Why I am going to New York

This is an account of someone else’s love story that became my reason for visiting New York. Written in Aug 15th 2013.

Kevin and I at the Flatiron, New York.

This is a story about Kevin.

Kevin is 20. He is a young wide-eyed Malaysian boy who had just finished his final year at college and will be embarking on his first-ever American road trip.

Kevin finds himself in New York, bright lights, big city. He is in awe. He walked along the city streets passed Broadway, Fifth Avenue, Wall St., the Village, Chelsea and finds himself outside a gay bar. His tall stature and his relatively mature persona adds a year or two to his age and so he manages to slip pass the scrutiny of the mean-faced bouncer.

Loud music echoed through the bar’s dimly-lit cavernous walkway. He finds himself at the end of the walkway. Turning right he was suddenly pulled by the arm to a corner and pinned to a wall. Frightened, he kept his eyes closed and mentally prepared himself to be a victim of yet another hate crime. The attacker wrapped his hands around Kevin’s arms like a boa constricts its prey, gentle but ever so tightly.

Kevin felt a cautious kiss; first on the cheek, then advancing closer to the edge of his lips, and finally arriving at his lips with a gentle peck. He opened his eyes, and saw a set of brown eyes staring back quizzically, and a sheepish smile belonging to a 21-year old Vietnamese boy named Ethan. It was a whirlwind romance which lasted all summer; without a job Kevin had to move back to Kuala Lumpur.

Kevin and Ethan kept in touch throughout the day through text and teased each other sometimes by poking each other on Facebook. The text messages dwindled, from breakfast, lunch and dinners, to mornings and evenings, to eventually “goodnights”.

Kevin woke up one day and realize that there was no text message the night before to wish him a good night. He was somewhat irritated as he expects Ethan to return his text as he texted last. He slept through the night and woke up to an empty inbox. The dwindling frequency of text messages prepared Kevin for this eventuality. He decided to get on with his life.






“Hello. How are you?”

Kevin sent his second text message to Ethan in 14 days, he decided to set his pride aside and did not put much thought to it. He slept through the night and woke up the next day to find yet again an empty inbox.

He decided to be cheeky and posted a message on Ethan’s Facebook Wall,

“Hello. Are you that busy to even reply a message? ☺”

A message notification arrived.

Ethan was killed in a car accident two weeks ago.

He reread the message over and over; it was sent by a close friend of Ethan’s, who did not know better and apologized for not informing Kevin earlier.

Kevin’s heart sank, he covered his face and wept at his work desk, quietly,

Two years ago Kevin told me of his story; we were colleagues, a fresh recruit in his first job. He told that he would like to visit New York City to pay his last respects to Ethan, but he didn’t have the money nor he was sure if he would ever save enough to make that trip. So I told him that I would like to visit New York City too, and we should start saving now so that in two years we will be able to afford a ticket.
This is the second year, Kevin and I will be going to New York City.
Sun, October 13th 2013.
It was also the Double Ninth Festival (重九節) and it seemed like fate had arranged for this day.
James, Ethan’s best mate, came all the way from Philly to Manhattan to take Kevin to Ethan’s place of rest in New Jersey.
Kevin greeted Ethan with an old Christian hymn,
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame; and I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown.
Kevin choked before the second verse, tears streamed, he crouched before the tombstone and wept into his hands.
I met Kevin that evening and asked if he was OK. He told me this story as a matter-of-factly and with an assuring smile, that tells me he is now ready for his next 4 weeks of adventure.
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