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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Monday, 22 January 2007

Reflection: Stealing a moment from a memory

At just 5 and afterwards, I watched feature films on tv. The national station (Radio Television Malaysia) topped up surprises with its tall list of adult American and British screenings on Saturday afternoons.

Sometimes, couples kissed while they crushed grapes in Spain or sipped margaritas in Rio. At other times, I'd catch submarines, murders, monsters and ghosts. Then there were explorers who found themselves trapped in adventure, while lost in Japan or the artic circle.

Strangely, my mother respected this ritual She would add on an Ovaltine or cake for an added celebration. She would remind me that a film was on.

I never understood the vocabulary when it came to soldier talk and war jargon but my love for the English Language - that started from baby talk and picture books was so intense - I would sit glued to the screen. I soaked in the sophisticated dialogue slowly, like an aromatic essence.

Now in later years, one clip follows me everywhere. It playacts a ghost that shoulders my fantasies and threads my journey like soft footfalls down the hallway.

I must have been about 6+. Can't remember anything. Not the actor nor actress, - except that she was dark haired - and not the title. But a scene. Just one poignant scene mirrors my memory like the sparkle of daylight. I remember my mother saying to me that it all took place in England.

It was by the sea. Tall boulders, rugged cliffs. A freezing winter's day. The waves roared and crashed. The winds howled. It was raining. The weather was all wrong, but in its mismatched harmony, there stayed a sharp intrigue.

The woman came to meet the man she loved in Wellington boots & a raincoat. It would be the last time. That was their secret place. They hadn't met in a long time. I remembered that he was leaving. Going to or running away somewhere. I think he was wanted for a crime he didn't commit. The scene signalled that kind of urgency. He was never coming back. But he loved her and she him. And so they met for the last time.

I remember the way she looked at him.

Her eyes that were bright with love, that were steady with loyalty. She was a strong woman and had suffered terribly for this love. But you knew that in spite of what happened, she would go on loving him. She would never stop.

It was her self-containment while they exchanged stilted conversation and then embraced, that I found gripping. You knew, their love was true. In sadness and a reluctant farewell, its end still held that ribboned box sweetness.

How I could grasp all this at 6 in my subconscious, I have no clue but I did.

I can still see her sometimes if I close my eyes. I find the memory comforting and riverting. I want to be like this woman. I strive to be a writer with this kind of energy. Totally independent and self-contained and loving with ease and might. I want to remember my past love with the same magic possibilities.

Perhaps immerse myself in a horizon of no return. In a place like the Zanzibar where I've already been. There is an enchanting mystery in the slip-sliding wave, the long dark sky and the sharp thundercloud. They see all but never tell. I want to crayon their secrets into my heart and watercolour their bold stories for my own.

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