Love in other languages


I grew up, unfortunately, not seeing a lot of love, in any language. Instead, a lot of fighting: in-fighting within my family,

(whose consequences are still working themselves out) and in-fighting within my country.

With one exception. My sister, strong in personality, has pursued the love of her life all the way til the end.

Her husband of many years have just passed away. I was there from the start (w/ a matchmaker), and again, toward the end, as of three months ago.

I am sure her head is spinning and her world upside down. Who wouldn’t! They happened to be empty-nesters, living in a huge house. Soon there will be a Sale sign out front after a lot of cleaning. But there was love in that house, until the end.

I remember other stories too, from Orhan Pamuk’s Turkish protagonist who fell in love with his cousin, so much that he collected her hair brush and other personal things to make the Museum of Innocence, to Lolita, an aged professor running away with an under-age girl, to Norwegian Wood, whose unforgettable character Watanabe tries to console his roommate’s girl, helping her work through her grief.

Love in other languages.

In war and in peace, in poverty and in prosperity. I have seen one story with my own eyes, from the beginning til the end.

When my brother-in-law passed away yesterday, he took with him the old world. An era. For even if he could manage to drag himself out of bed, and fly back, he wouldn’t find the old streets of Saigon. They are currently cordoned off, for the big Metro dig.

Change is here. The future is now. Long ago, my bro-in-law, once cool, listened to songs like Never on Sunday.

I guess everyone is entitled to his/her definition of  “cool”, from the Beats to the Beatles, from the Hippies to the Yuppies. But is there love in any age group, in any language? Or should I keep searching for it in foreign novels and movies?

I will have to see Norwegian Wood. Or the Museum of Innocence (if there is a movie version). Or see Lolita once again, with Jeremy Irons playing the vulnerable professor on the run. We all play catch up with love, since we all are products of love. Without it, we wouldn’t be around in the first place, Love in other languages, but my own. R.I.P. Mr Tuynh. Maybe someday, I can tell your love story in our own language. But then, your grandchildren will look at it as love in other languages. On second thought, maybe I, memory keeper, should spare them those in-fighting details in and out of the family.

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