Rehman Rashid

Its not everyday that a living Malaysian literary legend leaves a profound comment on your blog — so when it does happen, you tend to sit up and pay attention. I was reading this man’s book when i was a freshman in uni (and loved every page of it!). Its an inspiring experience that he now reads me.

“If I may be permitted more than my usual smart-ass one-liner, with apologies for this intrusion into a kafee-klatsch of friends hosted by Aiz, a far better and braver man than I…
It seems to me we each have an idea of who we are, and each of us lives in the hope of finding someone who can see us the way we see ourselves.
To see through our words what we truly mean; to judge from our actions, our true intent. This is almost laughably difficult, but this, I think, is our yearning as human beings.
But why is it so difficult, so rare and precious, to have others see us as we see ourselves, and know us as we know ourselves? It has been said that “the sins done to us we carry in a pouch around our neck; our own in a sack on our backs�.
This is why, I have learned, everyone you meet can teach you part of what you need to know about yourself. No exceptions. You learn from them what you are to them. They can see the sack on our back. It can be a most humbling experience, but it is usually useful. It does not lighten the burden, but it can enlighten it…
Still, the “you� known to others – even your closest friends and family, and sometimes I fear especially lovers – is not the real you, and only you know it. Hence, alas, the remarkably durable marketing power of simple human loneliness.
Something this persistent and pervasive must be accepted, and dealt with. It is up to us as individuals to manifest in our daily behaviour and social interactions the persons we feel we truly are. (Kurt Vonnegut wrote: “We are what we pretend to be. So be careful what you pretend to be.�)
Moral codes exist to guide us. (and the law of the land takes over from where they leave off) but ultimately, the precepts by which we abide are ours to choose; we are free to define ourselves.
It seems strange to me that anyone would choose not to be noble, and I suppose our prisons and asylums are filled with those who went astray for some reason or other. In sum, however, each of us is the sum total of our values, our principles, combining to form our “moral compass�.
That’s you, and also your journey; your direction. When we seek life partners, we’re actually looking for someone headed in the same direction; a travelling companion. Problems arise when the loneliness of the road becomes unbearable, and we detour in search of what we do not have.
Paul Theroux wrote that “adventure is three paces off the main roadâ€�, and I know he’s right.” — Rehman Rashid


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