SIMPLE IN LANGUAGE, BUT DEEP IN THOUGHT AND FEELING
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass
and glory in the flower
We'll grieve not, but rather find
Strength in what remains behind
-- William Wordsworth.
It was a beautiful poem. Simple in language, but deep in thought and feeling. Just like life itself, Beng thought. To be exact, it was like Beng's life.
Outwardly, Beng's life at the university was like that of any undergraduate, simple and prosaic -- listening to lectures, attending tutorials, writing assignments, going out for an occasional date, and waiting impatiently for graduation day, but inside Beng, every moment at the university -- and everywhere else too -- was full of colours and wonders. It was great to be in university.
Beng's first conscious introduction to colours and wonders was a film show he saw many, many years ago. It was about a circus magician who created a brilliant display of colourful fireworks. When a small boy commented on the wonderful display, the magician said, in a magical and philosophical way, that life itself is a wonder, more wonderful and colourful than the most brilliant fireworks. And life is real, while the fireworks is merely a display, beautiful but transient.
Little though Beng was at that time, the magic and philosophy of the magician's words must have taken roots in the child's innocent yet receptive mind, for, later, in a different situation when Beng learned that a tiny flickering movement of a finger calls for the perfect co-ordination of hundreds of muscles, thousands of tissues, and millions of nerve cells, he realized that life is not only wonderful but even godly.
Thus when he read in Wordsworth that one can find glory in a flower and splendour in a blade of grass, the realization and appreciation of the wonders and godliness of life simply filled him with joy. He was so enthralled that he could not help writing in bold red letters across the top of his lecture notes the following words: Life is a wonderful and godly thing.
Beng was grateful that he could read literature at the university. He might have read medicine or engineering if he had not vehemently and decisively fought to be placed in the arts stream.
"You have one of the best results, so I place you in the science stream," the education officer in charge of streaming insisted.
"I have one of the best results, so why can't I go to the arts stream?" Beng politely asked the officer who tried to but could not give a satisfactory answer.