Unsettled AccountsJuly 29, 2006 at 9:24 pm | Posted in Records of a Tiny Village | 8 Comments
Ah Ko stared out his window seemingly lost in his thoughts. I called out his name once more, attempting to shake him from his thoughts.
"Ah Ko what were you thinking of?"
"My younger days. Days of youthful vigour and folly. And of a lost love."
"You're not that old Ah Ko. You're only three years older than me. You love to exaggerate."
We laughed. We were not that old. I had just turned 27 and he was 30. Hardly the old men Ah Ko made us out to be. I knew of the lost love he mentioned. He was ribbing me. Ah Ko was happily married to Jing Lian with three wonderful kids, Guo Ming, Guo Cheng and Siu Feng.
I had just come back from the city for a visit. A visit to my old village. I was decided to stop by for a visit enroute to my new posting in the Western Frontier. Ah Ko was my first playmate and also an older brother of sorts. We had explored many places in our youth. My wanderlust never stopped and I drifted off to the city and eventually abroad. Ah Ko, on the other hand, settled down, married a wonderful wife and started a family.
The lost love Ah Ko mentioned was of my lost love. Not his… He and Jing Lian were in love since we all were children. Nothing would have stopped that marriage, not even their traditional parents. It was a good match anyway. No misgivings from either of their families.
My lost love… Hui Min… I suppose that was one of the reasons that drove me to leave the confines of my childhood memories and wander the country. We were childhood friends and teenage lovers. Hui Min and I. We were the perfect couple in everyone's eyes. She was younger than me. My sister's best friend. We often hung out under the almond trees, playing silly childhood games. Ah Ko, Jing Lian, Hui Min, my sister and I. I am sure there were more, but my memory of those days are ever more distant.
I was young. I made many mistakes, and one made Hui Min leave me. Actually she did not leave me. I left her. I left her heartbroken when I told her to leave. We had miscommunicated. I had overreacted. The next thing we knew was her tearfully running out of the house with my sister, and I was on the first boat to the city. I had chosen to leave. Away from the village which I felt now held bad memories. I had left in a huff of anger, and now I return ten years later, hoping to make things right again.
"I'm guessing you'll be wanting to see her again," Ah Ko queried.
"Yes. That was one of the things on my to do list."
"Come now. We all know you came back for her."
"I suppose I'm that transparent. I have always been that way, haven't I? Thick and obvious. I was hoping age would have tempered that."
Ah Ko laughed. We laughed. Hui Min and I still wrote to each other, and when I came home to see the parents, we met up. Still there was a tension between us. I had numerous lovers, and she too had moved on. It was only when I had moved to the capital that I came to realise that I had let something so good go. I had resolved to get a posting near home and ask her for another chance.
I also knew that Hui Min had a lover. A German who had come to the village in search of a place to build a factory. He had been recalled to Germany, but I knew they still wrote each other. Yet here I was, an interloper. Attempting to steal her away from her lover.
How would she react to me? I do not know. I know each time we met, there was still a tension and also an intimacy between us. She was my first love and I was hers. That's one thing that we could never erase. We both knew still had feelings for each other. This time I had come back to apologise, even though I knew it was too little too late. I had to do this and I had to beg her for another chance. If I had known then what I now knew, I would have stayed. Too late for regrets, but not too late to get it right. Not too late to try again.
Who knows how this will end? I leave it to providence. It was providence that led her to me, and it was providence that kept us in touch throughout all these years. I could never forget her no matter how hard I tried, and just when I thought I was over her, she would send me that letter or show up. Heaven was not about to let me give her up and it is time for me to be pro-active.
It is now or never…