She slowly leaned forward to hold the door open for us, as a spritely old gentleman carrying a large plastic bag, entered just ahead of me.
“Thank you”, I said, and in silence, we pressed the buttons that would transport us to our floors. The doors closed.
“Perchah ah?” (“broken” in Malay), I heard her ask purposefully.
“那个门” (“that door” in Mandarin), he replied, and then stopped.
My back was to them so I could not see their expressions. In the awkward silence I heard a happy desire to share, frustrated only by a lack of common vocabulary.
I exited the lift with a smile as I greeted them both with a goodbye. Perhaps the keys to our future harmony lie in our past.
Relationships are relationships. They are not heterosexual or homosexual. Relationships are not respecters of persons. Relationships are also not a statistic, as much as statistics are not facts. A sample size of less than 7 billion guarantees that.
A relationship is a state of being connected. An ever-changing, interchangeable flow of fact and feeling. Romantic relationships exist between two persons. They exist, and are sustained, regardless of, and sometimes in spite of, race, religion, sexual orientation or sleeping position.
A religious leader who trumpets his personal beliefs in public is wholly entitled to do so. Everyone else who is not the religious leader, including his followers, is entitled to agree or disagree with his point of view. Each person, has the right, and perhaps the responsibility, to choose whether they want to begin or sustain a relationship with this religious leader, based on whether his values and methods mesh with theirs.
A government representative who chooses to speak out in a similarly public manner, using a shallow secondary school argument, against making potentially helpful information available for citizens, shows little capacity for qualitative analysis or human connection. The people who made this person their governing representative have a right, and perhaps a responsibility, to question how this shallow thought process affects his other decisions, which in turn affect them.
The people might also question whether this representative should be given the responsibility to lead them in the future. In other words, should their relationship with him as their representative continue? The choice is theirs.
Each one of us has a choice. That is how relationships work.
I’ve been on the road, in Paris, Buenos Aires, a small part of Patagonia, and now London in an almost, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, type of trip. Three weeks, planes, trains, automobiles, pounding pavements, hiking through foliage and trekking through ice. And many, old and new, friends. The time doesn’t seem like a lot, but the experiences have been truly mind boggling.
A couple of hours shy of two years ago, I sat in All Saints, in that cold room with three air-conditioners. There was no smell, no sound, save the quiet of cold air moving, and a stream of silent tears. I said goodbye – not the first or the last time – but this one seemed appropriate. Goodbyes are important – like an agreement. What is it about being able to say those words to someone? The tactile feeling of a body, a face, warm or cold – there. Even unanswered, it’s almost reciprocal. What is it?
My father wasn’t good at dragging things out. Never a romantic. Well, maybe he was a romantic – with an over-developed sense of responsibility that kept him on the go. Sometimes leaving the rest of us to deal with the confusion of having the rug pulled out from under our feet . And yet, he hung on for twenty years, before he left, more quietly than he’d lived.
On days like today, I visit a place deep within me that feels incredibly alone. I don’t really want to be here. Maybe that’s what memories are about – a way to feel less alone with ourselves. But some memories are too painful to bear. The pain never really goes away, but perhaps over time, we can turn down the volume of the pain, so it’s not so present – debilitating. Perhaps, we also grow, so we can encompass it, and the other things in our life without bursting.
Ten years ago, I realised that a good way to honour my father, was to live my life well. I try.
“From the east!” cried the sun, struggling through tears, surface broken, world turned upside down.
Chanced upon an old couple in NTUC Finest this afternoon. Wife was berating husband non-stop, apparently because he’d walked away from her. As her voice reached fever pitch, I could see he was trying very hard not to react.
I stood, enthralled by the scene, and suddenly realised why.
The past twelve months, I’ve been there, experienced that scene repeatedly, and deeply loved the person whose fears were stronger than herself. How else would someone stay, except through love and acceptance?
But there also comes a point when you have to say for the final time, “I love you, I get your pain, but I cannot be your punching bag anymore.”
And you do something to break the pattern. Which leaves the other person with a choice. She chose to leave, and within two months, replace, and deny me. Publicly.
Now, I can finally say, I have no regrets. Life is indeed, just one big beautiful ride and I chose each step with as unhuman a love as I could muster. Till the end, I liked myself, I surprised myself, and I am reminded that I will always have this ability.
The incessant hurricane ended in the quiet noise of a text message declaring “I’m choosing career over you.”
So, in the words of BA Baracus, “I pity the fool.”