Life for Beginners Stories by Kenny Mah

You are each other’s temple

by Kenny Mah

On the way to breakfast—is there anything more wonderful than a kopitiam repast of hot local coffee, served black, and toasted white bread with butter and kaya?—I observe a man getting out of his car as I am parking mine. He’s fully dressed in office gear, severe necktie and a formidable belt. He pauses in front of a Hindu temple. Tall trees and shrubs surround the temple offering shade and a tranquil touch of green. This salaryman is bookended by an Audi and a Toyota. He lowers his head and clasps his hands together. I stand still and bear witness, not praying exactly, but finding a moment of reverence and serenity in this man’s devotion.

Then he finishes his silent prayers and walks away purposefully, ready to start his day. The spell is broken.

I too walk away, wishing not to delay breaking my fast any further, but I can’t help but think about my best friend. She is flying to India today. In a few days’ time, she will be signing a document with her boyfriend and they will be man and wife. He is a Hindu; she’s not, so this is a secular ceremony. They are in love, deeply and simply, with years of passion and arguments and laughter behind them and many more such years ahead also, and they are so blessed to have found each other.

My best friend had told me some days ago about how they went shopping for her engagement ring together, and their wedding bands too. Some of our other friends may bemoan the lack of a romantic proposal, every girl’s dream surely, but who needs romance these days? Such a fleeting conceit. They are together, these two, and they are making a commitment to be together for the rest of their lives.

The rest of their lives: what ring or proposal could match that? This is an act of devotion, just like the salaryman praying in front of the temple this morning. They will be each other’s temple and their days will pass in devotion and learning and caring for each other. May they have love and happiness always. May you too.

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