Monday, October 29, 2007

Punctuations of Life (Have You?)

Have you ever heard, the voices of the night?
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

The Final Lady of Peace - A Night to Remember

I must confess that this post, is by far and large, the hardest post I have ever written. Coz as I type, unlike other posts where ideas just flow on and on, here I am, stuck, figuring word for word, piecing pictures and images and memories together, to come up with a last post about her. Significantly marking a little end to a close partnership I have enjoyed with her while working together for the Lord.

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.

It's not.

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

A Candle Called Steel

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.