Dear Daina – Beauty Looking Back

Hey there, friend! Remember when we would make up stories about where we were going and head off to Longhorn for an evening? Or how about that time we told our parents we were taking a weekend girls trip and snuck along a couple of boys? Something about 3 Strange Days.

Oh memory lane can be a fun place to visit, can’t it?

This week I had the pleasure of taking a quick stroll down memory lane with a taxi driver. This aging Chinese man who came to Singapore as a very young child mumbled story after story through our cab ride as if he was talking to no one in particular.

“The little children used to go to pick up spiders there in the naughty lady’s house.” He reminisced about his childhood and how “the little children” would walk all the way from China town. “Today little children take the bus because they say it is so far” he complained in his broken English with his heavy Chinese accent. All of the d’s sounding like t’s with a heavy emphasis on the t’s. He repeated himself frequently and every time he said “naughty laty” I could not contain my own giggle.

Chinatown Food Street

We passed a very busy business district with retail store fronts on the lower levels and office space on the upper, “theaters those once were.” He seemed to be flooded with memories that he could not contain with each building we passed. “A church there, a school over there and now it is all gone,” disappointment dripping from his words. 

We turned the corner near Fort Canning Park (a site I did not have time to squeeze in) and he rambled on about the Japanese surrender that was decided in the underground Far East Command center in 1942. In his soft spoken mutter, he went on and on about how this was the start of great change.

Did you know it is compulsory for all men to serve in the military here for 2 years? Owning firearms is prohibited except for certain law enforcement. No less than five different male cab drivers asked whether we owned guns or not when we told them we were from Texas. The only time they are allowed to handle firearms is during their service time. No doubt this contributes to the favorable safety conditions of Singapore. That, and the extreme punitive system. Upon arriving, my immigration paperwork reminded me that execution is enforced for certain things like drug trafficking. Bear in mind that drug trafficking here is akin to casual use in the states, something that might not even warrant a slap on the wrist. It’s definitely a different world.

The driver reminded me of my own dad. A man that for as long as I can remember has had a fondness for storytelling. And as he ages his fondness seems to grow and sometimes the tales grow too. I often find myself frustrated that he pays little attention to what is ahead and seems to thrive on the yesteryears. It may be because personally I am so averse to looking back. Go figure. 

“Mikaeri Bijin” is the work of a Japanese artist named Moronobu Hishikawa. Ironically, this painting was used for the first commemorative stamp after World War II and the Japanese takeover of Singapore. It’s meaning is “the beauty looking back.”

My version of Beauty Looking Back

During a layover in Japan, I had the chance to try my hand at creating some traditional Japanese art. 

While this beauty looking back was intended to simply represent courtship, I found that the events of the week helped me remember how much beauty there is in looking back. 

I think I’ll give my dad a call when I get home. 

Much love for all the memories we’ve shared and the new ones we will make. -Ames

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One thought on “Dear Daina – Beauty Looking Back

  1. dainamk says:

    This made me cry. I do look back often and sit still more often than I ever asked to. I look forward to more memories.
    Your writing gives me good feels. 🙂
    I love you.

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