Regrets : Undelivered Love

In the backdrop story of the movie ‘Cape No. 7′ set in the post WWII era, a Japanese man leaves the Taiwanese girl he loves on her shores. So painful was the departure that he didn’t even have the courage to wave goodbye to her at the harbour… even though he saw her looking out for him anxiously. He supposedly had to leave because the colonial rule of Japan had ended. On the long and cold voyage away from her, he pens seven love letters to her, which for some reason he never sent. They were discovered 60 years later by his daughter after his demise, who tried to mail them to their addressee. What I don’t understand is this – Why did he not send the letters if she meant so much? Why did he choose to nurse 60 years of regrets? Why did he let her down for so long? Is it out of love? Even if so, there should be proper closure instead of suspended emotions. Why should his great love be impeded by great distance? Couldn’t he had bridged the distance? Couldn’t he return some time later, if he was forced to leave then? Did he die with 60 years’ worth of regrets? Was it worth it? He got married (as he had a daughter) – but did he settle for anyone less significant? If not, why did he not destroy the letters?

What did he have to lose by sending the letters? Was it such that he had to set her ‘free’ totally without even a proper farewell? Is that love or cruelty? What kind of cowardly love is this that does not really try to succumb the odds between, that gives up so easily due to changing circumstances? I read the letters translated into Chinese again, after seeing the movie. As one who writes and reads quite a bit, I have to admit that the letters are essentially flowery and foolish. Sounds harsh, but that’s how they are in essence. They ask for forgiveness, but were never sent. They speak of love, but were never delivered. They seem beautiful and romantic at first, narrated to a touching soundtrack… but they are unconveyed and thus pointless confessions. This man’s burden of regrets was passed on to the next generation when the letters fell into the hands of a young couple, who struggled to find the addressee. They did not want to regret not being able to find the girl (now an old woman) the letters were intended for. However, if the writer never sent them for 60 years, why should anyone else deliver them for him? How would this old woman see him finally? As the one who truly loved her? Or as the heartless one who never expressed his feelings in time, who never acted upon them?

Here is a paradox – Life is too short not to express love, though life is also too short to create attachment. But it is possible to love on and on, with attachment that reduces over time, that sets the beloved free. This is true love. Even the Buddha loved Yashodhara (his wife when he was Prince Siddhartha) after his enlightenment, albeit in a spiritually transformed way. He guided her to enlightenment. Lovely! I never really understood why people shy from communicating their honest feelings – especially positive ones. There is nothing to lose – just useless pride. If she mattered so much to him, he should have told her so. If he did not tell her so, she must have not mattered that much? Void of a proper farewell and apology for 60 years, what kind of love is this? The old woman might as well forget about him, and not stir up past regrets of having yearned to be with him. He obviously felt that they were not meant to be. But he also obviously didn’t try hard enough to be with her to decide this is so. He didn’t even send a single letter. Maybe he should had burnt the letters… for the good of all.

Why regret your regrets?
Dissolve them by doing what is ‘appropriate’.
If ‘that’ is inappropriate, dissolve them still –
because that would be only appropriate thing left to do.

– Stonepeace

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