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Selfishness

19/09/2019

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Mai Le

mai

He could not remember how long it might have been since she was gone. The thoughts of her came in waves of varying intensity, often happened once every few weeks. This time, his stream of thoughts were overwhelming, leaving him defenceless like a bird without feathers in the excruciating cold. He had drunk a fair amount. That was when he called me.

“She is crossing my mind again.”, murmured he, in a tottering voice. I was often the first one he spoke to when he’s in pain.

“How is she doing it this time?” I posed the question.

“As I entered the hotel, someone in the lobby had the same scent as her. At first, I thought she was there. And I frantically looked around to find her. Before I knew it, I followed the scent only to find out that it was one of the concierge ladies. She was very kind to help me with the luggage to my door, but that made it worse.” He paused momentarily, perhaps also went out to the balcony for a smoke. “For that whole time in the lift, I felt as if she was by my side.”

“She is not here anymore…” replied I “.. and I’m sorry to say, dwelling on her won’t help you to move on. Why do you always yearn for the impossible?” I hesitated briefly, realising that I might have lashed out my frustrations on him. In a faint, calming voice, I reassured him. “You have everything. At the very least, you have more money than you could ever spend, and you have the freedom to do whatever you want. All you have to do is to enjoy it. Could you please?”

“I have everything. If that’s true, then tell me, why do I get so hung up on her? Why couldn’t I let her go?”. I could hear the high-rise winds sweeping through the balcony as a distanced background to his hoarse whisper. His sorrow had blended in with the veil of smoke.

“I can’t tell you, and you know that. The truth hurts. Getting hung up on someone impossible is not love. You just fell for your imagination of her and the life you could have. You didn’t love her then, and you perhaps still don’t. This feeling is guilt and pity for yourself. Utterly, it’s your selfishness that’s speaking.” I murmured while feeling like I was walking on eggshells. I didn’t want to hurt him. “Where are you now?”

“I’m staying in the Marina Bay Sands tonight. Just smoking outside in the balcony. I’m looking at the bay now. I have everything, but I feel so hopeless…”, he muttered, “… as if there are no lights. It feels like I’m in complete darkness. But in front of me, in the nightfall afar, there are some lights on the sea. Perhaps that’s of some cruise ships. Have I told you that the most joyful memories of her and I were on a cruise ship together?”

Like a flash of lightning that struck so suddenly, here came the thunderstorm again.

“Stop. Please stop.” I panicked. “Go inside. Please don’t do this.”

“No, I remembered that night. She was happy, and so was I.” His mind drifted further away from me while I panicked.

“Could you please stop? Please go inside. I beg you!” I pleaded to no avail.

“We were out drinking on the deck. She was so beautiful in the moonlight. Somehow, something propelled me to tell her I loved her for the first time. I never told anyone but my mother that I loved them, but I told her so that night. I even wanted to propose to her in the heat of the moment.” His voice warmed up cheerfully. “She was so happy that I said I loved her. We laughed and we danced. And we drunk a lot. We drunk too much. And she fell.” Now he panicked. “My god, she fell!”

“Stop. Please, don’t do this. We have been here before. Just stop.” I begged him, but he had realised it. It was too late.

“I killed her. I killed her. I killed the love of my life.” He seemed short of breath and started to weep. “I killed her. Why did I kill her, just after telling her that I loved her?”

“We have been here before, so many times. Please, I beg you. She is gone. She is so far gone, a long time ago. You didn’t kill her. It was an accident.” I helplessly tried to calm him down. “At least the last thing she heard from you was that you loved her. And you are still obsessed about her for so long after she was gone. She is still here, with us, in your thoughts. Isn’t that enough?”

“I loved her. But I killed her. We should have never been there. I should have never told her I loved her. If I hadn’t, we wouldn’t have drunk too much. I was selfish. That’s what killed her.” He continued sobbing. “Tell me, what can I do about this grief? She is gone.”

“This is not love. You’re not longing for her. You’re longing for an exalted imagination of what could be, which died that night with her. Can you please come to terms with it now? This anguish has been going on for too long. It’s killing me. Please?” I cried.

“I don’t want to come to terms with it. Can I please stay in that night for a little longer? I want to be with her.” He begged me while continuing to sob.

“It’s killing me. You did not kill her, but you’re killing me. Every few weeks, or perhaps every few days now, you’re killing me. You’re killing both of us.” I pleaded in despair. “You realise that I don’t exist, right? There’s only you.”

 

 

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Illustration by my friend Karl. 

Written by Mai Le

My name is Mai. I am originally from Vietnam. After my university years at LSE, I worked in investment banking at Goldman Sachs. After a wonderful time there, I started several of my own business as well as helping others on theirs. I've always been building communities and businesses for as long as I can remember, and absolutely thrilled to see others enjoy what I've built.

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