Thursday, March 16, 2006

死罪能免,活罪难逃

I'll be doing an oral presentation on Joseph Goebbels in German and part of my reseach brought me to this intricate subject of suicide, especially in the case of foreign leaders.

I know some people might disagree with me, but what I think is that fallen leaders should commit suicide upon hearing all is lost. After the fall of Germany, Hitler commited suicide, all his aides commited suicide too. Even some who were hauled up to the Nuremberg Trials commited suicide before they were sentenced to death. To me, it's a matter of sticking to what you deeply believe in. In committing suicide, it also means that you are preserving yourself to the ideology you firmly believe in.

In an event of losing the war, the leader loses everything. He loses his land, his people, what he believed in, and even his basis reason for living on this earth. He has lost everything that is meaningful to his existence, so why isn't he allowed to die? Goebbel's wife put it very nicely in her last statement,
"Die Welt, die nach dem Führer und dem Nationalsozialismus kommt, ist nicht mehr wert, darin zu leben, und deshalb habe ich auch die Kinder mitgenommen, denn sie sind zu schade für das nach uns kommende Leben, und ein gnädiger Gott wird mich verstehen, wenn ich ihnen selbst die Erlösung geben werde ... "
and I believe in that.

Not only that, a dead person generates more talk than a person alive. If Hitler had not commited suicide and left alive who would remember him? He'd grow old and finally slide out of people's memories and when he dies, nobody would take much notice of him. But by commiting suicide, people remember him, maybe as a dictator who led to the war, or as anything, just so long that he was still remembered by people. It's like artists' paintings, the value rises once they're dead. So I started reading up on suicide.

I started with Wikipedia. I opened up the category for suicide and went through every single article listed in the category. I read the list of suicides and came to a conclusion that suicide can be a very powerful tool. Yes, you might argue in dying, nothing is left, but people can make use of this as a last ditch attempt to achieve something.

With that I thought of the old Chinese saying of which I styled my title upon. 死罪能免,活罪难逃. It means literally, death sentence can be waivered but not the physical punishment for the living. In effect, it is used by the Chinese when meaning that they can be spared from the death penalty but they still have to take blame for their actions and suffer punishment while they are alive. But I'd like to give another meaning to this old adage.

The dead can be freed from whatever sufferrings and punishment, but those alive must take the blame for the dead.

Once one is dead, there is nothing more one can do. I know some religious people are going to argue about the sinnings and stuff and what death is not the end of anything, but logically speaking, once you die, you cease to exist in any physical form, you cannot feel, you cannot do anything, and therefore freed from all sufferrings. But those alive have to take the blame for your leaving. Think in the context of a father with heaps of debts and loansharks chasing him. He thinks that by dying he can be freed from all his debts, of course he can, but other people have to bear the consequences of his death. Think about his wife and his children, though he might have died, but they are still alive and they need to eat and they need money, how are they going to survive on their own now. And not to mention the mental and emotional anguish they have to go through in a single parent family and what other people might think of them. The father's debts won't be cleared by his death either, there is still the garrantor who needs to settle his debt on his behalf.

I wrote about regrets some time ago, and I said that the worst regrets are those of which they cannot be overturned, like in circumstances of death. I thought, can death be used as a tool to either transfer sufferings onto someone else, or to put the blame or put guilt on somebody for the rest of their lives.

Currently, I'm tackling a full length novel on the life of a young single father after the suicide of the mother of his daughter. I suddenly thought, could she have killed herself because she wanted that guilt to be in him for the rest of his life. And for him to remember her, and his mistake for the rest of his life. And to emotionally scar him for the rest of his life.

I thought about the following scene I'd write about. I don't know if I can fit this story into any of my short story collections, but I'm going to at least draft things out here first, the raw idea of my imagination and exploration of this subject. I shall name them, something not ver characteristic of me. The names will be the names I'll be using in my full length novel, but they are not the same characters. I'll just borrow the name, like how Wong Kar Wai borrows the use of the names of the characters and 2046 in In the Mood For Love.

The following story is one out of my imagination and bears no resemblence to anyone alive or dead, any similiarities are pure coincidences. And this is also not a reflection of anyone, especially not myself, so plese do not misunderstand.

The Revenge

Scarlet brought a knife with her on her last expedition to Ming's house. She wanted to end everything once and for all, and she wanted Ming to pay back for all the time and youth she had lost on him.

Scarlet knew where Ming lived. She had been stalking him for quite some time, since he tried to break up with her. Once in a while, Scarlet would stalk Ming's wife instead. Shan, Scarlet knew all about her. In the early days when Scarlet and Ming were together, Ming had already talked to her about Shan. They had even met on two brief occasions which Scarlet had staged. Once she appeared in front of Ming and Shan while they were shopping for groceries and introduced herself to Shan as Ming's friend. The other time she identified herself to Shan while she 'coincidentally' met her near Shan's office.

But Scarlet had mixed feelings about Shan. She hated her definitely because she was the love of Ming, but she also pitied her of her ignorance to the two timing nature of Ming. Some nights Ming would appear lonely and sad in front of Scarlet, and she'd pity Shan for not knowing that her husband was such a weak person who need conforting yet didn't dare tell her. Scarlet always thought that even though Ming might be two timing her, at least she knew who was he two timing her on, and at least that that person was his wife. But Shan knew nothing. As a women, Scarlet's heart did went out for Shan.

But as Ming's love for Shan grew stronger and more resolved, he wanted to end all ties he had with Scarlet, Scarlet's jealousy grew stronger. It wiped out whatever remnants of sympathy she had for Shan. She just wanted Shan out of the way so that she could have Ming all to herself.

That was not possible as she slowly came to know. After stalking Ming and Shan for some time, Scarlet realised that nothing was able to change the love Ming had for Shan.

So she thought of another idea as revenge. She knew Ming rather well, after being together on and off for about five years. It's amazing how his wife never suspected anything after they were togehter for this long a period. Scarlet knew that despite Ming's ill treatment and lack of love for her, Ming was very apologetic to her. He knew that Scarlet had sacrificed a lot for Ming, and yet he was unable to repay her with anything. Scarlet planned to make use of Ming's soft spot for her and make him pay it with his life.

Consumed with thoughts of revenge and jealousy, Scarlet remembered the old Chinese saying "死太便宜他了" and sought to think of a revenge that would make him pay for life with his regret.

Nestling the knife in her passenger car seat, the seat where Ming would sit on if he were in her car, she drove over to his house. She felt as though it was the old days, when she would drive over to his house and pick him up to go somewhere for a night out.

She was never officially been invited into Ming's house before, but she had been stalking the house since she found out where he lived. Some afternoons when she knew Ming was out and Shan was at home, she'd drive by the house and peek into the windows to catch a glimsp of Shan if she were lucky. This time, she brought her knife with her and walked up the stairs. It was 18 stories up, but she didn't take the lift. She didn't know why she did that either. Maybe she was hoping that the energy she spent on walking up the stairs was able to sooth the burning desire for revenge inside her. But it was no use, she still wanted to make lives for Ming and Shan as miserable as possible.

She finally reached Ming's doorstep. Ming wasn't at home. She knew that. She knew that this time he would be at work, she had noticed his car was not in the carpark too, so she just peeked into the house for a sight of Shan. She seemed to be cooking in the kitchen.

Shan, cooking for her husband. Ming, coming home to eat the home-cooked meal made by Shan, was simply too much for Scarlet to take it.

With the knife, she slit her finger. With the bloodied finger, Scarlet wrote something on the landing in front of Ming's house.

"To Shan, I am your husband's mistress. Are you surprised? I know you played no part in anything done by your husband, maybe I'll be forgiving and not blame you for my plight, but I really cannot bring myself to forgive Ming."

The finger Scarlet had slit had dried up, so she took her knife and made more slits onto her other fingers, and continued.

"To Ming, I hate you. I blame you for this mess I am in right now. And you should take blame for it too. Look closely over railings, see? That piece of work is crafted by you, no one else but you. After I am gone, please continue to remember me, remember the girl who loves you more than anyone else, and who will continue to love you even till death. Goodbye. I love you, as much as I hate you."

With her bloodied fingers, Scarlet tooked out her handphone and made one last call over to Ming.

"Hello, Ming?"

"What do you want?"

"I'm outside your house. I can see Shan cooking. I think I'll knock on her door after I hang up this phonecall. Maybe you'd like to rush home and attempt to explain our relationship to her?"

"What the fuck do you want? Don't you dare disturb Shan, I warn you."

Scarlet walked over to the door and knocked a couple of times clearly, allowing the sound to penetrate through the phone.

"Yes? Who's it?" came the voice from inside. Scarlet allowed that to make it's way through the receiver of the phone.

As the door opened, "Yes?" came Shan's voice. Scarlet turned away from the door and hurdled herself over the railing. "Come home now, Ming." was the last Ming heard from Scarlet before a loud thud. In the background, Ming seemed to have heard a very familiar loud scream.

That was enough for Ming to immediately rush out of his office and back home.

Maybe I'll do a follow up on this, maybe I'll leave it as such. I'm feeling a bit tramatised by my own writings. Another irrelevant thing I'm thinking of, should Scarlet's name be spelt as such or should I name her Scarlett instead? Actually, my original name for her is Adele, but somehow I think the Scarlett of Scarlett Flight sounds nicer. hmm...

1 comment:

Naysh said...

"She felt as though it was the old days, when she would drive over to his house and pick him up to go somewhere for a night out.

She was never officially been invited into Ming's house before, but she had been stalking the house since she found out where he lived."

She used to pick him up at his house? Then you said she was never officially invited and has been stalking him? Maybe you need to state clearly what is "invite" or something. I didn't even know it was a flat until I saw 18 floors. lol.