From time to time, we need a break from life.
I myself have my fair share of favourite books revolving around angst (A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd is one of my favourite books) or “darker” types of music (anything by Three Days Grace, Linkin Park and Breaking Benjamin I enjoy). Then there are movies, television shows, and I can go on.
That said, I occasionally find myself craving light. Sometimes, you just need something light, cute and fluffy.
And the following songs/music bring light into my life. They are a gift. Though they are beautiful, adorable pieces of melody, it makes me sad when I remember when I first heard them. They are a bittersweet gift handed down to me.
Let me tell you a little bit about them:
I first came across this song at Write4Fun. I entered the following short story as my entry; it was an old entry of mine (1-2 years ago?) and doesn’t quite reflect my work now. I even believe I made it to the “Top 5%” –have a certificate saying so– but then was consulted that the site’s a scam. And never entered again.
The endless chattering among the tables echoed. Familiar faces surrounded the café, some stopping to say hello to the boy behind the counter. Others merely laughed along with their friends and family, or shared intimate greetings with strangers they hadn’t seen for a while. Socialising was accomplished while feasting on scrumptious servings of baked delights, and mothers scolding children about icing smothering their mouths.
Baker’s Dozen was always a happy place to be. Evan, the boy behind the counter, took every spare minute to take posed shots with his professional camera. “Please strike a pose for me,” he’d say to families, who willingly agree. Or when he saw a lonely person concealing themselves in a corner: “Would you mind me taking a picture?”
It broke the ice well. Even the loneliest person felt belonging among Evan’s pictures.
Curiosity triggered Evan to maintain an eye on a customer he wasn’t serving. Janelle, his co-worker, smiled through clenched teeth before jotting down the customer’s order on a slip of paper. Evan took this paper with his eyes barely leaving the buyer. He saw this man before: Evan could feel it.
This purchaser wasn’t a pleasant sight to see: unshaven facial hair, ragged clothes and a terrible posture for somebody barely middle-aged. Perhaps this was why Janelle behaved so superficially around the fellow. It didn’t stop Evan from sneaking looks from the corner of his eye.
When he brought the cake to the counter, Evan recognised the man instantly: he took pictures of this man slumbering on a train. He didn’t look peaceful while he slept. Wrinkles crowded his forehead, his body in a protected foetal position and the emptiest expression on his face: as if dreading the sunrise leading to another aimless day.
“Here’s your order, Sir,” said Evan.
The man snorted, taking the large cake and muttering, “Sir. Huh, there’s a first” under his breath.
It occurred to Evan, as he stood on his tiptoes to watch the man exit, how expensive that cake was. A thirty-dollar bakery-item, with scattered chocolate, three layers of jam and “Happy Birthday” iced in large, expressive red letters. Surely this man is smarter than to waste his money on an unaffordable cake?
What happened next got Evan reaching for his camera. Through the glass, he observed the man crouching down –his poor posture assisted with the action– and holding out the giant cake to a little girl. Eyes widening, she looked up at the man. Then she smiled the most radiant smile: one making the sun inferior. And regardless of the bitterness, the loneliness, the man smiled back.
Evan smiled at the picture, so different from his usual posed photography of permitting strangers.
Yet, it was utter perfection.
The first time I heard this? Sitting on my computer, surrounded by light and insects sound in the middle of summer. The fans were on full blast. I sat in the living room, listening to instrumental music and working on exams, sometimes writing, and watching the days flicker one by one.
That relaxed atmosphere makes my heart wrench. I have now moved houses, have too many assignments to get a relaxed atmosphere and as for summer? The heater is currently on full blast, but I’m too busy clattering to notice.
When I was in fourth grade, the cute little preps (5-6 year olds) did this for our annual concert. They were absolutely adorable, bouncing from side to side, remembering all the words and doing the actions with their little fingers and limbs.
I remembered watching them and thinking, “Why wasn’t I a part of this?” I have moved schools so many times, I never had a place I “belonged.” This wasn’t such a bad thing, as it meant I have more close friends, but if I went travelling and somebody asked me where I felt most at home, well, I couldn’t say.
And I wanted to be those preps. I wanted to belong to a school. All throughout their performance, I kept thinking about this. It made me sad.
The song itself is beautiful. Just listen to the lyrics. My mother (a complete philistine, by the way) loves it too.
Even through the happiest songs I know, there are always bitter moments. There is darkness in every star and stars in every black sky. I suppose it’s like ying and yang, where you can’t have one without the other (light and dark, happiness and sorrow)