7 Jul 2013

Youth

There once were two twins, born as mirror images of each other.

They shared the same interests, played the same games together, and laughed at the same jokes. Every day they would run up to the hill to have some fun. The hill was easily identifiable, as there was a large apple tree at the top. The boys would sometimes lie underneath the tree to rest from their games, pointing at the clouds that flew by, trying to decipher the shapes.

One day, one of the boys said to the other: "I won't be able to play as much with you any more. Mother and Father say I will have to start schooling."

The other boy replied: "That's fine! We can always play afterwards, when you've come back and done your homework!"

The first boy smiled. "You're lucky you don't have to go to school, you know."

"Really? I think you're luckier. You get to make new friends in school and have fun with them."

"Don't worry, I'll bring them back some day, and we'll ALL have fun together!"

The second boy smiled.


And so it was. The first boy went to school every weekday, diligently paying attention during lessons, patiently doing his homework, and learning new things. The second boy would have his own fun on the hill, waiting for the first to show up. And every day he did. Sometimes he did bring some of his friends, and they had fun together, though it seemed like his friends didn't seem that close to his brother. Neither of the twins thought too much about that.

Years passed. The first twin grew a little, and entered his teenage years. The second twin remained a boy.

One day, the teen said: "I'm afraid I may not have as much time to play later on... school's getting busier, and my friends are taking me to their own fun gatherings and events. There may be days when I don't even get to play with you at all."

The boy replied: "It's okay, I don't mind. You should deal with your own problems first. And it's fine to have fun with your friends! I'll be there with you in spirit."

"Thanks for being so understanding."

"We're brothers! It's only right this way."

And so the teen continued with his busier life: he crammed in time to finish school projects and mingle with friends at parties, but occasionally returned to the hill to play with the boy. Later on, the teen found a girl, and sometimes brought the girl to the hill to play together. The boy knew that this girl was special to his brother, but once again, she seemed to be distant from the boy himself.

Years passed. The teen grew a little, and became a young man. The girl grew also, and became a young woman. The two became closer to each other. Yet the boy still remained a boy.

One day, the young man said: "Sorry brother, I won't get to see you as often now. I have to get a job, so I'll spend even more time working to earn a living, and support me and her."

The boy replied: "It's okay, you two deserve each other, and I wish you the best! I do hope you come back once in a while and play with me."

The young man smiled weakly.

And so the young man and woman departed their home town and moved to the city. The boy stayed behind.

The young man went to his office every weekday to work the hours away, while the young woman remained at home to do the house chores. The couple lived this way for some time.

Years passed. The young man and woman grew older. The boy still remained a boy, waiting for his brother to return.

Eventually the couple got married, and had children. A few times each year, they'll return to the home town to visit their parents, and the man will get to see his brother again... but only for a short while. The boy never complained.

More years passed. The man's and woman's parents passed away, and the couple never visited the home town for a long time. They continued to raise their children as they all grew older. Yet again, the boy remained a boy.

Finally, the man returned alone, now with a head of white hair and a skin wrinkled by hardship and entropy. He strolled up the hill, expecting the worse. He did abandon his brother for years, even decades. It wouldn't be surprising that he would no longer be there any more.

The boy was calmly resting underneath the apple tree, now visibly withered and weakened by time.

The old man was a little shaken. "...why? After so many years, aren't you mad at me?"

The boy replied: "Of course I am. I never got to see you for so long. What happened?"

The old man explained: "So many things happened that I just got so wrapped up in my own life. But now, I'm finally free. My wife has passed on. My children are grown up and leading their own independent lives. I didn't mean to ignore you for so long, honest!"

The boy sighed. "I know you didn't mean to. I know you were going through all of that. I was always there with you all those years."

"...what do you mean?"

"I was always with you in your heart. I was there when you had fun with your friends, when you played in school, when you first met your to-be-wife, when you got married, when you played with your children... you were just too busy to see it. You hid me away."

...

The old man broke the silence.

"I'm sorry. All those chances I could have taken to spend more time with you, and I threw them all away. Now I'm in my last few moments of my life, and I regret wasting those opportunities. Please forgive me!"

The boy finally stood up.

"I've already forgiven you long ago. Why do you think I still waited here? It's because I knew you'll return to make it up. We're brothers after all."

The old man was shaking a little.

"...isn't it too late? You're still young, but I'm old now. I don't know how much time I have left."

The boy smiled and took his hand.

"It's not too late. Any time is better than no time at all."

The old man finally smiled back.

And so the twins once again played their games, laughed at their jokes, and formed shapes from the clouds in the sky as they lay underneath the apple tree...