There is no war in love

I’ve been thinking of home lately. Not my parent’s home here in New Zealand, but the old one, my first home back in China, and even the one before then; the home my grandparents first lived in.

Taking me back to their home gives me a sense of pride in the midst of all my failures.

Lately, my senses have been dulled and worn down by the pain of heartbreak, by the shame of self-pity, and the doom of seeing no way out.

But when I think back to where we came from, I am reminded of the strength that existed before my time and which will always be a part of me.

My grandfather saw his neighbour gunned down next to him.

Waking up in a world full of uncertain tomorrows made life more sweet and precious. There on the sidewalk, with the blood of his neighbour’s son, uncertainty crafted his strength.

As the oldest, he raised his sisters from the poor to the strong. He was a strict man, a gentle man, and a practical man. He wouldn’t have spent his waking hours wallowing in self-pity. One hour of pity meant one less day of food.

He knew the difference between love and war.

War was hunger, getting shot at and families parting.

Love was in my grandmother. Taking care of her, looking after her, giving her a better life.

He did not see war in love, even after my grandmother had a stroke that forced him to give up his love of travel.

He cried when he had to give it up. But he cried harder when he almost lost my grandmother.

He was strong in this kind of way. Strong enough to know what was truly important.

Yes, he is still alive. Still, after all these years, there is a twinkle in the corner of his eyes, a gift from the universe for his unwavering optimism. That is the only thing I have inherited, his twinkle.

A few months ago, my mum told me that the twinkle in my eye had gone. How sad that made me feel, to have lost the one thing that connects me to my grandfather’s strength.

But what existed before will always be there. Although faded, weary and momentarily hidden from sight, a little spark, a little patience, will ignite it once again.

Weekend getaway to a writer’s home

I’ve always wondered what a writer’s home looked like. Rooms full of libraries, books that span across shelves, a reading corner, a warm fireplace, something a little reminiscent of the Beast’s library.

Last weekend, I got a chance to see such a home with my very own eyes, to live and breathe the space where a writer once worked.

Let me describe to you every breathtaking detail from the drive up the long winded driveway, to the little speck of dust on the kitchen counter.

It was as if we had stepped into a house that was waiting for us to enjoy its simple pleasures.

The ferns waved at us from either end as we rounded into the driveway, the door swung open with an easy click that opened into a homely kitchen and lounge, and there were cats, all six of them, roaming freely, so that you never got to see them all together at the same time.

After we had settled our bags down and pinched ourselves in disbelief, we gave ourselves a mini tour.

A little note was stuck to the kitchen counter. “There’s pizza in the fridge. Help yourselves.”

We did more than just that.

We cooked in the kitchen. Roast chicken and salad, while my friend prepared dinner for the cats. There was a pantry full of all the spices one could ever need, and drawers and drawers of utensils.

As I recall, my friend got mixed up between the cat utensils and the human utensils. You can tell that the owners were very fond of their cats.

After dinner, we melted cheese on bread and sat outside on the deck that overwatched the sea, and later that evening, we spread ourselves across the warm rug in front of the TV, while the cats joined us, purring contently.

Even though it seemed like an hour, we sat this way for five hours. The house seemed to have its own time.

It was midnight, when we reluctantly peeled ourselves away from the warm rug and entered the cool night, leaving this oasis behind us.

On the drive home, I struggled to keep my eyes open. The next day was a work week, what was I doing out so late? Still, it was the best decision ever.

Yawning loudly, we drove towards a purple-blue horizon lit up by a single streetlight. Lights multiplied by the dozens as we drove on – out of the countryside and back into the city, with just a touch of remorse tainting this lovely Sunday evening.