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Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Battles

I stood on the balcony, enjoying the cool morning air and the beautiful vista before me: sprawling green rice fields and clear blue sky. My strapless summer dress and my long hair swayed softly in the breeze. I picked up my motorcycle key, say goodbye to the man in the room, and left. I raised my head high with pride and thought: I am young. I am beautiful. I am invincible. And I want to die.

It was the song of a dying tree in the winter: utter silence. The leaves fell from it one by one, its bark stripped bare, yet no sound came. And there it stood looking up the sky, begging and crying in its silence: "Take me. Please." Yet days come and go, and there it stood still. Its trunk became more and more fragile, its branch crumbles, yet still it stood until it has ceased its begging. It was a part of the forest and it fulfilled its duty accordingly, but even though the root still actively looking for water and nutrition, even though tiny leaves tried to sprout when the spring arrives, it has ceased to live. The body was there, but the soul was no more.

True to my all-too-logic mentality, it took me 4 years to realize what a pitiful state of human being I was at that time. Life to me is a series of problem solving, almost like a game. Each challenges is a way to 'level up', a puzzle to solve. Yes, I got sad sometimes, but practicality comes first. I am the practical pig that build the brick house in a wolf-free community. Just to be safe, you know. Sadness is good, but what to do next is more important. Beside, I didn't have any business being sad. I was not pretty or special enough for that privilige.

And it is sick to think about it. Sadness is a right, not a privilege. How can somebody think she/he is not beautiful or special enough to be sad? I always told my story as: I broke up with my (on and off) boyfriend of 10 year and needed a rebound. It's short and simple, yet it is as complete as a jacket cover synopsis of Lord Of The Rings Trilogy-in-one-volume. My story was a story of life-long rejection, the feeling of forever being an outsider, a freak of nature. My mind is bright and quick, yet I learned to think that I, as a person, was not good enough; that I do not deserve to wallow in sadness because I am simply not special enough.

My story is not about how my ex-boyfriend failed me, or how I failed my self. My story is about how society failed me, how the society brought me down instead of embracing and protecting me.

I was outspoken, vibrant, and determined. This translate to crass, gaudy, and stubborn for a lot of people. I was the brightly colored macaw amidst pristine white cuckatoos. To make it worse, I did things my way and eff the world if they disagree. That was how I ended up with my ex-boyfriend. The most important rule a woman from the priest caste must obey is to never marry anyone outside our caste, and I (sort of) did just exactly that, until I broke up with him to gave in to my family's desire to have a suitable son-in-law, and my own desire for a better relationship.

There I was, unknowingly standing on the brink of calamity. Little do I know that my decision to start anew was the start of my doom. What follows were a series of rejection, of unkindness. Even though I was encouraged, nay, demanded to marry a man from my caste, none of them seemed to want me. In a system where the man can choose anyone he wants but not the other way around, a plain woman like me has no chance. I wanted to say luck is not with me and I just hasn't found the right person, but after every men from my caste that I talked to seemed to only interested to sleep with me or making me the royal wife/girlfriend for namesake only while keeping their other girlfriend, I had enough. [To be fair, other men from other caste might be a-holes too, but hey, I was told to hunt for someone my caste and so I did.]

I went back to loving my ex even though I know he wont be mine. And for a while, it was a bliss. Then my ex decided to dropped everything down. His reason: we are not, can not go anywhere. I broke up with him for a society that doesn't want me. I broke up with the society for a man that would not keep me. I would imagine myself as a crying nymph, long hair covering my serene face as I sobbed on the riverbank, not unlike a gentle tall white lily that captivated whoever saw it even in the moment of its despair; but I didn't. A toadstool perhaps, but definitely not an elegant white lily. As you can see, my confidence took a pretty big blow. So I did the only thing left for me to do: I joined online dating and start to look for foreigners.

To some, dating a foreigner is an honour. To me, it's the last resort. There's no turning back. There's even a popular analogy about that: Western car has lower resale value than the Asian car. Once I dated a foreigner, my already abysimal chance to marry someone from my caste will be almost non-existent. But hey, if sex is what every man after, at least I can be picky and get a good conversation buddy. And because I didn't do things by half, my first date was a playboy predatory-kinda wedding DJ, to the irk and anguish of my family and ex-boyfriend.

Oh how they hounded me. It was for my own good, I know. They didn't want me to get hurt or caught a disease, they only want the best for me. But my anguish burned me inside put. If he's so concerned, why didn't he keep me? If they are do concerned, why didn't they make more effort to find me someone? I knew it wasn't anybody's fault. It just how it goes. But it still hurt to be told not to, to be criticized when there was no other option. It didn't matter how many times I told them how enjoyable talking and chatting with this man is, how I finally feel accepted and 'fit in', how he's actually a pretty nice and sensible man. The tension grew with my every date until on the 4th date I decided to go on a suicide mission: I stayed the night at his place. He said no. My ex said no. My mom said no. I did it anyway. F*ck them all.

The next day was the day when I looked smugly over the balcony while dying inside. The chaos that ensued was epic. My mom wont talk to me. My ex and I had a long tearful emotional conversation over text. By 7 pm that day I gave in to my ex's demand and told my date I wont be seeing him for a while, and, out of spite, told my ex I won't be talking to him as well. I wanted to scream at my family too, to tell them to tell me what other viable option that I can take, one that doesn't involved me dumbing down myself for men that can't even compete with me in mind and soul just for the sake of having a partner with the same caste.

I died that day. Nobody wanted me. Nobody loved me. I was trapped in a system that works against me and my belief, a society that refused to acknowledge who I really am. Just like the silent tree, I was tired of crying and begging for help. There I was, waiting patiently for the end to come; too broken to expect it even, I was just... there. Or so it seemed, but God has other plans. And that's why I am here right now writing this piece on a Metro Bus in Los Angeles.

We all have our battles: big and small, measly and important. I wish I can say "Don't give up" or "You can do it!" but I know that there's absolutely nothing that can make you feel better when you are down and broken, when you just want to give up, when you just want everything to end no matter how. What I can do, what I can offer, is my hand, my companionship. This was what I longed for the most when I was down: someone to just be there for me. Someone who doesn't judge, but just there. Someone who accept and understood.

If you are in your own battle, I wish this person for you, because battles are easier to fight when you know you are not alone. If you are already found peace with yourself, be this kind of person in somebody else's battle. We are our own worst enemy, both to our own mind and others; but we can also be our own best friend. Love yourself. Love others. It's time to end the battles, it's time to end the wars. Leave no (wo)men behind.

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