I could still vividly remember how he would reward me every time I got full marks for homework. He would give me an encyclopedia from his study room. I use to always get really excited since I would flip through the book ends on ends to see all the amazing pictures that it had to offer so I could draw a few in my drawing book. Sometimes I would cheat and attempt to trace the picture using the sunlight to help me, then I would colour it in with my precious collection of Crayola pencils, tracing all the outlines in a darker shade then lightly shading over the insides.
All of this came to me by just looking at him, and from what I remember this is probably the first time I ever thought about all this in a long time, my carefree days. Then it hit me that he was still asking for a lighter of which I told him I didn't smoke. Surprisingly his English was very sharp, and I couldn't detect an accent.
He smirked and told me ' Aiming for longevity eh my boy'
He then gave out this horribly whopping cough that gave me shivers down my spine, the kind of shiver that you get when you hear nails clawing through a blackboard.
Our train came, he packed away his cigarette in his inside pocket, and we both hopped in. Never did I know that he was going to give me this long deep talk.
I have smoked for a very long time now my boy, it keeps me from being bored. When I smoke I tend to reminisce about my past a lot, the good and the bad. He then took a little pause and continued. Believe or not my marriage was arranged. It was my late twenties and all my friends were all married, my parents thought it was my time as well and arranged me to meet this local girl, and a few weeks later I married. It was very uneasy on the marriage day. If I remember correctly most of my smiles were not from the heart, they were for show, I didn't want to ruin the mood of the day.
'So why didn't you marry earlier?' I asked
Well I use to like this girl, well girl back then. And with that his eyes glowed and he laughed a little. I was in my early twenties and I remember everyday I would catch the 10: 30 fish boat just to see her from a far, since her dad would of killed me if she knew I was seeing her. On the weekend she would tell her father that she would be going out to hang with her friends, so we can go to the beach. To to this day I will always remember climbing these really tall coconut trees so we can slip on some sweet juice. It was such a beautiful phase of my life. Then he randomly told me you know these days with the computer you can see more beautiful girls in one hour, then what I would of saw my whole teenagers years, then he did a lil eye brown raise. And with that we cracked up for a while.
Back into a serious tone he told me one day he went to see her and she was no longer there, only to hear from the neighbours that she left for the Netherlands with another man. I was so angry that she left me for him, it probably for the money, most of all I was furious that she didn't tell me. I guess I felt more angry than sad, after that event in my my life I guess I changed as a person.
I have to say one of my regrets in life is not showing enough intimacy with my relationship towards my life, I only realized this after she passed away. Even though through the years I did grow into loving her I never showed it, I never held her hand, say I love you cause I always thought it would of felt different and not right thats why I never did it. My wife as well never really spoke about her emotions with me, in a way we were very distant. I was always work work work and she was always busy taking care of the kids.
You know what my boy we work work work and we expect to relax at the end of the ride. But really when you old you are hit sickness. For me recently I had a bathroom accident and severe a few vertebrates my left arm is now disable. Then I realised why his left hand was always in his jacket pocket.
When you old you feel weak and tried most of the time, I have a lump sum of money in my bank but I don't really know what to do with it but giving it to my children when my time is up. I guess you have to experience life when you are young, don't work too hard, you might look back and ask yourself where all your time went.
Life here in Australia is very stressful, its always work work work. Most people even turn down catching up with friends just to work. I never really like the phrase 'How are you' cause I know the other person asking doesn't care how I am, or how my day went. And if you answer good and they reply with the same thing the conversation turns uneasy. One of the great things in life is to know someone on a deep level and realizing they connect with you my boy. Don't really get to do alot of that here, in Vietnam though people in the village were so close. It was so nice, here you get to know a lot of people, but most you will only scrap the surface.
With that he took a deep breathe and place his head back. My stop is nearly here my boy, if there is one thing I want to tell you its this. Do you make mistakes sometimes?
'Of course' I answered
Then have mercy on others when they make them. People don't forgive enough in this world, and I can tell you I was one of those people.
He then gave me a nod, the type guys do to acknowledge other guys on the streets, and with that he left.