For today, I’ve decided to share a simpele line that my Company Sergeant Major dropped me as a parting shot as I step into the last few days of active national service. He said it in mandarin, and in perhaps fewer words, but the meaning has been largely retained even as I translate and make the line somewhat more fluent. I think it is a wise piece of advice, and possibly wiser than he himself could have imagined it to be. Make of it what you will. Here it goes:
“The best thing to say sometimes, is to not say what you know or what is immediately in your mind; it could very well turn out to be your greatest asset to let not the other know what you have in mind.”
This very notion of Fairness
Is perverted by those who seek
To Falsely uphold it
In the name of rank and office;
Fairness is not
To treat everyone the same
But to know that
It never is the same for all;
Does Fairness in this perverse way
Not sound like Communism?
Same share for everyone
Regardless of work or merit;
I guess Fairness without Flexibility
Is very much like Communism:
Not very attractive and
Bound to fail.
80′ and you’re a lieutenant colonel
83′ and he’s a captain
Should I congratulate you
Or console him?
He’s got a Mercs
You’ve got a Kia
Karma or Carma?
“There are so many other things.. The live firing is the least of my worries now”, he said with a forlorn, jaded look on his face.
That got me right in the wrong places.
The sound of nature
The siloquette of trees
All I can see
Is the smoke trail before me and
The moonlight behind me.
We run, and we run. We run all the way across the parade square, to the spot where our younger selves used to sit.
I’m in brown again, no longer the military green that I was clad in a moment ago. I feel like I’m in all white back in my junior college again, a proud young man ready to take on the world at breakneck speed.
I look around, and I notice this isn’t the elevated parade square of my recent two soaring years. This is the parade square of my childhood years, an old but happy place of endless running and jumping. A place where I felt (and still feel) truly free.
We reach our spot, and we giggle like we used to all those years ago. Silly we seem, but happy we are.
“Here?” I ask with a smile spread across my face.
“Yeah, here” you reply with a sincere laughter.
I never felt free like this in a long time.
The next thing I knew, 8:40am. Blue stained sheets, old yellow blanket. I groaned, as all sense of happiness and freedom vanished into thin air in an instant.
I took another puff and exhaled. The smoke makes no difference to anything, it’s all a hazy blur. So what if I cough with each inhalation? It’s as though I am silently strangled and choking in this mist of restraint and confusion anyway.
I reach for the cup beside my bed, gave it a light swirl and downed whatever remained of it from the night before. It didn’t go down well, and caused a jerk as it slid uncomfortably through a dry and coarse throat from a puff too much of Marlboro. ‘Damn it’ I thought, as I stare into the shroud of uncertainty gathering in front of me, a sinister shade of the unknown.
Freedom awaits outside of these gates.