When You Stop Looking

When You Stop Looking
(1,422 words)
My life had been a continual chain of events, during those few weeks after I had my differences soughed out with Sham. We had yet another fight, added to the collection of “combats” that was already there. I actually felt that my dreams (which was once our dreams) just deteriorated away. Painful, tormenting, but my life had to go on.

I had anticipated that the days ahead would be difficult, even unmerciful. My only worry was my first semester results. Had I not been too ingenuous, then I would not have been experiencing this perpetual uneasiness. No difference to the bugging flu I usually have. But needless to say, I would not let this pitiful epic of my life, get in the way of whatever is to become of me. Suddenly, the semblance of Irene, my bestfriend came into mind. All teary eyed, she mouthed.

“I’m gonna lose my bestfriend again. I loathe him”.

Irene had a distinctive perception about Sham. She hated his guts. I could not blame her either. The last time she had rescued me, I had a bruised eye. She took me to the bowling alleys just so I could let out my anger. Peculiar it may seem, I always had a firm stand about women being abused. I just could not understand the rational of not leaving one’s partner simply for the sake of love. Then, in turn, I became the punching bag. I even found myself, my unconscious self, making excuses for him. When I finally woke up one day, I felt…dump, stupid and even humiliated. That was the current biggest irony of my life.

It had been two years since I had met with Peter. Coincidences have always had my admiration and awe. We had been classmates back in 83, a year before I left for Brighton with my family. We were seven then and met up again when I was 21, in a club downtown. Did not even realize how much in common our past were, until Peter mentioned he had lived in a small town in the south once.

Irene strictly did not want to be around his presence. I knew how she felt. It is hard when you met up with ex-lovers. Astoundingly, the hurt is still there, only your will denies it. But, even with a tint of uneasiness from her, we had accepted Peter’s invitation to join him that night.

It was a small bar with a beach tune to it. They had even put sand on one side of the floor. I had only been there once and it was enough to tell me that it had a different crowd to my preferred bar, JGM, which was on the other side of town. The club where, initially we were headed to, was crowed with teenagers. It was late, Peter and I had a lot to catch up upon.

Common as it seems, I was introduce around even though I was more interested in the weekend plans I had made with Irene. She had pleaded to go back to JGM, and she did. Carl was waiting anyway. I offered her a ride back but something seemed to pull me back to that beach bar. Something very strong. I was sure it was not Peter.

“Are you Chinese?” his words came out very strongly.

A very cheerful Mat Salleh, mainly because he might have had more that a mug of beer that night. He was holding one when we were introduced. Not by Peter, but by a line of men introduced to me that night.

I was not annoyed by his whimsical inquiry. It was obvious that my grandmother’s side, who is a pure Indonesian Chinese, had given away my identity. But the years in Brighton had given me an odd individuality. Anyway, I was comfortable with, my away of English articulation.

I am still amazed how we could actually, talk for four hours straight that first night. Just talk. It goes to show how much in common you have with this particular person. Only one thing stood between us. My belief.

It was not just the editions of the Sarong Party Girl books that had the better of me. A firm stand is a stand. In my country, foreigners come and foreigners go. With his blue eyes, TJ is no difference. But it only took one weekend to bruise my sentiment. Totally disintegrated.

I felt attracted to this person. Eventually, I felt ashamed for having a racist view of him. Yes, the coloured can be racist too, you know. He is after all human. Human, but different.

“TJ’s an innocent Mat Salleh…” all his friends put forth.

It was the perfect definition for him. Intelligent yet silken. He had a velvet heart. He knew the exact moment to hold my hand and to enfold me. When it happens, time just stood still for me. Even his tone of voice was like sweet lullabies.

But I am fully feathered, and adult enough to know that, it takes more to label him my gallant knight in shinning armor. We shared many common views together, on various topics. Even experiences. Sometimes, I even felt as if I was looking at myself. It was the first time I did not have to pretend I was somebody else. Once, I had mentioned to him, “it felt good, to intellectually upgrade myself”. He smiled at the idea.

But even if it seemed to be “a happily ever after”, my heart was totally crushed. Like the foreigner he is, he had to leave. His professionalism was needed in another country.

When he flew off that day, he never knew my exact feelings. Though I joke about it…I was never serious enough, even have the nerve to look him in the eye and say it. It was just to early for me and I did…I had stopped looking. A good explanation that I had no interest to love or be loved.

Emails kept us in touch. He did listen to the particular CDs I had given as a giving away present. It had meant so much to me, for him to actually listen to “Leaving on A Jet Plane”. I just hope it would remind him of the times I had sung it to him, while strumming my old guitar away. At last, I had someone to share my passion.

Sometimes, when I drive back at 5.00 o’clock in the morning, my emotions sink into a deep emotion and yearning for him. The simple things about him. His scruffy hair. His smile. His “one octave higher” tone of voice when he has too much beers. The way he panics in search of his passport just hours before a flight. The way he says “Oh no..” and “Sweetie-pie”. His own personal grove to music, even though it’s just swaying while he sits comfortably. Other men could not look as good as he is, in a black shirt.

He had become my inspiration and my will to go on living. I owe him so much that in the weeks that he has been in my life, I have gain my strength to write poems, stories and songs. All this in, the one month and a half that I have known him.

He came back a few weeks before Christmas. The relationship had gone one step further. He knows how jealous I am of his good woman friend. I have my own excuses for that. I care about him. My mother once told me, in her attempts to soothe me after my disastrous relationship with Sham,

“You’ve got to like someone first before you could even love him”.

Up till now, I have stuck to that firm opinion. Momentarily, I am able to at least say that I like and care about TJ. He knows that, and I am content.

He is back in Hong Kong where he is assigned. It has been hard but…I’ll survive. I have learnt from this experience, from what one friend told me,

“You will always need an individual to miss and to care for, no matter how painful the experiences you’ve been through. Never deny the chance to love.”

I will never know what the end may be. Likewise, I am hopeful and optimistic. Quite a different side from before. It just goes to believe, that things happen when you stop looking and they happen in the simplest way.

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Published in: on May 29, 2007 at 12:43 am  Leave a Comment