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Greek Romance June 16, 2011

Posted by Nemuu in Fiction.
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The ceiling fan whirrs slowly above me. In the dark of night, I close my eyes and dream.

Tonight I am wandering the streets of Greece. The smell of roasts burning fills the air around me. Music rains down and around, a whirlpool of voices and melodies. A woman is dancing in the street, for the amusement of another, sitting in a lonely space at the cashier’s of a small shop. She moves lightly, gracefully, almost impossibly. The two women laugh. Their mouths move in the same way – they have the same smile. But different eyes, different noses, different hair. Everything is different but for their smiles and the look in their eyes. They must be in their early twenties, but looking at them, one would think a hundred years had passed in which they were never without each other.

Across the street, a young man sits alone at a coffee house. He pretends to drink the poorly-brewed coffee, but really, he is watching the girl who keeps shop. Something about the way he sits, his posture and the convenient angle of his seat suggests this is not his first time here. His eyes never leave her. He seems to be waiting for something. Her friend to leave? The perfect moment? No. No, he is waiting for courage to come knocking on his door. I can almost hear the frantic beating of his heart above the mix of song and noise.

From the roof of the coffee house, a small bird flutters down to land on the man’s table. It cocks its tiny grey head to one side, then takes a step forward, two. The man notices nothing. So fixated is he on the cashier that the bird gets away with a large chunk of his bread.

Farther ahead, a little girl is running up the footpath, her white dress only managing to stay down for the small rucksack on her back. She trips over an empty drink can that someone has carelessly thrown over their shoulder. She stumbles; then falls. Her ordeal almost goes unnoticed but for the cyclist behind her. He is too close; he does not have enough time for the brakes. He swerves but he, too, falls to the ground.

All eyes on the street turn to the pair now. The child, having picked herself up, now rushes to the cyclist to help him and apologise. Her white dress is stained with dirty greys and browns, hands and knees scratched bright red from the fall. The woman in the street has stopped dancing; she, too, rushes to aid while her friend stays, helpless, alone guarding the shop.

The cyclist’s face is flushed. Flowers from the basket attached to his bicycle lie strewn across the pavement, even to the road. Luckily for him, it is a small road that very few cars trudge along. His flowers – lilies and daisies and orchids – are safe. Woman and child pick them up while he picks himself up off the ground and rights his bicycle. The rest of the street resumes their play button.

All the flowers are collected now. The woman moves towards the cyclist to return them – then startles. It is a familiar face that averts her gaze – red, but familiar. She knows him. He dares not meet her eyes; the flowers were meant for her. Weeks and weeks of planning and summoning his courage – wasted. He wishes she would not see him, but right through him instead.

Quite surprisingly, the child has managed to pick this up. She cannot be much older than ten – twelve at most – but I suppose sometimes children see things with greater clarity than even the best of adults do. She smiles, puts the flowers in her hands back into the basket, then appears to be rearranging it. She looks up at the woman and gives her a suggestive wink, then runs off in the direction she was originally headed.

The woman glances down at the basket. A card is nestled comfortably in the middle, facing up towards her – ‘For You.’


Dysfunctional is the New Normal June 4, 2011

Posted by Nemuu in Stuff I Wride.
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Family. What a boring topic. Who in their right mind would choose to watch a lame family comedy over an epic romance film? After all, family stopped being so great when dysfunctional became the new normal. Divorce rates are climbing higher, working parents shower their children with more money than time and grandparents are abandoned in Old Folks’ Homes. If you’re a kid, then hanging out with friends is way cooler than spending time with your parents.

Things used to be different in the past, didn’t they? People used to care more about the pride and honour of their family than romance; hence, the term ‘star-crossed lovers’. Nowadays, everybody’s looking for their own Shakespeare story. And who can really blame them? We grow up to the tune of Disney’s fairytales: Prince Charming rescues Cinderella from the horrid life at home with her step-family; Snow White is saved from her step-mother’s curse with True Love’s first kiss; Ariel finds escape from the clutches of her over-protective father with Prince Eric. Romantic love is being over-emphasised at the expense of family love, putting it way back in the shadows and, have you noticed there always seems to be something wrong with the protagonists’ family?

Clearly, the family today is under-appreciated for all its majesty. These days, everyone wants to follow the lead of Romeo and Juliet: it’s all about self and ‘true love’ before family. Did you forget how that story ends? You only end up killing yourself – an unnecessary death, if I might add.

Even in the working world, having a family is often seen as a distraction, a sign of weakness. More often than not, single women are presented with greater opportunities than working moms. For some weird, inexplicable reason, people at the top seem to think that just because you have extra mouths to feed at home, that makes you less capable. It couldn’t possibly be a motivation for you to work even harder. In fact, the only way being a family man can be seen as a good thing is if you’re a politician. Having a happy family somehow becomes a pre-requisite, a job requirement – apparently, a man’s ability to lead his country is judged by his ability to keep his family together.

Perhaps the reason why people appreciate romance more than family is this: the former isn’t always something we can have, while the latter is something everyone has, whether dead or dysfunctional or not. The children of today always feel the need to one up each other. Since everybody naturally has a family, then that’s really no basis for comparison. So instead, we turn to romance, when what we really need to do is treasure what we already have. Because that which we have, we take for granted. Always.

Family is like the sky that shelters you or the ground you step on – it’s been there for as long as you can remember. So long, in fact, that you’ve already forgotten the beauty you used to see in it.

Crippled by Your Own Fears June 4, 2011

Posted by Nemuu in Stuff I Wride.
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FailWhen I was about five, there was a little funfair held near my house. I went there one night with my mom and my four sisters. I don’t really remember much of what happened that night; whether we went on any rides or if we bought anything. I only remember one game we played that night: a diagonally upright board with little obstacles or whatnot on it. You threw marbles and looked where they landed – some spots gave you points, others could put you back to zero. We had only four marbles for a round, so after my three older sisters had each thrown a marble and scored some points, my mom offered the last marble to me. I looked at the little ball lying on her palm and I knew this was it – this was the deciding marble. This was the marble that could make or break the game. We could either walk away with a fluffy soft toy, or leave with nothing.

I guess as a kid it must have seemed like life and death. The pressure was too much for me to handle: a 50% chance of losing. Maybe even less; I don’t remember how many zero point spaces there were. All I know is I started crying like a baby and insisting that I didn’t want to throw the stupid marble. So instead it went to my little sister. What’s ironic is that we got a cute little palm-sized puppy toy – that I got to keep. Even as a kid, I was already of failure.

The problem with fear sometimes is that it keeps us from trying. We’re so afraid that we don’t try – because at least if we never try, we can still hold on to the belief that we just might have succeeded. ‘I could have if I’d tried’ is easier to deal with than ‘I tried and found that I could not’. We all want to believe there’s so much more behind the person in the mirror; that secretly there’s a light inside of us just waiting to shine and that the only thing holding it back is us, rather than our lack of talent. Nobody wants to know for sure that they’re just not good enough.

Why are we so afraid of failing anyway? Society today has created its own image of success: it doesn’t always have to do with being rich and famous. Sometimes it’s about how much you’ve accomplished in life, how many people you’ve helped or how much goodwill you’ve done. They can be good things or bad thing – but always, always, it has to be something big. As long as you haven’t earned a lot of money or saved a lot of lives, then you’re not a success story. You haven’t lived a life that’s exactly ‘worth living’. Ask any man on the street – nobody’s going to interpret success as ‘leading a very normal, very average life’.

But a lack of success isn’t always failure, and perhaps that is the reason why some of us are willing to settle for the ordinary. Because then, at least, we wouldn’t have invested all our effort, time and money on a failed venture. We’re not the rich and the famous, but we have a family and a stable income… You can’t call us failures.

The problem is, when you’d rather stay with Safe than risk a shot at success, you’re blocking out your own light. You’re preventing the world from witnessing what a bright, beautiful star you truly are. Imagine what great poetry or art could have been produced if some people weren’t so afraid of failing. Maybe the world would be simply overflowing with beautiful paintings and sculptures. Maybe we’d have found a cure for cancer. Maybe we could have saved some animals from extinction. Maybe we could have saved a life- ten- a hundred. Maybe I could have gotten a bigger soft toy. Maybe.

Bottom line is, stop thinking you can do so much more if you just take the first of that thousand and one steps – and start doing it.