His name was Marcus. That's all I know. I played futsal with him occasionally every Monday. He worked in Unicef here in PJ. He was, simply put, a NICE kid. A great futsal player, he would always give up his place on the team to a late comer, play in goal when more selfish players wanted to only be striker and always approach a grumpy fart like me after a game with an appreciative "great goal" or "how do you keep running like that man?"
A couple of days ago he died in his sleep. I think he was only 22, 23 max. The autopsy revealed nothing was wrong with him. 100% healthy. The only conclusion was (i may get this medical term wrong as I forgot to write down what was conveyed to me) was that he died of bio-chemical imbalance. He was a workaholic and he had only been having 3-4 hours of sleep every day for the past 3 months. It seems his body just stopped producing whatever chemicals it needs to keep the engine running.
That's it. Nothing sinister or tragic. He. worked. himself. to. death. He went to sleep probably thinking about work the next day and never woke up.
Xavier the older of the four brothers at Online pub, locked up the bar one night about 9 months ago. He got on his bike for the ride back home. People found him sitting on the roadside at 4am. He didn't remember anything and had to be rushed for brain surgery, a victim of a hit and run. He's now paralysed on the right side. He's back in physiotherapy but his boisterous deep voice is gone, his body just an awkward host to his indomitable spirit.
My neighbor went to visit his son in London over Christmas 2007. Uncle Mike was a strong tall man of about 65. He was always trying to get me to draft complain letters to the apartment management. All of which I quietly 'forgot' to do. In London he came down with flu bug which progressed to something much worse. The cold was not agreeing with him but he was by then too sick to travel. His condition worsened and had to go through some surgery.
He got back to Malaysia almost a year later, much longer than the planned 2 months holiday. I did not recognize him when I first met him after he came back. He now seems to have shrunk. His black hair is now snowy white. His eyes are haunted and empty and his face almost skeletally gaunt. He cant leave the apartment and I sometimes catch him sitting on the balcony staring out into the afternoon sky. Sometimes he waves back when I acknowledge him but sometimes he just stares past me.
I'm not going to say I wish I had spent more time with Marcus or spoke to him more or went to his wake. I'm not going to say that I cried when I first saw Xavier barely hunched over and painfully trying to speak to me in the bar nor will I say now that I regret not drafting those letters of complaint for Uncle Mike. That would be hypocritical. Marcus was a good kid. I've prayed for him the past couple days. I will eventually forget in the days to come as time erases everything let alone the passing of an acquaintance from Monday night futsal kickabout. I will continue to support Online Pub as it's one brother short now. I will talk a bit longer to Xavier and will pull back when he's tired and Uncle Mike? If there's still the fire in him to fire off another complaint to the apartment management, this time I WILL draft that note for him and personally deliver it to the those Animal Farm rejects sitting on the committee.
This is not about me or so much about them actually. This is about how much we take what we have for granted. Every meal and dollar that we waste, every hurtful word or action that we say or do, every family that we ignore, every little simple pleasure that is scorned upon. It's all this an more. We can lose all we have now in two seconds, 2 days or 2 weeks. What would we have to show for it? The never ending yearning for money, sex, property, rich husband/boyfriend, hot horny wife/girlfriends/affairs, the bigger car/house, more exotic holidays, that higher position up the corporate ladder, that unfulfilled and more important UN-ACTED UPON dream to own that bar by the beach, build that dream house, conquer Everest, etc?
Would I feel empty at the end of my life? I hope not. Time also erases fleeting notions of nobility, resolutions for betterment and even blog posts that are supposed to act as a reminder in case one tends to forget in that journey to find self satisfaction before we pack our bags to head for for the Pearly Gates or for the Hindu side of me, to get re-incarnated as one of Michale Jackson's 'adopted' children. It's just whether we've got our shit together before we turn off all the lights and lock the door behind us.
"I said, don't apples taste GREAT? I mean the way they TASTE. And the texture. And the way when you chew them, they kind of crunch and the juice runs out in your mouth. Isn't it AMAZING?" - Death, in Neil Gaiman's comic, Death: High Cost of Living