a man from this corner of the earth

Staring through my bedroom’s window had been my nightly routine recently, when I lived at my sister’s unit. Our place is on the highest floor at an apartment with view facing Orchard Road. At night you could see lights beaming from another apartments, hotels and shopping malls.

It became my only entertainment at night, when loneliness and emptiness stroke me to the deepest. Those lights and little voice of buzzing cars down there, were the sign of people existence; that I was not the last person in the world, which most of the time I felt.

I wished I could watch through some windows at an apartment right in front of our apartment. Yet, like most people in Singapore, its residents closed tight their curtain so that nothing would intrude their privacy.
Most, except one man.
He lived on the second highest level in that serviced apartment. At night, he would let his window opened, and he would gaze through it. Sometimes he wrote something on his laptop, sometimes he would just stare blankly.

I wonder what he was thinking about. He was on his thirties, tall and slightly dark. Judging from where he lived, a luxurious apartment in the heart of Orchard, I imagined he was a senior level expatriate, with bustling career at a multinational company. Yet, there he was, sitting alone in the middle of the night, perhaps wandering what the hell he did with his life.

And the more I observed him, the more I built connection with him. I even imagined how his day life was. It must have been a very packed day, full with meetings with clients, global representatives, business lunch and dinner. At night, he might spend it at Clark Quay, drinking with fellow expatriates. Yet at the end of the day, alone he was. His friends were his colleague, and they had family, their own personal life, in which, he was never be a part of it.

I would say, he did not look happy. He looked tired.

Sadly speaking, that man was how I would end up. It was an irony that we have more people in this world, yet less people know each other. Living in a city like Singapore, it was all business. Neighbors do not know each other; colleagues limit their relations, and individuals too busy to call their families.

I am, nonetheless, part of that picture. The young, the ambitious, who appreciate freedom and personal achievement more than anything else. I left my little hometown, although not that far away, to get acknowledged, so that I could get a salary of 3000sing, live in my own private condo, bring my parents travelling around the world. But then, what is it after that? Most important, do I really want that?

By the time I could sit back and relax, it might have been too late. Friends I used to be would get used with me not around. They had their own circle of friends, their own little family or their own ambition, that the only time we meet would be “Hi, how are you? Long time never see…” and we would greet goodbye and never look back. Our only thing that would bind us together was those old good days, not our future.

Family’s love is forever, for sure, but having lived far from them for too long, would things stay the same? Or we were bound to be separated from our parents and live alone? The way my dear man did?

Tonight might be my last night watching him. He had packed his stuff. I could see his luggage and his now empty room. He was sitting on his balcony throughout the night, smoking. He was unsettled and worried. I wondered what he would do and where he would go. But whatever it would be, I hope he make the right decision. I hope he would not be too busy to say hi to his family. I hope he would live with someone and would have meaningful things to do at night. I hope he would not have to stare at the starless night, alone, anymore.

And I hope for the same thing, for me.

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