Tuesday, March 29, 2005

11. Worm Food

Life is short, then we die. I've heard and read countless varieties of that phrase my whole life. Bugger that, I've heard it so many times that if I had a dime for each time, I'd be rich enough to be eating sushi off naked women. Ok, so maybe not.

Right, so it didn't surprise me one bit when I heard those famous words uttered again the other day. This was the day that the world stood still (for some Malaysians at least) when the shock waves from a second quake off the coast of Sumatra hit us over here. Cue mucho hysterics, wide-spread panic, and an exodus of sorts from high rise condos and service apartments alike. Cue lots of doomsday text messages flying about and frantic calls to loved ones. Cue CNN going mental on their coverage (as usual), interviewing every Tom, Dick and Harry even remotely related to the incident (heck, they would've even interviewed my barber on account that he visited Indonesia once. How is this anyway related? Precisely). Cue a photo appearing in one of the local dailies depicting our brave policemen (the pride of Malaysians everywhere) bent over studiously observing the waves as if the fate of the world depended on it, with the caption going something like "...local policemen check for signs of tsunami..." no less. No doubt they were discussing theoretical developments concerning water waves dynamics while they were at it.

Strange how on the night, I received some frantic phone calls from friends and colleagues alike describing in vivid detail of how their respective buildings trembled and shook for an hour or so, and how their beds were flung from one corner to the next, and how their furniture was violently tossed about. Even stranger yet that the tremors lasted for a mere 3 minutes in Sumatra, closest to the epicentre.

So anyway, for the purposes of this purely deep scholarly discussion, let us take a deeper look into what this short and undoubtedly profound sentence tells us. Life is short, then we die.

Firstly, life is short. Well, let's see. Unless you're Michael Jackson and have already booked a place in some hi-tech cryogenic chamber where your inanimate body will be put in deep freeze and subsequently brought back to life some day ala Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky (having the delectable Penelope Cruz as company in your dreams, one might add) then yeah, sure, it surely is (though I think in Jacko's case, it won't be women, at least adult women, he'd be dreaming off). Before you know it, one day, you'd be old and grey, maybe alone or maybe not, and thinking, what the eff? Is that all to it? I mean, where's all that self-actualisation shit that Maslow was harping on about? I mean, what the fuck dude??? Well, unless you're Gandhi or Ron Jeremy, it's a safe bet to say that neither you or me would get to experience any form of self-actualisation anytime soon (well, at least without the help of special pharmaceutical products that is). So there, life is surely short. Just like that Xbox commercial where the baby flies through life at high speed, aging till he ends up in his grave.

Then we die. Well, I guess that's pretty self-explanatory to you and me. Those poor souls fleeing for their lives from their luxurius condo units were undoubtedly thinking that very thought (though it was probably something along the lines of idunwannadieidunwannadieidunwannadie). I've heard of how one of my buddies almost fell sick to his stomach when he saw a young teen couple fleeing down the stairs poetically holding hands as they did. He could almost hear Celine Dion singing in the background as he overtook them (running down a flight of stairs whilst holding hands slows you down, fact). I get the feeling that he was tempted to give Leonardo there a kick up his backside as he passed them. Or on the opposite spectrum, a friend of mine was awoken by his macho cousin who shouted out: "We're all gonna die! Run for your lives!" and promptly abandoned all hope and reason and fled without looking back. Now, that'll set the ladies hearts a fluttering. Another friend thought he was in the midst of a poltergeist attack and was too frozen to move. Yet another one just went back to sleep till he was forced by his in-laws to abandon ship.

Ah, so I guess it just proves to show of how differently one would react to the threat of (perceived) impending death. Some might say: bugger that, I need my eight hours, wake me up when it's over. Or some would say: you jump, I jump. Others just go postal (like my buddy's cousin). Then after it all, when everything is all safe and nice in the world once more, and the cloud has passed, they would say it. Life is short, then we die. It's just too bad that it sometimes takes the thought of almost being disembowled or decapitated to make them realise it.

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