Chapter 010—The Persistence of A Dead Man

Me. Male. Middle-aged. I was going to work one day when I died in a traffic accident right upon impact. My body had already perished, but my spirit remained intact. I followed my corpse into the mortuary, watching my wife, my children, and other family members reduced into tears. Yet, I couldn’t comfort them, and an odd sense of sorrow spread throughout my heart. As the crowd scattered away, I tagged along my wife and children on the way home, silently guarding beside them. My youngest son was only three years old. He didn’t understand how things worked after all, so he carried on with his life swiftly. On the other hand, my wife cried her eyes out day and night, making me very worried about her.

Fortunately, time healed all wounds. My wife went from crying with blood-shot eyes  to meeting her new lover, the dark cloud above her finally lifted. He was a man with good conditions, no bad habits, and took great care of my wife and children. I should have been happy for them. They had found their breadwinner to rely on. Nevertheless, seeing my wife remarry and my dear children calling another man ‘Dad’ made me upset. I cried without tears; too bad my tear glands had been destroyed in that car accident. My wife moved to a new place, and our old home was sold to a stranger I’ve never met before. From this point onwards, my family had given me up completely, whether I was willing to comply or not. 

I sat down in front of my urn. I didn’t exactly time how long I had been blankly sitting there. I watched the guy who visited the neighbouring urn every year turn from a little fellow who waddled his way into a bald middle-aged man with a thick waist.

Probably a few decades? The spirit who lay in the urn next to mine had left ages ago and it never received any of the incense sticks or candles offered by its descendants. Yet, the family had no idea about it. To give thanks to their ancestors, the family brought offerings that were more luxurious every year, leaving everyone and every ghost dumbfounded.

Perhaps, the spirit who used to live next to me saved the nation and its people, and thus deserved to be treated well. I was aware of my own limits, and I knew I had only been an ordinary white-collar worker. I could never compare to him. Still… didn’t I deserve even half an incense? Although I hadn’t been a philanthropist praised by everyone, I had still been a person who did everything for my family and friends. Were my efforts not worth it at all? Nobody had come to visit me for decades. It was like I had never existed in the first place…. Or maybe, there were too many people like me. That’s why I was so unnoticeable, replaced and obliterated anytime.

I left the cemetery and walked around aimlessly. I didn’t need to eat, drink or rest. Neither was I exhausted, nor did I feel alive. Yet, I had the distress of a living person. Joy, anger, sorrow, fear, love, hatred, and desire all revolved around my mind, lingering ever since.

I reached the top of a hill by foot. Beams from the silver moon in the gloomy starry sky created a contrast as sharp as a knife, cutting off the last tensed-up nerve of mine. I turned around and jumped, rolling from the hilltop to the hillside, an endless number of trees and rocks piercing through me along the way. After a while of bewilderment, I ended up next to a pavilion. My ‘body’ wasn’t damaged at all, confusing my mind even more.

Under the pavilion, there were two spirits wearing ancient costumes. They would either recite poetry or sing to each other, not having a care in the world. Seeing me sulk, they tried to strike up a conversation with me.

‘You’re already dead. What more do you have to say?’

‘Your soul’s still here though. Together we can live our lives extravagantly!’

‘I’m not in the mood of living extravagantly! I want to die! I want to die completely! 

‘Silly child! Your body had already perished long ago. Your spirit is simply the regrets you had when you were alive. If you want to “die completely”, then you have to let go of everything you had in your lifetime!’

I blankly stood on the spot.

Let go of everything? Including my life, my love, my hatred? Everything I had was built upon every little thing in the past. Then, didn’t letting go mean letting go of myself? If I did let go, then wouldn’t there be no ‘me’? By fading out of existence could I only die in the truest sense… In the end, as it turned out, I actually didn’t want to let go, and I didn’t want to die…

Up to this day, I still didn’t know how to let go. 

May I ask then, who could break my spirit apart, and let me be free from the pain of persistence?


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