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The Unbearable Heaviness of Being

My quest for the eternal lightness


2008 : Joel

I’m sitting on the bed in a hotel room with the tv switched on. Having ordered my in-room dining and while waiting, I flipped through the tv channels with half the focus on my MacBook screen, trying to catch up on some news back home. Pigs are making headlines the last couple of days. Heated debates are mounting; which pig farm should go and which should stay, of course along with the pigs on the farms. One of the headlines read: ‘Lost in polls: pigs made victims’.

Sometimes I wonder if pigs are created to expose the stupidity of man.

I’ve been up since five this morning and have travelled for the last fourteen hours behind a 4 wheeler before checking into this run down facility near the port. In 6 hours, I’ll be catching a ferry back to meet you because you promised to make me a card for my birthday. Just so you know, if I get drowned into the waters tomorrow, this note is going to be the only remaining memory of me, that you, my nephew might possibly run into when you learn to connect yourself to the www. If I live long enough to pen volumes of these memories, I might just hand you the link to this blog personally, and that’s if my sis would be too busy to restrain your cyber indulgence. 

I’m excited, because it’s actually the first birthday card you would have ever written to me. You made it clear that there’ll be no gifts. Just a card.  

Wrapped up gifts and cards are not really a part our family. When I was younger, only twice I made birthday cards. One for my grandmother and one for yours. Our relationship with my grandmother was scathing. Dad, her son, would often stay out despite being seized as the reason for most of the fall-outs. When dad absconded one day, we moved in with grandmother and encroached into her ‘space’. Mom blamed dad for abandoning the family but grandmother said mom had to pay the price for marrying the wrong man. A verbal warfare ensued. Grandmother had a mild heart attack soon after. Mom became the prime target. Linda, your grand-aunt led the assault. We moved out. Our relationship became superficial thereafter. Dad returned years later.

Once, I questioned your decision in giving little Jimmy a punch. I asked you if he had scribbled on your shirt during class. Your mom was quick to add that you should have been more forgiving. You’ll soon see that even adults struggle with punching our ‘little Jimmies’ too. Hurting words and actions can severe relationships permanently. We are never told that, forgiveness could sometimes be so ****ed up, it’s like we are all sucked into this hour glass, turned upside down over and over again.


The second card which I made for your grandmother – it was a Mother’s Day project by the youth group in the church I once was part of. Unlike many, she’s never impressed by cards. Partly because she couldn’t read. I tried giving her flowers. She thought it was a waste of money. Now, I take her for beer on her birthdays instead, and we both are happy.

Here’s the thing. I think we are all trying to change something through you. Provoked, irritated and insulted by our own pasts, we are tempted to repaint our mistakes by imagining life through you. The cards, with lovely pictures and messages, the hugs and the kisses; they represent our failures, and our hopes to seeing relationships reignited in our lifetime in a more meaningful way. That too, can be ****ed up.


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A  cockroach just crawled across my bed. Perhaps it’s the lingering smell from the fried rice I had. I’m distracted. There’s just so much thoughts in my mind. I think I am starting to miss you already.