Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Taking a step is life

By Oh Lien Chai

Life turns like a hand flipping through a page. Each page has its own life, its own part to tell that flows within the story. Like art, it takes time, thought, and most of all, effort. But like all famous pieces of art, a painting must finish, just like a story ends and so does the book close with a “happily ever after” as they say. The memory and final moments resound in the minds of those who read the story, many forgotten its path, yet few hold dear to this small treasure. The figment of appreciation fades, just like a story.

The writer sits in his living room, his face creased as he frowned in thought. Gently rising from his perch like an old soul, he ambulates towards his study. Upon resting on his low teak stool, he took up his quill and hesitated for a while. His quill was poised and ready to begin another epic journey with just a flick of a wrist, and yet strangely enough, his hand froze, dead in its tracks. Within the writer’s mind, his thoughts were a little wild. They say that’s the key to write a good story or make a piece or art, be crazy. And so, shrugging aside his doubts for writing this particular story on paper, a truth was told.

* * * * *

Razen could not have asked for a better day, the sky’s hue was particularly inspiring for some reason, yet bringing forth a sense of serenity and continuation. The birds were chirping, and it suited his mood. He was on his bed, with his companion, Seryn. She smiled as she woke only to find her love. “Good morning”. “Mornin’ to you too, my dear.

Did you sleep well?” “Well enough, to wake up to reality I’m afraid. I can’t believe we’re finally married!” she exclaimed. “You know, amidst that negative aura both our parents had when we told them, I can almost feel their blessing.” Razen said almost wistfully.

“You can’t blame them; we booked a flight to…some kind of island and a few other weird places for our honeymoon. We practically left them stunned, and now that we’re back after our trip, it’s time to grow up,” she said with a smile. Razen said nothing in reply, for he knew that that wasn’t the most responsible thing a man should do, nor should a man run away from his family. It was a crazy 3 month honeymoon. It was all ‘his’ idea after all. They first went to an exotic place in the Southeast Asia region, Pangkor Laut Island.

Beautiful was a word too small to describe the enormity and wonder that is Pangkor Laut. Aside the clear white sands, the sea’s untainted waters are a sight to behold these days, as most are polluted and dirt brown. Facility wise, it was loaded. We practically tried a few things we’ve never done before, like snorkelling and diving. It also had the usual run-of-the-mill stuff, like any sensible RM1000 a night place should have, tennis courts, five delicious restaurants, beautiful views from your room, and most importantly, prevailing breezes and clear blue skies perfect for kiting.

Our one month there was heaven. The timing couldn’t have been better. We arrived mid May and left before the mid semester break hit the shores. “Thinking of Pangkor Laut only makes me feel like going back there,” Razen said, speaking his mind. “What was that Raze?” “Nothing I’d like to share with you dear,” Razen said cheekily.

Seryn pouted, “Spoilsport!” “Aw, don’t be like that baby,” said Razen as he embraced from behind. “Don’t be mad dear,” Razen whispered gently to her left ear. Seryn smiled inwardly as she felt like she just won a little trophy. She had always enjoyed playing with her husband, and he’d always resolve most of their little arguments and disagreements with surprising sensitivity and intuitiveness. She remembered once he travelled one hour to buy her favourite food, came back, quickly purchased a rose and presented it to her. “Sigh, what was is past,” she thought. “Now is now, and I love now”. Though she secretly loved her husband’s new found tactic to their game, she was very sure that Razen knew how much she loved it. She turned and said softly, “Don’t let me go”.

“Never” he replied, equally gentle. They continued gazing at each other, taking in a full appreciation of each other’s eyes and their longing for each other. Raze never felt so happy in his life. 5 years ago, he would never had thought to settle down, but now, looking at his beautiful, understanding wife, he couldn’t let slip this one. He needed her. He never realised how fast time could fly but whenever they were spending time together, time just loses its significance and it was as if time suddenly upped it’s paced and travelled several hours at a time. He still remembered when he first saw her; he stared at her for a full 10 seconds before his friend promptly reminded him that drooling was not very attractive.

He laughed softly and suddenly, but was disturbed by a ring tone. “Hello? Oh, Morning mom! Yup, we’re coming. Yes, we’re late, we know, we know! Just give us 20 more minutes to play and we’ll be right over.” She looked knowingly at her husband as she said the last sentenced and closed her phone. He looked away, feeling slightly guilty. “Let’s go, better not keep your parents waiting. Besides, I’ll need my wits about me when dealing with your parents, and you steal all intelligence out of me.” She laughed and slapped his arm in way of revenge, just out of habit.

They got into their car and drove off towards town. “A beautiful Saturday morning,” Seryn thought. “Raze, what do you want to eat today?” “I don’t know Ryn. I kind of have appetite only for you this morning.” He looked at her and smiled. “You better not be so naught…AHHHH!” Glassed shattered, and the loud, horrible sound of metal crushing and smashing into each other couldn’t have been more sickening. The day ended with sirens coming from afar.

* * * * *

The day was bleak, as all days should be when the sky gave a dark, gloomy overcast. The hint of rain was inevitable, yet, almost fitting for the event of the day. Most attendants were sombre and melancholy, many related to both sides of the family. Only one was not crying. Only one looked pale and weary. No one said much to comfort Razen, for he himself believed he was beyond helped. The day seemed so long, and he was tired. He lost much sleep over the past nights; the recurring nightmare did little to help his slumber.

He looked up, trying to imagine what he should have been doing today. “A day with Ryn…” he said with a sigh. He clutched he arm, felt the sting as his arm was still badly cut and broken. The doctor told him he was lucky, only a few deep cuts to his leg, arms. His left arm in particular was broken, and required months to heal. The minister started his preaching, sermon or whatever he was suppose to say. He couldn’t care less. He left first, just after the minister finished, wanting to avoid any conversation at all.

He looked up again as he stood in the garden of his house. The look of horror his wife had before she died flashed before his mind. He braved a step. Then another. But his mind was long gone. His heart bereft of something precious. As he began to stride, he knew each step was pointless, for he was lost, frozen and fallen. He knew his steps from here onward did not move forward.

* * * * *

The writer stopped his wrist. As tears stained the clear white paper, the ink began to smudge and dirty its immaculate surface. It was done. He had braved his fears. He stood up to grab some tissue to wipe his tears and stopped as he saw a couple of photo frames on the mantelpiece. He picked one that had his wife kissing him. He sighed deeply, for it took him 30 years to get over her and in those 30 years, he suffered silently, each moment dreadful, painful. “30 long years, and I’ve been a fool” he thought to himself.

He realised now that his grief has been foolish, unnecessary. Avoidance and fear of facing his past had locked common sense away. But now he had found the key, “more like, written the key,” he thought. He glanced once more at the pictures, then, towards his ink smudged papers where “the key” was. He laughed suddenly. He had forgotten the most important part of the story. He picked up his quill again and scribbled, Life turns like a hand flipping through a page. Each page has its own life, its own part to tell that flows within the story. Like art, it takes time, thought, and most of all, effort. But like all famous pieces of art, a painting must finish, just like a story ends and so does the book close with a “happily ever after” as they say.

And so, I lived happily ever after.

(Submitted to the MPH Young Writers 2006 contest)

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