Skip to content

The Unbearable Heaviness of Being

My quest for the eternal lightness

Category Archives: books

No, I did not read my Bible on Christmas morning. I read David Sedaris instead. I needed a crack-up. Plus, I have to return the book to Sue soon.

And no, it was not a hangover. It wasn’t because I was still boozy to give in to Sedaris’ irreverent stories instead of being in church listening to a Christmas sermon that morning. But the truth is, I’d prefer the former to the latter.

The class attempted to explain the meaning of Easter. The Poles offered their interpretation:

‘It is, a party for the little boy of God who call his self Jesus and … oh, shit’

‘He call his self Jesus and then he be die one day on two… morsels of…lumber’

‘He die one day and then go above of my head to live with your father’

‘He weared of himself the long hair and after he die, the first day he come back here for to say hello to the peoples’

‘He nice, the Jesus’

‘He make the good things, and on the Easter we be sad because somebody makes him dead today’

Limited and problematic vocabulary. No nouns such as cross and resurrection and salvation and remission of sins. But they make a lot of sense to me.

Merry Christmas.

Advertisements

white.jpg

Laughing deeply is living deeply.

Milan Kundera

I’ve read this wonderful work by George-Orwell way back during my uni days. (Here’s an excerpt):  

…YEARS passed. The seasons came and went, the short animal lives fled by. A time came when there was no one who remembered the old days before the Rebellion, except Clover, Benjamin, Moses the raven, and a number of the pigs…
 

…Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer-except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs. Perhaps this was partly because there were so many pigs and so many dogs. It was not that these creatures did not work, after their fashion. There was, as Squealer was never tired of explaining, endless work in the supervision and organisation of the farm. Much of this work was of a kind that the other animals were too ignorant to understand. For example, Squealer told them that the pigs had to expend enormous labours every day upon mysterious things called “files,” “reports,” “minutes,” and “memoranda.” These were large sheets of paper which had to be closely covered with writing, and as soon as they were so covered, they were burnt in the furnace. This was of the highest importance for the welfare of the farm, Squealer said. But still, neither pigs nor dogs produced any food by their own labour; and there were very many of them, and their appetites were always good.

…on a pleasant evening when the animals had finished work and were making their way back to the farm buildings, a terrified neighing of a horse sounded from the yard. Startled, the animals stopped in their tracks. It was Clover’s voice. She neighed again, and all the animals broke into a gallop and rushed into the yard. Then they saw what Clover had seen.

It was a pig walking on his hind legs.There was a deadly silence. Amazed, terrified, huddling together, the animals watched the long line of pigs march slowly round the yard. It was as though the world had turned upside-down. Then there came a moment when the first shock had worn off and when, in spite of everything-in spite of their terror of the dogs, and of the habit, developed through long years, of never complaining, never criticising, no matter what happened-they might have uttered some word of protest. But just at that moment, as though at a signal, all the sheep burst out into a tremendous bleating of-“Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better!”
Benjamin felt a nose nuzzling at his shoulder. He looked round. It was Clover. Her old eyes looked dimmer than ever. Without saying anything, she tugged gently at his mane and led him round to the end of the big barn, where the Seven Commandments were written. For a minute or two they stood gazing at the tatted wall with its white lettering. “My sight is failing,” she said finally. “Even when I was young I could not have read what was written there. But it appears to me that that wall looks different. Are the Seven Commandments the same as they used to be, Benjamin?”For once Benjamin consented to break his rule, and he read out to her what was written on the wall. There was nothing there now except a single Commandment. It ran:

ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS

 

 

The memory of reading this story came as I was again drawn to the respected prince, one who resonates hope for the nation, the Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Dr Nazrin Shah – making calls to young Malaysians to protect the integrity of the Constitution – that being every Malaysian’s way of promoting national unity.

Met up with Justy who just got back from Korea. Instead of kimchi, he brought me a novel – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. We both agreed that only depressed people like ourselves would spend so much time reading. Sigh!

mark-haddon.jpg

This week’s furore is over a remark which claimed Malaysia to be an ‘Islamic State’ (again, of course). While I recognize the value of the responding statements released by the various religious representatives, I find it very ‘disturbing’ not able to see the same passion and solidarity expressed by these same voices when we are threatened by injustice, corruption, marginalization, oppression – when we are intimidated into fear by ‘the principalities and powers’ of our time.

What then if Malaysia is indeed a secular state. It is meaningless for our children to inherit a secular state of no integrity, a nation without passion for justice, mercy and humilty.