Friday, 26 June 2009


It's funny how little things that have nothing to do with me tend to affect me these days.

For example, I was driving to the office this morning, listening to Hits FM when I heard Michael Jackson died. I didn't know what I was doing in the next few seconds after that, but by the time I snapped out of it, my front bumper was almost kissing the rear bumper of my supervisor's brand new CRV.

I was beyond shocked. Out of nowhere came this huge sense of loss. For no apparent reason.

I spent the rest of the day - when not in a meeting - glued to the radio stations that played only his music. I sang along to song after song and I realized I knew every word of every single one of them. They made me remember precious bits and pieces of my childhood; something I hadn't thought of for a long, long time.

More than that, I used to believe in his words; in his faith that the world can become a better place. And for feeling this loss, I guess a big part of me still does believe.

I just wished, for all his pain and suffering, that I could let him know..

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Aftermath of a conversation

“How long can you stay with someone who doesn’t love you?”

Ah. I wasn’t expecting that one. A tricky question, that is.

I looked at my brother, ten times more composed than the last mess I’d seen him when we first talked about broken hearts. It was something we shared in confidence. Well, being eldest in the family has its perks. I am sole privy to everyone’s darkest secrets. But then, I seem to have a particular understanding with this one. Experience wise.

It’s funny. I had a feeling the question was phrased in reference to my romantic chagrin rather than his own.

My brother wanted me to produce an answer. I wanted to keep him away from it. I wasn’t sure my response could help him; it certainly didn’t help me much. I don’t need him sinking into that sorry pit of despair all over again. So, as always I took the middle path. I shrugged my shoulders and gave him my best who knows expression.

Once bitten twice shy. That was my brother. He began with having so much faith and trust in one single being called a girl. She was, according to him, the very symbol of the rest of his life. She was religious, unbridled yet seemingly subservient. She would be the perfect life partner for someone who desperately dreamed of a family with conserved order. Wife at home with kids and meals and laundry. Husband working hard to support the family.

For four years it was all blue skies and fluffy white clouds. Until the day she happily told him she was getting engaged. To someone else.

The grieving cycle hit him really hard then. He broke, and I’d spent weeks walking him through the denial, the anger, self blame and depression. For a while he lost faith in women, particularly religious ones. He doubted a lot of things about himself, and went rambling on about what he could, should or would have done to save the situation. It was the most frustrating, annoying and painful thing to watch, especially when it’s your own blood.

How long can you stay with someone who doesn’t love you?

It isn’t easy. That question – if you’re distracted long enough to think about it – puts you at a crossroad almost immediately. What was the point in holding on to something that will never belong to you? Bunga bukan sekuntum, kumbang bukan seekor. Walk away and never look back was my father’s immediate advice when he saw my brother’s pathetic condition. Leave her, be a better man and make her pine for you!

An advice so vindictive and ill-dispensed, and yet so understandable coming from a prideful man.

To stop loving was never the question. Was love so cheap and low that it should dissolve at the slightest refusal? The aching in our hearts that moves us to care, to protect and to ensure the happiness of another.. does it exist with such intensity so that we can one day entirely forget? A devotion so easily evaporated – that isn’t love. Not by any stretch of the word.

I wanted my brother to know that it’s okay to continue loving someone. To continue to care. Not so that he can live a miserable life pining and waiting. But so that he may understand that love is a blessing, disguised or otherwise. A feeling heaven-sent to teach him to cherish others other than himself. In the larger scheme of things it didn’t matter that his feelings were not returned. What mattered was that he loved.

A friend once told me that caring makes for a heavy heart. One that becomes difficult to carry. Others felt the need to empty theirs in order to let others in. And then there were those who simply shut the doors and refused all advances.

Funny, but it’s hard for me to see it quite that way. I know my heart is alive and warm only when it is filled with the people and the things I love. I can’t fathom the things I care about ever becoming a burden to me. I believe the heart has infinite space and a vast capacity to hold many things dear. I've never run out of space to let people in and stay. You can love someone. But you can love someone else, too.

When I love someone, that person becomes a part of me for always. Because to love is as much about me as it is about them. It’s about me because I’m the one who loves, regardless of the outcome. And it’s about them because when we love someone, we want what’s best for them. We want what makes them happy, even if that removes us from the picture.

So, to my brother, my answer is this: leave the door open and let them come and go. Continue to love for as long as you want to, as long as you can. Move on if you feel the need and only when the time is right. Your heart may be heavy, but it could never be something you’re not strong enough to carry.

Because to love is to gain a source of strength.

It is only right that the more you love, the stronger you’ll be.