Unexpected happiness

Things happen without reason, or warning. They come and sneak up to you unexpectedly, surprising you. Today was one of those days.

I was on the train, on my way back after a long afternoon with my friends working on Maths. After my friend alighted at her stop, I was all alone.

Or so I thought.

This lady, maybe in her late fifties to early sixties, had noticed the school bear keychain my school bag sported and told me that the bear was very cute. She began striking up a conversation with me, and soon her husband sitting next to her joined her.

We talked about school, Chinese, another school (HC), my primary school, being filial… and after that amazing conversation, I felt elightened and more aware of the surroundings. It’s amazing how I was able to confidently converse with them in Chinese, and I didn’t feel nervous. I think I just thought of them like old friends, or elder relatives.

To that couple, thank you for teaching me and making my day.

Unexpected happiness

BEASTLY

Beastly by Alex Flinn

Pages: 300

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

My Ratings: 5/5 (because it’s that good!)

What’s Beastly About:

I AM A BEAST.

A beast. Not quite wolf or gorilla or dog, but a horrible new creature with fangs, claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a walking monster.

    You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. This place is New York City. The time is now. And I’ll stay this way forever – unless I can break the spell.

    Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, the perfect girl, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly … beastly.

Beastly was a book that I checked out of the library on impulse, and I’m not regretting it. In fact, I have to admit that it fueled my passion of reading even more, putting my reading hiatus on… well, hiatus.

Alex Flinn weaves many fairy tales together to form a completely refreshing yet familliar fairy tale in modern-day New York. The main one is the classic Beauty and the Beast. I think there was a little hint of Snow White ( the way Kyle’s father abandoned Kyle in the Brooklyn house, but not because of beauty but ugliness ) and The Phantom of the Opera ( how Kyle kept Lindy in the house ), and somehow I kept thinking of the Red Riding Hood while reading this novel.

“You will know what it is like not to be beautiful, to be as ugly on the outside as on the inside. If you learn your lesson well, you may be unable to undo my spell. If not, you will live with your punishment forever.”

Another thing I like is how the author focuses on the philosophy that looks don’t matter. It is emphasised probably in every chapter. Kyle’s snobbish attitude about looks had caused him to be in this beastly state, and the spell breaking is also based on that philosophy. Based on the fact that Lindy loved Kyle despite him being beastly. Looks are materialistic. And if you choose to look behind the looks, maybe you’ll see the real beauty.

You shouldn’t be worried of feeling bored. Some of the chapters are accompanied by excerpts of “online chats”, which I suspect is from Kyle’s Myspace. The online chats include characters like a mermaid ( who resembles Ariel from The Little Mermaid ), a frog ( from The Frog Prince ) and other characters who I can’t figure out where the originated from. The writing is based on Kyle’s thoughts, which are sarcastic, amusing and very teenager-like.

There are also mentions of many other books and movies: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Phantom of the Opera, Little Women, The Princess Bride for example. Alex Flinn is definitely a classic lover.

If you are a hopeless romantic, like me, you’ll definitely love this book.

Love is never ugly.

 “No I didn’t see a beast.”

“But if there’s a beast, maybe he’s just a regular guy with a skin condition or something. Maybe he just needs some understanding. Maybe we judge people too much by their looks because it’s easier than seeing what’s really important.”

– Kyle Kingsbury

BEASTLY

Terror, has a half-life.

“I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath.”

– Jessica Ghawi, victim of the Colorado shooting.

9/11. The 2008 Mumbai attacks. The shooting in Toulouse, France. The shooting in Seattle, US. The shooting in Colorado, US. Many more.

Bullets. Bombs. Blood. Tears.

Lives lost. Hopes dashed. Terror. Panic. Fear.

Why do people do these things? Why do they hurt themselves, their families, friends, innocent bystanders?

Will I be a victim of these acts? There’s a possibility I might. And these nights I will toss and turn in my bed, worrying, freting.

But the most important question is: How do we prevent these attacks from happening?

These people, these “killers” or these “culprits”, they are also human. They have feelings, emotions, a heart. They are not some mechanical robot that is void of emotion, on an order to take part in a killing spree. They must have some motive, some reason behind all these.

I don’t think I will blame them. Maybe at first I will. But then i realise, maybe they have some reason, frustration even. Maybe they show their emotions in a wrong way. Maybe they controlled their feelings for so long, they burst, or detonate like a time-bomb.

They have partial blame, i guess. But part of the blame is on us. How do we prevent these? How do we help them? How do we know?

Stronger security measures have been taken all over the world since 9/11. Now, it takes longer to board a plane, or to go to a large-scale event. But if there more to do?

Jessical Ghawi was right. You don’t know. We don’t know when our lives will end, or be changed drastically. We can’t read the future, and thus we don’t know.

But what I know, is that when my time is near, whem my end is near, I don’t ever want to regret what I’ve done. I don’t want to regret not doing something, or meeting someone, or achieving a certain goal.

No regrets.

So that when my end is near, no matter where I am, pain or no pain, alone or with my loved ones, I can smile and think of what I’ve done.

“Terror has a half-life.” – Kurt Andersen, novelist and journalist.

Yes, I believe that’s true. Terror, indeed, has a half-life. Terror can destroy you, but it can also define you and make you even stronger. These attacks will be a jolt that will alter the course of history, but it will transform us to become better people.

Terror, has a half-life.