Making Light of Things

July 2010 Archives

How Can I Remember

My dearest Faith,

It is hard to imagine that we’ve been married for 7 years now. It is easy these days to be consumed by the presence of our two young ones and forget that while they will some day leave the nest, we are bound together as one for life. We have spent more than half our lives side by side - a state so wondrous I oftentimes keep secret to myself for fear of offending people undergoing more difficult periods in their lives.

But today I’d like to tell you that these years been nothing short of amazing. In the early, early years before love was requited I hung on to the song “How can I remember?” by Michael Dees.

Thanks for eventually choosing me.

so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Pablo Neruda


Some things in life take a little longer for us to understand.

While I was serving my national service, there were moments when I questioned the necessity of paying two and a half years (you guys have it lucky these days) of my life, while my female poly classmates went on to further their studies or begin their career. It was only further down the road I appreciated the resilience that national service instilled in me; it was in national service when I learned first-hand that physical limits were pliable when you asserted enough grit and will. Shattering limitations has become somewhat of a habit these days, and it all began with sweaty challenges like doing just one extra pull-up.

It wasn’t until my first day at reservist when I fully understood what it meant to be a citizen and soldier of Singapore. We often deride the term “country” - the term has taken on an inanimate distant meaning through overuse.

It was at reservist I met Fahmi. He was a pilot, and somewhere in the middle of conversation I learned that he had two children, and took care of his parents. It occurred to me then that we were training not to protect just ourselves, but to protect each other. In the event of war, it is unlikely that we would successfully put up a defense by manning our front gates. We would likely have to coordinate ourselves over vast distances, physically away from our families and loved ones.

Fahmi wasn’t doing his reservist training to protect his family. He was training to protect mine. I was training to protect his. The bonds of brotherhood grew with every in-camp training, and somewhere deep inside us we all knew- everyone in uniform understood - that we were doing this for each other.

My children are your children, my parents your parents. I would lay down my life to save yours because I knew without a doubt you’d do the same for mine.

This epiphany totally redefined what being a country meant to me.

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