Sunday, 23 February 2020

My last letter to you

398 days.

It has been exactly 398 days since the day I left you.

I have lived in guilt ever since, constantly apologising for the hurt I've caused, which I know can never be undone. But when I saw your picture with her three days ago, I felt a sense of relief. I felt relieved that you have finally moved past the hurt and learned to love again - something that I'm still in the midst of learning.

I confessed to you on the 17th of January 2012. We were preparing for our A Levels back then, but that didn't stop us from dating. I mean, what could be more important than true love when you're eighteen?

Seven years of loving each other went by like that; of which, four were spent abroad and eventually became what I call the happiest four years of my life. Of course, there were many occasions when we bickered and hurled nasty words at each other; but each time, love conquered all. 

Well, not all. It all started to fall apart when we returned home for good in the fall of 2018. Life was no longer eat-sleep-study-play-repeat. It was much more than that. There was now family, work, wedding planning, and many other "life things" that we had to juggle. 

On the 21st of January 2019, I wanted out. I was sick of the expectations that I had from everyone, including you. I was tired of living for anyone else but myself; and I made the selfish decision to f*ck commitment and embrace my "free spirit". I thought I was doing something noble but on hindsight, all I did was to take for granted the trust that we painstakingly built over the past seven years and ended up hurting you.

They call it the "gift of hindsight" because you only realise something after it has happened. While I eventually came to see that we were indeed pretty incompatible, I also realised that the way I handled the break up was very immature. All I thought about was myself but that is not what love is. 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 

- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

I didn't love you the way I should have. 

I'm writing this today because this will be my final apology. Seeing you happy again has put my heart at ease that I can now find my own happiness without feeling remorseful or regretful anymore. I hope that through this experience, I've matured and learned how to love properly, and I'm deeply sorry that you had to be the scapegoat. And I'm sorry for the times when I blamed you for the break up when I single-handedly drew the final stroke.

It struck me a couple of weeks back that if the break up did not happen, we would've been married by then. In years to come, we may have been a Marshall-and-Lily, or we may have realised that we made a mistake but have to work it out anyway because we made a vow to God and to each other. God knows. But if we throw away this linear perspective of things, I guess we can start to appreciate the seven years that we spent together for what it was worth. 

People come and people go, but some stay for a lifetime. You were my rock and I never imagined saying goodbye to you, ever. It's funny how everything can change in a matter of months, or even days; moreover, change in such a way that it takes your life on an entirely different path. 

I hope you're on a better path now, and I thank you for the seven years that gave my life so much meaning. We will still bump into each other at the climbing gym, at gatherings and perhaps at work. We will still drop each other a text once in awhile to check how the other person's doing. We probably won't be the best of friends but we will still care about each other. So I look forward to one day hearing and sharing the stories that we would've then created, in a life apart from each other. Till then, my friend of 15 years.


And to my readers, I know how hypocritical I sound, having written about the resilience of love for the past few years, only to fail at loving the one I held most dear. I've come to realise that while it is easy to write about rainbows and butterflies when things are going smoothly, it is extremely difficult to walk the talk when the rubber hits the road. I hope that rather than discrediting me as a writer, you'll continue following me through this coming-of-age story of mine. I will keep growing, and sharing with you my experiences in the most raw and genuine way possible. 

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Sinking deeper

I used to feel sad; I used to cry. I used to feel frustrated; I used to scream. I used to feel disappointed; I used to write. But right now, I don't feel anything anymore. All I feel is this profound sense of emptiness, almost as if there's a physical hole in my heart. I can't cry; the tears wouldn't come. I can't scream; our voices are drowned out by bigger things in this world anyway. I can't write; my inspiration is running dry as I sink into this never-ending abyss.


I see their hands reaching out for me, 
trying to pull me out of this eternal state of damnation.
I want to hold on to them,
but all I know is trepidation.

And then amidst the tepid gestures,
He stretches out His arm and offers liberation.

But as I inch a step towards Him,
fear grips me and breaks my resolution.

Maybe one day I'll find the courage,
to love and be broken and to love again.
But till then I'll keep floating in this sea of Whisky and Gin,
so that I may be on top of my pain.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

The prodigal girl

Have you heard of the parable of the prodigal son? Of how he left home with all of his inheritance, squandered it away, and eventually decided to go home and apologise to his father? Of course, we all know it was a happy ending. To the prodigal son's pleasant surprise, he was welcomed with open arms, and a feast was thrown in celebration of his return. Now, let me tell you a much bleaker story about the prodigal girl...

Once upon a time, there was a girl who grew up in a sheltered home. She was well-loved, and had no lack. Like the prodigal son, food was put on the table for her every day, she had a whole wardrobe of flamboyant clothes, and even travelled to far places! Of course, she had her occasional squabbles with her family - that's what families do - but she was generally a happy person. Not until her coming of age.

As she grew older and started to have a mind of her own, she came to realise how much she was missing out in life. Instead of counting her blessings, she started to covet for what others had that she didn't. Perhaps, it was a quarter-life crisis. As the days went by, her unhappiness compounded at an exponential rate till one day, she snapped. She packed her bags and left to explore the world on her own.

And it was a fascinating world indeed. Some days, she woke up to the sound of the waves lapping against the shore. Some days, she woke up to the hustle and bustle of the city. And on other days, she woke up with a hangover. But as with everything else, the law of marginal utility started to kick in and in no time, she sorely missed home. She wondered what home was like without her; wondered if home was still even there.

Some time later, she decided to check it out for herself and to her dismay, it was no longer there. She searched high and low, and asked the neighbours if they knew where her family went (after all, home was the people and not the building) but no one knew.

Crestfallen, she walked away to continue her journey of life on her own. She still woke up to birds chirping, waterfalls pouring, and other things that made her heart sing. But none of which she could ever call home.

So, this is the story of the prodigal girl and how she became homeless. I hope that one day she will find some place she can call home again.

Friday, 24 January 2020

Organisation with a heart ♡

How would one describe the public sector? Some would say 'a heart of service', 'welfare' or 'compassionate'; while other would say 'inefficient', 'bureaucratic' or 'uncompromising'. I guess it all depends on whether you are looking outwards or inwards. To its beneficiaries, the public sector shows compassion and kindness, or at least attempts to put on such a facade. But to its workers, it tends to appear cold, harsh, and even heartless at times (and I am speaking with the perspective of someone who works in the public sector).

At the birth of an organisation, the vision, roles, rules and relationships (what we call the V3R framework) are being set. However, as human beings, we tend to have different interpretations of the same vision, role, rule or relationship; and hence, problems and conflicts arise. To remove ambiguity and ensure that everyone is 'on the same page', standard operating procedures (SOPs in short) are written and are expected to be abided to at all cost. And as more problems arise, more areas of ambiguity are uncovered and more SOPs are written.

Over time, before every action or decision is made, one has to go through a series of SOPs to ensure that there are no negative repercussions for him or her. As a result, the room for individual discretion narrows significantly and any diversion from the norm warrants an investigation or some form of punishment. As someone who values freedom and kindness above everything else, I believe that while it is necessary to have a set of guidelines on how we should act and make decision, we should learn to take it with a pinch of salt. It is not the law; and even the law requires some level of human discretion. Furthermore, just as the law is not timeless, SOPs need to be reviewed, and challenged, over and over again to ensure that they keep up with the times.

I think my point is, we cannot and should not dehumanise the organisation. We cannot remove human agency from the organisation. While setting SOPs do indeed help to remove ambiguity and improve efficiency in certain situations, they should be practised with kindness and, frankly speaking, some common sense. The organisation is not a building, or a set of rules. It is the people who make up the organisation, no matter how big it may be. And so, it is absolutely possible to have an organisation with a heart.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Travel Haikus

Rows of wooden casks.
The scent of roasted barley.
Best pint of Guinness.
-Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

Drunk and angry fans,
"Take me home, United Road."
Full time whistle blows.
-Old Trafford, Manchester

A cold, silent night.
Glitter spilled across the sky.
The fire that burns.
-Sahara Desert, Morocco

Frozen in the night.
Green hues dancing above head.
My heart skips a beat.
-Reykjavik, Iceland

Latin inscriptions.
I still hear the ancient cries,
and tourist chatters.
-Colosseum, Rome

Sea of white and blue - 
that is where my heart belongs.
And my regrets, too.
-Santorini, Greece
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