Letter to M., #3

Dearest, dearest M.,

I hope you are well. And all the other hopes? You have already known them, thus, I will refrain from saying. Or writing.

My country is fine. My parents are fine. I am fine.

Or at least, that’s what everyone wants to believe.

You know, M., during the little time I had spent on this Earth, I have never seen a time where hopes are so strong and Gods are so weak. I had thought, judging from the not-so-pretty history where humans are placed against humans, that we were used to death and we were used to dying.

But I cannot be more wrong.

You have seen the patients. The victims. The people lying on their dead bed with no hopes – even the faintest ones – for surviving.

And I, I have seen the doctors, the nurses, the police, and the student volunteers struggling, fighting, beating down this fucked-up virus moment by moment, second by second.

I’ve seen the nurses lying on the bamboo mats outside a quarantine building. I’ve seen the drivers of the quarantine trucks eating their frugal meals by the darkest corner, wet with the patients’ tears and the doctors’ blood. And when I thought I have seen it all – the full picture, the horror we never choose to take part in, the foretold death – the virus comes back for more.

It is hard, M., to keep a positive outlook these days. I don’t see the smiles on people’s face anymore. To me, smiles are a manifestation of miracles. Something along the line of, Happiness is contagious, pass it on (this saying is not mine originally so don’t hold me accountable for it).

The little smiles, though no one talks about them, are the little bonfires that kindle the passion within us. Be it the passion to live one more day or to try one more time, the fire grows larger and from that, the desire to survive is born.

That’s what I believe in. And that’s what makes me think, What if the smiles are dying?

An artist I follow on Facebook says, You can stop a suicidal person if her reason is because life is too hard; but you can’t stop a suicidal person if her reason is because she has lived enough.

Like in George Orwell’s 1984 when people are saving razor blades. Like now when the smiles are dying. What actually happens, M., when a person has lived enough. And anyways, by what conditions – what rules, what regulations, what amendments – do we depend on to judge whether we have lived enough or not?

Trinh Cong Son once said in one of his numerous interviews and commentaries that he did not fall into the abyss of despair. He, for one who had been through the war, the death, the loss and the gain, had never decided for himself that he had lived enough. He feared death, he said, not because of its meaning, but because he was afraid he would lose what living has to offer. The memories. The love. The embraces and the tingling of human’s skin.

And by his logic, there is so much to fear in death. I wonder what would be stronger than that fear to put a human being into the position where he should think that he had lived enough.

Perhaps when the living is too much, we don’t fear death no more. And vice versa, when death is too much, we stop fearing the living.

There were times when I stared down the abyss for far too long that I almost forgot what living was like. And I am privileged with a family who will always support me. And yet, during the time when I stared at the abyss, I had once thought, I had lived enough.

People always say there will be a time when you don’t have to dream no more because life is finally more beautiful than whatever you can dream of. Being a pessimist who is striving to believe in life with her hopelessness, I refuse to believe in that notion.

You know what strength is, M.? It is when you realize that life can never be more beautiful that what you dream of, but you choose to live on. Not because it is the only choice but because you have decided for yourself that “you” is worth fighting for.

And that is the most beautiful thing I have seen since the start of this deadly pandemic.

Anyways, this is getting way too long. Hope you find this out. And hope it can appease your lonely heart.

Sincerely, with all the love the world can give you,


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