February 08, 2005

Red Season

"Joel, when are you going to settle down? You see your cousins all brought their girlfriends and boyfriends. Where is your girlfriend?"

Unexpected words which my grandmother uttered the moment she saw me at reunion dinner. It's strange, really. Because I'm only a tender 22 and last I checked, marriageable age is at least 5 years down the road. So what's all this fuss about me showing up at reunion dinner unaccompanied? But grandma's question did get my head spinning. I started asking myself when I was ever going to find someone and manage to bring her to my annual reunion dinner. It was a daunting question and the headache was compounded when all my cousins showed up at the dinner table with partners-in-tow. The pressure really mounted from then on.

I think the entire concept of Chinese New Year is a novel one. Which other culture practices this unspoken meeting point somewhere in late January to early February, where extended families meet and exchange gossip and small talk? The red packets are secondary, seriously they are. When you get to your 20s like me, you start to realise the amounts inside dwindle and the red packets become more symbolic than significant. What becomes important is the act of meeting up, filling in and basically just watching how your relatives age. It's been no exception for me either. Somehow, this year's Chinese New Year seems...dampening. It's not that I don't like my family nor the festivities. It's more of a realisation that with each passing year, some people from the family pass away and you realise their absence at the next Chinese New Year. It's a thought which creeps into your mind and goes 'Time is a fleeting, and we are all dying. Slowly but surely.' Morbid yes, but so true.

Barely 2 weeks before my return to Melbourne. Mom's been nagging me to get started on my packing and I must admit, for good reason as well. The amount of stuff I have to bring back begins to pile up more and more as I go on with the packing. It's a phenomenal amount of luggage I have to carry back really. But I think, in a sense, it's symbolic of the amount of emotional luggage I have to lug back to Melbourne as well.

"When will I see the light at the end of the tunnel? Don't know. But for now, the darkness beckons."

Traveller fell apart at 11:26 PM

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