Heart of Iron

There is always a reason why I am deep in thought. The challenges ahead are insurmountable. But I will have to face it head on on my own and that builds strength.

Colleagues and work partners regularly ask me, “Why do you always look so sad?” To tell you the truth, even though I don’t smile, it doesn’t mean I am not happy. But the lack of a smile isn’t unhappiness. The lack of a smile is known as a grimace. One that I fear may be etched permanently on my face. So the question now is; “Why the permanent grimace?”

You see, in life, we have many paths to choose from. Some may be favourable, others not so. But in life, one of the greatest blessings is experience. Despite being only 22 years old, I pride myself at being given the opportunity to travel near and far as well as meet many people who have contributed to the vast pool I now call, “The Journey of My Life.”

Not too long ago, I attended the wedding of a friend of mine who was of the same age as me. I shan’t reveal his name but fortunately, he has allowed me to share this story as a lesson. You see, my friend was one of those we hailed in college as, ‘the perfect boyfriend.’ It comes with no surprise that any girl whom he sets his heart for will be his queen, so much, that her priorities outweigh that of his. Evidently, he met his Mrs. Right sometime in late 2010. Believe me, when I say that their romance and relationship was somewhat like that of a fairytale. They did almost everything together. They went for dinner together, they went for movies together, and they even have their own couple T-shirt with their faces printed on them. Every day, without fail, I will see the lovey-dovey messages they exchange. Words like, “I can’t live without you” or “You are my everything.” Some girls would tell me, “If all guys are like that, we girls would be in relationships more often.”

I didn’t pay attention to the matter at first until I realized the extent of his “sacrifices.” He resigned his commission from his society to spend more time with his girlfriend. He gave up his opportunity to study abroad to be with his girl. He even deferred his studies when his girlfriend was on internship so that he could be with her everyday after work. After a while, he rarely hung out with us. It is just he and the love of his life. Just recently, I received something in the mail that wasn’t a bank statement or a notice of payment. It was an invitation to a wedding; the wedding of my friend. At first, I was stunned that he was marrying at such a young age. But it was a joyous occasion that he finally married the girl of his dreams. Or so it seems.

At the wedding reception, everyone was in a happy mood but there was an aura of gloom surrounding the room. The families of the couple don’t seem rather fond of each other but manage a smile nonetheless. As the bride and groom enter, we all stood and applauded but immediately realize something is amiss. The bride seems to have put on a few kilos to the extent an obvious bulge creased her bridal gown. Either it’s overeating or it’s the unfortunate case of, ‘Knocked-Up Gone Wrong.’ At the end of the formalities, my friend came over to my table. Managing a smile, we exchanged greetings.

“Congratulations, you are one lucky guy,” I commended.
“Thanks. Hope things will turn out right,” he replies with a hollow voice.

Looking at his eyes, he gave me a look of the condemned. It was a look that seemed like the world had forsaken him.

“So, how many months?” I awkwardly ask trying to break the solemn silence.
“6.5 months already. Apparently it’s a boy,” he answers weakly.
“How’s your job coming along?” I added.

He doesn’t answer. It is not surprising. Not many reasonable paying jobs have openings for graduates without a complete degree and experience. What concerned me more was the fact that his first child was coming to this world in less than 3 months. 

He had the look of uncertainty in his eyes and a deep look of regret. Reaching into my coat pocket, I took out an envelope containing a few thousand ringgit.  I had a feeling this would happen.

“Here, it’s for your son,” I said.
“No, that’s too much money. I can’t accept such a gift. You have a girlfriend. You need the money too,” he says hesitantly.
“It’s from my working days in Germany. No worries, it’s not much. I can always earn more,” I insisted.

He accepted the envelope with deep hesitation. He knew he had the opportunity to earn Euros but he let that go all in the name of love. Now he has a new family member coming along and has no idea how to give him a comfortable life. The people who once called him the “perfect boyfriend” had turned their backs on him like the gold-diggers they are. Using the networks I have made in the past through my travels, he currently has a pending job as a car salesman for a reputable German marque. For the time being, he is getting a reasonable 4-digit salary courtesy of a Ferrari loving business partner who was in need for a new caretaker for his stable of cars.

This experience helped me think of the many people who believe that love conquers all, the ones who would sacrifice their future for a short moment of happiness.

Many people accuse me of being heartless and emotionless. They call me lucky to be given opportunities to work abroad. But many people do not know the scars that have moulded me into who I am today. To be able to think and worry about the future and the day I possibly have a family of my own. I don’t want my child to have to worry whether there will be 3 square meals a day. I don’t want my child to worry about whether he/she will go to a good school. I don’t want my child to worry that he can’t achieve his dreams.

To those who continue to call me emotionless and heartless, I beg you to go right ahead. If you want to believe that love is everything, by all means, please do. But please do not complain the day you realize that love does not pay for your housing loan, car loan, groceries, child’s education and so on. 

If you think a wedding can occur without planning, please think again. 

PS: Thank you to the many people in my life who have granted me experience and taught me so much values in life.


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