Life can show you mercy, it can tear your soul apart. You've walked a lonely road, how far you’ve been from home? May it be when the moon smiles, you come to me with tales of days in goodness spent. May it be when the darkness falls, your heart will again be pure and true. May there be an evening star shine upon you, with the best pastels of darks and bright. May it be your journey on to caress another tender day. With the shadows call gaudily flying away. When the night is overcome, You may rise from sea to meet the sun. May the long path lead to home, With a heart so innocent whose love that glow. And May it be always known to you, dear, Every day in my heart you are still a beautiful part....
A story and sentiments behind the poem:
As the timeline approaches, I find myself in need of preparing my long trip to Philadelphia, USA this coming summer. I’ve been invited by an university there to advance my dance study and research. It is a wonderful opportunity for a dancer (any dancers really), but the obstacle for me to budge now is that after a full year living so closely to nature, to the coyotes and wild deers, I have fallen in love with this place and my lovely neighbors. This is where I belong and suddenly for a moment, I couldn’t see myself leaving it all behind.
Then, I remember I have a promise to keep…
The story began in a pleasant summer day. My primary school principal and some other teachers came in to select “girls with potentials” to the dance team as I sat stiffly in my classroom. (Ms Principal was herself an accomplished dancer before she took the principal position.) Together, they scrutinised every girl in the class and discussed among themselves at the corner quietly. Then, her gaze suddenly turned towards me. For some time passed by, she stared at me silently. It was a gaze of recognition and appreciation. Consequently and unconsciously, all my life I was looking for the same eyes and whenever I found them, I knew he/she would play an important role in my life intuitively, just as the principal had done.
I was then nowhere near special, yet from that day on, I went from the invisible inconsequential child to the envy of the school. The principal would give me private dance class everyday after school and soon everyone knew me as “the dancing apple” in her eyes. She even praised me on every Monday assembly in front of the whole school unreservedly and made me feel a bit overwhelmed. She was that kind of lady. When she liked someone, the whole world knew.
Eventually the day came when I’d be transferred to another school in a foreign land, the principal sat beside me in her office for a long time and asked me seriously that no matter what changed, never to give up in dance and that she knew I would make her proud one day.
She was the first one who recognised my gift and who had given me a dream. So, I went on to advance no matter what it took. It was a narrow hard-rocked path, but there were also precious memories….
I remember the day of my dance graduation ceremony when my masters formally named me a dancer and gave me their blessings to serve the art; I remember the years of sweat, pain, and perseverance; I remember how the apprenticeship started with over 200 girls with only 20 of us left to the end, and now after more than a decade later, I am the only one of that class who is still in the dance field; I remember how I, from an apprentice to the girl-in-group, from a soloist to the principal dancer. Indeed, the years have gone by so fast and I have walked a long long way.
However, I never forget that I have a promise to keep, despite life’s mercy and cruelty. Because even after years of my Principal passed away, I could still see into her eyes and hear her voice “ Don’t give up, Annabel. I know one day you will make me proud.”
And, I am surprised to realise now that how unconsciously my life has been living in her unwavering faith in me, living in a promise to make her proud as the way to repay her kindness and the rare humanity I received as a child.
With this poem, I send my gratitude to all those who have helped, loved, and cared for me along the way as I am about to set out for a new chapter of my life.