“Hey man, do you have a moment?” Asked the old man sitting beside me.
“Err, sure.” I said as I put the book I was reading back into my bag.
I was on the bus home. I sat at my favourite seat of the bus—the second last row on the right. I wanted a little time to myself reading my really interesting book. It was a book on Philip Yancey’s heroes! I really like to read stuff about people’s heroes because it was written in a perspective of admiration so I will be able to learn from these examples. The old man was slightly shorter than me, perhaps it was because his back was a little hunched. Wearing spectacles and a thick, bushy, white beard, he looked a little like Roushi in Dragonball, just taller. He wore simple office wear—a white shirt and black pants. He had nice black leather shoes, really formal but it is able to pull off casual really well as well(looked like something I would buy for myself). He wore quite a slick watch—I am unable to see the face, but the bracelet itself looked great, must be expensive! He carried a black suitcase and a mineral water bottle he had out to drink. He looked like a simple old man that was just friendly.
“How are you?” The old man asked.
A bit weary about why the man started the conversation, I simply replied, “I am alright.” However, a little puzzled over this conversation, I added, “Why?”
“No lah, I just wanted to make some conversation while I am on this bus”
“Oh.” I said before a very long and awkward pause—at least in my head I think so. “So how old are you this year?” I tried to salvage and continue the chat.
“This year?” He chuckled to himself. “Would you believe that I am 18 this year?” He said jokingly.
“18? Haha! I am 18! How can that be?” I replied being a little relieved that he can crack jokes.
“It’s true” he insisted. “But I am 70 years old”
“Oh wow! You must have had a wonderful life! Are you married?”
“Hmm, I do not think that I should reveal that. What about you? Are you attached?” He asked, pushing my question away completely.
“Nope, I never had a girlfriend before” I said with a tinge of embarrassment.
“Oh really?” He chuckled to himself again. “You sure look handsome man! I am pretty sure many girls will like you!” He said while laughing.
Wait, is he mocking my looks?
“But no really, you really do look way better than me now.” He said with a less joking manner.
“Haha, thanks!” I appreciate the compliment. “Wait, if you are 70 years old, are you retired?”
“Would you believe that I am not? I am still working, I am working like right now!” He said with much enthusiasm.
“Really? What do you do?” I inquired.
He hesitated for a while then he said, “I do time management in a company.”
“Time management? What is that?”
“You will know in the future!” He smiled right after he pushed my question aside again. “Hey I ask you ah, do you like my watch?” He said as he showed me his watch. A Patek Philippe.
WOW! The watch was nice! It had a black face, with no bezel, but it had a chronograph. There were no numbers, instead it was just some lines for the marking of time. This really simplified the design and that was good, because the additional hands for the chronograph was making the watch a little too complicated. The bracelet itself was a little tapered, so it looked slick. Everything exudes quality. I simply said, “Wah, it is very nice! Do you like watches too?”
“Yep! I took really long before choosing my watch.” He then went on to explain all the features of his watch. I was rather fascinated as well. I can’t recall the conversation, but it somehow led to him asking me this: “So what are some struggles you face now?”
“Hmm, right now I am on a journey on finding my identity and my direction” I said after I simply reflected, after all it was a good thing to think about.
“Identity? Haha, so what have you found out about yourself already?” He asked.
“I think I have compassion for the youths in my church? I really really want to continue to stay there and just touch people’s lives!” Little does this guy know, I actually cried yesterday when I felt as if my ministry was going to be taken away from me, even if it was meant as a joke. I really want to serve and teach, is this the heart of compassion? I don’t really know.
“Wow! That is a very rare thing! Very few people your age would want to serve people!”
“Haha, you will be surprised! Many people my age are serving the youths in my church! Some of them are even more passionate than me!”
“Oh really? Wow! That must be a good church!” He commented.
“Haha yeah! I love my church very much! Oh, you are a christian too?” I asked.
“Yup!” He answered. “I have been a christian all my life!”
“What church do you belong to?”
He pondered for a while, then he said, “I do not think I should answer that. Hey how are you serving in church?”
Still a little puzzled over his response, I answered, “I am a cell leader in the youth side. So I would teach lessons, text them and care for them. Then I am also a drummer in church. So I would play drums on alternate Sundays”
The bus suddenly came to a sudden stop, jerking everyone on board forward.
“Wah, this bus uncle is driving really badly.” He remarked. “Hey wait, where do you stay now?”
“Now?” Once again a little puzzled over his choice of words and now being even more weary of him being a swindler, I said, “I stay in Hougang.” With no more details.
“Oh” then he whispered something to himself, I can’t make it out. After that he continued the conversation, “hey just now you talked about identity and direction, we haven’t talked about direction yet! Have you found your direction?”
“Well, it really isn’t a fixed direction, but I kind of found it last Sept. I kind of wanted a long term calling over my life. I wanted to have meaning in my life you know?”
“So I went on a mission trip to find this direction, but the Lord called me to a different place. He gave me a short term calling. He called me to focus on my life right now at this time. Reminding me not to forget the people around me now.”
He smiled and said, “it’s good stuff! I really do think that you heard right. Maybe God is preparing you for something bigger than you can ever imagine!” He stopped, laughed and said, “actually, I am sure of it!”
“Thank you!” I thanked him for his kind words. However, at the back of my mind I was just a sceptic. I mean like how would you know about my future?
“Do you have any other struggles you face now?” He asked almost like a service staff.
“Well, actually I have had problems forgiving two people. It was a situation that was what it was because of circumstances. Both of us do not think it was our fault. It was really awkward to be in each other’s presence. The Lord kept bugging me and bugging me and bugging me. It was so bad that at one point, I stopped going into His presence because I know what he wanted me to do, but I do not want to”
“Oh man, what happened in the end?”
“The Lord bugged me quite a bit, nearing the end of last year, I was given the courage to do it. I made up with the two of them before the year ended. It is still awkward, but I am glad I reconciled.”
“Good job! Glad that you have the faith to be obedient to God. Haha, I need to have that kind of faith now.”
“I live in a place where everything is even more messy and having faith is difficult. I need that faith to trust God more; to be obedient!”
“You don’t stay here in Singapore?” I asked as I looked right out the window as my stop was approaching.
He pushed my question aside once again, “isn’t your stop the next stop?”
“Yeah, how did you know?”
“Haha, hey man, before you go I just want to tell you something. You are doing a great job! Continue to love God and serve Him! Trust me, you will witness incredible things!” He said with a confident smile. “I’ve did, you will too!”
I gave my thanks and walked away from my seat and towards the bus exit. Not giving much thought to this conversation after that.
This conversation happened 52 years ago.
I have long forgotten about this conversation that took place so long ago. Why am I recording this right now? Let’s just say that I own a Patex, my job is time management and my job today is to talk to a boy on the bus.
“Hey man, do you have a moment?”
In case that you do not understand, this conversation is not real. This is a fiction story of a guy having a conversation with his future self. The reason why the future self kept pushing the questions away was because he cannot give much details about himself, if not, he would have changed the his own life. “Time management” refers to managing time disturbances by time traveling. Many of the things I wrote was actually happening in my life. I really like posting it like this because it gives a sense of mystery rather than just a plain rant. Stories like this one are more or less inspired by CS Lewis. His amazing ability to make analogies and share struggles in a fiction book is amazing. Of course this particular story does not have much analogies; it was just an idea. I hope you liked it! 🙂