please own up?’ But we all being there. Some men exude danger taking it’s cue from that allegory of the silent fart in a crowded elevator. No one knows whose the farter, no one can they squeezed like sardines….but everyone knows someone farted!
The man who Mr Korena had that quality about him – not like any other man, but someone who may have once lived another life.
Eventually they end up dinning in a place somewhere on the upper floor of a discreet restaraunt…it’s serves a devilish rack with baby carrots and cream sauce. Still they hardly say a word to each other…they just look on, not like furtive cats that suddenly see another cat and freezes up. It’s as if they seem to know what they other is thinking just happens to be what they preoccupies their thoughts as well – it’s an enquiring they both fleet at each other…looks one gives to mirrors only because they promise to reflect the unalloyed self as it is warts and all – but this was a phantom mirror where the man became the woman and vice versa – just imagine the mathematical probability of being able to met someone who mirrors exactly all your fears and aspirations – to know for the very first time, they’re actually people like you in this world that’s filled with the same sameness where everyone is the same….no they did speak….not even after a glass of exceptional Pinot Noir, Santa Rita, 2006 special reserva – and this meditation of silence continued thru to a chocolate bomb with a dollop of gelato and finally into coffee and beyond the velvety night of the flaming forest of buildings that they walked by.
Yet they did not say a word thru it all…a nod perhaps that carries with it the merest suggestion of how this is so ridiculous and yet so right at the same time – to seek only to balance this delicate thought with the power of silence…like a taunt rope where a skywalker walks across suspended in space and time…that’s how it is when you take a chance on life..or maybe it was the moment when they both sat on the quay when everyone seems to have closed up and gone home and Mr Koreana looked out across the simmering river like it was some great ocean of time that he had decided to cross the moment he jumped back into the train carriage earlier in the evening ..it was wry knowing look…Mr Koreana is older than he seems, she says to herself and smiles against the wind that catches her hair fluttering each strand like a capricious tendril of hope as to where the rest of the night and beyond would lead to with this stranger…and to still say nothing…not even when a meteor streaked across the skies. They might have slept abit. Who knows. It’s hard to say with people who have every reason to talk, yet choose instead to seek the solidarity of silence – could he be that night, Mr Koreana dreamed of running on tall reeds of fields in Africa, so tall they even stung his eyes as he ran thru them…it had to be Africa…or maybe it was in the Americas. As for Miss D, she was the first to shake off sleep when the first rays of the sun began their bronzing at the tips of the flaming skycrapers along the Singapore business district.
She saw the before…during…after. Darkness was when she felt the deep scar on the man’s forehead, when the skies turned a deep bluish opalescence just before the virgin rays of the sun finger thru darkness – followed by the clouds suddenly being set alit, then like a crescendo – light….pure cleansing light began to bath her.
For a while Miss D looked at Mr Koreana who was still asleep, he must have layed on her lap the whole night – then as if drawn by the very power of a new day…a new beginning…perhaps…maybe with only the thought….she breathed….it was after all a new day for not only the woman herself who had found her other half. Perhaps even for the man who finally realized the night before, he could one day live the life he has always meant to live.
Let’s just by some remarkable profundity of faith…Mr Koreana jumps right back into the carriage again…and for the effect, he just makes it. Or most of him at least since his ankle got snagged by those MRT.
He falls just short of her feet…there is a momentary pause, like just before a gymnast pauses to gather all herself for that grand finale – that moment…when their eyes catch again.
‘Are you alright?’ That how Miss D, the outer persona of a woman who has just turned thirty with that closet hint of regret that seems to get etched deeper on her features as she faces possibility of never being able to find her soulmate responded.
Mr Koreana slimed gingerly. He doesn’t say anything. Not at least in the vocabulary where would use the vocal cords to make a sound. Yet when he looked at Miss D, it was as he wore the expression of sailor who spots land after too long a spell at sea. For that moment, the curelean skies seem almost to glow and all that Mr Koreana can see is the woman who he thinks might just be the one.
The thought first occurred to Mr Koreana when he had smiled at her curtly and walked into the platform with that lingering thought that clung to him like seaweed..she’s the one. The realization that every step that he took would take him from the possibility of never really knowing was the one thing that made him jump back into the train.
Now Mr Koreana is sitting opposite Miss D like the way it was – they don’t talk, they don’t even make an effort too – it’s a vocabulary of hidden similes – Miss D looks into the glass partition, only because she knows, he jumped back into the train because of her…can’t possibly be those sexy air con ducting that seemed to interest him that much that he looked at them like they were some mural – could it be?
Miss D flashed a look at Mr Koreana who gave her that, or maybe tried too – I don’t do this everyday…trust me. He slumps back into his seat, but the movements are so contrive as an either way reading of what it could or not – maybe he’s just experienced a rare moment of epiphany that’s what he says to himself on average of once a week…maybe she is the one! And usual Mr Koreana is never right. And now he’s regretting jumping back into the train to allow the whole narrative of how he tried and failed to find that someone replay itself in his head. Or maybe Mr Koreana just wants to see how this pans out.
You know the desire concerning the very idea of how it all pans out?
That’s what really cuts deep – not knowing. Never ever knowing how it would all turn out if he continued walking and didn’t jump back into the carriage and take a chance on life.
Not any life…but the life that Mr Koreana has splayed out in his head like some giant train set complete with styrofoam mountains and a cable car that actually moves, churches with cupolas and spires, town halls and even two drunks fighting in the alley – it’s a detailed diorama of how he sees the whole idea of taking a chance on life.
To be able to break free from that day to day feeling of nothingness where everything just goes right on with roughly the same mental energy it takes to tie shoelaces – to met dumb girls, who just talk all day about where to buy false lashes that don’t look false…or whether a pink smartphone skin would be better than indigo – that’s perhaps why they both continue to look at each other deeply without ever having to say a word…Both their fears mixed with fascination is reflected so clearly by how their stories mirror each other, that both narratives read exactly alike right down to the spacing of the sentences, number average number of words followed by the punctuation – it’s like two people how don’t know each other watching an IMAX movie for the very first time and exchanging looks of fear and fascination – being all so filled up suddenly by the colors and images that it’s takes all of you into in like some giant vacuum cleaner of the soul. That’s why they don’t need words…a word if you think about it is a sound, it really conveys very little to what these two strangers in the night are expressing. Theirs required no words that could ever hope to express the incomprehensible that had always been like a endless emerald sea of green that stretched so far that you can even see the world bend ever slightly and now with these eyes a torrent of washed hopes missed chances….they just melt away like spring now in the morn.
They both knew they were meant for each other for all the same and wrong reasons they could never share with the world…..the same pain that once cut tiny slices with the chastening passage of time as they wandered this desolate world searching….searching….and always searching and now they both found a flicker…like the last dying embers just before it cools off a die that once raged and burnt everything it’s path, all that exist now..is this flicker that perhaps in this world that I have never truly understood why I am the way I am…I am at least prepared to try it with you…to bloe into it, to see it hopefully catch and burst out in flames…is it possible I can thru this journey in life with you?
They didn’t need to speak anymore than a bald man needed a comb. Not even when Mr Koreana held Miss D’s hand and they both walked out of city hall station together…there was no need to speak as they turned the corner together. Not need whatsoever when one knows deep in the marrow of ones bones this is what I want now! No need to even make small talk – to just walk together, without rhyme or reason other than to feel the cool night air against one cheeks and to be nowhere…to be beholden to no one, not even time or the prospects of that your cat may have to go hungry as you know the night will be long.
There’s a reason why this narrative is short on Miss D and long on Mr Koreana when all this is played out in the movie theater of our mind.
You see I believe some people can see the same hopes and aspirations in the eyes of others who are exactly like them…in doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s like the moment of finding X marks the spot.
X marks the spot – that’s what draws these two strangers and keep them together in the night like any other couple. It’s not lust…sex or the idea of just a fling. It’s the solidarity they may have perhaps both shared and experienced the same things to still be able to make it to the other side safely.
October 10, 2015
You know there is a book, man from Venus and women are from Mars. Or is it the other way round….I can’t remember, but by just reading the heading true to the manifesto of the simple minded who if you really care to notice regularly have absolutely no trouble discovering the secrets of the universe by reading what’s printed at the back of a chewing wrapper….that at least is what regularly ripples thru some part of my brain whenever I met someone for the very first time.
‘I know so little about them….which man am I talking too up there in his head where so many men are running around…which man?’
It’s not hard for people like me to come across as strong willed. I happen to have a square jaw, you know the sort that conveys a certain hardness of character, fortitude and that’s reflected in the way I narrow my eyes when I intone….yes, I understand. My point is most people see what they want to see – the respectable landowner….complete with his old world charm….old money…I wonder did he row for Harrow? He’s shoulders they’re broad…bet he gyms…bet he can play Eaton 5 without even bothering with mittens. Most definitely a third or perhaps second generation planter stock! Barkers…they only wear Dunlop welted laced shoes….he leaves the last button of his bushjacket free, a trait of only a field man.
That’s what other men really see – the impression at least, naturally I am making it easier than it sounds – there is much more to the idea conveying the idea of who one really is – it’s hardly just conversation for the sake of using so many words to say absolutely nothing. Not in my circle of interacting with people at least, bent landowners, parvenus and people who generally have only one thing that unites their crumbly world – the idea that everyone knows himself well enough to do, think and act rightly.
You see that’s really how the game of life is played…it’s like that first moment when you opened a new monopoly set for the very first time in your life and when you saw that tin sport car – you wanted it. As the game goes on…you begin to want other things as well and maybe a get out of jail card just in case the die is loaded against you…..that in a nutshell is how I see the whole idea of business. Everyone is just one perpetual merry go round where with a mix of luck, serendipity and perhaps moments of epiphany – hopefully it ends well…and you don’t lose too much.
But emotions are much complicated…if business is eu de cologne. Then stuff that revolve around the great sun of emotions…hopes…aspirations and dreams all have in them the concerntration of only parfum….where with just the merest drop to the skin, a thousand fields of images fills the senses and somewhere in the mind – the skeleton turns to open a new door that leads to a new stream of consciousness…that’s how complicated emotions are.
And that’s how it is with most people – they’re just don’t realize how so much of how they think…behave….react or choose not to is really the sum that comes from not one man or even one woman….it’s from the many men in this one man and the many women in this one woman that all adds up to who we truly are.
I am NOT saying this is a psychosis or there some malevolent organization bent on ruling the world has added something to the water supply to bend minds – it’s natural…it’s the way things really are to me…at least. The very idea that when we actually see someone and weave them into our lives, all we are doing is bringing into other lives…histories….emotional baggages etc etc as well. I mean if you are speed dating and a girl tells you casually she into cats and when you get to know her better you find that her whole house is filled with ceiling high cages of stray cats and she spends 90% of her salary on cat food and everyone in her estate calls her the mother Teresa of the cat world in Singapore – if it’s like that, then it’s a psychosis and you should be troubled. But the mere suggestion there could be more than one man in a man or more than one woman in a woman doesn’t provoked any negative or positive reaction on my part – I can accept that dichotomy…duality and even live with the whole of the self being appropriated by an alternate self from time to time for all intends and purpose everyone else in the world is content to see as one whole complete and singular person.
Still don’t get what I am trying to say do you? Missed the point somewhere between two lines and now you’re trying to figure out whether it’s worthwhile to re-read this whole entry from the top to try to get a handle on that missing jig saw and makes everything fit. Or should I just pretend to open a copy of remembrance of things past by Marcel Proust because there is a really cute intellectual looking guy sitting directly opposite me in the train…not just cute, Korean haircut cute drop dead Matilah cute!
Now imagine yourself as a stage director watching this scene where this girl who probably has her book upside down and doesn’t even realize it…only because there’s another woman in this woman’s head whose already script written how the rest of the narrative should go on like one of those perpetual Korean love serials.
In this story of a girl whose maybe just turned thirty and whose still single mets the Koreana guy. He’s not my type…she says to herself…or maybe it’s another woman she never once gave a name too who lives in her head. Before that thought can congeal…yet another woman steps in, lifts this girls head…now she’s looking squarely at the man across her…she notices he wears horn rimmed glasses, the sort with specks like amber and can even look good when one wears a N95 mask…he’s got taste she says to herself, not that saccharine laced air of pretension that every guy seems to showcase to the world by just wearing a make belief G2000 off the shelve – I am still in the great corporate fight….I’ve got it all together….just don’t count me out yet. No Mr Koreana is not the sort of a man that radiates that sort of Kistch sense of expectancy, he is the man who once got an idea in his head and just did it, it shows in how he shifts his well gymed panther like body around to try to find a comfortable place on those impossible plastic seats on the MRT. There’s a prosaic languor in the way he moves like the way only fishermen can move deftly to free a stubborn knot. Or the way the expression of a potter when her hands run thru wet clay…the end is always in mind. Mr Koreana continues to look enquiring at the features of this train – it’s not an frozen dolphin mildly interested look like the one fat American tourist usually wear after waiting in line for two hours in the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa only to express it all with that sobriquet terms of nihilism – it’s nice!
It’s an enquiring look a voice whispers in the mind of the girl. As she watches the man who tracing his eyes along the stretch of alluminium air con ducts…it’s a studied look. Like the expression old sea captains wear whenever they taste that metallic electricity in the air before a storm…the mood is pensive…yet relaxed. Maybe he runs his own business. Makes things that they bubble wrap, put in the a box and ship out. Maybe he’s a businessman. Certainly looks the part..
This is just a byline – never knew taking the crowded trains can be such a drama!
Like I said it’s deep because I am trying to convey to you the idea of how people build a picture of someone in their head. How they might even add other things that may be closer to their hopes and dreams only to end up with an encrusted mass of him and her….it’s just like the way the girl who has always seen herself as different from all other girls see Mr Koreana – how so much of who we really are…what we yearn for…die die must have comes from so many men within just one man. Or so many women in one woman. The very idea must seem some frightening to some people…many just block it out…or filter it out with what they regularly claim to be their shit filter that’s always on full power when reading my blog.
I told you it was deep. But let’s not break the chain of thought…the very idea of making a mental Felini film noir sort. Now most the passengers by now got out somewhere along city hall and Tanah Merah – the carriage is now empty, except for a middle aged uncle whose dozing off as his heads rattlers from time to time against the glass. The scene is hilarious and for the very first time, their eyes lock and they laugh together.
Mind our thirty something isn’t your regular Sengkang Sally admin stuff that usually cram so much magnetic knock knacks in their cubicle. Nope our thirty something is just different from all other girls. Not just different like how some people pretend to be different just to get attention – No! It’s not that cheap narcissistic version of just trying to be different. She’s just different…different because she believes she would be able find someone who she wants to take a chance with in life….that’s why she stayed in her seat even when she was supposed to get out at Bedok. This woman is one a train to destiny….it’s hard you say to be able to make out so much from just the scene of two strangers laughing in an empty carrier with a man who keeps making a Ping pong rattling sound as his head drums the glass….but they weren’t just laughing.
Freeze that frame in your mind eye…you can do it…like I said…you’re the stage director.
Just before the man smiled which eventually gave way to a laugh and they girl followed suit…and their eyes locked momentarily like a streaking meteor across the velvet darkness of infinity. In that one moment, something stirred in the woman…it wasn’t the air or quiet sophistication of the man seated across her. Or even the slight gruff in the way he looked at her just then – the eyes of a Panther.
At that very moment. A new woman who never existed before was born.
She had taken a chance to stay on when her mind told her, this is your stop! Now get out because tomorrow you have to be in your office for a conference call at seven.’ But she stayed on. She’s suddenly filled with a compulsion to know whether perhaps this might be the man – the one line that will intersect hers in that greater universe of every woman’s hopes and aspirations – to just be loved and to be loved in return.
Somewhere in this woman’s head a movie reel had begun to turn on it’s sockets and light is now projecting in full technicolor how it might all turn out – that this man whose seated so near yet so very far could just he…could he be the one? Maybe she should just get up and stand beside the door. After all if he does the same. I happen to know a nasty bump just between three quarters of Tanah Merah and Simei where I might pretend to lose my balance only to fall into his arms.
That siaow mei me it thought quickly evaporated from the woman’s mind only for her to flashing him a look of mischief, it’s not a flirtatious come on look – it more like being caught by the wind – to be just swept away.
It’s easy with Mr Koreana…there’s an ease about him, like his there but not really there. Some men are permeated with that spirit of detachment – they walk around aimlessly most of the time mulling over things like a man marooned in his own head…..like Robinson Crusoe.
See what I mean when I say, there are so men in one man. As there also be so many women in one woman…
So far the narrative is only about the girl. She’s different. But Mr Koreana…let’s call him that even though he actually comes from Singapore because he’s lugging a NTUC plastic bag filled with Maggi Mee…maggi mee is just not instant noddles, not in this movie that is staged in the mind, it’s the equivalent of the Merlion or something so iconic that is the very ambrosia of Singapore.
Sure Mr Koreana is sophisticated, but not like the way some men pay great detail to how they dress along with what accessories to wear to make a good impression – No! Mr Koreeana is not that sort of FHM sophisticated – it’s like that very dark impression some men exude ….could be in a cafe where he’s just all by himself surrounded by a sea of humanity…but nonetheless it’s as if you can feel some residue of sadness in his eyes that’s reflected in the woman eyes as well – that’s what really unites them in that one moment just before they breakout into laughter together…the idea of togetherness in being able to share eyes that see the world as a dark and desolate place where all ever seems to do is search in vain.
Sad laughter. Never heard of it? I bet you just said to yourself. That because it’s like a cocktail two parts bitter sweet with the illicit thrill ridden sensation that comes when one comes across people who seem to share something together…even if it is only for a fleeting moment. But that’a only because both remain unaware within this moment of maybe solidarity (though I don’t think that’s the right word) – there’s an eclair of irony…the very idea that we might not be alone after all…OMG, there are actually people like me…..and I have found one of them!
Or maybe not. Maybe Mr Koreana finally gets off at Simei and just manages a curt friendly nod as he walks back home to cook himself two minute maggi mee and with an egg thrown in for good measure. Maybe the girl who just a moment ago played out their entire life story together complete with even a nice picket home fence, 2.7 kids and monthly visits to ikea for meatballs just continues sitting right there in the empty train that has stopped with it’s doors sprung wide open. Maybe somewhere between the familiar hiss of the doors closing for first time, she realizes the book she had been holding on since Mr Koreana stepped into the carriage was upside down – it was written in an alphabet she could not understand.