These words are for my cyber-friend and mentor, Yuan Kai Peng, whose disappearance still plagues me. (For all I know, he might never have existed at all)
I write with the hope that these words, like all words I’ve written you since the quiet gloom of 2006, will reach you.
Here I am, asking as always, how have you been, political-scientist-to-be? The last I heard you were making your Asian splash in some Ottawa college. Didn’t you say you were coming home in June to see JayWhai and I? We waited.
O big brother Kai, I remember the first time we found each other through Raihanah. I was just fifteen then. I never asked for your age, because it really wouldn’t have mattered. All the things you said about Life and Art were so wise and true, your words, like your being, were the very light that shone at the self-pity and decrepitude of our mortal souls.
I love and miss you, Kai my mystic sage, for all the right things you seem to say at the right times. When my esteem was under attack from the long days in the kitchen, you taught me the necessity of menial labour: that Kerouac laid the tracks of a railroad, and that Bukowski wrote the funniest book of the century when he was a Postman. So, like all great Beatniks I toiled with the knowledge that the cogs of my intellect were well oiled with mundane slog sweat. It was toil worthwhile, and would be even more so if you could read me as I am today.
My fellow Pumpkinhead Kai, do you know that I finally played three of my songs at an open mic two weeks ago? You would have been so proud of me if you could have come to listen. You never would have guessed where the heck I got those guts. I got them from you and your crazy dogma against bedroom musicians.
Kai you beautiful boy, I still remember the time you asked for a picture of me after you flashed me yours- elephantine upturned eyes and that Buddha smile of yours. I could only say no, to shield you from the wretchedness of my exterior. I thought you would have stopped befriending a faceless teenager, but you continued to do so for three more years.
Kai the aesthete, do you remember the Brain versus Brawn argument that we had? In my cruel naiveté, I had called you a botched intellectual for your hours in the gym and spat at the tautness of your vain chocolate-coated physique. You, like always, had won the debate with the help of some quote from Whitman. These days, I think of you whenever I run. I’ll run you an additional mile if only you could see that this fat butch is no longer overweight.
O my dharma bum Kai, there are very many things I would like to say to you and one of them being I’m sorry. I’m sorry about this very blogazine you started just so that I would write again. When you ignored me in the quiet gloom of 2006, I had thought you were mad at my neglect of the blogazine. I had guessed that my inferiority complex had got to you and you were sick of patting my back saying ‘but my dear flo, the best writers never went to school for it’, all the time.
Oh Kai, it has been five Junes. Can your wrath span five Junes? I doubt Avalokiteshvra would approve of that. Where the heck have you been the whole time?! Have you found a way to travel through time, or are you dead from pushing the cartel? Have you become a Tibetan monk, or have you been doing your time? Oh Kai, who were you really, man of many faces? How could you have shaped our lives by saying so little about yourself? I wished I knew how old you were, so I could bribe the registry of births. I wished I knew who your parents were, so I could look them up on those yellowed pages. All these things I never asked, and will get to know now.
Oh Kai, I do occasionally Google your old screen name, and those three email addresses of yours. Damn old Google never spat up anything after June 2006. 0606, was that supposed to be a cryptic cipher? I hated you for telling us what to do but never telling us what you were up to. You got away with it of course, you were older and knew much better.
O technorati Kai, maybe you would be proud to hear that JayWhai is now a web developer, and that Raihanah has been teaching English in primary schools for 3 years now. They still wonder about you, though not as often as I do.
Kai, I will never know if Choice or Chance is behind this estrangement, especially if you don’t tell. Perhaps all will be apparent when the Golden Eternity takes us all. Until then, I’ll live my days by the words of the friend and mentor I have never seen, heard and touched in flesh.