“We live as we dream — alone…”
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad.
As much as we are surrounded with people, we are alone in the world. Detached from others as we ourselves are our own individual. Which says very much about the above phrase.
I first read Conrad when I was 17. I picked up an ancient-looking copy of Heart of Darkness from the home library. Neither Mum nor Dad knew where it came from and they both denied having read the book. Maybe I bought the book unknowingly from one of my many trips to second-hand bookshops in Penang.
When I first read it, I didn’t like it. I found it too dark for my liking.
Fast forward 3 years later. I re-read it at uni. A lecturer casually mentioned Conrad was buried in the Canterbury Cemetery. Being inquisitive, I found myself at the Canterbury Cemetery one bright wintry morning.
And I loved it.
Yes I did already warn you with the title of this post. For the lack of a better word to describe this queer doing of mine.
It took me a while to come to his grave as I had an enjoyable time reading headstone epitaphs. I cannot remember a time when I’ve been to a cemetery in Malaysia. Maybe I have as a child but I have no recollection of what cemeteries in Malaysia look like. I have driven past them many a time at home and honestly, they give me shivers.
Strangely enough, the Canterbury Cemetery made me feel at ease. At peace with myself, in fact. It feels like a walk in the park amidst people who have been there, done that and have been laid to rest for the rest of eternity. I love reading epitaphs. Some funny, some touching, some bearing ‘inside jokes’ that no outsider will ever understand (not me at least) and some are simply nameless, long forgotten by everyone.
There are many flowers and benches in the cemetery. Many, many flowers. Like these tulips growing out of a grave, perhaps giving us hope that there’s life beyond death?
I discovered it isn’t very good for me to be walking about in cemeteries as a really good friend pointed out and have since stopped doing this but I thought I would like to share why I did so.
Visiting Conrad’s grave moved me the way visiting Shakespeare’s tomb moved me when I was in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Reading an author’s works creates this connection between you and the writer that I cannot explain.
I spent many an hour reading Conrad’s Under Western Eyes and Heart of Darkness on a bench in the cemetery. It’s lovely in spring where you see people jogging, cycling and even visiting departed loved ones. Again, cemeteries in Canterbury at least seem to be people-friendly and I watch as most of the locals treat the cemetery as a park where they chat and walk about. During all times when I read Conrad’s books I was never alone. Never once did I feel shivers down my spine or anything of that sort. Then again I was never at the cemetery at night. 😉
It’s refreshing walking through the cemetery. Taking in all the sights and sounds. Watching squirrels scurry past you as they scramble up the nearest tree as they are awfully shy. Eavesdropping in on what the birds have got to say to each other.
All very happy indeed. It’s good to get away from the hustle and bustle of the campus, and from the awkward silence I get when alone in my room. Don’t get me wrong, I like having peace and quiet when I need to study but sometimes I need to breathe and take in something different. Go to a park, you say. I’ve spoken to some neighbours and all of them take walks in the cemetery because it’s within close vicinity and it feels more like a park than most parks in the city centre as there are a lot more benches placed all over the place.
Looking at long forgotten graves made me ponder about the future. It all goes in full circle. Eventually, we will all come to a point where we become nothing.
It’s all about doing something in our lifetime to preserve our name as to not become nothing for years to come, isn’t it? 😉
Coming from a Malaysian Chinese community, I know of very loud and brash ‘friends’ who would go nuts when they read this, thinking I have been possessed.
What can I say other than
‘I think you need to look beyond your crazy superstitions and taboos?’ =D
I’ve found nothing but good in these visits. I get reading done (yay!), some exercise (yay!) and come back refreshed and ready to take on whatever’s thrown at me because when I leave this place, I want to be remembered.
Hopefully long after I’m gone, my name will ring a bell amongst the living.
Haha. No, I’m not looking at becoming a celebrity. Nor am I looking to be world-renowned either
although becoming the next JK Rowling sounds like a great idea . All I want is to leave a little piece of me behind.
So future, bring it on. I do not know what you will bring me but I am ready to face you. I rarely mention my boyfriend in this blog other than him showering me with gifts but I think I will today. How apt, bringing him up amongst the morbidity. He’s always wanted to gain recognition anyway so hopefully this little mention will depict him being the great hero saving the damsel in distress from all the morbidity. =D
We have been together for 4 years and 9 months and still counting. I think it’s safe for me to say that I’ve been through some of my life’s most difficult moments with him from starting University in a foreign land where booze seems to be the only liquid freshers ingest to us starting our ‘professional’ careers now. Smooth-sailing one, you ask? No, I say.
Many an argument hath been fought. Of course, I win. =p He will beg to differ though so it’s up to you to decide who wins. 😉
I think the key to a good relationship is communication. Lots of it. If you see your partner as your best friend, your confidante and lover all in one, you have found The One. Never let him / her go.
A little early to say, perhaps and I sure do hope I will never need to eat my words…. I have found The One. We argue over everything. From his tardiness to my ‘organised clutter’ as I would like to put it. We laugh at the same lame jokes, cry over the same fears and share the same dreams.
The fact that I have found The One I want to trudge through with makes me a very blessed girl and I sincerely thank the powers that be.
Like I mentioned in my Musings post, it has certainly been a trying time. For us both too as we are currently in a long distance relationship which involves a bloody 7 hour time difference which isn’t cool. Well we have been in a long distance relationship for most of the 4 years but we were lucky enough to be living in the same timezone.
Little things like these, and having many a ‘me’ time now made me appreciate life and the people around me more that ever. Everyone, please cherish the time you have with your loved ones. As difficult and naggy as they may be, stop for a minute and take a deep breath. We are all different individuals and we express our thoughts, feelings differently. Love is a feeling and this is probably their way of saying they love you, just that they deviate slightly from these magic words:
‘I love you.’
Of course, many people around me are blinded by the fact that people nag because they want nothing but the best for the other person and love plays such an important role here. My personal story is that my grandmother was left behind because she nagged too much. Perhaps some members of the family failed to see that she did this out of love and care. Just that she showed her love in the wrong way, from their point of view.
Sorry this is really turning into a rather random post and please let me know should you prefer beauty-related posts and no personal posts like these because there’s a reason why I named this blog ‘A Little Bit of Everything’. I want it to consist of little snippets here, there and everywhere. =)
We are brought up in such a fast-paced environment and I feel that basic values such as respect for the elders have been lost in this very much technology-based society. I have been hurt by family whom I used to deem close to my heart. All that’s left is an open wound that will never heal because it really hurts. Forgive and forget, some may say. But what’s done is done and time only ever moves forward, never backwards.
It scares me to witness my peers dissing their parents openly. I fear for their parents. I have put myself in their parents’ shoes, wondering how hurt I would feel should I be reading what my child is saying behind my back, revealing what they deem as bad parenting to the world when I only want the best for my child.
Negativity attracts each other. For example, if you think going to the cemetery is scary you will naturally feel afraid the minute you step in. However, if you enter with an open mind you wouldn’t feel a thing! Same goes with the parent-child issue. Us being the younger ones should give our parents a chance as no matter what they say or do, it’s for the best. Also, do not forget that we will not be here if not for them.
I can only say this much here because I suppose most of you will be closing the browser the minute you see such a lengthy post. =p
Ending this post on a funny note,
“Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men.”
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad.
Dear boyfriend, now you know what you put me through all the time. 😉