Monday, August 14, 2006

Life and Death

It is not everyday that I think about the fragility of life.

Sad isn't it? That I am only reminded about the fact that life is dear when someone close to me passes on. Sure, day in day out, there are people dying all over the world. Reading about the ongoing war, watching the news about terrorists blowing things up, about people being murdered, it bothers me that in this day and age, people still cannot live amicably with their differences.

Yes, it saddens me that these people are dying. Period. Seriously, what do you want me to do? I don't know them. There is nothing I can do now can I? Sure, I can go out onto the streets with placards and painted faces protesting about this and that, but where will that bring me? Right onto your TV screen as a news snippet perhaps?

I can also only guess how painful it is for the families and loved ones of those deceased in wars or terrorist attacks or even a victim of snatch theft! Like people from the perpetually-war-torn Palestine for instance. Speaking to a colleague the other day, he narrated to me stories of daily violence all through his growing years in Palestine.

"Evacuate? Evacuate to where? Which country is going to open their doors for us? What about our home? Our land?" he said.

"My grandfather's land has been taken away by the Israelis, and till today, 50 years later, I cannot even claim it despite having all legal documents indicating ownership of the land".

He spoke of war-caused deaths so-very nonchalantly it scares me. I guess when you witness bombs going off at your doorstep, debris and ruins of buildings that build your city, a family of 9 being blown up to pieces down the road from your house, the novelty of it wears off huh? What do you do? You live with it. Your children live with it. And so will your children's children (and God forbid, their children!) if no truce can be called.

I stared at him, eyes wide open in amazement and the only sounds I managed were throaty whimpers of how full of shit this is.

"We have lived all these years, and will continue to live.. Relax, don't worry about it so much," he chuckled, extinguished his cigarette and walked off. "

Ernie's death last week came as a painful shock to me. Life is like, one day you have it, the next day you don't. I still am not able fully able to comprehend the fact that as humans, we are given the freedom to do what we want with our lives, but yet, life isn't really ours to claim?

Come on. How many times have you heard people say, "Life is what you make of it!"

Naw, don't give me that motivational junk.

So what if I've made life good for myself? I could be young, 25 years of age, educated and climbing the corporate ladder and have got so much in store for me in the years ahead, but who knows when I am walking to the shop to get a loaf of bread, some sohai snatches my bag, I fall and hit my head on the concrete road and die? Or you could be 45, happily married with children, living in your swanky condo and driving your flashy car, and who knows, one night while driving home, you swerve to avoid hitting a nincompoop motorcyclist who just came out of no where, crash into the the divider causing your car to turn turtle and then you to die?

It just isn't fair is it? Why do people tell us to excel and do well in life, but can't guarantee that you'll live to reap the fruits you have sown?

No, Ernie did not win a Nobel Laureate. Nor did he win the UN Peacekeeping Award (if there is such an award). He was just normal, like you and I. He had nasty habits, but so do you and I. He had problems, but so do you and I. He had dreams, just like you and I. It is so much like you and I that makes his departure so much harder to stomach.

Always Remembered...

Ernie Chin (陈思荣)
9 June 1980 - 10 August 2006

Posted by Doreen at 4:28 pm