Sitting in a cafe and the speakers playing the Stratovarius classic Forever that I haven’t heard in years. Brought me promptly back to a decade ago when as a 16 years old, I went through a goth-like period, interested in the darker side of things, specifically the question of death but always in its abstract feeling and not so much a philosophical question of whether to believe in an after-life or not, just simply that one day there will be an end. The curiosity of a healthy mind as I like to see it.

I was rather obsessed with a not-so-well-known manga called Skyhigh and even translated it for a Viet otaku website I was a member of back then. The episodic plot is simple and compelling: a guardian awaits murdered souls at the gate of afterlife, giving them 3 choices: to accept their death and go to heaven, to deny their death and wander the earth as a ghost, to revenge and be condemned to hell. Most of the “victims” don’t even know why they are dead (or even that they are dead). They can still witness life on earth to discover what really happened and what’s happening now after they’re gone. And the dilemma is there: if you’re wronged, do you forgive or revenge? Do you accept and move on or hold onto it? It was the first time that I ever thought about those questions, that later I would come back time and time again while reading on philosophical traditions: Can revenge be justified? And what at price? Is doing the justified necessarily beneficial to you? Is what sounds better actually better?

My other obsession was Radiohead’s OK Computer. It was their first album to me and after many years still remains my favorite. The whole album is a masterpiece and back then I had it on repeat for months, but was drawn more toward the eerie whispering in Exit Music, Karma Police, or Climbing Up the Wall. Imagine me all by myself on the 3rd floor with the door wide open to the terrace at midnight when all other houses had turned off their lights, listening to: And either way you turn/ I’ll be there/ Open up your skull/ I’ll be there/ Climbing up the wall.

Anyway back to Forever, I have known very little darkness and pain in my life. Luckily. It’s more fitting for a close girl friend who is going through a rough patch; she’s always been a romantic and has a softer side than I do, and sometimes adulthood doesn’t pan out even when we try our best and be strong. And for you too. I don’t know if you’re now the star in the northern sky or not, but truly the dust in the wind, the wind in the tree. I wonder if you ever listened back to this song. I miss you lots. We miss you lots.

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