A time to live and a time to -

final walk (途)
image by J

Y: Hey, do you notice that there's always more funerals and wakes held in the void deck in December? More people die in December yah?
J: Oh yah.
Y: I wonder why...maybe it does actually get colder in December and old folks are weaker so they will fall sick and get pneumonia?
J: Yah, that makes sense.
Y: Or maybe it is psychological...you know, December is a time for reflection, and old people, they look back on another year that has passed and that the new year is approaching, maybe they grow tired or think that it is time to go -

On our small tropical island, sometimes it feels like nature does not offer many reminders of the rhythmns and seasons of time and life. The trees shed their leaves all year round, it rains or drizzles without seeming pattern, humidity is a heavy monotony to bear, and the weathergirl never quite tires of reading the temperature range of 26 to 33 degree celsius (someone in the office once joked that we do have seasons - aircon and outdoors). But in the last few days I am reminded how the coming and going of the monsoons, however less dramatic than their Indian manifestations, however unexceptional, do mark our small island's years.

In one of my favourite Hou Hsiao Hsien films A time to live and a time to die, the audience views from a distance (literally, given the number of long shots) the life of a 50s taiwanese family nearly transplated from and the barely perceptible rhythmns of their life. We do not know how many years have passed in the film, except that the children very slowly but surely have grown taller.

I remember in the last scene of the film, we see the narrator's grandmother lying on the tatami floor by the porch, seemingly taking an afternoon nap on a hot and humid summer day. And in that oppressive stillness, the narrator slowly comes to realise from a trail of ants by his grandmother's silent body that she has passed away.


Anonymous said…
Seasonal Affective Disorder. Those in temperate climate countries have it worse than us. The lack of sunlight, the cloudy skies almost all day through and the constant rain impacts the mood greatly.
ampulets said…
Here cloudy skies and constant rain just makes us feel cosy and sleepy. the tropical psyche is definitely different!

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