Some prefer to nap, usually when it’s an early morning flight; some chat with friends or make last calls before boarding; some connect to the airport WiFi and browse their gadgets; some shop around airport stores or buy some snacks or grab a cup of coffee; some prefer to read. I do all.
Next weekend, I will be leaving Singapore for the Philippines, and I’m already starting to think about which book to carry with me.
The last time I carried a book in bag, the security personnel scanning the bags asked me to take it out. Puzzled me slowly handed it to her while thinking, hmmm, ok, are they perhaps taking seriously the notion that literature can be a dangerous weapon, too? The personnel scanned the leaves quickly then returned it to me; perhaps, they were looking for a different kind of leaves tucked in the leaves?
After this minor hassle, I stopped carrying books for check in. But for my next flight, I surrendered easily and rushed to the bookstore at Changi terminal to buy a book because of my suffering from Fear of Doing Nothing. The best pick was Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending.
If I will play the story and listen to it as a song, I think it would be a long, quiet, unpretentious jazz, ending in a wild rendering of the Chinese symphony orchestra.
The thin paperback’s cover is a charm. The character is an Englishman who recalls his youth, his friends in college, career, and love life, which was summarized in a sentence or two: he met this woman, married her, had a kid with her; later on they divorced. The vexing parts of the story is when people from his college days appear one by one, showing him how his nonchalant life affected their lives in a huge, disastrous way.
The ending is one disturbing twist to the mystery of what happened to their cool (and cold) philosophical pal whose logic he could apply to history, art, and suicides.
One line that my mind underlined in the novel is, life starts speeding up after school. I agree. After life in the university, everything changes in one’s life making the twenty’s perhaps the decisive age range that could build the foundations of one’s professional and adult life. But, like in the novel, life has a funny and sometimes disturbing way of revealing to us the consequences of our action and inaction, in time.
The Sense of an Ending can make a great airport buddy while waiting in the lounge, or while in the mood for introspection.