Letters by Kenny Mah

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The right direction

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February 28, 2014

Hey you,

You say, “You’re not looking in the right direction!”

We are waiting for our train to get back to Furano, after visiting lavender farms in the countryside. Japanese transportation are famous for being on time but we are early, hence the waiting. It’s early summer but already the sun is beating down on us. We cover our heads with my jacket, and even in hiding from the heat, we can find some mischief to occupy ourselves with.

“Make a funny face. No, another funny face.”

Whatever did we do before smartphones to keep us occupied? Life’s not boring when you are making faces and sharing the ridiculous snaps on Instagram. We want to share our boredom with our friends, with the rest of the world. At least we don’t have to do this alone. We have each other, for amusement and for company.

“You stepped on my toe!”

Fast forward a year or two and we are a continent apart. What I’d give for you to step on my toe or me on yours. Instead I’m stuck here alone, giving instructions to a stranger.

“Put the bottle of sesame oil next to the oyster sauce. Maybe it’ll fit better that way.”

The DHL guy and I are trying to figure out how best to fit these care items I’m sending you into the cardboard box. Bubble wrap makes everything bulkier and harder to arrange together. You told me you couldn’t find Chinese sauces and oils in Luanda. You haven’t seen peanut butter either. And certainly not specialty coffee beans. I pack a hand grinder too, of course.

“Good morning, dear! I’ve just woken up!”

Every day we exchange messages, seven hours apart. We tell each other when we wake and when we are going to bed. We exchange pictures of our meals, most of it homecooked. We never used to cook this much when we were together in KL, we laugh. Thank goodness for Wi-Fi and for FaceTime. It’s a little piece of magic seeing your face smiling back at me. We want so much more but this is enough, for now.

“You forgot to switch the camera; I’m seeing your feet. Turn it around so we’re facing each other?”

There’s a Buddhist proverb that goes “If we are facing the right direction, all we have to do is keep walking.”

May we always be facing each other. May we always be in the right direction, and walking together.

Yours always and always,

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