My parents had a photo album of many couples' wedding photos -- friends/relatives who gave them a print of their wedding photos. Back then, each print of a wedding photo was expensive, so only the really good/close friends/relatives would get a copy.
From my early 20's, I started keeping my friends' wedding invitation cards, requesting for a copy of their wedding photos and collecting them. It was like my little treasure bag of happiness -- the collective happiness of my friends on the "happiest day of their lives". It fuelled my dreams that one day I would have my own family, my own children -- and that I could finally show my mother that it is possible to love all of one's children, even though a mother may have a preference for one child over another.
I still have that bag of "happiness", although I have trimmed it down due to space limitation when I packed for migration. In fact, I hardly open it nowadays since my idea of happiness has changed a lot from my 20's.
Part 6 - 我的爱人结婚了，但新娘不是我。
[My loved one got married, but the bride wasn't me.]
AL and I became pen-pals. [This was before email was commonplace. It was only later that we switched to email.] Somewhere along the way, I made AL promised that if he should get married one day, he would send me a copy of his wedding invitation and photo. Initially, he hesitated. When I explained to him about my little treasure bag of happiness, he agreed that he would send them to me.
One day, almost 1 year from my last trip to Hong Kong, the invitation arrived. While I had expected that the day would eventually come, I was still shocked. Just a couple of months before, AL had sent me a birthday gift via postal service! In my mind I thought, "It can't be. How could it be? Wasn't I fated to be with AL?"
I continued to throw myself at my job. If others had noticed a change in my demeanour, they did not say a word. Frankly, I think most did not notice anything. Most, but not SL. One day after I got AL's wedding card, I was at a hawker centre to pack a bowl of porridge back for lunch in the office. I knew that SL was walking some distance behind me, but I pretended not to see him. My mind was lost in thoughts over AL and his impending marriage. While waiting for the traffic light to change, I forgot that I was holding onto a bowl of porridge and it fell onto the street. SL caught up with me, asked if I was alright and if I needed to another bowl of porridge. Tears welled up in my eyes. I muttered, "I'm ok. Anyway, I'm not hungry", turned away quickly and hurried back to the office. Thankfully, SL left me to myself.
When I reached home that day, I decided that it was now or never. I wrote a long letter to AL explaining why even if he did not marry me, as his friend, I had a duty to share my views on why he should not go ahead with his marriage. I cited their major differences in view on important life issues.
- Children: AL loved and wanted children. 6Snoopys (according to what he told me) was clear from the start that she did not want to have children.
- Finance: AL was mostly thrifty. He was willing to splurge only on major purchases like getting a home with a good location. 6Snoopys found him to be too thrifty. They often quarrelled over money.
Knowing that keeping his promise to 6Snoopys was important to him, I persuaded him that even if it wasn't for his own happiness, he should consider for his future children. I wrote in no uncertain terms - citing my parents - that parents quarrelling incessantly (e.g. over money) would hurt their children.
I sent the letter. The wedding went as scheduled. 3-4 months later, I received 2 copies of his bridal photos. Try as I might to imagine, IMHO, AL did not look happy in those photos. In fact, he looked much happier in many of the candid and/or posed shoots taken at work and/or social gatherings in Singapore. I began to think that perhaps this was a test of faith. Perhaps, something would happen and AL and I would be together again. I began to wonder under what circumstances AL and 6Snoopys would no longer be together. I knew that AL did not have the courage to break his marriage. Perhaps 6Snoopys would find someone else that she loved and demand a divorce? Or perhaps something bad would happen to 6Snoopies and AL would be widowed? I hoped that it was the former, not the latter, but I was willing to accept either situation. [Note: I am ashamed to admit it, but I do not want to lie. Yes, I had those awful thoughts. I am a human being with flaws.]
While still that job, I had one more work-trip to Hong Kong after AL and 6Snoopies were married. Needless to say, this time I buffered myself by pulling my then-best-friend (who was working in China then) to stay with me at the hotel. AL once again insisted on meeting up, so we had dinner as a group together. Nothing happened between us, but AL still had those forlorn puppy-love eyes when looking at me. Back in Singapore, when I watched 梁祝 ("The lovers") on TV one night, 吴奇隆 Nicky Wu's sad puppy-love eyes reminded me of AL. I cried so badly that my brother-in-law was kind of shocked.
梁祝 Butterfly Lovers
Recently, I watched the DVD of the movie "Spring, summer, fall, winter... and spring". [Click here for the trailer.] At the end of "summer", the old monk said ominously to the young monk who was about to lose his lover,
"Lust awakens the desire to possess. And that awakens the intent to murder."
Spring, summer, fall, winter...and spring
[Note: The "lust, posession, murder" speech starts at 3:48]
This part is to answer asingaporeanson's question, "What happened at 28 years old? tell me leh"
The above happened when I was 25-27. I threw my focus on my studies (I was doing a part-time Masters then) and work. I felt that if I could not do well in my love life, then surely my career and/or other aspects of life would do better. After all, as they say in Chinese, “ 情场得意 ，财场失意。” [i.e. "When lucky in love, one would be unlucky in finances" and vice versa.]
Some major changes had happened at work. I had a new boss with vastly different goals -- I was ambitious, he was for status quo. When I was 28, a new job offer came with a job title that I coveted, and so I job-hopped. Looking back, it was the start of my downfall. I was not a good fit to my new work environment -- I had jumped from the private to the public sector. In addition, I hated being dumped with a death march project (with design issues at the tail-end of the SDLC!!!); on top of handling several other projects concurrently, and being responsible for around 20 systems (mostly on maintenance). I quitted after 6 months, since I had promised the job interviewer (my boss' boss) that I would stay for at least 6 months to give myself time to adjust. My boss' boss was disappointed with my departure, she had earmarked me as a high-flyer.
After leaving my job, I took a packaged tour to Japan with my parents. My parents quarrelled frequently and openly, embarrassing themselves and me throughout the trip.
I came back depressed. I got to where I wanted in my career but I realized that it wasn't what I wanted after all. (I thought then that) I met "the one for life" but have squandered my chance by my refusal to be a 小女人 [literally "little woman", i.e. weak and/or dependent woman]. I hated myself for having awful thoughts/wishes for misfortune to happen to 6Snoopys or her marriage. I hated living in a household where there was no peace -- my parents quarrelled incessantly -- but I felt that I had no choice because I could not move out without further drama.
I decided that there wasn't really much to live for. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), I read too many detective stories as a teen and I did not want to die looking awful -- it would not be fair to leave my parents with an awful last image -- and most suicides look awful. The only method was carbon monoxide poisoning combined with a moderate dose of sedatives (so as to look relaxed and not winching in pain), but I didn't have a driving license to rent a car, neither did I want to "spook" any friend's car. Thus I decided that the only way was spontaneous death -- sudden unexplained death. I prayed very sincerely to leave this world -- several times daily. And yes, I had various signs and symptoms of depression even though I was never diagnosed as such, simply because I was not clear enough of mind to visit a psychologist or psychiatrist.