We wish upon the stars because at times, we see part of ourselves in them. The way they sparkle, the way they glow and shimmer like diamonds as the sky glazes on them with the essence of the luminously dark spell it binds the universe with, I think that is also how humans shine. Humans shine through their souls because that is where the stars exist. Each soul has its own capacity to outshine another or instead, glow together with. Each soul is a fragment of a larger soul, a form that provides a life of its own, encircling all other entities into a thread that forms one whole entity. Our souls are part of a bigger life-form, a certain type of existence. Just like how the stars form part of the sky, the moon and all the celestial bodies floating within the deep sea of the universe, our souls are part of a bigger source that binds us into a complete one. We are all one and of the same being.
(I haven’t written in a really long time so I wrote this short story here today within an hour. Not my best work but I do hope you enjoy as you read along.)
The clouds sent a herd of raindrops pelting onto the windows. It was a grand shower outside with trees swaying madly against the wind and the streets all wet and slippery. Despite the terrible weather, passersby still continued about as they enjoy the fresh scent of the dewy air and the pitter-patter of droplets landing on the shades, cars and on their clothes now all drenched and soaked with summer rain. Behind the glass where she was looking out, it was thundering with the shouts of raucous revelers, partying as if there was a grand feast and the constant clinks and clanks of trays and glasses being passed around the room. For all she could think of, it was a total chaos. To her, it was a nightmare. And she shouldn’t be here. She should be inside her car, her driver taking her to Hotel Cavalier and inside there, dining with Albert, just the two of them feasting on each other’s eyes while delicate candles neatly perch on the center of their table. She waited and waited but so far, there was no red car in sight. No sign of the car with the flaring horns butting out of its corners and its silky white plate. No sign of the driver stopping near the parking sign and calling her up to say he’s arrived. No sign of any message or phone call from Albert or the driver. No sign at all except the falling rain now washing away the dirt on the streets and all traces of anticipation in her heart. She sighed. Maybe she should just call Albert again but his phone was switched off. Why of why at this hour? Didn’t he promise he would meet her at Hotel Cavalier at 5 pm sharp? What kind of prank was he pulling on her? She came up with all kinds of thoughts possible including the fact that Albert must have had an accident so he couldn’t call her. Yet, that was barely believable. If Albert had gone through an accident, his driver or his servant or whoever is responsible might have called. They knew for sure that she was deeply important to him. Since Albert is not picking up, maybe she should call up the driver instead. The phone rang on the other line. 1 minute and she put it off. After Albert and now, it’s his driver. Wait a minute. If both of them are not picking up their phone, maybe there really is something wrong. Or…is he seeing another woman? Her heart raced with fury and agitation again. Well, I won’t sit here for the rest of the day. Might as well take a cab and hit it off myself. As she began to get ready to leave the café and left her tip on the table, a young man briskly brushed past her. The strap of her bag came off. While what remained of her bag dangled against her arm, her lipstick, phone, mirror, combs, portfolios, purse, everything rained down the floor. Abashed, the young man knelt down and quickly picked them up one by one and placed it on the table.
“Oh, I’m so sorry. Are you okay, madame?” he apologized placidly and she saw that he had deep-aqua eyes, like the sea on the beach when the sunset leaves lonely trails along its translucent floor. “Oh no, I’m fine. That’s okay. I’ll pick up the rest on my own.” she replied curtly. Not knowing what else to say, she thanked him and she went off. Curious, she looked back to see that the man was already gone. As she opened the door and left the sweltering room, she traced her footsteps back to where she was supposed to wait for Albert. But she was not thinking about Albert. She was thinking about the man she just ran into her or the man who ran into her. Whichever it was, his face kept flashing in her mind. As she imprinted his image onto her mind, he had jet black hair, a well-structured face, thin lips that carved into a slight U and those eyes–oh they were so dazzling. She couldn’t really remember his stature but he seemed to have been quite normal built and somehow, close to her height. Albert was really tall but oh well, who cares? He just seem to full on ignore her today and she was definitely not impressed about it. As she dived into her purse, she found out that her phone was gone. Shit. But speak of the devil.
The young handsome man from the café appeared suddenly out of nowhere and gallantly slipped the phone into her hand. She was shocked, flustered. “Who are you? Just what do you want from me?” she wanted to ask that but no words came from her mouth. “Umm..thank you.” She said instead. He flashed her a smile. Either this guy is being honestly polite or he is one of those creepy stalkers looking for a potential victim. She definitely would not want to be that victim. She said nothing else and he just stood beside her, seeming to wait for someone. “Are you waiting for someone?” she finally asked. He said yes. Who was it? she wanted to ask but she didn’t. It was better to not get too close to this stranger. You never know what sort of person he might turn out to be- their type. She observed him from every angle. He was dressed all in black, even his shoes. His jet black hair was smooth and clean. He was slightly taller than she thought but rather lean. What a spectacle, she thought. And what a strange day it is today.
No words transpired between them and finally, after 3 minutes, a blue car stopped before them. The glasses were all tinted so she couldn’t see who was driving it or if there was anyone else inside the car. He opened the backseat door. She saw a hint of flesh, female legs it seemed, paired with a bright green dress-of-sort. There was a woman inside. Probably his girlfriend. He went inside, seemed to say something but his voice sounded muffled and he looked back at her to flash a mischievous smile. Then he closed the door and the car sped off into the distance until it was no more than a dot. She marveled at what just happened. Just what was that? A sign? She will never know. She dialed Albert’s number, still startled and confused about what just happened. This time, he answered. He said he was on his way. His driver just went through a small accident so he was going to drive the car today. “I’m on my way, babe. Call you later okay” he hung up. It was several minutes later when Albert arrived but in all honesty, she was just not keen on it anymore. All she wanted to do was leave this place, go home and settle down for the night. She was worn-out, physically and mentally. But she resisted anyway and joined Albert in the car. As they talked, she rummaged through her bag to find a slip of paper against the folds of its pockets. She unfolded it. There was a number written on it and beneath it, two black initials, CM. Call me.
She gasped. This was already too much. She said nothing to Albert though and kept a poker face. Inside, she was reeling with excitement. Of course, I will. She replied in her mind and she smiled to herself, finally able to relinquish at that sweet somehow awkward moment she spent during the afternoon. Albert raised the speed limit until they finally stopped in front of the bright golden gates of Hotel Cavalier.
I finished reading The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson a few days ago and thought it was so brilliant that I really had to write a review on it and that too, on my blog. When I finished reading it, I remember feeling empty and a bit dazed since I was so engrossed into the plot. I felt as if my whole life had turned into a piece of blank slate. I am the kind of person who is really picky about what I read (because I don’t want to regret buying a book I don’t enjoy). I am also the kind whom after reading a horrible book would feel like raging against the world, rip the damned thing into shreds and hurl it at the author’s face. In short, very few writing styles suit my preference but The Orphan Master’s Son just blew me away not to mention that I struggled with the prose at first instance. Before encountering this masterpiece, I was totally in love with Three Souls by Janie Chang but then this book came along and changed everything. Not that I don’t like Three Souls anymore, I still do but The Orphan Master’s Son – a tad bit more.
So getting on to my main topic, if you haven’t read it or heard about it yet, The Orphan Master’s Son is a novel that will leave you desolate and feeling shocked and heartbroken. If you’re reading with the same inquisitiveness and compassion for the protagonist that I had, you will feel for him throughout the story. I love the author’s unique way of dividing the story into halves so as to show us two very different settings that took place and how the protagonist transitions into the person that he will become. To make it short and refrain from revealing the whole story, the summary of this book is that it’s about a North Korean orphan called Jun Do who believes himself to be the Orphan Master’s son though in truth, he isn’t and he realizes that eventually. He goes on to have many adventures in search for his mom and in search of his own identity, who he really is in this world while working for his country’s regime at the same time. A tragic circumstance changes his life and from there, I’ll leave it for the readers to wonder…
The pace of this book is quite easy to follow. but it took me one month to finish due to my year-end exams and also because some passages rather confused me. I had to reread them again in order to understand what was going on.
Apart from that, this book really opened my eyes to what life must be like in North Korea though I have read many critics and reviews claiming that it is an exaggerated representation of North Korea, caricatured and heavily biased and I agree to some extent. In spite of that, it showed me the brutality of this country’s Communist regime which has taken the lives of so many innocent civilians and causing fear, distrust and even contention among families and friends. It showed me the way it has devoured every sense of their sanity and stripped away the freedom to live their lives based on their own choice and not upon the dictates of a savage, cold and ruthless government. In their regime, there is no true word for freedom except when it comes from the state, the government. Why? Because for them, the State is the bastion of all freedom and the State is no other than the dictator. As the author himself mentioned in one of his interviews, all citizens (of North Korea) are somehow like orphans with no real permanent identity. They all belong to the State who controls every aspects of their lives. Thus, the true Orphan Master is no other than the Dictator himself. Pretty sinister but an all-too deep and coherent interpretation. It perfectly explains the whole meaning of the story
To sum it up, Jun Do is the epitome of every man – every citizen who has suffered, lost a kin, friend and their life to the regime. He is their hero and the harbinger of humanity who has shown that even when terror, injustice and despair plagues a society, a nation, there can still be a glimmer of hope and that it is up to the individual to build that change. It tells also that sacrifice is the biggest love, the greatest gift you can ever give to a person. This book does not only have a thrilling and unpredictable plot, it also teaches you lessons on love, identity, sacrifice and hardships while at the same time, opening the doors to a nation so many people in this planet do not know about.