I’m the type of reader and moviegoer who goes “Oh this looks interesting! I wonder what the ending is like.
Time to Google it. Oh! The last page — let’s see the final sentence. Oh, he dies? Nope, I don’t want to watch it anymore. How romantic was that last sentence? Let’s buy this book and finish it tonight.”
I thrive on knowing. No, not knowing — expecting.
I don’t watch a movie before surfing IMDB, and I don’t read a book before I read an online review and the plot on Wikipedia. I don’t buy a magazine unless I’ve flipped through the best bits and am convinced that I have to have it. I don’t shop unless I have a very clear vision of what to wear. I don’t stop at a restaurant before deciding on what to eat.
And this attitude brings up lots of problems. I need to know the when, what, where, who and how of my life. This creates the potential to be overly concerned with minutiae, both in the literal and figurative sense.
I remember the last lines of a few books. In Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, the memorable line is “I wish you all a long and happy life.” For Memoirs of a Geisha, it was “Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper.” “Each boy in his own way is trying to fly” was a memorable line in the National Geographic January 2012 issue on twins.
They’re mindless details, but I collect them like a squirrel hoards nuts. (That too was from National Geographic.)
But that’s how my brain works. The tiny clockwork spins into larger systems where tiny bits of trivia travel between neurons. And that is sort of how seven billion people in the world work it out. It isn’t six degrees of separation. It’s a randomly assigned algorithm that leads us to meet the people we meet, to meet them at the right time and to avoid people we’re not meant to meet.
So when I look at the future and all I see is people I will one day meet, I can’t help but wonder if I will ever figure out this world. I hate not knowing what will happen. It’s as if I was being prepared for the past 17 years, but what am I being prepared for? For a person who thrives on knowing exactly what to do and when, not knowing what lies ahead is scary. My dad says I have to learn how to deal with unfavourable situations favourably. I say, when life throws me lemons, I throw them right back in its face.
It is painful to not know. But I know for certain that I won’t figure out why, what or when, nor will I ever find out why I met you when I met you.
I just have to trust the universe and the powers that be to have the answers, and one day, when I flip to the last page, I hope to find a beautifully written last sentence.
By Quah Paik Suan
17, Kuala Lumpur