… Where he will be living for the next couple of months to help conduct research, work in a game reserve and eventually, save the world. Just kidding. But really, the whole family is totally proud of him, although we are quite worried and fervently praying that guardian angels will keep him safe and he will not be bitten by the tsetse fly, which administers the deadly sleeping sickness upon their bite.
He will be days away from the nearest hospital and there is no current vaccine for this illness, but he did get vaccinated for a bunch of other stuff. 7 jabs was all it took to cover the essential vaccines of Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Rabies (3 jabs), Hepatitis A, and Tetanus.
The vaccines are noted down in a bright yellow card which is apparently one of the must-have travel documents when travelling to Africa – almost as important as your passport.
I’ve been making time for him and spending it all with him, and before he left Singapore today for Africa, he wrote us a love letter. I found it in my email when I got home and it made me cry!
(Basically, he addresses a “game” my Dad started over dinner on a cruise last week, where every member of the family says something encouraging to another family member.)
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods; There is a rapture on the lonely shore; There is society, where none intrudes, By the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not man the less, but Nature more…”
– Lord Byron
This month spent back home has been memorable to say the least. I know it’s not easy dealing with my erratic behavior more often than not, but please understand adjusting back does require a substantial amount of effort and involves an equal amount of stress. I’m off to Africa today, and I must say I have mixed feelings about it – as I do with almost everything. Nonetheless I feel that my ability to express of gratitude has always been inadequate and would like to take this chance to put it in writing. In any case I think mom and dad missed their turn at the game we were playing on the cruise and would like to take this chance to finish it:
Mom: I know behind your relentless advice is a woman who loves me and is trying very hard to express that. As everything evolves, and everything varies – so does the ‘language of love’ as Dad puts it. As such I should be more patient at times and apologize if I haven’t been, but this by no means implies that I do not appreciate it. You’re an extremely capable woman and a key aspect of that would be your passion to help others. You’re able to multi-task with more things than I can handle in a year – effortlessly.
Dad: I can’t begin to describe the pressure you’ve placed upon me in terms of setting a near-perfect father figure. Oftentimes seemingly incorruptible with your moral compass permanently glued to the right direction. Your matching heart of gold compliments mom’s and this is reflected in your spiritual journey from what I can see. Your faith is impeccable in situations of hardship – for which you bite the bullet and trudge on – with pride and self-interest on the sidelines.
Estelle, I know I’m not the perfect brother – but just know that I love you very much. All I’m doing is teasing you in my own way (well I’m guessing you’ve figured that part out by now). We’ve grown closer over the years and I hope this brings us closer together as a family in general. You’re very very talented – especially socially – but remember that you’re precious to all of us. This is also because I often see you as fragile, and want to protect you from the potentially unfavorable situations you so often court.
I’ve appreciated all that’s been done for me – from the procurement of equipment to the words of encouragement – and now I’ll leave you with my 5-word prayer to Jesus which I use too often, “Don’t give up on me”. I’ll see you all in a year.
P.S: Please continue to take care of Cookie when I’m gone, she is the best friend I have after all. It’s not an obsession, but rather what she symbolizes to me – the innocence of intentions regardless of actions.
“I raised my head. The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed somber under an overcast sky–seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.” - Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, Part 3