As he flicked through the letters, a small, handwritten envelope caught his attention and his heart began to thump.

Fifteen years is a pretty long time, isn’t it? Yet a sensation struck him like a déjà vu, as if it were just yesterday, as if she were right there — in front of him — staring into his soul with her glistening green eyes, and holding a tiny red velvet envelope in her hand, as if, that day, the lips couldn’t utter what the heart screamed. No words were exchanged as she handed him that ominous envelope and went, only to never return.

A shudder almost paralysed his fingers as he was opening the envelope. Mildew had stolen its sheen but the black paper it encompassed still bore the satanic dark humour of mere four words of rejection.

“Too much, too little.”

Only he knows how those words had lacerated his heart each night as he sleeplessly hunted for answers in that letter.

“How about taking me along in your stroll down the memory lane?”

A familiar voice jolted him out of his thoughts. Ah — Sia! She was the only one sweeter than his solitude.

“Isn’t it flabbergasting?” He said.
She sat down beside him, looking unblinkingly into his eyes.
He went on, “I mean, seriously, this is crazy. This makes me almost pity and mock the human beings, which, ironically, I am too. Oh Jesus, how hapless we Homo sapiens are!

You can’t overeat, even if you love the food before you, for gluttony kills. You can’t eat less, for then you’ll starve to death. You have the wine, but you can’t drink it, so where’s the joy? — but letting this ‘joy’ drench you profusely will only result in an eventual, joyless atrophy of your wellbeing.

They ask you to change, to not rust into obsolescence, and the next moment they acknowledge that the oldest wine triggers the most lasting taste on your buds, that a modern mess stands no chance against a classic elegance.

Loving inordinately causes misery, and so does restraining love within. You shouldn’t trust too much because that’s downright foolery, but trusting too little makes you uselessly suspicious — you’ll never really live that way.

You can’t be too happy, for there’s always an uncertainty, foreboding another series of tears, that’s enough to poison your present moment; yet, you shouldn’t be too sad either, and have faith in the maktub! An excess of openness and vulnerability leads to inevitable hurt, and there has got to be an enigma about you, right? But living cloistered is claustrophobic; you’ve got to be cut open to the hurt, the sick, the stings, the pain of the outside world in order to savour the thing they call life.”

He paused. Sia blinked, kind of flummoxed.

He continued, “See. I told you it’s bewildering. Insane! What is ‘just right’ for me may be too much for someone and too little for someone else. What’s lyricism for me may be obscenity for somebody else! So I ask you, what is the ideal limit for anything? What is just right and just perfect? What isn’t too much, nor too less?

We juxtapose such aberrations and mistake it for life. I’m baffled to think how far we’ve come as a species without, even once, being able to reconcile this paradox of life. And hence, all profound words, all virtuous books, all cerebral jousting are rendered as an utter wordplay, for in the end, it all comes to the struggle between too much and too li…”

A pair of lips shut his. Sia wasn’t the kind of person with the knack or patience to cater to the whims of a writer; and so she simply kissed him with neither a vigour too intense nor a passion too feeble, but love that was just perfect. And as the two friends locked lips, two hearts secretly entwined their strings — not too much nor too little.

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