Until now, I have not found a buyer for my red bike, Peggy.
My remaining five days in Hanoi is a paradoxically snail-paced sprint. The days are shorter that I cannot seem to do everything that I have planned to do while at the same time Friday feels like ten years from now. I’m leaving Hanoi on the 13th of February. I will take a 30-hour train ride from the Vietnamese capital to Ho Chi Minh City where I shall stay for two days before leaving for Manila. Although my friends offered to ask her friends in Saigon to help me find my way around the city, I declined and opted for the more difficult and dangerous task of haggling with taxi drivers for fares and finding a cheap but good accommodation near the airport area.
For now, I am preoccupied with the usual touristy tasks of buying souvenirs, taking pictures with people and places that will take me a long time to meet and see again, and savoring the remaining windy afternoons and wintry nights.
What concerns me, however, is finding Peggy a buyer. I bought her for 2 million dongs, roughly 130 US dollars (June 2008 exchange rate) in my first week in Vietnam. According to my reliable estimate, Peggy, my bike, will peg roughly half the price, but I’m willing to go lower if I find the prospective buyer dependable enough to take care of the red bike that has been with me during the times I explored Hanoi, walked around Hoan Kiem Lake, and moved in a new place in my second month in the city.
I’m getting sentimental again because of the looming sale of Peggy. This, I think, is a result of giving names to inanimate object. The modern world is as paradoxical as time. While it alienates us from other human beings, it creates relationship between entities that used to be unthinkable. These relationships totally redefine our opinions on what truly constitutes a relationship. It is not anymore absurd to be in love with one’s laptop, to be enamored with the television, or to have LQ (lovers’ quarrel) with a car.
Modern gadgets and objects have become and extension of us that we feel like throwing, giving, or selling away a part of us when it’s already time to let go of them. We often fail to remember that after all, they were made not to last forever because of their nature as commodities in a capitalistic economy.
When we look at it, relationships with them are easier to manage and less demanding of our time, presence, attention, and less complex compared with an orthodox human-to-human relation. A mobile phone will not call us in the middle of the night to talk about its breakup with its boyfriend, a car will not complain if we don’t spend time driving it, neither will a laptop stage a tantrum if we don’t upgrade its software.
It is sad, however, how some of us fall into the pit of these artificial relationship; they end up totally severing their ties with the real world and live within the virtual reality provided by some of these gadgets. Or how some of us have gone totally materialistic and mistake worldly love for the material as a non-negotiable need.
That is why I’ll find Peggy a buyer this Tuesday and let someone experience the great feeling I had of how it is to be with such a reliable and dependable friend who once promised to take me to the moon but failed and instead helped me know and comprehend a beautiful but misunderstood city.
And maybe allow Peggy to find another lover who will take care of her better than I did.