Sunday, February 28, 2010
Sometimes in my quiet moments, when the daily fuss lulls for a while, nostalgia like a midnight thief sneaks into my mind. Just a vague feeling, longing for that fleeting nanosecond when my heart had been content with some wee bit of beauty which I had managed to grasp, and which I had left somewhere so distant in the haze of my forgotten past.
Seen from afar through yearning eyes, everything seems beautiful. That is how time does its trick, sprinkling a dreamy tint on whatever one chooses to remember. I once talked to a man, a friend of my brother who had left the old country when he was barely into his twenties. Life had been hard for him in America, and he was thinking of retiring to the very same old town which he had left thirty-five years ago. In his mind it was the same quiet, easy-going, pretty place that he had known in his student days. I knew that it had become a harsh, corrupt place, but there was no way I could talk him out of his obsessing idea.
The only cure for him would be a trip to his cherished town in the present time. I know because that was exactly what I did. Five years ago I came back to what in my mind would be an idyllic village. Instead of green, spacious gardens brightened with bougainvillea and flame vines, my eyes were sickened by pitiful gaudy houses vulgarly squeezed against each other. Instead of a breeze rustling through the shady trees on a quiet afternoon, my ears were tortured by the din and clatter of fiendish motorbikes bouncing up and down the newly paved roads. My nostalgia was instantly cured by shock therapy.
Not only places, but people are even more helplessly subjected to the change brought by the inexorable flow of time. I recently got in touch with a few former high-school friends, out of some inexplicable sentimentalities, only to find out that having started from a common base over the years we have diverged so sharply we barely understand each other. The attempt to resurrect the friendships acquired when we were kids was a flop, leaving everyone disappointed. Like a mummy disintegrating soon after being exposed to the open air, memories will be hopelessly destroyed when touching reality.
And so the river keeps flowing forward, sweeping all places and people in one single direction. Whatever it brings, c'est la vie.