Friday, March 16, 2007

a long year

a year ago today my friend kumar was shot and killed in kenya. i don't have any inclination to use other people as my grief mop. that isn't why i am writing this. if you knew kumar, you know what a vacancy he left. if you didn't know kumar, you really missed out. he would be sad he didn't know you too, that he didn't get a chance to go surfing with you, or to play soccer, or to drink too much and sing bad karaoke, or to eat a giant meal and tell you about how great it was in detail. if you are a girl he would be especially sad that he didn't get to meet you.

i had a professor at kansai gaidai who told us at graduation about how he had come to japan as a soldier. he told us that we came to learn and that we had done it the right way. kumar had it the right way. he died because he refused to live his life being scared. he died because he loved the world and had to be a part of it. there is no shame in that. the fact that he is gone is a waste, but his life was anything but wasted.

so, whatever you are doing this week, take some time to do something for kumar. he would be really happy if you went for a surf, or played soccer, or tried to get laid. in any case, get out and do something.

here is the eulogy i gave at his memorial service:

Kumar,
Thank you for being my friend I will never have another one like you and I’ll
miss you everyday.
Thank you for teaching me that you don't have to be bitter to be smart.
That you don't have to be isolated to have integrity.
Thank you for being exactly who you were meant to be every moment of everyday.
Thank you for your endless dedication to the perfect smoothie.
Thank you for single-handedly trying to make the knock-off sleeveless soccer
jersey
the height of fashion.
Thank you for playing the drum on national television at the world cup with the
Senegalese flag painted on your chest and a big doofy hat on, just like me and
Emily knew you would. I think you still have my tape of that.
Speaking of which; thank you for getting your kit off at every imaginable
opportunity.
Thanks for letting me sleep on your floor.
Thanks for talking me into drinking the night before the nobeoka marathon and
then letting me throw up at your house all the next day.
Thank you for me you and Kate in nobeoka.
Thank you for me you and Kate at the aya marathon, you broke out way past me and
gerd and as you doubled back past us at the halfway point, we cheered too, how
could we not(your kit was off again by the way)..I think you came in in 18
minutes.
Thank you for me you and Kate at oura.
Thank you for me you and Kate. Except when you made her cry, you bastard.
Thanks for your ponderous yoga stretches that delayed our entry into the ocean
by something that must total in the hours at this point.
Thank you for kisaki and oura and shojuen and tanegashima.
Thank you for laughing along with me when I fucked up and cheering me on when
I did well.
Thank you for taking the time when you didn't have to. "If the goalies off
his line kick it." "you need to get your hips around more on those corners"
"if it's offshore at kisaki try shojuen" "if nothing's happening that's when
you bust out the beers and get it started!"
people who are really good at things are often terrible at giving advice to
those that aren't. You could do it without being patronizing. You would have
been a great coach.
Thank you for my surfboard and its ridiculous two whales swimming in a
yin-yang sticker which when I sarcastically said, “cool sticker mar-mar" you
responded earnestly “I know huh?"
thank you for; “dude there were three of them"
thank you for, “boom and bag it"
thank you for, “blow blow blow blow” both in the club and in the ocean
thank you for “alllrighhhht"
thank you for "totally"
thank for your laugh which sounded like something popping up from the bottom
of your lungs
thank you for laughing at my jokes, even when they were at your expense
thank you for all the soccer. I don't have to tell you how good you were.
You already know that.
Thank you for yelling, “ed ball!" and me passing it yelling “fuck you Kumar,
I’m not Ed!"
Thank you for the move that will forever be known to me as "the Kumar."
thank you for that night at CUBE when me and you split a tab of ecstasy (both
for the first time) and ended up letting these girls take us to that
underwater bar singing karaoke RUN-DMC and slapping each other 5's 'cause we
were such goddamned superstars-then telling the girls that all the ramen shops
were closed so we had to go back to ours and make pasta. The two of you
quickly disappeared and I got stuck with a boiling pot of water and the
friend. You got laid and passed out and I got to drive the girls home. par
for the course. We spent lunch the next day staring at each other and asking,
"Did that all really happen?" "What if we go back and that bar isn't there?"

Thank you for all the lunches; nobody loves food like your ass. How many
times have I listened to your elaborate descriptions of meals I cared nothing
about? And your sheer excitement and getting to eat...always releasing a
giant cry of “yaaahhh" or some such.

Thank you for introducing me to tomo, saho,kris, rolan, everyone in tanegashima
,and that girl in Tokyo who we went out for drinks with. You said later that you thought she was so cool you couldn’t ask her back to your place…well there’s a first time for everything.

Thank you for playing our first show with us. It seemed to be okay to do
stuff if it was with you, even if you were wearing a big Dashiki the whole time.
Thank you for liking my songs. "I was feeling' it"
Thank you for having your flaws too. You were the worst morning grump ever.
But if I could get you out the door or some coffee in you it was all okay. You
couldn't play the guitar for shit. Your taste in movies was questionable at
best. After you went on a date to xXx, I asked you how it was, "it was like
james bond with skateboards!"

You had four things that you would forsake your friends for; food, sleep, girls or waves. But it was okay because you would forgive the same transgressions.
Thank you for sitting next to me at the Lord of the Rings premiere and
every time there was any reference that could possibly be construed as relating
to weed you let rip with a "allllrighhht" "yehhhh dude"
thank you for smoking a brother out.
thank you for your childlike enthusiasm. The first time you got on Todd’s
skateboard you kept squealing, “it's just like surfing!"
Thank you for getting nervous about the silliest stuff. Like at kisaki,
"everyone is wearing spring suits and I have this full suit on...I just feel
so lame!"
Outside of that stuff thank you for being fearless.
Thank you for you and peter in the mirror for 30 minutes trying to get your
clothes right for the evening. It must have been a trick shirt. It had sleeves.
thank you for the beautiful double meaning in your families naming of your
website "ambassador for peace and love" I don't know if they are aware of how
seriously you took your "ambassador of love title." I suppose you weren't
keeping me up at night- and occasionally waking me up in the morning- with the
racket from your incessant humping downstairs. You were just engaged in some serious trade negotiations. I should have taken minutes.

Thank you for our last day together at Shojuen. Driving to Nichinan, listening to the Pogues. We talked about graduate school and about how you wanted to get serious about peace studies and human rights but you might drop it all for marine biology. Just the two of us and a few guys at shojuen. I got tired and frustrated as usual and went back in, you kept catching everything. When you realized I was on the beach you would throw your arms up and start waving me back out. I guess that is were you will always be for me, “the king of stoke.” It was enough to get me back out .

Thank you for the following conversation:

“is that mail from the half Peruvian stripper”

“no, it’s her twin sister….oh, man. She wants to be friends”

“you know Kumar, you would win life if you could work something out there.”

“yeh, I guess that is something everyone wants to do before they get married.”

Right Kumar, a three-way with half Peruvian/half Japanese twin strippers is just something off the list before you get married. If you are Kumar.

Thanks for trying to talk Chad into splitting the price of a tank of gas for giving you a ride to the airport in my car.

Thank you for the smoked salmon. I’m sorry I didn’t eat it.

Thank you for the funniest Bob Marley impersonation I have ever heard. “True rasta man don’t cut off dem toe.”

Thank you for calling me out of nowhere with the most ridiculous dilemmas and never taking my advice.

Thank you for meeting up with me in Tokyo. We met in Harajuku and you made sure we found a vegetarian restaurant. We wandered around and checked out the bands. We had a drink with that girl and talked about tattoos.

Thank you for the trail mix.

Thank you for covering for me at work. In just two weeks you managed to score one juku teacher and convince all the kids to this day that my name is Kumar.

Thank you for getting drunk at Beat Crap and grabbing me in a big bear hug and saying, “I said, when I met you…’that Wes, he’s a great guy!” All I could think to say was, “really, when we met I thought you were from New Zealand.” What I meant to say was, “That really means a lot coming from you."

At a time when we are told that our heroes should be soldiers, thank you for showing that living for peace can be just as dangerous but far more worthwhile.

Thank you for that time in Tanegashima when we were waiting on a wave and you said, “You ever look at a wave and you can’t catch the wave but you think, ‘man I’m glad I got to look at such a beautiful wave.” John’s response was, “shut up Kumar, no one ever thinks that.” We got a lot of miles out of that one over the years. But now, thinking about all the times we had and all the times we won’t have, I can say that, yes Kumar, I know exactly what it is like to look at a wave and not be able to catch it but thinking, man I’m glad I got to look at such a beautiful wave.

Kumar, Thank you for being my friend, I will never have another one like you and I’ll miss you every day.

1 comment:

susan said...

Hey Wes. I'm thinking of you.

attempting to silence the voices in my head.