A plane crashed today. A Singapore Airlines plane, to be precise. The news came so abruptly when Nick came into the IRC channel #poetry and announced it. For a brief moment we thought he was kidding. We obtained verification from our individual browsers and there was a lapse of silence. We sat there in shock, wondering if any friends or distant relatives were on board that flight. It seemed almost inevitable that some immature soul would march into #poetry and make wisecracks about the recently deceased. The plane crash spoiled my mood that day and I had no tolerance for them, promptly banning them from the channel. Slowly the process of blame allocation began. "How could the pilot take off in that weather condition?" "Why didn't the air control tower stop them?" "Why isn't the airline releasing the names of those on board?" In the corner, Wanda the witch cackled, seemingly nonchalant to the plight of the few hundred.
It may seem cruel and insensitive, but many of us breathed a sigh of relief to learn that the number of Singaporeans on that flight wasn't as large as it could have been. Most of the passengers who were in the plane were Taiwanese and American. The pictures of the distraught Taiwanese family members as they walked through endless aisles of coffins pierces my heart. How brief and fragile life is. While they made their way around the aisles hoping not to identify their loved ones, Zorro and some fairies sat around, drinking gin from plastic cups.
People we knew streamed into #poetry, some asking for prayers for friends who might be on board that ill-fated flight, others frustrated at the delay the airline had in releasing the names of those involved to the public. Some of us prayed, a few others learnt how to. Many people were walking around with glitter in their hair, laughing and playfully pushing each other. Children were crying at thought of having lost a parent or two. Some of them had little baskets in which to place their candy. Those children were out on a mission.
Many Taiwanese burned offerings to their respective gods, some directly to the particular relative or friend who passed away in the crash. The billowing smoke rising to the heavens serves to remind us that there is a world above the one we've constructed. In these times of sorrow we learn once again of the things we'll miss, and how we've failed to truly treasure them when we had the chance. The lesson is short-lived, for we forget tomorrow, trudging back to our lives of running the wheel, bringing home the dough. The light we had gained is as temporal as the candle flame in the pumpkin lamps that light our pathway tonight.
Happy Halloween.

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