Chapter 8: To the World I Hate
Kyle was surprised. For possibly the first time since his parents’ untimely deaths, he felt happiness. It’s been so long since he last smiled like this; smiling in a carefree way and wide enough to crack his face. A genuine smile from him was hard to come by.
He imagined his time in the hospital as long and painful; he would have run away if he could. Now he wanted to stay in this hospital bed with the officer by his bedside for as long as possible. Kyle mused how he had changed over the past twenty four hours –he had been trapped in a broken down elevator for a whole night, rescued from the brink of death, and was now having a pleasant chat with his hero. All in all, he genuinely thought this was a dream and was scared of waking up.
He prayed to the heavens for this dream to last forever; forever he would be resting on a bed without a worry about tomorrow. The tomorrow he had pictured over the past few years had never been bright or cheerful. Instead, it was filled with misery and a longing for a return to the days when he had his parents with him and they would be happy.
He pictured waking up to the smell of fried eggs and bacon. He would wake up, brush his teeth, and wash his face and then head downstairs for breakfast. His father would look up from the daily newspaper and say “Good morning” with his reading glasses sloppily placed across his nose. He would sit down at the kitchen table and enjoy the breakfast his mother prepared for him, in her pink flowery apron and pure heavenly smile. He would eat the delicious breakfast and head off to school, telling his parents “I’ll be back” and waving as he walked out the door and towards the bus stop. He imagined he would return in the afternoon, an hour or so after school ended. He would let himself into the house and be welcomed back by his mother, still in her apron and smelling faintly of today’s dinner. She would say, “How was school, dear?” and he would say “It was excellent, Mother”. Then he would head upstairs to complete his homework and be called down for dinner later in the evening. He would sit down with his family for dinner, his father to his right and his mother to the left; he would sit in the middle and smile as I retold my day to my parents and maybe add a little joke in to spark hearty laughter.
In his memories, everything he used to deem “normal” became very precious in a split second. He used to think his mother was an annoying woman, nagging and complaining everyday about little things like how a cup was chipped or how he needed to clear the room of his floor so she could vacuum properly. His father had always seemed to be a stern man, upright and straight in his teachings; always displeased with his son’s performance in school and pushing his son towards choosing to attend a prestigious university.
Revisiting his memories after the incident had revealed everything in a different light –positive and bright. His mother was a loving woman who wanted to make sure his room was clean and presentable so when his friends came over for a visit they would be jealous how well kept and organized he was. She wanted only the best for him, always giving him the cup that had no cracks and never marred in any way. His father loved him just as much and although strict, was a man of principle. He made an earnest living through hard work and perseverance and thought his son could have a much more comfortable, easy life if he could attend a well known university. His parents loved their son dearly and their unconditional and selfless love was enough to move him to tears when he thought about them.
How many times have I dreamt of this peaceful scenario?
How many times have I wanted this normalcy?
I am tired of dreaming about the past. I know nothing will change no matter how many times I yearned for the past because time only moved forward.
I am tired of grieving. Grieving will never accomplish anything.
So this is why he had chosen to bury these memories that were so bright and warm, they hurt. They hurt because he felt guilty and he wanted to vindicate himself by casting a darker light on them. Perhaps if he could release himself from the chains of guilty and of the past, he could finally see the light of the future. He spent so many years running away he did not notice he wasn’t going forward, and instead was running away from everything because he was scared. And the world had not forsaken him but it had been him who decided to forsake the world; to run away to the little sense of peace that bordered on the edge of leaving everything previous to him behind. And so he locked everything that could have brought the sunshine inside his house, locked it up tight and tossed away the key.
What he hadn’t thought of was that the key could have been the key to his happiness. He had possibly mistaken what was good with bad and bad with good. But he could not have possibly known how things would turn out and his father used to say the expression “don’t cry over spilt milk” and he supposed it was valid enough.
So when a hand had reached out to him, he found himself lifting up his own and clasping that hand. And he found that on the other side, things were brighter and much warmer. The brightness no longer hurt and burned him; instead, it was nurturing and loving.
To the world I hate, please give me this second chance.
Life might have something more to offer to him than just a job. Life might offer a chance at redemption and a new start. He wanted to believe in that. And he had reason too.
His hero was sitting by his side, keeping himself awake even though he was evidently tired from the rescue operation. The man was kind and assured him everything was fine and all the hospital fees and medical documents were being handled by experienced officers. His presence made him relax and he thought he could spend eternity like this, being doted on. But it would be wrong to impose on this man, who had not only saved him but was also going beyond his duty by visiting him like this and caring about him like this. And although it was wrong, no one could have known how this all mattered so much to him.
The officer was telling him about how he reminded the officer about his own son, a little over six years of age and bright as the sun. He could imagine a small child, clinging to the uniform pants of the officer and looking up with bright hopeful eyes and he smiled at the thought. For some reason, it felt right and he wished for happiness for the son and the officer; he prayed fate would not rip the two apart and if the heavens have mercy, allow for the son to grow up idolizing his father and loving him. Because he realized he didn’t want the child to end up like himself. He knew from experience, the pain and the regret that would end up filling up the void that the father would have left in the boy’s life. And he would be damned if the heavens created anymore children like himself.
He really did not have the right to care about the child or even ask the heavens to bestow upon the child some form of happiness in the future and the present.
Kyle wanted to do what he could –even if it’s minimal. It didn’t matter to him the frivolity of his venture; he just wanted to do something. Even if all his efforts amounted to nothing, he had tried.
And that was what mattered.
And that was when he thought the world might not be as hateful as he thought.
Perhaps there really exists hope. Hope is like a pale and weak flame of a single candle, flickering as though it might burn out any second. The light is bright though.
The light was there. And he realized he had always seen that light but he had been afraid. He had been so afraid it would burn out; it would disappear if he so much as sneezed. So he had always stayed on the sidelines watching and waiting with bated breath. But it seemed today might be a little different.
Just a tiny bit different, that was all.
It seems tonight he could finally sleep a little better. And with that in mind, he drifted off into oblivion.
It was raining by the time the library closed. The sky was pouring with grief and the clouds were low enough for its movements to be visible to my eyes. The rain splattered violently against the window and the window was veiled with its wet curtain of rain. It flowed down the windows, and fell in wet splashes against the green grass below the window.
The library had left the bottom half of the window open to let some air out. I could smell the scent of wet air and the dampness made me imagine water lilies and lotuses.
In my mind, I was no longer at the library. I was in the depths of a forest of ancient oaks, ferns, maples, and pines. The Earth was littered with fallen tree branches, stones, and living among them were the squirrels, chipmunks, birds, snakes, and insects. The mammals roamed the grassier plains and the reptiles kept themselves busy as they explored every inch of the forest floor. The trees reached upwards to the sky and the forest resounded with the chirps of crickets and birds. Here and there, I could hear the squawk of the hunted and the victorious sounds of the hunters.
The air smelled of fresh grass and rain; the taste of the air was crisp but pure. Before me, a great pond stretched as far as my eye could see –considerably big for a pond. It was home to the many lotuses and lily pads floating on its surface. Below, the water life was complex and my eyes could only show the shadows of the numerous fishes that swam in its waters. The water was crystal clear and I could see the floor of the pond from where I stood; millions of small fishes were swimming in a tight circular formation by the side of the pond and they swam past the place I stood.
Just like in the library, I imagined the rain starting to come down; it started as a drizzle and a few minutes later, began to pour down mercilessly. The beauty of the outdoors remained although the sounds of the crickets had quieted down as the rain dampened their voices. The eerily calm surface of the pond is now penetrated by millions of raindrops pelting it, causing miniscule ripples. The pond’s beauty was not lessened and instead, multiplied as I watched in my mind the ripples caused the water to come to life. Its stillness forgotten, the pond was now bustling with activity that my eye could see. Underneath, life resume as usual.
I imagine the forest and the town to be quite similar.
I stood inside the library doors waiting for the rain to let out. In my carelessness, I had forgotten to bring an umbrella with me; though how I could foresee rainy water was lost to me as I did not have a working television at home.
As I stood waiting, a few visitors of the library walked out and murmured in dislike at the weather. They straightened their coats and brought out an umbrella, opening it as they stepped out between the two electronic doors. To them, the rain was troublesome, dreadful; it was wet and an obstruction of traffic.
Rain is my favourite weather. The rain is indeed troublesome for those who wished to stay dry and I cannot say I particularly liked being drenched in my clothes; warm and dry clothes were a comfort to me. The rain had a calming effect for me, as though telling me to take a long and deserved break from the good weather and clear skies. The rain also brought to life the exotic beauty of plants and flowers.
As a child and even now, I enjoyed and welcomed the rain. The rain was a sign that all was well. Despite the thunder claps and the lightning strikes that usually followed this type of weather, I find myself relaxed and even relieved. It was almost as though the rain could wash away my past and give me hope that at the end of this watery curtain lay the rise of the sun and the clearing of heavy clouds overhead.
The rain was starting to slow now. A particular characteristic of the weather here was that these periods of rain tended to be very short. I took this as a good sign and prepared to walk out the doors myself when the drizzle stopped. A moment later, the sun began to shine again and as I saw the light illuminate the now damp sidewalk, I walked out, grateful for the rainy break. It helped to clear and organize my thoughts because they were far too jumbled.
Making my way towards the bus stop, I took care not to step into any puddles. The rain had been a bit stronger than I anticipated and a few puddles had formed on the sidewalk. The water from the roads was already rushing towards the drainage areas and as I walked past one of them, I could hear the sounds of rainwater crashing heavily against the larger pit of water underneath the square steel drains.
The clouds were beginning to melt back into the translucent sky. My imagination began to shape them into various animals, shapes, and even faces. My eyes were locked upon a particular cloud that was starting to fade with the emerging sun; it was shaped like the wings of a bird. I could imagine the cloud flying amongst the birds, living together in harmony. And I wondered if there will come a day when I would be soaring above in the sky, chasing the every changing cloud with those carefree birds. If I could, I would be a seagull of the purest white and like every other seagull, have my wings painted a light shade of grey and tipped with black. Why I wanted to be a seagull eluded me but right now, in this moment, I felt it would be most fitting and perhaps the bird with the most freedom to wander the world.
That early evening seems to be a blur for me. Some might call this shock but I would like to think of this as a revelation of sorts. The day is coming to an end and a new chapter will open up tomorrow. That was the premonition I had.
As I waited for the bus that was late, I decided to walk on a straight line on the edge of the curb. In my childhood, I had been severely scolded for such actions because they were dangerous and a small child could get hurt. But with no parents to scold me, it felt lonely –just a little bit. So I decided to pretend to be back in those days when I would do everything without a care for the world. With my arms spread out like the birds I pictured in my mind, I kept myself balanced as I carefully placed one foot in front of the other in a straight line. Having taken a few steps, I raised my face towards the revived sun and opened my eyes a little so I could admire it without being blinded by its light. Staring into the sun like this gave me a feeling of closeness with the bright star; the sun that was beyond my reach seemed to be a breath away from me. I wished my story could tell everyone that I reached out my hand and closed my fingers around the star that represented my dreams and hopes, but I wonder; I wonder what will become of me and if I let go of all my dreams then perhaps reality wouldn’t appear so bad –because there would be nothing better to compare it to.
So whenever I reached this point of despair, I would like to recall my precious memories of my precious people –and though they were few, they managed to continue to nurture the burning hope in my heart. If my dreams became the flames of a candle then they would surely burn out as it stood against time and the nature of my environment. I could picture the wind snuffing out the light or even the rain dampening the flames until it became nothing but grey smoke. So what protected my dreams were hands; hands carefully surrounded the tiny flame to act as a barrier against the rain, the wind, and preserve the amount of time left until the wax ran out. Of these hands, one was mine, another was my mother’s and whenever my thoughts wavered, another hand would be there, right beside mine and sometimes on top of my own. And I would think about her.
For the first time in a long time, I had the desire to reach out to someone. Never much of a social butterfly, human interaction was lost to me.
To the world I hate, I beg of you to let these feelings of mine reach those important people of mine. Dead they may be; they will forever remain precious to me. And even if you continue to be hateful and ignore these silent pleas of mine, I am content. There is no reassurance the dead can really feel strong emotions of the living but I would like to think of it that way. Because there is really no way for me to travel back in time to change anything, all I can do is hold onto my mistakes and continue to live on to see these mistakes are rectified in the future.
So I will smile and say it doesn’t matter how many times you want to extinguish this light. Because even though we continuously fight to coexist, I have faith and hope in my dreams, and with my strengthened heart, I can overcome those obstacles of yours. Maybe I will change with time and maybe I won’t change. It doesn’t matter.
What matters is that right now, I am not standing alone in my dreams -I am beside two precious treasures of mine. I had lost sight of the things that were and will always be precious to me but I have been saved by my memories of those precious tidbits.
Like the clouds above me, I will perhaps change with that and lose sight of my original shape but that might be tomorrow, next week, in a few years’ time, or never. It’s just right now I can’t let go of these dreams so even though I hate you and you hate me, please watch over me as I try to change my destiny.
I won’t lose to you.
This is my resolve and my promise.
Withdrawing my hands from the horse figurine, I carefully examined my work. The glass glue tube I purchased from an arts and crafts store at the end of my street sat on the worn coffee table. It had taken a while but I was finally finished. The gluing had not been overly difficult save for my trembling hands and sweaty palms. The anxiety over fixing the horse had been enormous. Now that it was fixed, I laid my head down to rest on my elbows against the table. Turning at an angle, I stared at the glass figurine. The crack from its fall was still visible on the horse; but the crack seemed to fit in as though the artist had always meant for there to be cracks along its fragile body. The horse stood once again in its glory and pride –its amber eyes facing the sunlight from the window.
The light reflected off the precisely placed carvings on the glass horse, diamond-like and clear in soul. I propped myself up on my elbows as I admired its unfading beauty.
The afternoon was starting to fade into the evening and its fading flow made the horse figurine sparkle as though the horse was made of the purest diamond. Its magnificent figure stood bathed in the sun’s glow as my heavy eyes closed tiredly.
But I can’t fall asleep yet because I haven’t bid you goodbye, my friend.
My dear friend, I am sorry I was late. Just like you said, there would be times I would regret my actions –or lack of.
I know I should be overwhelmed by your sad news and believe me, I am. It’s not that I can’t feel sorrow or regret but that I have chosen to believe in tomorrow. I am sure you would have agreed with me.
You know, I used to think of this world as a cruel place. And I’m not saying I have changed my way of thinking. By far, I have not.
Neither am I saying I have given up and chosen to lie down to take a beating by this world.
What I am saying might not make sense to you or anyone else. It’s laughable but I’m barely making sense myself.
My dear friend, I’ve chosen to believe that though we may be mad puppets dancing our mad dance in a maddened world, we struggle to live because we have something precious to us. Whether that precious thing is an item, a person, a dream, our dignity, your dignity, it doesn’t matter. The fact I have something still precious to me is enough. It’s still a reason to keep living isn’t it?
And even if this mad world takes that precious thing away from me, I won’t let it.
No matter what happens I’m still Nadia. I’m still my parent’s little girl. I’m still your old and sincere friend. This is something that won’t change. Even if the world takes everything away from me, I will still have this won’t I?
I remember we used to talk about my dreams about owning a house and you asked me whether I believed I could call it my true home. I couldn’t give you an answer back then.
My answer is this: A home is not a physical place and it will never be chained to any physical place. It might be a chain of memory that will awaken if I set foot in but the memories themselves do not house themselves in a physical place. Rather, it is me who has the power to remember those events and those times. It is me who gives life to them and tribute to them.
I had longed dream of my ideal house that I could call my true home-a place where I would have paid down the mortgage and it would be mine alone. But the truth is I already found two very wonderful homes that the people whom I loved and still love gave me. I’m not saying I don’t need a physical object called a house but that thinking foolishly that I will come to lose everything was wrong.
What I have done and said, and what I have failed to do and say, can never be undone. Time is a river that flows on endlessly, forever and ever. What I have experienced and endured thus far is but a miniscule portion compared to my potential over a lifetime.
Our maddened world was taught to us to be a world of black and white, right from wrong. We have perhaps turned a blind eye to a third side, a fourth side, and even millions of sides. There was never a right answer was there? The reason why you never said a word to me about what was a definite right and wrong was because you understood.
The finiteness I have depended on is utterly useless. What is right today may be wrong tomorrow.
What I needed to do was to relish in everything and move on. I needed to hold onto my own beliefs and live each day according to what I believe. As long as I have this, I can succeed. There is no such thing as failure as long as I pick myself up.
There is no time limit as to when I need reach a certain point on my path because this path is mine alone. There is no one to tell you whether you are walking in the right direction, whether you made a detour, whether there is a shortcut, or whether this path actually leads somewhere.
As long as I have the strength in heart to keep putting one foot in front of the other, to pick myself up no matter how long it takes, I have succeeded in turning that failure into success.
And this reassures me.
I don’t have all the answers and I never will. The world is mad, but I don’t care about that.
Money? Brands? Power? God? I don’t care about any of that! What I care about is that I made a promise! And no matter how time changes it doesn’t change the fact that it was mewho promised. It is an undeniable fact that I have people I love. I promised the lot of them I wouldn’t make them regret anything, that no matter what I would keep moving forward without losing sight of those who sacrificed to push me forward or those who extended a helping hand towards a better future.
The world of black and white has the deepest and darkest black, but it also has the brightest white. Those instances when we laughed beside each other make my world a little brighter.
And now that I have answered you, perhaps you can sleep better as well.
Did you hear that?
We were all back in that living room again, sipping tea over a pile of mouth-watering buns. We all made ourselves comfortable around the table, simply enjoying the company of others.
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but what I have, it’s already enough.
That night, in my dreams, a gleaming white horse galloped across the lush green plains: ears erect as they took in the sounds of all living things, eyes wide with excitement looking out into the vast world of possibilities, and legs powerfully guiding it towards the setting sun. The horse seemed to never reach the horizon though, but the image was so startling beautiful it brought a swirl of emotions –love, hope, dreams, strength, and surprisingly, warmth. Before I knew it, the horse was gone, replaced by a figure of a woman facing towards me.
For a few moments, I tried to figure out why her face seemed so familiar. But who she was eluded me. She started walking away from me and wanting to find out her identity, I reached my hand out and chased after her. The ground was littered with stones and the objects that jutted out from the sides looked like tree branches, twisted and wicked. Away she went and I had a hard time running towards her with the obstacles in the way. The woman glided gracefully away, in no hurry and none of the obstacles impeded her path. I didn’t know how long they were playing this game of mouse and cat, but when I finally caught up to her, she was standing atop a small hill. Her figure was a shadow against the sun in the background and she turned to face me.
I could not make out her face but I could feel it –her smile.
My heart pounded and I felt I should know her. When I reached out to touch her, she disappeared like the morning mist. Alarmed, I took a step back, only to have my eyes fall upon the most magnificent sight below.
The soft music of an orchestra played silently in the background. With the jagged mountains behind me, I was faced with the lush green meadows of the plains. The wind blew across the meadow and suddenly, millions of brightly coloured flowers sprung to life. The sun came out behind the clouds and I could see it had recently rained for the petals still held some raindrops from the recent weather. The sunlight reflected off the raindrops and caused the petals to sparkle prettily. And the sky cleared up so the sky opened up to reveal clear skies.
I couldn’t stop myself –I smiled. I continued down the path in front of me, neither speeding up or slowly down. But walking at my own pace and enjoying the captivating view around me. And that was when I figured it was all a dream.
I had feared another night of nightmares but I was wrong; this is a good dream.
Did you like it?
The ending is open to interpretation whether Nadia truly managed to reconcile the difference between reality and her aspirations in life. The first chapter and this chapter are tied together. Hopefully you’ve managed to pick it out!
Thanks for reading!