Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Starry Starry Night

There's nothing much to say really except it's Chinese New Year. I think I have said all there is to be said about this season of the year. The usual fare, annoying relatives asking the same old questions ("Where is your girlfriend?", "When is it your turn?", "When can I stop giving angpow to you?"), eat, sleep and watch TV. This time around I didn't even bother with trying to exercise so I will probably be paying for it. Four days of sedentary lifestyle and my body has begun to deteriorate. Seems there is no way I can go back to that life anymore. And oh yeah... driving home in a jam in the dead of the night is not a pleasant experience, especially if your companion is fast asleep and you're fighting fatigue. Starting at 11 pm and reaching home at around 5am is not funny.

Less than 6 hours later I was up and about again to run chores and do the ancestral worship thing. It begs to question, how is it I am doing this when it is more of the duty of the eldest son. After all, theoretically I am the one who has shamed the ancestors for abdicating my duties in continuing the family line. Besides I have a love-hate relationship with the columbarium. The cremains of my grandaunt is there and every year it seems there are more and more new additions among the old dead who grows more increasingly forgotten. The old wing especially seemed like a testimony to how death and decay makes anonymous beings of us all. Rows and rows of long deceased lined the walls. Their dusty, cobwebbed urns sometimes behind broken glass and missing name plates. Many have photographs staring out blankly among a jumble of the deceased's personal artifacts. Reminds me of a line from Don MacLean's Vincent.

"Starry, starry night, portraits hung in empty halls,
Frameless heads on nameless walls, with eyes that watch the world and can't forget

Old and young all together for an eternity which doesn't even seem permanent. In the central courtyard is a bodhi tree. Continued root growths have begun to tear up the cement floor while drain pipes clogged with its leaves sag and leak from the weight. Beneath the tree is where converted Christians abandon their pagan idols so they could alleviate their guilt that perhaps those who still believe will continue to honor their former gods. It's strange really, why even bother with this last act of belief if you have abandon your faith? On any other day, the columbarium looks even more sad with the lack of human life lingering around save maybe the distant drone of monks chanting. There's a certain allure to the sadness, but yet it is not something many of us would want to think about often.

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