do you have someone to think of, when you stare at the clouds?

August 31st, 2018

i am on the plane, on the way back to hong kong. i reserved a window seat. and because it’s a late afternoon flight, this means i get the luxury to see the sunset from the plane. a few minutes after take-off, we are flying over a sea of clouds. for a few moments that is all we see. a sea of white and grey clouds, stretched everywhere. but then the sun sets. and the sea of clouds is punctuated by a soft glow of gold, illuminating the hues of blues of the sky that gradually grow darker.

calm and quiet, i marvel at this moment of beauty. calm and quiet, i cannot help but think of you. i wonder why you are not here with me. i wonder why you never got back to me. whether i should reach out to you again. stuck, scared to get hurt again but also scared you’re really gone. i hope you are doing well, that you found some peace, and hopefully even some happiness for yourself. i am alone, but i console myself with the thought that, at least i have you to think of, when i look at the clouds and the sky.

in tempting heart, a movie about falling in love and growing old, sylvia chang finds herself on the plane. it’s the final scene of the movie. we know now that she, a quiet, shy but also whimsical girl fell in love with a boy at high school (played by takeshi kaneshiro). they might be young, but they recognize the magic of this connection. of finding not only someone you like, but also someone who likes you back. there is “sparks” between them. real magic in a world where most people have grown cynical and stopped believing in magic. her parents, for example. chastising her for being young and immature, her parents do everything they can to break them up. because he comes from a poor background, because he amounts to nothing and only wants to play the guitar all day, and this is the killer, because it is “for her own good”. despite these efforts, or maybe because of this, their love nevertheless remains pure and intense. i’d write, pure and intense as only a first love can be. but what this movie shows is that their love survives, transforms, but does not disappear over the years. it leaves a scar.

decades later, both married to another person, they meet again in a cafe. as fate would have it. few words are exchanged; few words need to be exchanged. i’d say both have moved on, but it is clear they still have reserved a special space for each other in their hearts. a space that has remained empty all these years, except for silent memories, and maybe some feelings of regret and resignation.

as the plane takes off and is air born, sylvia chang finally opens this box, his final gift to her. she opens the small box, and it is filled with photographs from clouds in the sky. each one of them meticulously dated over the years, taken from all around the world. and then she remembers, a long time ago, when they were still so young and stared at the sky together, when he asked her: “do you have someone to think of, when you stare at the clouds?” she sees all these photos, breaks down and cries.

Posted in life-as-fiction, travelogue

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book and sword : gratitude and revenge

is the first novel written by Jin Yong. The protagonist is Chan Ka Lok, who is the leader of the Red Flower Society. The book title refers to Ka Lok being famous for being well-versed in culture and martial arts, but also for having to make a difficult ethical decision. My father named me and my brother after him.

The subtitle is from a poem Desiderata