Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Going Home

I will be home in *count them!* 5 days.

My family. Friends. Pet. Car. Dog. Home Computer. Shower. Old clothes. Tattered leather couch. Patio. Kitchen. I will see them, touch them again.

And all for too short a time.

Because this time it's going to be different. I'm going home with someone very close to me, but a stranger to everyone back home. How is he going to adjust? How am I going to please both sides and keep things perfect?

I shouldn't worry, should I? Things have a way of sorting themselves out. It's just quite a step; more than just visiting a friend's family for 2 hours - its two whole weeks. Of idiosyncrasies, a different accent, mindset, expectations and everything. To expose everything you love for its own sake to someone you love, knowing full well they may reject it - its a scary prospect.

Other than that, I'm really looking forward to it, as I'm expecting we'll have a great time:) Well we won't exactly be free and completely holiday-ing as there are still uni things to complete, but if planned well that shouldn't cause too much stress. Time to be organised Evelyn again!

Happy holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Kinds of Darkness

There are so many thoughts in my head once again as I sit down here to write and I feel privileged - privileged to be the bearer of words; chalices that contain meaning that can be used for enlightening, teaching, joking, bonding, loving, twisting, hurting - or just locked safely away in one's sternum. (Yes, the ribs, keep it near your ribs, your heart needs more than words to feed it.)

I read what I wrote again. That was a long sentence. I have this tendency to write "pretzel" sentences - declarations so long that you forget at the end what was said at the beginning. Isn't that how our minds work, though? Sometimes we forget, at the end of the journey, what we started out for?

Today, as I was walking down to my room (a dorm room located kind-of underground, 2 floors below ground level but which makes sense, as my campus is built on hilly ground) I did not see the light at the middle of each flight of stairs where there is an unbricked view of the trees and the sea just beyond my school. We live by a bay, Tolo Bay. I know those trees and the shape of the sea instinctively now, though I am no artist, and while it does not sparkle like the Mediterranean, it has its beauty. I know that though the light is not there and all there is to it now is darkness and mystery, it is not an unfamiliar and menacing darkness - I know exactly what it hides, and love the variations of this natural scene.

Tomorrow, I will see the first glimpse of sunlight hit the water, if I wake up that early. And when I go to classes, the dense greenery encroaching the sand will wave in the gentle breeze.

And why did I think of this? Well, I've been thinking about light and darkness recently - not brooding - but in snatches, sometimes indirectly - like this.

In class, we've been doing Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. (Which explains it all, really.) Whatever reservations I have of him as a person (I have to keep reminding myself that he was stuck in the paradigms of the early 20th century, and all white men had some racist prejudices, as we do today), his writing does accomplish something. He makes you see "the horror! The horror!" and brings that darkness (the ever present "mysterious, brooding, inscrutable" darkness) smack into your eyes. Ultimately, he seems to suggest, there is no escape from the darkness from either outside or inside yourself. The world is a dark and unfriendly place, and even London, the "greatest town on earth", is described as leading into the heart of darkness.

Outside the classroom, I've lit candles twice in the last three weeks. Candles are for tragedy, you know that? They symbolise our opposition to a world so dark that we can't even see each other's faces, each other's joys and sorrows and rejoice that at least we are not alone in feeling.

The tragedies I've touched, with icy fingers setting hard wax alight, were different: one emotionally detached, one a blow to the guts. One vast and universal, proclaimed and fought against by world leaders and millions all over the world with stories harsher than I've ever heard. One private and unevitable, met only with tears of tough boys and distraught students and teachers. I did not cry on AIDS Day, though millions have succumbed to this uncurable disease that devastates a large part of our world. I did cry for Martin, our former Mathematics teacher who after retiring to South Africa to reunite with his wife as he had longed to for so many years, had passed away without even his sister having a clue until three weeks later. He used to throw calculators at his students, and offer them cookies. He was the caricature of a fat man - a natural joker and a gambler, an avid sports fan, a drinker, and so much fun to be around. That was the Martin I knew, but many people knew him more and admired his strength, that he had suffered the death of his only child and still continued to be the person he was.

And there has been all other sorts of darkness and light too, pervading my life like wayang kulit as it does to everyone. University applications and all that business are a mix of both; while it is exciting planning and having high hopes for my future, the possibility of rejection and no-way-forward is too scary to be considered. Loving someone comes with its risks as well - contemplating a bond that seems to have an expiry date that you don't venture to guess. But it's obvious enough. 5 months, only a short period of certainty. After that, who can tell?

I think my tone seems to have gotten darker and darker throughout this entry, but that isn't my intention. Perhaps what I really want to get across is that there are many kinds of darkness existing in the world; some as natural as night and day, some that will always remain a mystery as long as we live in a linear, one-directional time dimension, and some that must be fought for with every inch of our lives. It is up to each to decide what is which.