I saw a cemetery from the bus this morning. It was along the way somewhere I’ve also never been to, but decided to go to this morning on a whim. The cemetery was a few meters from a military air base. If it had been a luckier day, I might have seen a plane fly by. It was on a rolling green terrain and sat in the midst of a plain that was blanketed with just the view of the sky. I almost wanted to go down.
There wasn’t any sun as the bus ploughed the empty road – and I was far out from places I’m familiar with. Honne’s Warm on a Cold Night album played over and over my headphones. Finally, I was going out for my soul.
It’s been a long while since I last made a conventional blog post, so I thought something for my birthday this year would be apt. I turned 30 exactly a week ago. Work was extremely busy that it feels like it’s been two weeks since my birthday. It was tiring, but in a good way. On the day itself, I had dinner with April and her boyfriend and didn’t even blow any candles. Lost my phone after dinner for awhile, but this is Singapore and nobody would bother on a Sony Xperia (as Ray said when I recounted it to him). Needless to say, I found it after.
I’m not really one for grand celebrations, and I was truthfully pleased with how my birthday went. I decided to celebrate this year by sponsoring a medical mission in the Philippines. It isn’t as noble as it sounds, I sent the money and that was all from my part. My dad and brother generously made time to make it special. When my dad sent me the photos, I was shocked, but amused, that the external organization my dad usually volunteers with for his medical missions, had printed a huge photo of me with a “happy birthday”. It looked like a mediocre political campaign. But there was nothing mediocre about it. Aside from the free medicines, my dad made sure to buy a lot of food for the local community, a cake complete with a family joke dedication, and even provided ice cream for all the kids in the area. As he recounted to me how the mission went, it made me happy that he was doing something that made him happy on my birthday – volunteering. As for me, I asked Swati to come and help at a local soup kitchen in Singapore a day before my birthday. We were dressed in the most unglamorous way and had breakfast together in an unplanned cafe. Quite different from how we usually celebrate each other’s birthdays – dressed up with a lunch or dinner booking at some fancy restaurant. We ended that day with me randomly bringing her for plant shopping, and we both went home with several pots of happiness. I had other little celebrations with a couple more friends, and was extremely humbled and happy to receive two paintings of myself. It flattered me that Mabel and Yeshi knew exactly how I wanted to be captured – looking away. The other messages I got from my genuine friends across time and miles were what made my heart even fuller. That was all that mattered, it was a good birthday. Nothing monumental, neither forgettable, just a collection of the little joys in life that make me grateful. Oh, and about those life goals on my new year post, I didn’t say it there but one of my goals for this year was to find a job I’m passionate about. That’s what I’ve been busy with for the past 4 months. On the other hand, going down to 50 kg has still been rather elusive.
Despite all the joy, I was also reminded of how our life is but an interim of existence. Two people I knew passed away a few days shy from my birthday. As much as I’m thankful for the things that make me happy, I’m glad life still sends me reminders of how important it is to stay true to what matters whenever I forget.
And of course, I can’t skip on recounting that on my birthday, a butterfly flew right into me. If that was you trying to surprise me Inay, you certainly gave me a jolt. How could I ever forget you? I didn’t. Thank you for visiting me too. 🙂
Remember this day, when your limbs crumpled under the weight of his memory. Forming dark alleys and forlorn rivers. Twisted in their own reality.
Remember this day, when your eyes were surrounded and sunken, drained out of life. Vacuous, it couldn’t hide the pain unlike your smile.
Remember this day, when you imagined writing letters that will never be sent. Protecting truths that will never be known. Threatening to withstand the test of time.
Remember this day, when even sleep was robbed from you. Left with sporadic episodes. Leaving you awake treacherously in the middle of the night.
Remember this day, when the sun sets with all your happiness. And it rises without taking away any of your sadness.
Remember this day, when you cried alone.
One day you’ll be okay, and you’ll remember this day.
Sometimes, I see beautiful things. So beautiful that my grip on my camera strengthens as I raise it to my eye level. But when the moment captures my heart more than my eye, I somehow always find myself bringing that camera down. Because those imageries are always beautiful for how they make me feel rather than for how they look. And no amount of composition or camera build is capable of capturing that.
Though photographs tell a lot, this is the reason why the best imageries can only be found in a person.
The pain rendered me immobile. It was irreconcilable with every reason I came up with before I reached this decision. I find myself in this state again – of having to flush out tears several times a day just to feel
marginally better nothing. I hate myself for letting my heart take me through this. “You useless little piece of shit”, I almost want to say. But it stares back at me helpless and now lacking of any spirit, with pleading eyes that say “I did what I felt was right”. As always. Yet the the realization that I may have lacked the wisdom I thought I had in the first place leaves me in a bind – I end up pointing to nothing and no one. I have no energy to figure out what to blame.
It hurts profoundly. It hurts in places I thought I had built enough immunity. My own strength and resolve threatens to destroy me. Here I was again – broken on a pavement of dreams. Waiting for but myself to put it back together again. But I loved and that’s all I want to matter.
Inay, I’m done. Thank you.
I’ve always been evasive when I write about love, if not metaphorical. It’s probably because it’s both my greatest strength and weakness. Somebody asked me one day what my strongest motivation in life was. And I came to the conclusion that it was love. It sounded so cliché at that time and I kept it to myself – because to me, people wouldn’t understand the depth of what I mean when I say that. That it didn’t mean I was in love with life. That it meant during my lowest points, it was love that saved me. Even when it was love that threatened to destroy me in the first place. That I consciously take care of my friends out of love, even when sometimes it’s easier and fairer to let go of them. That I am capable of inflicting much more pain on people who have inflicted pain on me, but I stop myself out of love. That my head and heart can sometimes be full of darkness, but I never let it out because I’m scared people will not be able to love me if they see that side of me. That I try my best to appear like the love I have in my life is enough, but the truth is I crave for a love that I might never find because I’m a complicated wreck brimming with an excess of intense feelings and emotions.
I’ve rarely prayed or wished for love, because I always assumed the universe already knew that was what I wanted the most. It felt so self-serving to have to repeat it in some form. I’ve gone through so many painful lessons in love now but even during the most heartbreaking ones, I’m always amazed that even after promising to completely shut love out of my life, it always somehow finds a way to come back. It comes back to remind me that it’s what gives my life meaning, whether that love soothes me or hurts me.