Looking Back

Looking Back

By Ng Hui Qi

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Photo: By Jaslin Chua

All that has happened in my life can be traced back to that one incident. Yes, whenever someone says, “Sum up your life thus far in one sentence,” I think of an image instead. Of course, it’s no use trying to describe that image to anyone. Who can truly look into the mind of another? I’m not even sure we see the same sky. So words are the closest you can get to my thoughts, I guess, and perhaps the closest, even, for me to get to my own thoughts, to articulate for myself the consciousness of possessing a thought. But I digress. Yes, yes, you were asking what kind of an image sums up my life. I won’t try to describe it in a sentence, for I can never do justice to it. But I’ll give it in two words, which through these years have become the symbol for my picture, the crystallised shorthand for the image to sum up my life. Looking back.

Looking back at what, you say? Well, when I was a kid, I looked back over my shoulder whenever I left home, and there she’d be, my mother at the door. When I took the bus, I would go for a seat facing the back, and it was like walking backwards to move forward, if you get what I mean. It’s a matter of perspective. Of course, I missed some stops this way, because I saw them only when the bus passed them by. But isn’t life often like this? We missed some things just because we weren’t looking when they came.

So why do I insist on looking back?

Because if I hadn’t looked back, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

That day, I sat backwards on the rocking (sea)horse at the playground, simply because I thought it’d be amusing. Imagine the skills required for a horseman to ride his horse backwards. Not merely a matter of skills, I’d say, but trust. Well, these thoughts didn’t occur to me at that time, but I’ve thought over them so often now they seem to have sprung from that moment.

I see you’re nodding, you agree with me, don’t you? Thank you.

Yes? You’ve a question? Oh, what did I see that day, that made me who I am today?

Well now, is that really important?

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With great power comes great responsibility.

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