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My Scholarship entry - Seeing the world through other eyes

WORLDWIDE | Sunday, 22 April 2012 | Views [77] | Scholarship Entry

Soliloquies of a Bruneian Widower

Blame it on cheap flights. The moment I learned that a round-trip plane ticket to Brunei costs less than USD 100, I gave it a go and packed my bags for an adventure. Without an itinerary on hand, finally recuperating from the stresses of university life was a rather surreal escape to breathe into.

Just like any other tourist in Brunei, I was only after the golden mosques. Little did I know that my trip will be a start of my personal quest to a road that requires a great deal of introspection.

Outside Pusat Belia, the place where I stayed along with other budget travellers, I noticed a man in his fourties seemingly meditating beside the facade of the Royal Ceremonial Hall. He was enclosed in a circle of candles, with flames fighting to be still amidst the rather strong winds from the south. I was afraid that my presence might have intruded his focus. So I decided to stride past through him. However, in that instance, he called my attention with some gibberish Malayan phrase.

Noticing that I couldn't understand what he said, he tried his best to utter it in English: "If you have, give; If you lack, seek."

The language barrier didn't hinder us to strike a conversation. He told me he has been sitting in that area for nearly twelve hours, uttering phrases to himself and waiting for the sun to set. I was curious and asked why.

"My wife and only son died in an accident a week ago. I have no family anymore and I'm here to seek for Allah's guidance as I feel helpless. My sorrow is drowning me and I don't know which direction my life is heading to," he revealed.

"Why don't you enter the mosque? Why are you lighting your candles here?" I asked.

"This is the place where they died."

With a clear vantage point, the red-orange picturesque ball of flame started to descend behind the golden mosque. The glow from the melting candle started to die down, one by one.

But... No, the darkness didn't trouble him. He was at peace. And so was I.

Tags: travel writing scholarship 2012

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