ONE day, on a fine, unassuming evening, I was going about my usual daily business when suddenly, out of nowhere, I saw my ex with a new girl.
Because I wasn’t born yesterday, I was able to deduce from their body language that she was neither just a regular colleague nor a random buddy to him.
I can’t possibly explain the mayhem inside my head at that time but let me try. It was as though someone came and slapped my face with a large fish, and then came a swarm of forlornness similar to that of watching a Korean TV series where the girl dies in the end.
For a long while after that, I felt a little traumatised by the whole incident. I became paranoid about going to public places or events where there was a chance of me seeing that image again. Even social media frightened me.
The world felt too small and I was convinced that somewhere, somehow, I was bound to see that character from my past again.
GHOST FROM THE PAST
It is no secret that as we go through life experiences, we will also create ghosts. These ghosts are characters who were once important in our lives but now, they are just a past shadow of our memories — a ghost, hovering around in the same world and going about their own business.
It could be a friend we were once close to, an estranged family member or a man we once loved. Sometimes, we will go on for the rest of our lives without ever seeing them again, all the while knowing that they are still around somewhere in this world.
But sometimes, they would appear again, now in a different time and a different circumstance.
I call these people ghosts because the idea of ever seeing them again scares me. A ghost will always come with a flash of memories, reminding us of who we were or how we felt at that specific time in our lives in the past.
Some of these reminders are unwelcomed because it is a part of us that we no longer recognise or because it is a horrifying example of awkward phases we went through.
I remember an encounter with an old friend from school about a year ago. She is now a nice, wonderful grown woman but back then, we were close and went through a young teenage phase saturated with fashion fails and obsessions over N’Sync.
Seeing her after all these years was a mortifying reminder that I spent many hours of my life at that time re-enacting dance moves from Bye Bye Bye (and forcing my parents to watch me).
From a different spectrum, seeing my ex that day reminded me of less-than-hilarious memories and emotions — what we used to be, that I am no longer the girl in his life and of the closure I never got. And so I scurried away as fast as I could, much like anyone would upon an encounter with a terrifying ghost.
IT SHOULDN’T BE SCARY
As much as we sometimes hate to admit it, we really are the product of our past. Every single person we meet in this life contributes to our self-development. A temporary acquaintance could easily teach us something, no matter how small, what more those characters who were in major chapters of our lives.
And so perhaps encountering a ghost from the past should not be so terrible after all. Granted, it has the ability to open old wounds or to become the catalyst in reminding us of a cringe-worthy experience we once had.
But as we move forward, we sometimes forget how far we’ve come or how much we’ve grown. The occasional emergence of these ghosts from time to time, however, serves as a vivid reminder of these things.
A relationship may not have ended as how we hoped but it is no denying that to be in love with that specific person once upon a time ago would’ve certainly affected us in so many ways. That ghost must’ve taught us so many brand new things and shifted our views into much better perspectives.
As I come to this conclusion, I realise that this notion may be much easier said than done. Personally, I can’t even promise you that I would not again flee the scene should I come across him again.
But I suppose one could begin by making peace with the fact that a ghost, although sometimes mortifying, was once a teacher who helped shape me into the person that I am now.
And maybe, just maybe, that initial fear can slowly turn into gratitude of ever having an opportunity to have had them in our lives.
A GEOSCIENTIST BY DAY AND AN ASPIRING WRITER BY NIGHT, AMAL GHAZALI
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