28th of February, 2020
This is a piece of autobiographical fiction. Space and time have been rearranged to suit the convenience of the book, and with the exception of public figures, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The opinions expressed are those of the characters and should not be confused with the author’s.
This story is written as an example to anyone who wants to believe that we are more than the patriarchy deems us to be, more than our limitations, and more than our fears.
Lucas and I are having lunch at a vietnamese restaurant.
I have barely finished 3 mouthfuls of my beef noodle soup but Lucas has already finished his meal.
“You’re not going to eat that?!” He asks me, pointing to my food.
“I’m not hungry, do you want it?” I push the bowl over to him.
Unashamedly, he pulls my bowl of beef noodle soup over to him and starts eating it, big mouthfuls at a time. I watch him with envy because for the last 2 months, I cannot eat more than 1 meal a day.
My body is simply too traumatized to eat.
I notice myself losing weight because my clothes have started to be too big. But it’s winter and most of us have at least 3 layers of clothing on so no one else but me can tell that I’ve lost weight.
“So how long have you been traveling for – with your 10,000 usd?” I ask Lucas.
“This would be my 8th month since I left Chile.”
Lucas is from Santiago, Chile. He tells me that Chile is the richest country in South America, but it also makes income disparity a huge problem. The rich are very rich and the poor are dying.
“How much longer are you going on for?” I ask
“I don’t know, for as long as I can.”
“Will you be going back to Chile anytime soon?”
“Nah, I don’t want to. My plan is to go to Germany. They have universities there where you can study for free. I want to get another working visa there and maybe apply to take up another bachelor’s there.”
“Why is studying so important to you? Don’t you want to pursue a career?” I ask Lucas.
” During my 2 years of working in the corporate job, I earned in a year what I did by growing and selling weed for 2 months. The capitalist world is engineered such that people in power will always dictate what the rest of us do. I refuse that, so I’m refusing the pursuit of money. Instead, I’m going to pursue knowledge. I believe that seeking knowledge is seeking true wisdom. Money is a means to an ends – I don’t care for it.”
“How will you afford to keep traveling though?” I was intrigued by his carefree plan of no-planning.
“I’ll continue volunteering so I don’t have to spend so much. Maybe in Germany I will take up paid jobs, I don’t know. I’ll decide when the time comes. ” Lucas shares, in between slurps. He’s almost done with the big bowl of noodles. He makes it look so delicious I almost regret not finishing it myself.
” Tell me more about workaway?”
We walk, talk and arrive at a park – Lucas’s favourite spot in all of Prague. He has been volunteering at this hostel for 2 months now, and he managed to clinch a spot in another hostel in Barcelona. He’s headed there in a few weeks.
“I wanna try this volunteering thing. ” I declare to Lucas.
“For real?!” He asks me. “You? The Singaporean who has a fancy house and fancy life?” He makes fun of me.
Through our conversations, he finds out bits and pieces of my life from back home and says that I own too many material things which is why I feel so empty.
” YEAH ME. I’ll show you…. I wanna go to Spain too. But instead, I’ll go to Andalusia, where my good friend JS comes from”
“Good. You’ll have to start learning Spanish then. Repeat after me.”
“Que” – “Que”
Lucas starts laughing and I ask why.
” You just said WHAT THE FUCK in spanish”
We laugh heartily.
“But really, Jane. If you’re serious. I will come with you and we do a workaway together in Andalusia.”
“I’m not. Say yes and I will meet you there in a month’s time”
I don’t hesitate and I reply a resounding “YES”
He kisses me and for a second, I forget all of my problems and fade away in his arms.