Where do I even start with the news this morning (24 Feb 2017)? It involves a murder, a Bible and a proposal. The murderer was Gabriel Lee. His victim was his fiancée, Elsie Lie, a 24-year-old admin officer. At that time, Lee was 42, a security guard.
It's complicated from here onwards. The couple met in April 2011 when Lee was divorcing his wife, a lawyer with 2 kids. Elsie moved in with him two months later and he proposed to her a year later in March 2012 at Genting Highlands.
They then rented a room in Jurong West and believed it was haunted. Lee also suspected that Elsie was possessed. So, he bought her to a Catholic Church for an exorcism. Elsie was made to carry a Bible in her waist pouch.
On 30 March 2012, everything unravelled in the flat. At 6 pm, a neighbor heard a male voice shouting, "Go back! Go back to the sky!" Their flat mate said the couple had been in the kitchen toilet for three hours and when they came out Elsie looked pale and weak.
They went into their room after that and the main tenant called the police at 11:10 pm "when loud groaning noises were heard." The police came and Lee assured them Elsie was weak because of a recent abortion.
The next morning at 6:40 am, a paramedic was called. In the room, he saw a topless Elsie covered in blood, lying face-up on top of a naked Lee beneath her. By then, Lee had already gouged out Elsie's eyes and threw them out of the window.
And when the police arrived, they found Lee "kneeling next to the body, groaning and chanting while holding a yellow object that resembled a cross."
The gruesome find included "a few bent spoons and a fork" entwined in Elsie's hair, "a slice of her windpipe", "her eyeballs and clumps of hair" at the foot of the block, and the autopsy revealed "a gaping 12 cm wound across her neck" and "her ankle had been cut to the bone."
Lee was sentenced to 10 years for culpable homicide instead of murder due to a psychiatric report, which found him to suffer from a "brief psychotic disorder at the time of the killing."
Probably in 2 to 3 years time, Lee will be out as he has been in remand since 2012. His brother, a surgeon, promised to supervise him after his release.
Lee's lawyer Sunil Sudheesan told the Court that his client "came from a "strong Catholic background" and has believed in ghosts and spiritual possession since he was a child."
He added that "he killed a lady that he loved, that is punishment for him emotionally... this is a heartbroken man who deserves one chance."
Lesson? I have none. Not one.
When Elsie's mother heard the sentence, she was inconsolable. She cried, "my daughter died so horribly...Ten years for a life, it is not fair."
As a personal lament (which is never meant to disguise as a lesson here), I have stopped believing that the world is fair long time ago.
The demand for fairness is an emotional response to an experience, however traumatic it could be. And most time, it is a personal grief one has to confront in order to find some closure, if that's possible.
Between fairness and redemption, I choose redemption. Between justice and resilience, I choose resilience. And between hope and action, I choose action, that is, to act in the direction of hope instead of to just hope for the best.
Ironically, it was partly hope that things cannot be that bad during the brutal reign of the Third Reich that led many to their death. Their resistance was weakened by their misplaced faith in humanity at a time when self-preservation and self-advancement ruled with an iron grip.
Over the years, I have jettisoned many easy answers to humanity's problems out of the window. I have abandoned organized religion as the universal panacea, the notion that love costs little or nothing, the idea that faith means prosperity and unconditional blessings, that suffering is to be avoided for happiness, that all people come to their senses eventually (most do, but definitely not all), and that fairness is one's birthright.
No, I am not hardened by those abandonment. On the contrary, I am more down-to-earth, less flighty and infinitely less naive. In fact, I treasure things more, not taking them for granted.
Let me end with what Elsie's brother said. He said his family had hoped for life imprisonment. He said "his mother gets even more emotional when his sister's birthday and death anniversary come round."
And yes, the other thing that I had abandoned completely is to believe that you will fully recover, eventually, from some trauma. Most don't. And not because they can't or don't want to. But because they rather choose to grow from it, that is, grow together with the scars.
For deeper the pain, the deeper the roots. And deeper the roots, the stronger and taller the tree. Now, that's one thing I will keep in my heart for the rest of my life. Cheerz.