Sunday, 10 March 2013

Pushing 50: Small Changes Can Make Big Difference

Despite the fact that it was lunch break the place was relatively deserted. The weather was scorching and even the thick dark canvas shades of the cafĂ©’s smoking section couldn't keep off the heat from making my skin sizzled. I just needed a tall glass of iced Nescafe and a long drag of nicotine to take me away from this insane humidity and l would then be safe and sound in my own small, sweet shell.

“Why is it that the amount of money you have in your bank accounts or in your expensive leather wallets determines the weight of your opinion?”  I had not forgotten that he was with me and that we were waiting for our Aloo Mutters with white rice to be served. The weather however had taken the best of me and the drop-dead-gorgeous creature who was sitting in front of me appeared more like a fata morgana that I chose to ignore for the time being.

 “Huh?” That was the only available response escaped my mouth. The day was disgustingly hot and so was he.

“Why is it that you first need to be rich and then would only your opinion matter?”  He paraphrased his question. His deep set eyes drilled holes into mine. Wait, let me rephrase that sentence. His brilliantly beautiful, deep set, brown eyes were transfixed onto mine and bored deep holes right down into my retinas. For a split second I lost my balance. He was god-damnly good-looking and sinfully hot  ... BUT young. Too bad. *Yeah, leave it alone senah…he’s just a kid for crying out loud!*

“And… your point being?” I said, much too nonchalantly. The fact that a young, good-looking guy WITH a good thinking cap doesn't always come in the same package and in my case, it definitely doesn't happen every day therefore I should and ought to at least, show a bit of interest and concern on the topic. But the weather…the heat was distracting me. Or was it HIM? *Naah, forget it…too young!*

“We are becoming slaves to money. We work hard for money and then we work harder for more money. Why do we become so money oriented? Our basic needs are simple and yet we have created a complex life. We want a better house to live in, expensive clothes to wear and rich in flavour, rich in quality, rich in looks kind of food to eat. And we need more money because we need to have more of those better things in life. And then we complain that we don’t have the time for anything else except work. And we are so dead focused on this ‘Quest for Money’ that we fail to appreciate the wonderful things in life. We fail to see the sufferings of others. We have created a self-centred society. We don’t give a crap about others. We don’t care about poachers hunting down elephants in Africa or the Japanese killing whales. We just care about our own pathetic selves. ” His hands moved about while he was talking; he touched the menu, moved the ketchup bottle, wiped imaginary dust off the tissue dispenser, flipped my cigarette box, rearrange his thick unruly hair and stopped only when his sentence reached an end.

“True, it’s greed.” I know where he was coming from but honestly, I wasn’t interested. I was tired and hungry and sweating like a horse. The last thing on my mind was to indulge in a ‘let’s-save-the-world’ conversation. And as good looking as he was, I preferred him not talking. Not now. Please.

“When was the last time you smiled to a stranger?” He asked as he pulled a cigarette from my freshly opened pack. I watched him placed it at the right side of his mouth between his oh-so-kissable lips and lit it with my RM1.20 green lighter. Did he just jump from one topic to another unrelated topic or was it me who wasn’t paying attention here?

“I smiled at Goo-Goo before leaving the house this morning but the dog didn't smile back. Obviously he was busy thinking of ways to make more money…or dog-biscuits” He got my drift and smiled, a crooked smile, the kind that reminded me of Bruce Willis and Pit Bull…and Mr. Misery, of course not necessarily in that particular order nor for any particularly specific reason. “And yeah…I also smiled and wished good morning to a guy on my way to the office but he gave me that ‘You-Crazy- Woman’ look! End of story.”

“That’s exactly my point. We have forgotten the fundamental rules of living. Be kind to others. Love. Smile. Patience. Peace. Helping others. We’ve known so much of Mother Theresa’s work, Ghandi and his philosophies. Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism… We know all the great teachings any preachers had ever preached, but we just don’t practice most of the things we already know.”

“True again.” I said as I wiped off trickles of sweat that ran down the sides of my forehead. Given a good day I would have enjoyed this topic. It’s about being humane and humanity and humility. I have an unspeakably soft spot for these matters and could have easily dominated the conversation and turned the table around. But kiddo, you caught me on a bad day, literally, so to speak.

“Why don’t we?” He was determined to make my day a miserable living hell.

“Sometimes we forget, it just slipped off our minds.”

“Not good enough of an excuse”

“I’m saying it as it is, kiddo.” Oh! Can you please STFU?!

He didn’t stop talking when our Aloo Mutters were served. I hate talking while eating and so I let him did the talking most of the time. He went on about capitalism and China, wars in Palestine, Syria and Rohingya. He ranted about hunger in Africa, about media dictating the lives of youths around the world… yadayadayada. I just ate, listened, nodded and chipped in when and if necessary. I must admit that it was the best ‘conversation’ I ever had for a long time but bugger… the heat! It was killing me!

“We should make the world a better place, you know? There should be less hatred, less war, less selfishness. And, we should be more considerate towards others and love one another more.” He continued. Our empty plates were not collected so we used them as ash-trays.

“Utopia you mean?” I suspected that he had been smoking some shit and was being delusional.

“Yeah, exactly!” he grinned, beaming a 1000 watt smile and my heart stopped for a second.

“C’mon, get real!”

“Why not?” He wasn’t going to let me off the hook easily.

“Utopia exists only in your head, silly!”

“So, you mean we should just leave the world as it is now… all fucked-up? Is that what you are trying to say?” he asked, looking at me wide-eyed.


“I don’t believe you. You’re more intelligent than that, that much I can tell”

“It’s not about being intelligent or less intelligent. It’s about accepting things you can’t change. I was more or less like you a long, long time ago. I was unhappy with the world. The unjust, cruelty, abuse, rape, hunger, slavery, the war… all those things upset me big time back then. And I became a rebel. Another character, with or without a cause, the world doesn’t actually need. ”

“And you’re not upset anymore now?”

“I still am but I refuse to let those stuffs bug me. At this age, I’m done trying to save the world. I’m taking it easy and going down with the flow…and smell the roses… and the coffee.”

“So you’re not doing anything to un-fuck the world?”

“That and also I will try not to fuck it up real bad. I mean, I can't do much about the ozone layer part." I cued to my phone and laptop."Look, kiddo, I know these things put questions into your head but as fucked-up as the world may be, it still has countless wonderful things to offer. Why do you get all hung-up on the bad things? Why not start being grateful for… for example…the cloudless blue sky.”

“And the polluted but free air.” He said with a smirk.

“And the beautiful trees”

“And good Aloo Mutters” he said pointing to our plates a.k.a ash-trays.

“And my children and grandchildren.”

“And my mother. Mothers are wonderful creatures you know?”

“Yes, I'm a mother, I know and we definitely are superhuman!”

“And my girlfriend, she’s wonderful too…”

“And coffee…I’m grateful for Nescafe.”

“And champagne.” he added with an evil grin.

“There you go…and why on earth did you get all worked up on things you can’t change when you have plenty to be grateful for, is absolutely just beyond me!”

“Just curious, I guess. I just wanted to know how you think.”

“Cat died now?”

“Yup. Died. Buried.” He answered with a smile that could have easily stopped any woman in her tracks. 

The thing is, as I’m writing this down and the conversation had taken place four days ago, and yet his question floats like ghost in my mind. “So you’re not doing anything to un-fuck the world?”

Just how exactly do we un-fuck the world? Do we reduce, recycle, reuse enough? Do we car-pool? Have we done enough to stop global warming? Do we need to intrude the animals’ natural abodes in the forest just for the sake of development? Did we take part in Earth Hour? Do we know the names of our neighbors? Have we hugged our children enough times? Are we playing the roles of dedicated children to our parents? Are we being kind to our siblings? Did we thank that person enough for being there for us? Have we apologized for hurting someone? When was the last time we told someone that we love them? Do we ever really give a damn?  Just how on earth do we un-fuck the world when sadly enough we couldn’t even think of ways to un-fuck ourselves?

taking baby steps,

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