Light is always brighter than darkness
If it were not for the bad event, the happy ending would not be as happy.
One Saturday a while ago, we happened to be passing that jewellery shop. Naturally, as good wives do, my wife simply had to look inside.
A particular bracelet caught her eye. How bright it was. How it shone. How much brighter it shone when she discovered it was on special. It was calling out to her. She lovingly stroked it. A deep bond seemed to form between them both.
We had to rush. The child was waiting for us in the restaurant. Alas, farewell, dear bracelet.
Lunch began. The bracelet was soon forgotten. But how bright the eyes had shone, I recalled. How happy the face had smiled, I remembered.
Technically it wasn’t a lie when I said I needed the washroom. But that was my excuse as I stole away from the restaurant and furtively hastened back to the jeweller.
Sold! It was going to make a charming story.
I have learnt in my husbanding career that maximal thought translates into maximum points. It wasn’t enough to simply wrap it and give it. Something more was required. Something creative, thoughtful.
A stealthy phone call to my wife’s colleague. A detour on the way home one evening. A cunning plan was hatched. The end justifies the means in romance.
A few days later there, captivatingly unannounced, a certain gold bracelet in pretty wrapping, with a card, appeared quite mysteriously upon my wife’s desk in the middle of one work day.
O the delight! O the joy! O the surprise. O the thoughtfulness of it all. The story should have ended there. But all good stories need a twist in the tale.
It just so happened that we left for holiday a few short days later. To South Africa. Land of crime and glory.
The very first night of the holiday in our establishment, after a bath, the gold bracelet was placed tenderly and innocently on the bed-side table. How it shone. How bright it still was.
The gold bracelet, so artfully bought and beautiful, caught the eye of the cleaner whose job it was to turn down our sheets on that fateful first night. How it shone. How bright it was. How it called out to her.
Perhaps that gold bracelet still shines. Perhaps that gold bracelet is still just as bright. Pity that it’s either fenced or melted down. In the very least, it’s now under new ownership.*
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O how we mourned! That little piece of light had been extinguished!
A few weeks later back in Singapore it occurred to me that the best way to defeat the spread of darkness is to shine the light brighter. A bad event is just a prelude to a happy ending. If it were not for the bad event, the happy ending would not be as happy.
That’s the plot of all great literature and movies. A great story is a happy story that gets interrupted by a bad thing, but then overcomes it by some cost or price that is sacrificially paid.
The first trip back to the jeweller ended in failure. How was I to know the shop closed so early on weekdays?
The second trip there was an even greater failure. It poured with rain. I got soaked. All that just to find out that there was only one of those bracelets. The thief now owned the very last one.
Forlornly, I stood dripping in front of the vast array of dozens of possible replacements. I just couldn’t bring myself to buy any other pretender. None of the other bracelets seemed to shine as bright.
But ah! A short time later I discovered that the jeweller had just opened a second branch! Hoping against hope, perhaps she had made two of the same? Perhaps a perfect replica was waiting for me, untouched and unsold, defended by the forces of destiny and preserved by the guardians of romantic story plot-lines.
Trip number three, after work one day, finally ended in triumph.
Another clandestine correspondence with a colleague. Another arrangement for the anonymous deposit of yet another gold bracelet. So exact was the replica that it might have appeared to the untrained eye that the thief was returning the original. The gold bracelet had become a trilogy of love, of sin, and of redemption.
O how it shone! O how bright it was!
And the card attached to the pretty wrapping written to my pretty wife contained only a simple statement of universal truth: “Light and love always shine brighter than darkness.”
*It's becoming mandatory for my holidays that something of my wife’s becomes the subject matter of a theft—see Confronted by class.