2am, at McDonald’s.
“What are you doing?”, he asked. He was obviously drunk, which was not surprising since just outside is a line of the best bars in the city. I saw him came in the store a few minutes ago. After ordering a burger, he sat on the table right next to me. Tall and fair-skinned, maybe in his late-twenties, he is what the locals call an Ang Moh – a slang for Caucasian foreigners.
“Uhmm.. writing”, not sure if I should talk to a drunk guy at this hour.
“What are you writing?”
“I’m writing in my journal.” There’s nothing wrong with being civil, right? And nothing to worry, really. We were inside a well-lit store with the restaurant crew and CCTVs all around. What harm could he do?
“Wow.. that’s weird. I’ve never seen anyone write in their journal before.”
I honestly did not know what else to say. Should I ask for his name? Never mind, just go with the flow and nod along.
We started to talk about our work, where we are originally from, what are we doing in SG, all those things that you would normally ask someone whom you just met. And then, all of a sudden, we are talking about love. I cannot remember what exactly brought us to that topic. But clearly, his heart is broken, shattered even. He said her girlfriend left him.
I am always moved whenever I see a man crying. I’m not saying that men are not allowed to cry. But reality is, society expects them not to. They are expected to hold all their emotions within them and maintain a facade of strength and numbness. What’s even more moving is a total stranger, grown-up man opening up about his heartbreak and crying buckets of tears. Drunk in the wee hours of the night, in the middle of nowhere, pouring out his emotions to a complete stranger – is there any worse picture of a heartbroken man than this?
“Don’t worry. Everything will be alright. There will be someone much better who will come into your life.”
Yeah, right. As if these were enough to ease the pain. I’ve been the receiver of these consoling words, not so long ago. And no matter how hard I tried to believe what my friends were telling me, it did not work. It still felt like I just want to curl up in a deep sleep to escape the pain. I wanted to be awaken by a prince charming who’ll show me that the sun is shining bright again. But sleep was scarce; and there was no prince charming.
Though I knew that it would not make him feel better, I still tried to comfort him. At least he knows that he is not alone in his battle.
“Make yourself busy. Go out with your friends. Slowly, you will be able to forget her.”
“But I don’t have friends.” Nothing could stop those tears from flowing.
The store manager is now curiously looking at us. I smiled at her to show that everything is alright.
“Don’t say that. I’m sure you have. How about people from your work? You’re friends with them, right?”
“I don’t have friends here in Singapore. My life revolves around going to work and going back to the apartment. My whole family is in —– (I forgot what’s the country but it’s somewhere in Europe). I don’t have any friends and now I don’t have a girlfriend.”
The tears in his eyes. That look of pain. At that moment, I realized that whatever your race is, or your skin color, or gender or age, it does NOT matter! In love, we are all the same; we are all losers and victors; we are at our best and at our worst; we are all open to happiness; we are all vulnerable to pain.
I could have easily judged him. I could have told him to just move on and find another girl. Sounds simple, huh? But what do I know, there I was: wide awake in the middle of the night, waiting for my ex to finish his work so that we can meet up.
“It was just a casual meet-up”, I tried to convince myself. Just two ex-lovers but now plain friends who are just catching up with each other. Nothing more. Yes, nothing more. But my heart wants to believe otherwise. Shut up, heart. For once, listen to your brain. Stop being stupid. But it’s okay. You are not the only one. Look at this drunk guy beside you, weeping like a little kid. Love is universal, and so is pain.
(This happened in early 2014. To that guy whose story is not a stranger to me, I hope that you have healed your wounded heart and that you have found someone to share your love with. I know you will. A love that great and strong is not meant to be just thrown away into the void. The universe will surely return it to you, no matter what.)