Saturday, December 15, 2007
And both of them were debaters. The best in the college and state. Representing their college at national and international tournaments, they were more often than not paired together in the same team. The chemistry between them is simply amazing, almost magical. Where one compliments the other, and each one a master of their own field. He reads widely and is knowledgeable in a wide spectrum of motions, she is quick and her mind spins without making her dizzy. The golden pair of the college, even debaters from foreign land know of their partnership on and off the debate arena.
Beneath still waters there will always currents that those who admire the still surface will never see. Currents, precisely, can never be seen. It's only felt. By those who dive into the waters of their relationship and experience the currents. The current is from him. A current of jealousy, a current of vengeance. Even towards the one he loves the most.
He was made for war and from war. Man, after all, are either made for war, if not from war. He was made for both. He's a fighter, a soldier, and he never loses. What he wants, he gets it. If not, he grabs it. In the instance if both the earlier and latter fails, he fights for it. His fuel is not motivation or determination, and certainly not the desire to be better. It is the green in his eyes that burns with anger of being the loser, fury that pushes him to never lose.
The thing that he'll never understand, is why she would be getting higher speaker scores than him. While he's the one that strategizes their case, trashes out the points and spearheads their team, she was getting the greater glory than him. After every debate, the praises heaped on her far exceeded those he could remember. Adjudicators speak highly of her, and in contrast of him.
What's wrong? He asked. Was it that he was lesser charming than her? Was it because her voice sounded much sweeter than his?
He was angry. Frustrated.
And jealousy, like poison, seeped into his blood. Carrying the venom into the deepest chambers of his heart, he turned love into hatret, allowed passion for debates to evolve into a competition of who's the better speaker. He distanced away from her, secretly doing 'training' of his own, furiously reading up as much as he could, so one day he could beat her in the arena again.
Then I'll be invincible! The edges of his lips curved into an evil looking smile. Wiping it away quickly, afraid that anyone would see it, he turned back to his books.
There was, however, one particular thing that really left him peculiar. She never spent that much time in training, or engaging in debates, or reading. Instead she spent most of her time in church activities. She was a worship leader - an awesome singer with the voice of an angel - and a musician at the same time. She invited him to church before, and he enjoyed the service. Soon he was part of the worship team - he too was a musician by training - and they enjoyed worshipping together.
Until the venom striked. He started to utilize church time for reading and training. He taught that those lost time in church can be replaced back after he wins a tournament. Besides, he'll be in the college for a while - what's the big deal of skipping church for 2 months?
Days before the Worlds debate, which was the largest debate tournament in the world, the college held its selection competition. He did his best, he was proud at his performance, but the results sent shivers to his spine.
Your points were utterly disappointing. Almost irrelevant
Were brought forth by the opening houses, no new extensions presented
We sensed a slight shaft in your case
His scores fell even below some of his juniors'. He fell from the usual top team to almost the last team, barely making the cut. She on the other hand, was comfortably at the top. This time, another guy took his spot.
He couldn't accept it. He was fuming. How could he have beaten me?
It was by God's grace, that both her and his team made it to the semi-finals. His partner, though junior, wasn't as bad as what he expected. Beating tougher opponents from Australia and England, they were finally at the Everest of the debate arena. A first appearance in a major international tournament. Thus far, their achievement is something worth shouting about.
He, on the other hand, had an agenda in mind.
Beat her team. Trash them. Devastate them!
He turned to an evil scheme. While they were preparing their cases for their semi-finals, he sat close to their team and eavesdropped. Taking down notes as if as he was preparing his own case, he laughed in his heart knowing that his victory and her defeat was sealed. Another evil smile carved his face, and he smirked at the very thought of the looks on their faces when the results would be later announced.
And indeed, her team lost, and his won. He was jubilant. He was proud.
I did it!
Joyfully trotting past her team, he tried to be compassionate and sympathized their defeat, but he failed to somehow cover up his evil look. She look right into his eyes, and suddenly he was convicted. Fear suddenly floated from the depth of his heart, and he shivered. For a long time, he thought that he had nothing to be fearful of. And suddenly, that look from her eyes, and he was scared. Cold sweat.
Trying to walk off, an announcement came over the PA.
"Semi-finals room 1, may the opening government and the closing opposition approach the front desk to meet the adjudicators please."
It was his and her team. They both silently went up to the table. A sombre look on the face of the chief adjudicator. He was not in a mood to fool around anymore.
"You cheated didn't you?" the CA asked. I didn't! Why should I?
"We have witnesses claiming that you eavesdropped on her team while they were preparing. There's no room for forgiveness or leniency here. Your team has been disqualified and the victory goes to the opening government." Looking to her, the CA went on. "Congratulations, I'm very proud of you. You were the truly deserving winner. All the best in the finals."
The adjudicators left almost as quickly as the news were delivered. He was left, stunned. How short the victory, how hollow the win. What happened?
"I couldn't believed you actually cheated," she blurted out. He refused to look at her, but he knew that she was crying. She ran off to the toilet, her nicely straightened hair plopping up and down her back. He felt so ashamed of himself, he felt so disappointed, he felt dejected.
And all at that moment, he realized that his labour went all in vain. He was now reduced to nothing. Once the high flying and proud riding debater who partnered the girl he loved, now disqualified because he cheated. Not able to bear the burden of his shameful exit, he walked out of the debate arena and headed towards the open space.
A bonfire was set up. It was supposed to be for the grand closing ceremony later the evening. He sat there, looking at the fire, watching the sparks fly around. He grabbed a stick, poked at some ashes, and then threw it into the fire. The dry stick burned and was turned into a black carbon. He sighed. How simple can life be, yet how painful.
Burying his head into his bent knees, he sobbed. The fighter now cries, not because the pain is too great, but because he lost. Not just a defeat in the debate, but a defeat in morale and emotions. He reflected at his own action and himself. He turned into a monster, a blood-sucking creature that no longer loves even the person he was supposed to love.
Is there any hope left for me? He silently asked.
A hand wrapped around his shoulders. It was a familiar touch, and he knew for sure. It was a touch that he could never forget, despite the fact that it now seems so foreign and alien.
"I still love you, you know," she said softly as she took her spot beside him and tightened her hands around him. "Nothing has changed that."
From behind her, she pulled out a gold trophy. He looked fondly at the gold trophy, one that he has so badly wanted to win, so badly wanted to fight for, yet failed to get it.
"I've won this, but it doesn't mean anything to me. Now you can choose, whether you want this or not." She handed the trophy to him. Something tugged him in his heart to stretch forth his arms and take it, but he refused to. It no longer was ego that held him back, it was remorse. Gold, is now meaningless.
And she threw the gold trophy into the flames, and it burned slowly. The gold resisted the heat, but soon succumbed to it. Slowly losing its original shape, the gold trophy now looked no different from the other pieces of wood burning in the flames.
"The day I picked up debate, was the day I learned that gold was in a grasp's reach," she said. "Gold, and I refused to pick it up. I never allowed it to take first place in my heart, because it already belonged to God.
"Gold and God, and I chose God. I chose Him, and with that choice came the privilege of Gold. Gold, without God, is meaningless. The 'l' between the alphabets O and D, is merely a stick, another piece of wood that eventually dries up and burns up in the flames.
But God, always remains there. Is always more valuable than Gold. That choice I made, made all the difference between me, the champion, and you, the disqualified one."
He knew that she was right all this while. He left God for the gold, he left the heaven for the world. He left, and the blessings left him to. She stayed on with God, dwelling in His presence, and the blessings just kept flowing into her life.
At that crossroad of his carrier, he made his decision. It was a makeover, and a comeback. A comeback in the debate arena - as a consequence of his cheating act, he was suspended from all international debates for 6 months - and a return to the heavenly family. He turned back to God, and with that came the blessings he longed for. Blessings he could have never received. He became a champion again, the speaker he always wanted, he once again made top rankings with her, and both of them once again worship God happily in church. The currents were dealt with, other than occasional recurrence, he is back on the track, walking down the road that was long paved for him.
From there, he learned that when the gold may seem more lucrative than God, it is, at the end of the day, only God that has the power to give the gold to anyone He wants to. Only by putting Him first, will gold come much later in life. He chose God from Gold, what would your choice be?
Thursday, December 13, 2007
It was, arguably, an unusual day for an ordinary weekday. The hustle and bustle of the city remained the same. The cars, the buses, the cyclists, the pedestrians; the traffic, the jam, the long wait.
What was noticably different, was the traffic jam without the honkings and noise. Instead of staying in the make-comfort of the air conditioning of the cars, drivers and passengers started winding down their windows. Heads popped from the cars, all looking uniformly towards a similar target. One by one, people got down from their vehicles, ignoring the jams or traffics. Slowly but steadily, no heads turned, more and more congregated at Liberty Square, a huge open area in the heart of Zanotopia's capital.
The fingers pointed accurately at the number 5 on the ancient clock high on the Liberty tower. Right below it was a huge television screen, which coincidentally became the prime focus of the congregation. It was the evening news, and conventionally the screen would be telecasting live from Zan Network, the republic's premier cable.
That could probably mark a historic rate of viewers. Twenty thousand gathering in front of Liberty's screen, with millions more staring at the same time all across the nation. But it wasn't something the network wished to report. The celebration was at deficit, and the ratings were now hollow. Juxtaposting with the weight the news carried, there was almost nothing that now mattered more.
It was a nation at stake. First was images of the enemy camp in the Kalanis region, 100km away from the republic. Quickly following it was a recorded video from the enemy. Evil laughter, threats of destroying the republic with nuclear, more threats of taking all citizens as hostages and turning them slaves.
Then came the real blow.
"The reyarps, 12 of them in total, failed to infiltrate enemy's camp in a neutralization attempt." the people gasped. Caught between disbelief and shock, there were hushes and whispers all around. How could the reyarps have failed? Weren't they invincible? What happened?
Fear gripped the nation, tighter than a man choking another by the neck. National security was now at stake. The republic's sovereignity was now on the line. The reyarps were the epitome of the nation's modern defense, the elite of the elites. Now that the strongest have failed, what is left to protect them?
Even before the people have overcame their fears and anguish, yet another shocking news came.
"One of the 12 captured is the son of the General, Sergeant Reinzer, the commander and leader of the elite reyarp squad."
Dumbfounded, those watching turned to one another, with no words slipping from their lips and no questions exchanged, there was only one thing on their mind:
What's going to happen to us now?
If there was anyone who knew the whole story, who could vividly recall the events that slowly unfolded in the cells of our captivity, it would be me. This is the true story of what happened, what the reyarps went through for the next 72 hours, the struggle we endured as one nation waited in fear as hope of survival and victory slowly faded.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
A sob. Soft, as if as she was fearful of someone overhearing that sob while passing by. Swimming into her emotions, I identified that as a struggle. She was trying to hold her tears back, so hard, yet it fell. Struggling to not cry, but she still sobbed.
I knew what needed to be done. I wasn't created with abilities to understand the human emotion without a purpose. More than just being able to understand humans, I could also move to and fro in time, into the past and the future. The power to look past the physical barriers of humans - walls, buildings, obstructions - and the power to dwell in a being that invites me in.
But somehow, I never like being what I am. Despite all these abilities I have, I will never be seen. Nobody can see me, minus the heavenly beings. Not anyone can sense my presence, though some will and had before. When I was made, I was made differently. Unlike my other 'friends' in heaven, I wasn't made with 3 pairs of wings or with a with white sparkling apparal. Only ordinary, with no shape or form, only me.
And I was often picked at.
"No wings!" Laughter. Mockery. "How is it that you're not wearing clothes?" More laughter. More mockery.
What's wrong with not having wings? What's the matter about not having a form? I am made as what I am, not what I wanted to be.
Not enjoying the company of those heavenly but rather unheavenly beings, I roamed in the Man's world. Moving between cities and nature, floating around, listening to the laughter of happy families, smiling at the cries of a new born, cheering at the victories scored by people who never gave up.
And occasionally, like in such an instance, to help wipe some tears away from a crying person.
I knew where I had to go. In no time, I was staring at that young lady. Swollen red eyes, she stared into blank space. Stains of dried tears smeared her otherwise lovely and rosy cheeks, eyes that could sparkle had it not be for the crying, and a face that no one couldn't love anymore. She was, indeed, a fine young lady. And at first sight, had almost no reason at all to even cry.
Her past was stained with the harshness of this unforgiving world. She never had enough to eat - her dad was a poor worker - and never had the love of a family - her mother died of tuberculosis while she was still little. Struggling to survive, she walked into the world of thieves and bandits, washing dishes in a dark pub, with whatever the meager wages in return of her labour, place bread on the table for her younger siblings. Social welfare gave her a scholarship, while studying she stinged on every single penny and sent it back home, knowing that it would help elevate the burdens of her dad.
The longer I looked into her past, the more my heart sank. Her dad, being the good man and the loving husband, developed a staph infection while working in the recycling factory. The boss refused to send him to hospital, and one day he fainted and bled from his nostrils and ears. It was just too late. The girl was crushed. Gave up her scholarship, and for the second time, walked back into the arms of the world itself and selled her soul in a light deficit corporation. Lies, deception, backstabbing became her wounds and scars. Battling against people of similar nature, she was deceived by a man who seemingly loved her yet betrayed her for the flesh. And now, she lied motionless at the corner of her little apartment in a slum, accompanied by grief, anguish, bitterness, anger, and despise.
I saw the spirit of despise and the spirit of grief encircling her. Every time it revolves around her, it left a black mist of doubt and anger around her. I knew this dirty scheme. It blurs her sight and vision. It leaves her disillusioned. It makes her depressed. It condemns her and herself. I've seen enough of this. Too many people have fell prey to this mist. Too many families torn apart, too many lives lost, and too many went astray. In me, fury raged. A fiery anger that could not tolerate black and darkness. And I knew what had to be done.
With a loud cry, I charged at the spirits. Tearing them into pieces, I didn't leave them with a chance. They were no match against me. With me was a secret weapon, a small knife made of light that allowed me to use it freely against darkness, and I had no hesitation against them. They vanished into thin air along with the dark mists, but the girl was still crying.
Wrapping my form around her, it was my turn to encircle her now. Instead of leaving behind dark black mists, I left her with warmth and light. Moving my 'hands' to wipe her tears away, I whispered into her ears.
Hang on! You're not alone!
She looked up, not knowing that I was closer than what she thought I was. Her last drop of tear fell, and as it fell she allowed these words to slip her lips:
"Lord, what must I do now?"
With mixed feelings - relief, frustration and a tinge of disappointment - I marched up to my Father. The One who created me. He knew I was approaching, because even before I saw Him, I already heard His question.
Why are you angry? Funny isn't it, I'm supposed to be the one that's asking, and instead He asks me first.
First come first serve. You know the answer, don't You?
He motioned me to step into his arms. Thus far, only He can hug me because no one else could. Again I felt encouraged, felt at home and comfortable, at least, while the other beings are not around to tease me about not having any wings or white apparels.
"Why are bad things happening to good people?"
"Why are darkness shadowing the light?"
"Why are people suffering and crying?"
Paused. The most important question took a while to come out. Reluctantly, I blurted out,
"Why am I just a ghost?"
Looking down at me, the same loving Dad He has always been, He pointed in front. I looked up, and saw a glimpse of the world.
A huge auditorium, with thousands of people dressed in smart suits and beautiful night gowns. Resembling an award ceremony. They were standing, applauding a young lady clad in an awesome red dress that was slowly making her way to the stage to receive a little trophy. And I looked closer.
She walked to the microphone, beaming with pride and flashing her million dollar smile. Compared to the her I saw moments ago, it was a complete transformation, a stark difference, a total makeover. From the shriveled girl that was hiding at the corner of the room to the proud and tall lady in a night of acknowledgement and appreciation.
"I walked through life with nothing more than a torn pair of sandals. My dad was too poor to purchase proper shoes for me. I started work at the age of 10, with nothing but my bare hands to wash dishes. I entered the corporate world at 19, because my father died and left me responsible for the welfare of my 3 younger siblings.
"Journeys, my friends, may be tough. Punishing. Disappointing. Sometimes you'll never get what you want. I once wanted a man, and when I thought I met the right guy, he left me after having a rough time on the bed with me." Stopping, there was a mixed response from the crowd. Some laughed, thinking it was a joke. Some gasped, holding back doubts and disbeliefs that all that she said about herself was true.
Clearing her throat, she continued. "People, in times of trouble, hang on to things. We all need something to hang on to. I won't know what you would hang on to, but I knew one promise that I've always hung on to faithfully, despite not knowing what the future holds, even though I may not see things changing, I have walked through the last 15 years of my life, seeing God's goodness in my life, experiencing His grace in my walk with Him, and constantly amazed at what He has done in my life.
"That promise is simple. It is a promise that He will never let me walk alone. A promise that no matter how tough the road ahead can be, He's there. And if you ever doubted that, I stand before you, a witness, a testimony, of how God has been such a wonderful companion in my darkest nights."
I was held breathless. Lost for words. Could this be true?
"You see," He finally said. "You were never a ghost. Ghost, is simply a name the rest give to you."
"You are a representative of me. A messenger of my promises. You don't need to do anything, but just be with them and in them. You know who needs you most. You know what needs to be done."
Go do it!
I smiled. Satisfied with what I heard. In front of me, is the girl. She's still at the corner of the room, she's still crying, she's still in pain. I saw what I know will come true, and I did what I had to do. I stayed on with her, for a long time, with that vision at the back of my mine, and for once never minded about what the other beings made fun of me. It takes more than just wings or a white gown to make a difference in people's life. Or maybe, you don't need to be an angel to be more than the angel that people need.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Being a strong and powerful horse of a breed well known to Man, she always hated to be rode around. Her muscles, her power, her torque, was never meant for a human being, so insignificant and so useless - due to the idea that they can't run - thus the thought of getting a human rider over her back, to kick her by the side often got to her nerves.
She wanted to be free. She wanted to run in the wild like a beast. She wanted animals and creatures to see her in awe, and not see the rider over her back. She wanted to be seen and not be sat on, she wanted to be what she was.
One day, her opportunity came. As the rider, again, as usual, kicked her by the side as she was trying to make a jump over a little boulder, this time she flicked her hind legs hard and wide, lifted her whole back up to the sky and shook violently. The rider, taken aback by her sudden response, lost control and balance, and in a split second was off on the ground. She galloped away with the wind, swiftly without looking back, thrilled by her new found freedom.
Crossing the many miles of grass and fields, the stepping across rivers and streams, she was filled with pride and a sense of dignity. Now, she's the wild horse that Man cannot tame. The proud stallion that people will admire and dream of catching to no avail. She was strong and powerful, the beast that the forest has never seen!
But soon enough, she realized that this new found freedom of hers wasn't really freedom. She wandered around the open fields and meadows. After a while, she got bored with the grass and scenes. It wasn't like she never saw those kind of things before. She saw plenty of it while she was still carrying her rider wherever she went.
Now, she lost her sense of meaning and direction. The evening sun came and set behind the dark mouintains, and she knew not where to rest her head. Still strolling, she slowly missed her rider. The rider will usually give her a nice warm rub every evening, and tie her to something so that she can rest comfortably. No more were there any warm rubs, she didn't even know where to go and rest for the night.
She was what she was, because of what the rider gave her. Losing the rider, and she lost what she is.
The tears of a horse are tears that Man never sees, yet she was crying and sobbing. A horse that was once a symbol of power and might, suddenly reduced to emptiness and direction-less. She wished that she didn't kick her rider off. She wished she wasn't so arrogant and so strong-willed. She was ready to give up anything now, even her own life, to get the rider back on her self.
Still caught in her tears, her eyes caught the dim light at the corner of her horizon. She tilted her head, wondering the source of the light. Soon, a familiar voice called from a distance, getting louder and louder.
She didn't have to wait for the rider to find her. She knew that if she lost this opportunity, she will never get it back again. She got up to her legs, and again, carried by the wind, back to the feet of the rider. The rider ran to the horse, and gave his beloved carrier a warm hug and a nice rub on the back.
"Where have you been?" he asked with so much warmth and love. She so wanted to tell him how much she missed him, how sorry she was for leaving and kicking him off, and her promise of never going away again, but all that could come out from her were the mere grunts of a typical beast.
"You'll never go again would you?" Never.
A rider, brings meaning to the flying of a horse, and the rider is the heartbeat of the horse. The rider makes the horse what it is, and the rider makes the horse a magnificent creature that both Man and creatures will read, see and hear. Where is your rider, and what have you done with him?
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Suddenly images of waiting at a bus stop - God knows why - led me to the thought of what happened shortly after I surrendered the handkerchief back to my dad.
My dad, being the wise and kind one, as he gave me the handkerchief, was clearly aware that I will never be able to fully utilize it. Not able to understand the value of that silk handkerchief, he decided to keep it and give it back to me later when I'm slightly older and 'more mature' to handle it wisely.
A small kid I was, and a small mind I had. The whole idea of having to 'wait for the handkerchief' wasn't something I actually liked. My mother spent many many weeks of having to painfully explain to me why I couldn't have the handkerchief yet, and why I had to wait for it, so that I won't tear the handkerchief, so that I won't simply lose it, so I won't destroy it or use it wrongly and stuff...
.. but the hard part came, when I suddenly saw the old handkerchief I used to have.
And this time, it was in the hands of a kid of my age, that I actually - and seriously - disliked.
My jaw dropped as I saw him pulling out that handkerchief from his pocket. What on earth is that handkerchief doing with him?!? And as he drew it out, he shaked it so hard and flapped it open without giving it much thought of 'what would happen to the poor handkerchief'. Anger started to rise in me, and I could feel the heat all over my face.
After some vigorous shaking and flapping of the handkerchief, he wiped his nose. Blowing hard into the handkerchief, I could see strains of the utterly disgusting mucus coming out from his nose, and he wiped harder than ever.
That was the last straw. Breathing fury and inhaling fumes, I charged right up to him. I was almost running with my fist clenched tightly. For a small kid back then, I sure was mad and angry. My eyes were burning at the sight of him, and I saw him burning and bleeding in my anger as I approached him. He's going to pay for it, he will.
At the nick of time, luckily, my mother stopped me. Holding me back with one hand on my shoulder and the other hand on my head with her back facing the boy, she pushed me all the way back to a little corner and carried me up from there. I wasn't prepared to give up at all. I was so close to socking him for treating my beloved handkerchief in such unruly and inhumane manner, with no sense of responsibility or awareness towards the value of that handkerchief he was holding. Fighting my mom, I was kicking and pushing her hands away to almost no avail. Slowly, as I realized that I could never outdo my mother, the struggle faded slowly.
No more did I fight my mother. That time, the anger and fury made me weary and tired. I was then devastated, a soldier lost in nowhere, a pilgrim without a compass. Sadness overwhelming me, I cried and sobbed softly. In the middle of a grand function, I would be really shy if other people saw me crying, and I was careful not to let anyone see those tears of mine. Sobbing, I finally fell face first into the strong shoulders of my mother, and wrapped my little hands over her neck.
Patting me on the back gently, she carried me out into the garden for a walk. I was still crying, but only the tears were left on my face. My mom's shirt was almost drenched in my tears. She hummed the song "Give Thanks" softly into my ears, and that really did calm me down.
But the sadness, the frustration, the struggle..
My handkerchief, once everything I only had then, now in the hands of an idiot that didn't appreciate it..
"Why is it with him?" choking on those tears, I finally asked.
"It's dad's to give darling," my mom sad softly. For a little boy, I thought I could sense the sadness in her tone and voice. "But I'm sure dad knows what he's doing ok? He loves you darling, I promise.."
"You know that too don't you?" she continued.
I nodded my head slowly. Back then, I couldn't understand why would he ever allow such an obnoxious kid to hold the once favourite handkerchief of mine, and until now I still don't. All that I could remember now, is that after I nodded my head while rested comfortably on my mother's shoulders, I still cried, in my heart, for a long time. I cried, and cried, and was left to cry. My dad, I thought, would never have seen me cry back then.
But somehow, later as I grew up, even if I never actually knew why he gave him the handkerchief, I had this strong inkling, that he knew exactly when I cried, and why I did. After all, he's the dad.
Monday, October 29, 2007
In the loneliness and darkness, I've heard the call of solitude.
Have you ever seen, the pot of gold on the edge of the rainbow?
Legend says, those that places their hands in it, will come out blessed and great.
Have you ever smelt, the scent of the morning winds?
It carries the fragrance of your loved ones, it reminds you of people that care for you.
Have you ever tasted, the honey in the bittergourd?
Its sweetness is magnified, its taste no one can forget.
Have you ever ran a thousand miles to catch a leopard?
The leopard mocks the fools that chases it, and the dust is all it leaves behind.
Have you ever swam the seven seas to hunt for a mermaid?
It's a dream that keeps you swimming, and the storms that makes the catch worth millions.
Have you ever felt the strength of a lame man?
He is strongest when he tries to stand up, greatest when he hangs on.
Have you ever touched the palms of a labourer?
Amid the cleavages of his hard hands, are the valleys of his family and his love.
Have you ever held a fish in your hand?
Soft to your senses, yet a struggle to its survival.
Have you look up into the skies and marvelled the stars that paint the night?
To stand in awe, the mysteries of the universe, yet the simplicity of its brightness.
Have you heard the works of a disabled musician?
In his weaknesses, he produces the greatest pieces; in his struggles, he creates the most amazing music.
Have you seen the light at the end of a tunnel?
More than just unmistakable or bright, it is the one thing that keeps you going.
No man is ever left alone, and the storm has a lesson of blessing at its end.
Nobody is ever left unloved, and the obstacles in life has a beautiful story for people to hear.
The pace of the world was never meant to be chased, but the dreams of the heart is left to be pursued.
The greatest strength is always seen in utter weaknesses, and amid the tough, the soft is never forgotten.
Somethings are never meant to be, the rest will always be.
Somethings are best in its worst, but in its worst, the light always prevails.
Walk towards that light, for that light will neither dim, nor fade. I know, coz I've once walked to and through that light.
Friday, October 19, 2007
It's more than a year since I first met her. From that first hand shake as related in the first post about her, we have came a long way. Partners in Christ, workers of His kingdom, servants of the Lord.
People look at us, close, laughing, talking together so much, little do they know what are the conversations that take place between us. It is easily perceived that we're nothing more or less of a couple in love, youths in a relationship that decide to spend time together. It's easy for the side that's doing the assumption and stuff.
One weekend, I casually invited her out for dinner at Subang. Had a long talk, a short talk, and a nice - but costly - dinner. After that was a small talk about CA. What has happened throughout the year, what we have went through, how we dealt with problems and crisises, how far has it went..
And I realized, that was it. There it is, a job completed, a completed work, a term that we all ran and finished together, minus some last preparations before a complete handover can take place.
I sighed. Caught in a dilemma of relief and sadness. Relieved because we managed to pull through, because the dedicated team of people that were always behind and beside us slogged harder than anyone else, because of the things we went through together, the whole team is now closer together. Amanda once promised us, "Believe it or not, CA will be your family, CA will be your closest friends, CA is your home." Reflecting on those words of wisdom, I couldn't have said it any better.
And sad, because a great partnership has officially ended.Over my many years of service to the school or to my bosses that I've worked for, I always work with a partner. I always perform better when with a great partner. Worked with great emcees for major events, I've worked with awesome debaters in tournaments like Sathya, Deenish and most recently Rachel, had great teams of people working on projects like with Wei Li..
...but really, nothing beats working with her. Behind the scenes of CA, where business is business and God's work is real serious, there are little things that God puts along the way to help us grow and learn, and have some joy out of it. This partner is one of it.
And reflecting on things, I have came a long way with her. Many might not know that the reason why I enjoy working with her is not because it's easy to get along with her. I won't disagree if anyone tells me that she's the nicest person to be with - because it's true at times - but at the same time, it's not.
Maybe one of the reasons why I enjoyed my 1 year period of working with her, was because of the many partners I've worked with, I never had such an opportunity to know them as much as I knew her. And other bonuses too were similar family background, a history of once being rejected and isolated, never enjoyed material luxury, but more importantly, same passion and same love for God.
But maybe, the greatest reason was because she taught me how to be a better person for myself, for other people, for God.
She taught me how to not judge people. Like anyone, we have our own past. A past of being condemned, judged and deemed unworthy. A history of not being accepted, being secluded and being isolated. Knowing how it feels like to be in that position is one thing, but being in a position to make a change is another thing. And altogether, we were together placed in a position to make that change, she taught me how to not make the same mistakes others did.
She taught me that no one is perfect. No matter how nice you can be, there will always be a time where you make mistakes or piss someone off. At least, she made me realize the number of times I pissed her off. She never reserved her comments on me, and one thing for sure, she never lied. She never hide her anger and her fury when I made her feel so. She reminded me that it's ok to be angry and to quarrel. We quarreled a lot, and after the quarrel I'd be the remorseful one that feels like a total asshole for making her angry in the first place.
More importantly, she showed me that though you may have screwed things up so badly where people are concern, there can always be a second chance. She was always forgiving, and she taught me how to say sorry by first saying it.
The day she said she was sorry, was the day that she made me cry. Amazingly, I am a person that will almost cry for nothing, and yet she made me cry. It wasn't anything big or major or important, instead it was over a small comment that she made about a photo I took. Hurt, especially when an undesirable comment came from someone that meant so much to you. Tears that fell, were like a river washing through a dry bank. For the first time in my life, I thank God for putting those tears in me.
Earlier the year, I almost allowed myself to believe that after all that I've went through, I have no more tears left to shed. Yet God could use a partner to prove otherwise. Probably God was laughing and mocking me when He made me cry, but I thank God that He again made me realize that there will always be no end to tears, because as long as there are tears, there is hope of a someone that will wipe it away.
For as much as I have seen her tears, so has she seen mine. Not the physical tears, but she the tears in the heart that no one sees unless you open it up for them. And as usual, she being the sensible one may not wipe it away, but she'll help me get over and along with other things ahead.
"Let it go."
That night, as I talk to her, somehow I was just overwhelmed with sadness and a tinge of fear. Sad because I know I probably won't lose a great and loving friend, but because I've lost opportunities to work with her. A lil fearful, worried about whether I'll ever be able to meet someone as wonderful as her.
"Thank you," I finally blurted out, "For that fantastic partnership that you've given me."
"Uh, not me boy," she replied. "It came from God." I smiled. That was just her. Never taking the credit for herself, always giving it back to where it truly deserved.
I stretched out my hand, almost the same way I stretched it out one and a half years ago. That time, it was a show of new friendship, now the end of an almost magical year of working and laughing and crying.
She replied similarly, the same handshake. Holding her hand, I could feel the cleavages along her palm. Hard, from the labour of her past and history, and yet warm, from the sincerity and the trueness of a friend that is often lacking in a world of competition and business.
Somehow, something in me told me to not let go. Something in me prompted me to just hang on and hold on. I wanted to. Dearly. But I know that the time will eventually come where you must let go of what is in front of you for something ahead of you that you may not see.
Still, I'll never like the idea of memories. Memories are mere symbols of the past. I hate to be reminded of the past. I wished I never had memories, but rather be in the presence of beautiful things. Where memories are only things that you can recall and wish it was happening, I want to be in the midst of real beautiful things that happen.
Never liking it though, won't change the fact that memories now are all that is left with me now. This is the last and final post, no more will anyone read about her. A promise that must be kept, a word I gave her that will be fulfilled. A magical partnership, a splendid year, a great friend I will remember. Beautiful not in what she looks like, not in what she has, but simply in what she is. A lady of peace that I won't ever forget. Not especially that night, and certainly not that last handshake.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
I once saw a wise and old candle maker, sitting alone in a little cozy room, a magnifying glass on one side of his nose, under a little lamp, carving something. By right, since he’s a candle maker, he should be making candles. That’s an easy task, considering the fact that candles are just made of wax – just melt it and mold it – so why the magnifying glass, the lamp and the scrutiny?
“It’s a special little candle, my son,” he said slowly without even looking up. Not willing to take his eyes off the task his hands are on, he replied under that same breath, “It’s a special candle.”
Special? What’s so special about a candle? Don’t all candles serve the same purpose of being lit and lighting up the surroundings?
He saw people changing candles every time. It was a tiring process of having to climb up the ladder and remove the wax from the candle holder, fix a new one on top and light it. It was more than just tedious, it was sometimes dangerous. Many little children have tried changing the candles and got burnt. Houses burnt down because they weren’t careful while fixing the new candles. Lives lost in the process of that. Something needs to be done, he said to himself. And how it can be done, was by removing the need of having to change those candles instead. In the process, he came up with an idea, of making a candle that will never burn out. If it can’t be burnt out, it wouldn’t need to be changed or replaced.
“I spent a lot of time thinking, honestly,” his knife carving little holes all over the candle that he was making. “How could I make a candle that will never burn out?”
Eventually he revealed to me his little secret. What he did, was that he collected the waxes of used candles – the candles tears – and heated it over and over again. It was so condensed and so concentrated, that it became almost pure wax, nothing but the essence of condensed wax. It was wax that was never diluted, never bought from outside, never taken from brand new candles, but it was once an ordinary candle that was lit, burnt out and recollected. This wax will burn even longer than normal wax – since it is concentrated – and it burns brighter – since it’s made of purer wax than the rest.
After collecting the essence of the candle, he moulded the wax into the shape of a hollow cylindrical tube, empty in the middle. Then he inserted a little metal rod with holes all over the metal rod into that moulded wax. Finally, the wig was stuffed unto the candle tip.
“A perfect candle, my friend.” He picked up that candle and smiled.
Why the hole-y metal rod in the middle? I asked.
It will be used to refill the candle. The wax, no matter how concentrated and how pure, will always run dry. It will always run out one day, so to stop it from dying and being burnt out, wax will be pumped from below the candle upwards, and refilling it sideways to replenish the wax that was once used up.
A masterpiece, he claimed. Satisfied, he gently put down the candle.
I wondered, how long it took him to produce that one candle. Reading my mind, he smiled and threw the question back to me. “How long would it take you to use hundreds or thousands of candles?” Years, I replied. That’s if I only use a candle a night. “Exactly.” The desired answer came as swift as my reply.
Another question popped into my little brain, How many more candles would he need to make? This time, I spoke my mind. He tilted his head into the air, engaged in some air-ithmetic for a moment, and looked back onto the desk where the candle was laid to rest, “As many as this world needs.”
A strong and sturdy candle! Wow! I exclaimed. It must be the best in the world. One that will never burn out, one that will stand strong, one that can light up the surrounding like no other. Isn’t that just amazing? This world is now a better and safer place! Kudos to the great candle maker! Thank God for people like him that choose to make a difference by making this world safer!
Instead of responding as enthusiastically as me, suddenly the smile on his face vanished. Sorrow took over and a bowed curve, written along his forehead. Why the sorrow, I asked curiously.
“You see my son, this candle, though was made to be strong,” he paused to release a sigh. “It will still melt like any other candle. Though it’s the essence of many many burnt candles, it will still melt and burn out too. Unless someone replenishes it, it too will run dry and become useless like any other candle you buy from the store.”
Like any other candle, that candle of steel will still weep. No matter how hard or how long to make it, it still serves the same function like any other, it still goes through the same tears as any other candle. But unlike the rest, for what that steel candle went through, it was made to last and not die.
In the candle maker’s very own words, “Its tears, are the most precious of all, the most painful of all, the most treasured of all. It’s one tear, is the tears of many others that it had to go through.” And he spoke no more of that candle called steel, and went back to make many more.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
It's funny how an army private can sometimes dumbfound a staff sergeant. Not that it happens most of the time elsewhere in other countries since regulations and discipline is always utmost priority until it stifles communication and interaction. In Zanotopia, soldiers of different ranks and positions stay at the same bunks, work in same units and groups, and are almost indifferent where rank and profile are concern, thus the freedom of speech among the hierachy.
It was during training. The whole batallion was running and doing the normal drills as usual. And as usual too, the troops in the units will always remove their shirts. Some say it helps to get the sweat off your shirt - save some water on the extra amount of dirty clothes that has to be washed - other thinks it's an opportunity to flex their muscles to each other. Not that they're trying to get attention from each other, especially when they're of same (or similar) gender, it's the ego that's at stake.
Unusually, however, the staff sergeant will wear his shirt. More than just a shirt, but the complete army outfit. Many have wondered, but not many dare to ask. More so that the SS is well known for his temper, lousy attitude and impatience. Never takes 'no' as an answer, never accepts 'sir I think you're wrong' as a response, never accepts failures, and seldom - if not never at all - encourages questions asked.
The irony then comes when it didn't take someone from a position above his to throw him that question, but someone new, fresh, no almost nuts about the military, to 'make him wonder'.
"Sir, while everyone runs without their gear and outfit during the drills, why do you do that?" the private asked.
The question of course stunned the SS for a while. He never expected a junior to throw such a question at him. His colleagues and bunk mates teased him before, but no one actually asked out of concern and care. Somehow, like always, his defense mechanism started was activated. Excuses and some barking around, telling him off for being a busybody and a warning to stop snooping around his business.
Interesting enough, that defense mechanism though activated, never worked out any results. He just stared at the junior, mouth ajar with no words said yet, and gazed into the eyes of the junior. From those little eyes beneath the ruffled hair trickling with sweat, he knew that this junior knew something about him.
"Sir, it can get a little heavy at times." I'm sorry if I'm being a busybody, maybe I'm not in a position to ask, but just so you know..
I'm concern, and we care about you sir.
The private trotted off to the dinner calls of his friends, leaving the SS behind, amid tired soldiers moving to the canteen, but alone in his thoughts. Drowned, he knew that in that sea of thoughts was an answer. Or he need not even look into those thoughts, he just need to lift up his shirt for those answers.
Quietly closing the door of his bathroom cubicle, he took of his armour piece by piece. Standing in front of the mirror, stark naked, completely stripped off his armour, he saw what he never wanted others to see. Unhidden by any piece of garment, the bruises of his torments were clear and evident. The marks of a suffered and tortured ex-prisoner of war, the traits of an abused soldier back in the old regiment, the scars of a defeated soldier.
All this while, he knew so surely, that if anyone saw those bruises that will never fade, those scars that will never heal, he will be discriminated. The army perception is that the weak will never be fit for the army, the sick don't deserve to be a part of Zanotopia's elite military force, the defeated are never regarded as soldiers. At the back of his mind, he can imagine himself losing all opportunities to rise even further in the ranks. He saw himself isolated and secluded, rejected and discredited despite the stars and stripes he won for himself, despite the lengths he covered in the battlefield, just because he was defeated.
Sick, a disease in the mind. Bruise, more than just a blue-back mark across his back and chest, but a spot in his heart that hurts when applied pressure.
Later the evening he met up with Nire. Wasn't he glad that he had that opportunity to be at the side of someone who would finally understand. She was always the good listener. He would spill his thoughts to the floor - that's where his eyes were glued at everytime he talked 'with' her - and she would just listen, absorb, be a part of the scenario he was in, and finally and most importantly, the advice.
"You know," she broke the long silence after he concluded his problem. "The question is more than just why aren't you prepared to let people see what is inside you, but rather, what is it that you can't accept about yourself."
Second stunner in a single day. He exhaled heavily along with a sigh.
You still can't accept yourself for what you are, can you? I can't. I just can't. Expectations. Overidealistic dreams. What are you? A robot that can be repaired? God that is divine and untouchable? You're made of flesh and bones, blood and breath, like anyone of us, you're still human, you're still vulnerable like anyone else, and you carry what all of us too carry.
"Finally someone pricked you at a soft spot huh?" she poked him. He nodded slowly. His past has always been his soft spot. His memories, at times, haunts him. Often he asks himself, do I still live in the shadows of my past, and far too often, he allowed himself to believe so.
Right now, who knows, he might be thinking twice of running the way everyone else in the army runs. Hopefully he will be able to take those heavy armours adorning him off one day. If that day really comes, it will because it took a brave junior with enough discernment to take that step up, with nothing more but care as a needle and curiosity as the prick, to poke the SS at a place where he needs to be pricked. Like a clogged vessel, the blood can only flow when an exit is made. The private, like a porcupine and its prick, or maybe like a doctor with the surgical tools, made that exit for him.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I will never forget that night. My dad slapped me. He slapped me and was almost shouting at me. He was so angry, so mad, so furious.
I stole something from him. It's really no big deal, it's just something small and cheap - now that I look back to think - and it's so insignificant. It's not like I stole a nuclear bomb and planned to destruct the whole world, or the family pendant that I took to a pawn shop.
It was just a little handkerchief. A small, cotton handkerchief that I liked very very much. It had a nice little flower pattern at the bottom left corner, and a brown frame half a cm from the borders of the handkerchief. It was soft and it was smooth, and I loved it very much.
Stumbling upon that handkerchief for the first time in my parents' room, it was lying on the floor, like it belonged to nobody. But of course, despite my age, I could have already deduced by then that if it was on the floor in my parents' room, then it had to belong to my parents. I picked it up, brought it to my mother and asked her whether I could have it.
"It's not mine, it's your dad's. Go ask him."
And my heart sank. I knew that I would never be able to have it. My dad is a stingy man. He will never give me what I want. Even a small toy or an ice-cream, I was dead sure that if I were to ask him, I'd be better off not asking for it in the very first place. If I wanted something real badly, it would have to be asked from my mother, and not my dad.
Secretly, I kept the handkerchief. I wanted it very badly. It was nice to touch and hold. Especially when you are bored - after all, I was just a kid who had nothing better to do - I would just lie on the bed, and play with that handkerchief. It was my little companion from the first day I found it, and it was my source of happiness and imagination. I wrapped it around my head and played pirates, I put it over my mouth and I was a thief, I tied it on my knee and impersonated a limping soldier wounded in battle.
Later, the handkerchief became more than just a source of imagination, it became my little comfort zone. I'd come back from school emotionally bruised after being bullied by the kids in the kindergarten, and I'd lock myself up in the room and take out the handkerchief from under my bed, and start wiping my tears with it. Then holding it in my head, I'd talk to it as if as I was allowing the handkerchief to understand what I was going through. There were the times that I thought it didn't know what I was talking about, and I'd get so fed-up of it and will just throw it around, only to feel bad for treating my 'good friend' that way, pick it up, wipe the dust of it and rub it lovingly again.
But alas, my dad found out about the handkerchief, and trust me, he sure was furious.
"How dare you take something from me without permission?" He bellowed. That was stealing, he claimed.
But you already have so many handkerchiefs, why couldn't I just take that one? Not like it means so much to you... And I refused to return that handkerchief. I love it so much, why couldn't I keep it? I'm taking very good care of it, I even wash it every week secretly. What's wrong?
"Give me back what is mine." he commanded. I refused. He repeated the command, and I still refused.
That did it. The slap came flying towards me and landed accurately on my cheek. Taken off by the blow, the impact sent me sprawling on the ground. Heat seared on my face, tears welled in my eyes, I grew even more resilient and angry.
"It wil never be yours!" I yelled and I ran up to my room.
Soon, things became very hostile between me and my dad. He became that angry and fearful man to me, and I will always dodge away from him when he comes into sight, even at home. Could you actually imagine a little 6-year-old kid avoiding his dad in his dad's house and home? Ridiculously hilarious, but that was me back then.
And I realized, that nothing will ever change, until and unless I surrender that handkerchief back to him.
There was only one reason why I refused to give the handkerchief up. I wanted it so badly, and that was only because I thought I found comfort in that handkerchief. To me, that handkerchief is my world. Eevrything to me. And I couldn't live without it.
One night, my dad walked into my room, sat down beside me on the bed, and looked at me. I nearly pissed in my pants, but as I saw into my dad's eyes, I saw so much love, so much forgiveness, so much kindness through his eyes. The evil dad that wouldn't even allow me to give me a small handkerchief, was now a gentle and loving dad.
"Son," he said softly while running his fingers through my hair. "It's not about the handkerchief, but when you steal something that's not yours, when you take something that's mine and not yours, how can I give you something better, that I have always wanted to give you?"
I hid my face underneath my blanket. Deep inside, I was so angry with myself that I made my dad so mad back then, and yet there's a struggle to surrender the handkerchief that I've grown so fond of up. I didn't want to lose a little possession, but I didn't want to make my dad angry either.
"Will you give me back what is mine?" This time, the gentle voice over the blanket, prompted me to do the right thing.
Pulling out the handkerchief from under my pillow, I held it in my palms and gazed at it for a last time. Thank you for everything you've been to me, little handkerchief. Controlling my tears and my feelings, I slowly handed the handkerchief back to my dad. A little smile carved across his face as I gently dropped the cloth into my dad's palm.
With one hand stuffing the handkerchief into his pocket, he pulled out another handkerchief with the other hand from a different pocket. He took my little hand, and firmly gave me that new handkerchief. A brand new handkerchief, it was far smoother and silkier than the cotton handkerchief. It had embroidery and was made of silk linen, and had the most sophisticated golden designs all across the handkerchief. Later I discovered it was a silk fabric imported from Italy, and it was worth a treasure to many people.
"The best things in life comes," he paused to look at me again, "when you make that choice to give me what I want so I can give you things that are even better."
That handkerchief still stays in my pocket till now. If I knew that I could have got a better handkerchief from Italy than the one found on the floor, I would have never even looked at the floor, but would have straight looked up to my dad, and asked for it, believing that though he will not say yes immediately, he will never let me not have what is best for me.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
My juniors, after a week's break, invited me out for a nice lunch and a chat after some ice skating.
I will never forget that moment when they spilled out everything. One by one, they told me the concealed words of their hearts, opening up their lock chambers in their minds, allowing me to, for once, take a peek into their thoughts. And as tears were welling not in my eyes but in my heart, I was moved, by their sincerity, their honesty, their attitude and their outlook.
For once, I felt accepted by people who didn't know much about me. No form of rejection or discrimination because of my outward appearance, no sense of isolation towards me because of my past or my background, but just pure acceptance by people who gave me an opportunity to be part of their lives.
The thing that I will always be grateful for, was the chance they gave me.
They gave me a chance not to teach, but to care. They gave me a chance not to lead, but to walk by their sides. They gave me a chance not to debate, but to discuss.
And I am full of gratitude.
A month ago, as I stood in front of this same screen, typing sentences after sentences of sadness and pain, I wondered what was my purpose of going through all that I went through, the worries and the anxiety that was on my mind, the problems I faced throughout the duration of training. The pessimism from friends, the discouraging peers that often hindered me from staying focused to my goals, yet I hang on to what I believe was a calling, because the calling themselves have never gave up on themselves.
I challenged God for a miracle. Show me some signs, show me that You're still there.
Today, this evening, I saw those miracles. Miracles are not in lightnings or in rainbows, miracles were and are always in people. Those around us. Those close to us. Those that put us in a special place in their hearts as we put them in ours. People. Miracles God place in our lives.
Now I know, that I have friends I can trust. Now I know, I have companions that will never betray me. Now I know, that there are 2 seniors I can depend on and a bunch of juniors that I can turn to when the going gets tough. That is the miracle that God has performed in my life. That burst of light in my night that never seems to end, that little rainbow after a long rain.
Thank you people, thank you Si Han and PC. Thank you for being that miracle to me.
And God, I'm sorry. I'll never ask for a miracle again.
It's more than just mere stuff that any guy would say to a pretty girl hoping that the girl would respond
But it's a commitment I promise not to you, but to myself
To be there for you whether or not you need me by your side
To say I love you, is more than just a present
A gift that can be bought with money or prizes
But it's a price that has been paid for, with tears and pain
To put that smile not just on your face, but in your heart
To say I love you, is nothing about wanting you
It's nothing about hoping that you can be there for me or that you will always be by my side
But it's about letting you have the best you can ever want
Even if it means that you will never put me first even if I make you the princess of my heart
To say I love you, is always about you and you alone
Your happiness, your laughter, your joy, your life
To hope that you will always have the best in life, to give you the best of me
Even if it requires me to love you without being loved in return
To say I love you, it means more than anything to me
Coz I know that at the end of the day, it's not what you do in return that truly matters
But what I've done for you, and what I can do to you, that could make a difference
Even if love hurts to much and if the process gets to painful
when many can love each other, not everyone can love without being loved in return
when many can wait for each other, not everyone can wait for nothing
Yet when someone makes that decision to wait and love with no assurance of a future,
that brings out the true essence of love altogether
Coz Love, after all,
is about giving without getting
is about paying without receiving
is about dying to yourself for others
and to hang on even when it gets too hard and tough.
To say I love you,
I truly mean it, and I do mean it. Just hope you'll understand.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Deep inside her, she may not have realized what she once had, what she once lost, and what she can still fight for. Concealed in fears and unknowns of what people can never see, she somehow needs somethings to make her aware once again, that there are still people who know about her.
Somehow, someone had to bring her back, by force, into a realm that she can familiarize herself with. A world that she can call her own, a dream she once dreamt and a vision she once saw. Standing up in front of people, words of intelligence and arguments that will make heads nod and spin the minds of her opponents.
That was her immortal part that she thought she nearly lost. But she never did.
Maybe debate was once her life. Maybe to her, debate is everything about winning and the glory and the fame and the joy of defeating their opponents. Maybe that changed when she suffered terribly a year ago in a tragedy that left her devastated and dejected, maybe that put off the fire in her.
The amazing thing is this: that a fire that was put out with water and sand, may very well remain ignited, glowing deep within. She, like a glowing rod concealed beneath the sands of disappointment and disillusions, needed something to blow away the dirts and bring out the best in her again.
That person that can only do that, is God.
No matter what, whether is it in debates or not, whether is it in studies or anything, as a matter of fact, any dream that is made to be immortal in the human spirit, any vision that was once given to us or any wishes that is marked deep within our hearts, comes from God. A creator of dreams, a giver of visions, a keeper of His own promises. That makes every dream and every vision immortal.
Amy, don't ever forget that. Your dreams will live forever as long as your eyes are on the Giver of those dreams.
Behind the realms of truth, lies the nature of pain and hurt. Because it is the truth that reveals the pain and the problems that are in existence. Yet my journey with you over the last whole month, over the last 7 rounds in the debate field, has challenged that truth. It was once said, that great man use lies to convey the truth. Have I done that, regardless of whether I am a great man or not?
When I first met you, back on that corridor while pasting up the ‘Battle of Minds’ posters, it was just a casual question that I didn’t expect any response. I never expected anybody to be so enthusiastic about partnering me in a debate. I make a lousy partner. I’m impatient, I’m moody, I have a fiery temper. And when you said ‘yes’ without giving it a second thought, I really thought you were kidding. And when I realized that you were serious and sincere, I decided to take it as a challenge.
And to be honest, you were no good speaker at all. You had no formal training, you had no real exposure in the debate or speaking arena, you had no experience one way or another. To me, it was a disadvantage. Perhaps I sealed my own fate when I decided to take you as a partner. Before partnering you, I very badly wanted to win the tournament. I have never won any single debate tournament, and this BoM seemed like a very good chance. All I needed was a good partner that could debate well, and I could well be on the path to victory.
You changed that all.
You were handicapped where language was concerned. True, you have the ideas and the thoughts, but you just simply couldn’t express it. You had a backhand where speaking was involved. Yes, you may talk a lot in class – from the feedbacks I get from your lecturers - but it just simply doesn’t reflect that you could speak well.
Suddenly, my dreams of winning vapourised. In a split second after working with you, I knew for sure that we will never go far in a tournament where you will meet debaters like Johnson, Alex or Deenish. Debate, after all, is team work, not individual performance. No point if I could be a best speaker while you were a mediocre. It doesn’t work that way.
Somehow now, after looking back at what I’ve went through with you, I must admit that you have left me with an invaluable lesson. You taught me, that winning is simply not everything. That sometimes, victory can be hollow, but it is the dream that keeps us pushing hard and strong when things seem to go wrong from every direction. You made me see, that beyond the glory of gold and applause, there is a greater goal to accomplish. In life, it is more than just the mere honour Man can endow upon each other that matters, but it is the fruits of the labour of striving hard and pressing on to achieving a vision that brings out the best in us.
What I saw from you, that made me never gave up on you ever, was your persistency and perseverance. That I saw you struggle so hard and so much at times, and yet you were never ready to give up. That when I just fired you for all the mistakes you made, you just accepted it, made some notes, and stand up, try again and keep learning. That you were prepared to make mistakes to learn from it, and you were ready to get a fair bit of scolding for the sake of improving. And I was moved by that.
Most of all, you gave me the opportunity. The chance to be a partner to you, the chance to learn how to help each other, the chance to see what I have never seen in a person that struggles as she fights, but above all, a chance to bring out the best in you.
You see, Rachel, I could have never be a winner with you. But it is not about being a winner in the sense of winning a tournament, rather it is about being able to bring out the best in you that makes me and you a true winner. No one can always win forever, but we can always choose to bring out the best in each other. That could have only happened because you first gave me that chance to be there for you, to bring out the best in you.
I can and never will be the best in the field. And that feeling sucks. I have never won any tournament despite how hard I train back in secondary school because I never had good partners in the first place. That to know that you will always be discriminated because you come from a Chinese school, regardless of how good or how well prepared you are, you are always a second-class speaker in any major league. I have went through all of that, and sometimes that feeling kinda haunts me still. This is where you have an advantage. Because you never had such exposure, you have no such fears. Because you never went through what I did, you don’t worry about ‘history repeating itself’ to you.
Maybe what you said was right. That “I really don’t like you” made me think a lot. From the very first moment, after knowing that I am not a very well accepted person to you challenged me, to not become more accepted to you, but to be more careful. I won’t lie. It hurt very much to hear you say that. But I had to pretend, and show outwardly, that it didn’t matter. I rather get hurt for the truth then to feel good over a lie. And I thank you for being that truthful partner.
So much said and so much written, the last thing you ought to remember is this: I no longer strive for gold. After fighting for the last 7 rounds with you, I now know that there is a greater calling, and that is God. For it is God who placed me in a team with you, and showed me what purposes that needed to be achieved in the process, and the journey that I had to go through with you, that makes gold as worthless as the dust beneath the feet. Sometimes there will be that desire to get gold, but the true gold in me is the heart of gold both you and I have, and that comes from God.
My victory, is in you. My gold, came when I know, that you learned something out of all this. And that though you may not have won anything so far, though you may not be the best partner that I could dream for, but you gave your worst and lousiest chance your very best shot, and brought out the very best in you. That makes both you and I, champions, in our very own ways.
You are never forgotten in my prayers. Never forgotten, because as much as I have made a difference in you, so have you made a change in me. And I can only thank you, from the very bottom of my heart, for everything that you have done to and for me.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
I need answers. Sometimes, questions can kill. Kill you out of frustration that you'll not know what the problems truly are, or where are things going wrong, or what is the whole problem with the world towards you. what does the world holds against you? What is it that the world hates about you? What have you done that has offended people so much?
Then just when you think the question is the real problem to you, wait till the answer comes.
Like a piercing arrow or a spear flung through the heart, the answer can devastate you. Stun you in the spot, stupefy you till you're just left dumbfounded, speechless and shocked, all at the same time.
Man was never made to be understood by people. Man are intelligent creatures but never smart enough to reason things out. Man are sensitive where their hearts are concerned, but they never understand what other's are thinking.
I learned this sad truth painfully. That no matter how noble your motives may be, no matter how hard you try to pursue your dreams, there will always be people who will never understand. There will always be other people who not only reject it, but pose as a hindrance to your moving ahead of things.
But it's never a reason good enough to give up.
That thought surely crossed my mind more than once, more than twice, more than thrice. The imagination of how 'easy life would be if I wasn't involved with all this nonsense' could be easily pictured at the back of my mind. The sweetness of having no responsibilities, no late night researchs, no early morning discussions or no one to be accountable to, is something that I've long dreamed of tasting, and yet it will always remain a luxury found only in the deepest dreams of mine.
Still, I'm not giving up.
I once shared with my CA, a screwed-up situation can either break you or make you. Either make you bitter, or better. I'm in a lousy state now, with so much to do in so little time, but guess what? I'm not going to let it make me bitter, neither is it going to break me. A choice I made, and I'm going to stick by it.
Please pray for INTEC's Battle of MiNDS, it's our inaugural premier BP Debating championships. We came such a long way, and there's still a longer way to go. 7th to 9th September, your prayers will make a difference.
Please don't forget my junior debaters in your prayers. They're young and new, fresh with ideas but intimidated by the unknowns. Some have already quit, many are discouraged. They are the reason why I hang on, and they are hanging on a thin line between going on and letting go.
I know I'll survive this period of time, but the outcome of it, largely depends on how I choose to survive this period of time, ultimately changing my story at the end of the day.
And yet, so few of them could truly appreciate the beauty of independence. What independence do we seek? What independence do we shout about, when the independence that one truly needs, is the independence in the heart and soul?
The night before, I was preparing a little sharing supposed to be presented for my cell group’s combined Independence Day celebration picnic. And the only passage in my mind, was the passage where Jesus spoke to the 2 disciples on the way to Emmaus.
As they talked and discussed, Jesus himself drew near and walked along with them; they saw him, but somehow did not recognize him.
Jesus said to them, "What are you talking about to each other, as you walk along?" They stood still, with sad faces.
One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn't know the things that have been happening there these last few days?"
"What things?" he asked.
"The things that happened to Jesus of Nazareth," they answered. "This man was a prophet and was considered by God and by all the people to be powerful in everything he said and did. Our chief priests and rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and he was crucified. And we had hoped that he would be the one who was going to set Israel free! Besides all that, this is now the third day since it happened. Some of the women of our group surprised us; they went at dawn to the tomb, but could not find his body. They came back saying they had seen a vision of angels who told them that he is alive. Some of our group went to the tomb and found it exactly as the women had said, but they did not see him."
Then Jesus said to them, "How foolish you are, how slow you are to believe everything the prophets said! Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and then to enter his glory?"
We come before god, petitioning and presenting Him with our shopping list of ‘prayer items’ and ‘prayer requests’, hoping that it would come to past. We don’t commit ourselves before God in total surrender or compliance, but instead come with expectations, wanting to see results, hoping that things will turn out our way, and waiting to see the stuff that we asked for.
How often do we do that?
If it were a crime, I’d be guilty, first degree.
Most of the time, we are, in Jesus’ very own words, “Slow to believe everything the prophets said”. The words of our prophets, are the promises that God has given to us. A promise that He is always there for us. A promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us. A promise of rest to those who surrender to Him. A promise for a yoke that is light, and a burden that does not burn you out when you walk with Him in Him.
So simple. Yet, we doubt.
Sometimes – or most of the time – it’s easier to doubt than believe.
The beauty of this passage, the message that really struck me hard and left me pondering long into the night as I prepare this dedication post, is the fact, that Jesus knows even before we asks, and knowing what we want, He already has something better for us, that we could never imagine before.
What He sees, is the dreams that we have for ourselves. More than those dreams, He sees how our dreams stifle us, how our own dreams causes us to fall and stumble, how our dreams eventually lead to our own failure. He sees pride and ego in our dreams, He sees pain and agony in the process of achieving those dreams, He sees meaningless pursues and unfulfilled desires behind the illusion of a dream.
What He has prepared for us, is the deliverance from the bondage of our own dreams. An option to hang on to Him, a choice to let Him take control of our own life, an open door for us to walk into a land of green hopes and blue comforts from the deserts of desolation and the dryness of disappointment. More than just the deliverance from such a bondage, but a hope and a future.
“For I have plans for you, plans to prosper you not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
When we only see our own failures, He is there, arms waiting to welcome you back with a warm hug, and to bring you back home in His own arms, into a journey that we were always meant to complete. When we only see the disappointments in life, He has always been there, watching from somewhere never far away, maybe just behind us to catch us when we fall; maybe by our side to mark our next step; maybe in front of us to clear some path that needs to be cleared; maybe, in our heart, to speak and talk to us, when no one can talk to us ever again.
“For was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and then to enter his glory?”
The price for freedom has already been paid in full. It is now up to us, to walk out of our own bondage that has already been paid for, and to move on into a life of freedom, where our sweetest dreams can be found and where our heart can truly lie in, is in the treasure of God’s promises.
Happy Independence Day Malaysians. Much has been done, but more is yet to be fulfilled. Get right, get straight, and get going, as usual and forever, but this time, with God in us. That should make a difference.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
The greatest thief was no man. It wasn’t a he, it was a she. A she that had no intimidating look on her face, no fear in her eyes, no threat in her body language. In fact, no one could have ever mistaken her for one. No one would believe that she could be a thief in the first place. It just didn’t seem likely.
She was so skillful. Before you knew what was wrong, she has already dealt the first blow. With little warning and with little notice, she creeps up even without walking up to you, she sneaks in and moves past the guards and the police and those who are alert and watching. As sneaky as a serpent and as cunning as the fox, she weaves through the holes in the quiet nights when no one watches.
No sound is heard when she walks past. No big movements, no voices, no whispers. Nothing at all. She doesn’t even come with knives or guns. She doesn’t need firearms for protection. Not protection, not to attack, not to strike. She scoffs at the idea of brute force and terror. It’s not her style, she claims. No one even fears her. No one’s scared of her. In fact, people adore her. People love her. People befriend her. Sneaky and fishy, people once claimed, but they never got to the root of the problem, let alone reckon that she’s a thief.
She’s just a little girl. Small body, petite size, pretty features of her natural face and expressions. Her greatest weapon is not in her hands, it’s on her face. Her charm, her alluring beauty, her words. Her persuasive speech and her graceful steps stuns people in their footsteps, then she strikes.
When she strikes, no one feels the pain. No one knows who she strikes, and no one can possibly tell. After the shots were long fired and the smoke ceases from the surroundings, only after the mist of confusion and doubts subsides and fades, what is left is the remains of the victim. The victim can only tell that he ‘lost something’ and ‘feels that something is missing’, but he will never know what he has lost.
The greatest thief in the world doesn’t steal material wealth. She needs nothing of those. She doesn’t need people’s money or belongings. She already has it all. She comes and steals the treasures of a person. Hidden in locked chests of discreet and secret, kept and tucked away in the dark corners behind sealed doors, she steals those.
Aims, she doesn’t. Targets, there’re none. So natural she steals that she doesn’t even realize that she has stolen something. Until someone that has ‘lost that something’ realizes that she has already stolen it, until that someone approaches her and confronts her, only then does she realize the crime she has committed. But by then, it’s just too late. It has already been stolen and couldn’t be returned to.
What happens next? What about the sentence? What about the punishment? Is there any justice done to the greatest thief in the world?
Nothing happens. She just smiles and walks away. No punishment dealt with. No jury, no trials, no sentences.
The greatest justice done, is the fact that she stole something from someone. Oddly. That’s the greatest justice that could ever be done to anyone. To let her steal from you.
Her immunity is not towards the written law and constitution of the country. Her protection is not from the government.
After all, what she stole was never something written in the law. She never stole something that could ever warrant for an arrest. Hence, nothing happens. She’s free to continue stealing and striking and invading other people’s fortresses for their treasures. She’s a free thief. She’s never bound by law and order. She is above all of them.
The greatest thief in the world, doesn’t break past physical gates and doors. The best robber in the universe, doesn’t rob you off your money or your possessions. She goes only after your treasures. Not the ones locked up in safe boxes or metal doors.
The greatest thief in the world, only steals the heart.And I was that stupid but willing victim.