As this deeply moving story opens, Moe is at his desk in his office. He is inundated with involuntary memories of his best friend, now passed six months ago. The description of his feelings is almost Proustian in feel and depth
“Moe did not know what he could do while he sat in his chair and his mind drifted like a kite floating with the free flow of wind. Something dampened his strength and he felt frayed. He had been feeling this way for a couple of days. It started gradually till it took concrete shape in his mind, tending to block his mental processes. That is why he could not focus on his job. He decided to try to deal with it…
Though he felt it, he could not name the sensation. He picked up the pen from the rectangular lacquer pen holder in front of him on the table, unconsciously. He did not intend to use the pen but his laptop. He sighed at his confusion and looked at his watch — fifteen past four in the afternoon. He stood up, pushed his laptop away and picked up his shoulder bag that lay in a slant against the foot of the table.
Moe heard a voice inside. The voice spoke softly. Nostalgia is a state of mind which readily tends to think, feel, hear, touch or listen to someone from the past or something one cherished, but that person or thing will not be with him for a certain time — maybe short or long, maybe temporary or forever.
He wanted to be alone. He suffered from an indescribable sensation tinged with a kind of sadness or loss.”
Moe’s memories are saturated by thoughts of his friend. They went everywhere together. You feel loneliness when you go to places you once visited with your friend. He cannot lose the loneliness nor does he want to without losing contact with his friend.
His friend expanded his world:
“Moe and his friend were 25 years apart. However, age did not separate them. They had become fast friends. They both had similar childhood troubles — being not on good terms with their fathers. When they both met, they talked openly about it to heal their wounds. There were several things Moe reminisced about his friend. Among them, he remembered the day on which his good friend introduced him to local arthouse films, which were novel to him. Till then, Moe had not heard of them.
On that day, Moe’s friend asked him to meet him at the street corner around 6 pm at their usual meeting point. Then, they hailed a cab and went to the coffee shop.
In the cab, his friend told Moe that that night they would be seeing an arthouse film which was quite different from Hollywood movies. Moe usually watched movies from Bollywood or Hollywood to kill his boredom in the evenings.
When they both reached the coffee shop, there were not many people inside the shop. They just saw a few people — two girls, three boys who were sitting inside the mauve lounge. Moe noticed that when he entered the small room, it was decorated with splendid and sparkling art deco.”
As Moe and his friend converse we see attitudes toward marriage and romantic freedom in traditional Myanmar impact their lives.
I am at the point in my life where most of my close friends have passed. Samuel Johnson has said as one gets older it becomes harder to make friends. I think Moe senses years of loneliness coming.
I found this story to be very perceptive in the emotions depicted.
This is first time San Lin Tun has been featured on The Reading Life. I hope to follow his work for many years.
“San Lin Tun is a freelance Myanmar-English writer of essay, poetry, short story and novel and he has published ten books including “Reading a George Orwell Novel in a Myanmar Teashop and Other Essays” and his latest novel “An English Writer”. His writings appeared in NAW, Poemish.com, Hidden Words/Hidden Worlds short story anthology, PIX, South East of Now, Asia Literary Review and Opening Up Hidden Burma. He worked as editor-in-charge of Learners’ English Educative Magazine, and a freelance contributor to Home and Services Journal and Myanmore. Currently, he is contributing his essays, and articles to Metro Yangon Section in Myanmar Times Daily” - author provided