… is, all around. I’ve heard that if I should ever feel sad, down, depressed, torn, glum, sorrowful, unhappy, regretful, hopeless, heartbroken, and the countless other ways one expresses that feeling on the days that life is a notch below beautiful, I should think about the arrivals hall in Kuala Lumpur International Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. The arrivals hall. But what I saw that day in the Low Cost Carrier Terminal’s departure hall changed everything. It mattered.
Boy cut hair. Red t-shirt, like a sweater. Youngish, early twenties in my opinion. A chinese couple looking on. Wearing a backpack. Holding the boarding pass in her left hand. Wiping away her tears with her right. But they wouldn’t stop coming. The chinese couple were still looking on, hoping she would look back, so they could give her a smile of encouragement, to keep on walking. But she couldn’t. she just couldn’t. she was now leaning against the pillar for support, with her hand clasped over her mouth, trying desperately to let it all go, and look ahead. I was glued, staring at this scene before my eyes, wondering what was going on. It was like, one of those moments, 10, 15, 20 years after the loss of a loved one, when suddenly we feel alone, alone in the room with the most deafening of silences, and remember how much we miss their presence in our life. And the tears trail down our cheeks as the memory gets stronger.
She gave up. Got tired of being strong. Letting the tears flow, she walked on, to the immigration counter. But she lost her way. All the signage was in English. She wasn’t sure where to go. A few looks to the left and a few looks to the right later, she finally looked back, more out of confusion than that feeling that was bringing all those memories back minutes ago. I went numb when I saw her face. The chinese couple smiled. They called her back to where they were standing, which was just a family away from where I was, using the everyday hand signals. Over the noise, I couldn’t quite make out what they were saying to her in Malay, but one needn’t be born a prodigy to realize they were showing her the right way to her counter. She was still crying. I was still numb. They were still smiling.
She was their maid. Trying to say the final goodbye. going home. Going home and never coming back again. She gave the resonance of someone who’s world had just ended. Someone clinging to the last straws of logic. Someone praying for a miracle. You can argue that she feels this way because of the income she was earning, the standard of living she was experiencing, away from the pressures of family matters. A life she might never see again. Yes, it is. But I’d like to think that its because she was grateful for the kindness the couple showed her, for the love they gave her, the treatment of a human being not needing a better definition. She cared. All I wanted to do in those few moments was just to walk up to her and give her a hug, saying nothing, praying time would heal all her wounds, if she would let it. Hoping it would give her the courage to walk away. I remember my eyes being watery, but I assumed it was because of the dry air coming from the air conditioning.
I saw life in the blink of an eye. I saw a complete stranger break down for a couple she was now calling family. I saw what I wanted to see, restoring my faith in humanity. But most importantly, I saw love. I saw it for the very first time. The way it deserves to be shown. I considered taking her photograph, to remember the moment, but walked away with my family, smiling like I didn’t have a care in the world, but deep down feeling rather insecure. I can write as much as I want, but nothing will better describe what I saw than the moment in my mind. And for once, I want to be selfish. No photos. No videos. Just words. The memory will be for me, and for me alone. As the day I saw love, and knew there was still plenty of it in the world. Thank you, the girl with the red sweater. Thank you.