There are many sides to a story, and many ways to tell a side.
… How do you begin?
Do you start chronologically? Or not?
Do you launch straight into the biggest painpoint? Or do you build it up, starting with the smallest things to set the foundation?
And so she rearranged the pieces in her head, again and again. But still, it all came to naught.
Hence nothing was uttered, and everything remains unchanged and forever changed.
A Chinese lady in her 40s and her younger Indian companion sat at one of the cosier seats along the wall of the restaurant. They were about to finish their meal when I requested a seat change, and moved in beside them.
As I started on my sandwich and Kindle, I could hear their voices filering in and out in the background. I didn’t mean to listen in on their conversation, but her soothing and accented voice against her friend’s hard and rather bitter tone seemed to implore me to do so. It didn’t help that the first thing I heard was, so where do you want to migrate to?
I couldn’t catch her friend’s reply above the multiple conversations going on in the restaurant. But as my lunch proceeded, I could make out parts of their chat. Words like education and paper qualifications were thrown out. I learnt that Bitter friend is a foreigner, but I don’t know that about Soothing friend. Judging from these snippets and tones, I found out that Soothing friend was dishing out advice and options to a friend who seemed to be having a difficult time getting desired employment. Her voice never once hit a decibel higher even when the latter hit back with negativity and doused her in her bitterness.
I finished a chapter of my book and my ham and cheese sandwich as they went on this way while drinking up the rest of their after-lunch tea. By then the lunch crowd had dispersed and the restaurant was visibly emptier.
The space returned to its pre-lunch status but Soothing friend never managed to turn Bitter friend’s mood around. As they took their leave, Bitter friend, sounding not so much defeated as defiant, told her friend that she’s tired of this city, and there’s nothing here she wants to do, essentially wrapping up the session and possibly bringing the entire conversation back to square one.
The coffee shop, with all its noise, is the kind of quiet that suits me. I’m plugged into my music, with a latte on table, and my bag left on the seat opposite the one I’ve slid myself into.
Time seems to slow down. It’s a while before I have to get up and make my way through the unsheltered heat to my destination, then brave my way through a couple of hours at work.
But that’s not in another 30 mins.
I sift through my bag for my Kindle, only to realise that I’ve left it on the table at home. I berated myself silently, as though this moment of folly had hampered my reading rhythm to a point of no return. Funny how I really yearn to read when I can’t.
Funny too how absence makes the heart fonder.
Is it because we only preserve the best of something in our hearts when it’s no longer?
Zitten plays in my earphones.
슬픔이라는 그 감정도 흘러가더라
지나간 대로 그런 의미가 있대
Three big reminders to take with me into 2019:
- Do more of the things that make your eyes shine and your heart swell with joy. Listen to your heart closely.
- Make time for the ones you love.
- Surrender yourself. To experiences. To vulnerabilities. And especially to kindness and help.
…They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe.”
Of late, the days are seemingly longer, and the mind more restless, than I’ll like. I’m ready to go home, and empty out my mind of thoughts. Because my heart feels fulller, yet lesser now. Does that even make sense?
Today’s earworm: Fiona Apple’s cover of Across the Universe.