Saturday, March 11, 2006

Almost full circle

I look back, and try to capture the last glimpse of a close one standing there, waving goodbye. I try not to think that it may be a long time yet before I set foot on this piece of land, in this place. I try not to think about what I will leave behind as the bus speeds forward. Out of sight, out of mind.

Hurried goodbyes, repeated scenes that have been replayed over and over again at so many moments, so many places in the past three weeks. For now, the ‘Farewell Trip’ has come to an end, and I sit again on my bed at home in Taipei. I wish goodbyes could be easier. Before, I used to dwell on them, and as the bus or train pulled away, everything I saw would remind me of how much I am going to miss the place and people there. Everything I used to look at seemed to call to me, to beckon me to stay, when I fact I was already going. But this time it was different.

No tears, no long drawn-out sadness or dwelling on the long times apart ahead. Perhaps it was because it is still so uncertain when exactly I’ll be leaving Taiwan. Somehow, saying to these friends and relatives that I may very well be back very soon helps to alleviate the sadness of going away. Or perhaps, I’ve somehow managed to ‘live in the present moment’, and to take every moment as it is and as it comes and goes, so I’ve become no longer susceptible to the ups and downs of moods and events. Who knows what it is… But really, this time, it was different.

Even this time, when I hugged a dear friend goodbye, I expected warm tears to flow. My eyes watered, but I kept my ‘cool’ (or should I say, I kept my ‘dry’), and experienced those final pre-departure moments as they were, nothing less and nothing more. The sadness, the disappointment at going away, the anticipation of the moment of leaving, the not-knowing when I’ll again return…they came and went.

They say that tears keep a person in touch with his ‘human side’. Perhaps in not crying, not letting go, I’ve lost touch with my ‘human side’? Or perhaps, I’ve somehow managed to control my emotions, and not let them drive me around and up and down. I’d like to think I’m still love, care, and see the world and everything and everyone in it as deeply as I did before. But if experiences, circumstances and what I’ve learnt in recent months has changed me, then so be it.

Leaving is difficult, going is much easier.
"Chiayi Station", by Cheng-Han Lee

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

March 7, 1996

Ten years ago, China 'tested' missiles by firing them close to the shores of Taiwan. The closest fell within a dozen kilometers off of Taiwan's harbours in international waters.

The 'Missile Crisis of 1996' resulted in months of tense standoff and fear, which eventually faded after the US sent the largest deployment of military force since the Vietnam War to the Taiwan Straits.

Ten years on, China's missile threat is sadly much unspoken of and ignored by the international community. More than 700 missiles are now pointed toward Taiwan, and each month many more are added. China's claim to Taiwan is as resolute as ever, and it has repeatedly vowed to 'liberate' the island through 'non-peaceful' means.

Why is such behaviour continuing without condemnation and alarm?
Instead, it is Taiwan, and the country's desire to be democratic, and free from the yoke of tyranny, that is being labelled "trouble-maker".

What injustice!