On December 1st

     
 

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

I only have only an hour left of my life left today.

I planned to go to bed in a timely fashion, like a respectable woman, within the hour. An hour means that I have only half an hour to draft few hundred words and another half to edit, tweak and publish.

Once the hour passes and I leave for bed, this December 1st isn’t going to repeat itself ever again. I dread meeting the day when I find myself wondering how I have spent my only chance of going through December 1st – or February 24th, or May 18th!

It’s a terrible feeling. To stutter instead of saying it with dignity that I have done a day, a year or ten-thousand hours, the justice it deserved. How does time make itself pass like that? And what’s with the cruel inevitability?

What’s more, I blush to admit that one of the best parts of this year’s December 1st – or what I can remember of it – was when a man told me to shut up.

***

Daniel tweeted a question about hotels in Banda Aceh, on behalf of a friend. He wanted it to be clean, air-conditioned, near downtown and with internet access.

My reply was, “Your friend's a 3rd world nomad photographer and is still counting on free WiFi? #USBmodemAwarenessCampaign #cheeky #AskingForIt”

That’s when he told me to “oh shut up :)” and made me :) too.

***

I was flattered. You can only feign public offense with those whom you trust. And it is so easy to trust strangers, isn’t it?

A well-delivered flattery can be disarming. I felt recklessly freed. I felt that I could tell Daniel everything and hear from him anything. As if I had the clearest conscience and nothing in the world could burden me with shame.

Freedom is a state of mind, after all. For me, the definition of social freedom is to able to love anything and to forgive anyone. To be free of wants and aversions. To be free of grudges and expectations. That is practical freedom.

I wondered if I could love Daniel like that because I don’t know him well enough. I don’t know how he sounds when he entertains a splitting hangover on Sunday morning. I don’t know how he picks his nose. I don’t know if he wears fresh underwear, or if he refuses to shower on Thursdays. I don’t know details that shrink the glories of unfamiliarity in a hairy 40-something, blue-eyed Caucasian in board shorts, squeezing his way through the streets of Ubud on a beaten Vespa.

I wondered if I had known Daniel better it would be as easy to love and forgive him. And if I could still love humanity in its unfamiliar distance, why can’t I love humans intimately?

Can't the seed of love and forgiveness for strangers viral through hurts and petty whims? Can that kind of love transcend above sibling rivalries, murky squabbles and the dregs of chores? And if mere love and forgiveness could do all that, then how in the world..?

I can't go into that right now. My time is too short. I must prepare for bed; for my contact lenses are starting to unpeel my irides.

Nevertheless, if anybody asked how my Saturday night - December 1st went, I shan’t be ashamed to admit that Daniel has planted a seed of love and forgiveness, by telling me to shut up.

In memory of the friends we've lost  to AIDS

 
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