Tuesday, October 16, 2007

For Love of Family & Friends

(told by Terence Yap Singapore)

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Love for family and friends is what makes the world go round for me. Yes, money is a necessity that ensures my survival. But above and beyond these necessities, money holds little value to me. Although there may be times when the pressures of communal living might compel me to think that I should keep up with the Joneses, I always come to my senses in the nick of time. I know better now, but there was a time when I didn't.

As a young man, I remember how I had wanted to shower my first love with all the best things I could offer her. I was so in love with her that I wanted to do everything and anything for her. Working as hard as I possibly could, I had planned on buying a house for her and making her the happiest woman on Earth. Although houses are very expensive in Singapore, nothing would be too extravagant or too good for my special woman.

And while my plans were to give my future wife the very best that life had to offer, it meant that I had to spend more time on work and less time with her. So consumed with getting her this house that I continued to focus on work during my private time with her. I began to spend more time on work and less time with the woman whom I loved and adored.

Days turned into weeks and weeks, into months. Her tolerance with my preoccupation began to turn to frustration. I had begun to neglect her and she clearly resented it.

But I was not to be distracted from my new found purpose in life. The more she had tried to pull me away from work, the harder I worked and the less time I spent with her. I rationalized that she didn't realize the importance of my goal. But never mind, in time she would come to see the wisdom in my ways. She would have a dream house and we would live happily ever after.

Sacrifices in the Name of Love

We quarreled frequently as my working hours began to infringe into our weekends. I often turned a deaf ear whenever she insisted on spending more time together. No matter how much pressure she put on me, I refused to budge. Afterall, I was the man in the relationship and I had a duty to ensure that all her needs would be met when we were eventually to be married.
So I pushed myself on, doing all that I could to outshine my colleagues at work and earn the attention of my boss.

But I was not heartless with her. Whenever I could spare the time away from from work, I would bring her out for a nice dinner or a movie. We nearly went for an overseas vacation together, but work commitments ruined our plans at the last moment, and we had to shelve that vacation for another time.

I was building a future for us and I expected her to understand. In my mind, there were no two ways about it; sacrifices had to be made for the good of our future.

As time went on, I was promoted and paid a higher salary. At long last, I was getting closer to my goal. I felt that things were really looking up for me because her nagging had stopped and she became less demanding of my time. She stopped kicking up a fuss whenever I called to cancel a dinner or a weekend outing. Yes, everything seemed to be going my way.

A Dream Come True

With my new promotion and more money to put in the bank, the dream house I had worked and planned so hard for was finally within my grasp. On the rare occassions that I allowed myself to daydream while caught in a traffic jam, I could see the details of that dream house I would soon share with the woman I was to marry.

All the long hours and 7-day weeks were finally paying dividends. In no time at all, I would have enough savings to pay for the downpayment on a big, beautiful house. It was at this time that I decided to ask for her hand in marriage.

The Promise

I brought her to our favorite restaurant and ordered her favorite dishes. Many arrangements had been made for this night. From the reservations for the best table in the house, a large bouquet of her favourite white roses and a band of violinists, everything was perfectly planned.

So when the meal was over, I gave a pre-arranged signal for the roses and violinists to be brought forward. I felt a knot in my throat as I got down on bended knee and proposed marriage to her with one hand on hers and the other hand holding on to a special little jewelry box.

She looked into my eyes, the way that she had not looked at me in a very long time, and tears began to roll down her cheeks. I leaned forward to embrace her and whispered in her ear, "I promised you a dream house for us to be happy in when we are married. I have kept my promise to you, my love". She suddenly pushed me away and stared at the floor to her side. Her silent tears became sobs as her hand tried to hide her rueful expression. I tried to reach out and comfort her, but she kept pushing me away and sobbed even louder. All I could do was kneel there and wait for her to calm down.

The Moment of Truth

After what must have been an hour, she stopped sobbing and composed herself. Then suddenly, she said,"If I had wanted a dream house, I would have looked for a wealthy man. If I had wanted to be neglected, I would have looked for a successful businessman. If I had wanted to be alone, I would have never fallen in love with you."

"Have you forgotten what you had first promised me when we fell in love?", she asked softly. I could only keep quiet as I clearly did not remember what that promise was.

I got up to my seat and rested my forehead in my palm as she continued, "You promised that you would always love me and never forsake me or abandon me. But yet you ignored my need for your company and abandoned me at the times when I needed you most." I raised my head to respond to her, but words escaped me as I began to remember the promise she was talking about.

We sat there in silence as the waiters started to clear the tablecloths off the vacant tables that surrounded us. I realized that I had wronged her and my only defence was to ask her why she had never told me this before. To this she replied, "I had told you so many times in the past but you never listened to me. You had not only shut your ears to me, you also shut your heart. We cancelled so many nights and weekends together and I was left to fend for myself. And now when you finally feel that you are ready to be in a relationship again, I have the good fortune of having a dinner with you." My heart sank as the reality of her words sank in.

As the waiters approached to inform us that it was closing time, she got up abruptly and walked towards the door. I hurriedly paid the bill and rushed out the door after her. I managed to catch up with her at the taxi stand where she said, "It's over. There is nothing left between you and I." I tried to hug her and she pushed me away with all her strength. "I'm with someone else now", she declared, "who loves me enough to know that I treasure love above money and possessions."

I stood there, stunned and incredulously, still managed to ask her, "When did this happen?" as I struggled to regain my composure. "I worked myself to the bone so that I could give you the best things in life!", I retorted bitterly. "How could you just call it off without sparing a thought for me?" It began to rain and we both stood there and glared at each other.

Sometimes Love Just Isn't Enough

I fought back the tears as my mind raced to find the right words to say to her. But however hard I tried, I knew that I could not refute the truth: it was over; it had been over long before this night. And this would be our last night together. Drenched to the skin in the pouring rain, I gazed at her lovely face for one last time.

She got into the taxi and didn't look back as it drove away. I stood there and watched the taxi as it disappeared into the distance. And to this very day, I have neither seen nor heard from her.


"...for what is money worth when it cannot be taken with us when we complete this journey, and then embark on the next?"

[ This is a true account from a man that I used to know, who lost the woman he loved ]