Tuesday, February 14, 2006

OPINION: A Valentine for the brokenhearted

My contributions to this paper have tended to be about terrorist attacks, anti-terror laws, cultural clashes and a host of other controversial topics.

But, as it's Valentine's Day, I was hoping to write on the lighter side of love. Then a friend invited me to join her for a movie.

We arrived at the hip Dendy Cinemas in the trendy suburb of Newtown, grabbed our tickets and plonked ourselves in the comfy seats. My friend then apologised.
Sorry, Irf, I should have told you that this is a movie about homosexual cowboys. I hope that's okay.
Kiwi readers shouldn't be surprised by the apology. We are, after all, talking about Australia, a country that still imports most of its cultural icons from across the Tasman.

Sydney's Sun-Herald reported last week that the acclaimed movie Brokeback Mountain is not being shown at cinemas in some Sydney regions.

It seems that even the presence of Australian (although I wouldn't be surprised if he had some Kiwi blood) actor Heath Ledger isn't enough to convince the film's distributors that some parts of Australia are just too unsophisticated to appreciate the movie.

Knowing of my Muslim background and Anglican schooling perhaps led my Hindu friend to apologise. But the movie did keep me thinking for the next few days.

The film tells the story of two male drovers whose single homosexual encounter at Brokeback Mountain changes their lives.

Despite their conventional marriages and having children, the men relive that encounter at various points in their lives. They develop an emotional bond which they both know cannot be shown in public. You needn't be gay to feel the pain of the half-requited and forbidden love that these men recognise, but where circumstances make it impossible for them to honour that love.

The movie reminded me of the story of Van, a close friend who has moved to San Francisco to work as a commercial lawyer. His was also the story of half-requited forbidden love.

Some years back, he ventured into a high-class Melbourne brothel on a stag night [Kiwinglish for bucks night].

When a sex worker read the name on his credit card she recognised that Van was of the same ethno-religious background as her mother. They both had Vietnamese-Buddhist heritage, although the girl grew up with her English father who spurned Buddhism and kept his children away from their Vietnamese mother's family.

The sex worker took a liking to Van and handed him her phone number. They spoke on the phone several times and she told Van enough information about herself to enable him to use his lawyering skills to great effect. He traced her background and discovered she had been a journalist before she became a sex worker.

He later expressed how he felt upon discovering all this information, saying:
She's the sort of girl I'd have pursued even before she joined the industry. She's had a life before the industry. I know she will leave sex work. Why shouldn't I take her seriously?
After many phone conversations and discreet meetings, my friend was becoming fond of this woman. It seemed she was also fond of him.

However, in her mind, he would never be someone she could introduce to her family or friends, none of whom were aware of her sex work. Why?

Perhaps she felt that Van he had too much power over her. They might have an argument and he might spill the beans to her loved ones.

Perhaps he reminded her too much of her mother's heritage, which was too painful a memory to deal with.

Van persisted, trying to reassure her that she could trust him.

And trust him she did. On several occasions he contacted her through friends and family. He also introduced her to some of his friends. A trust seemed to develop between them.

But in the end, the best Van could get out of her was half-requited love.

He told me that she said: "I'm really fond of you, but I'm not fond of this situation. When I leave this industry I want to leave behind everything associated with it. I'd love to take you with me. I just wish I knew in what way. Maybe as a good friend. I just don't know."

The last time Van spoke to the woman, she told him she was feeling suicidal. It was likely she was suffering from severe depression, which may have led her into the industry in the first place. Depressed people often find it impossible to make decisions or commit themselves to a work timetable. Those entering the world's oldest profession get an income without set hours.

Van never found out what happened to his friend. He spent many months blaming himself for her suicidal behaviour.

Eventually, Van almost succumbed to his own depression and found living in Melbourne too difficult. He sought employment overseas. But he still mentions his feelings towards the woman.

I hope that reading about Van doesn't spoil your Valentine's Day.

Most of us find love in more conventional ways. But as Van's story and Brokeback Mountain powerfully illustrate, unconventional love can be just as real, even if the pressures of society and circumstance don't allow it to be fully requited.

* Irfan Yusuf is a Sydney lawyer. This article was first published in the New Zealand Herald on 14 February 2006.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

Irfan, from reading this post and a few others of yours, i assume that you do have premarital relations and do date. Correct me if iam wrong, but doesnt mainstream Islam prohibit premarital relations?

Irfan said...

I wish I knew how you reached that conclusion. Sounds like the sort of thing one of my judgmental sub-Continental aunties would say.

Anonymous said...

Irfan...

"Knowing of my Muslim background and Anglican schooling perhaps led my Hindu friend to apologise. But the movie did keep me thinking for the next few days."

Is this hindu chick your mother? Irfan do you date your mum?

Anonymous said...

I realise some readers may find this hard to understand but it is possible for a male to go and see a movie with a female without having to sleep with her.

Anonymous said...

99.9999% of women are safe with Irfan. He only dates those 1 in a million women who are are so ugly they are beyond retarded. Think of the ugliest girl you have ever met and shudder - the chances are she is Irfan's type.

Anonymous said...

Irfan fell in love with a prostitute. Happy Valentines Day loser

NotAllRight said...

beautiful peice ifran
its funny how the most tragic of love is the type the sucks us in harder. some form of forbidiness is a real heart burner.

good on you for leaving those nastier comments on the site it says nothin of you just them. i only with they had the courage to say who they were i'm guessing its ralph/david tan/not anon.

Anonymous said...

Healthy white men and women of Australia!. Cast your eyes upon each other and breed! Now is the time to bear white babies to be the vanguard of Australian Nationalism. Heathen muslims are marrying their cousins and creating a race of violent inbred retarded terrorists. This is our country not a country for mud people and crazy muslims. May the best and brightest Australian patriots emerge from your love and union. Death to the muslim terrorists. God Bless Australia!

Anonymous said...

White christian extremeists you people are pathetic. Dont you feel inferior that you people are dependent on the Oil and other natural resources the Muslim/Arab/Middle Easter world provides for you? You people ought to learn some manners and respect before we turn the tap off and see you guys fall back into your dark ages! You are dependant on Arabs/Muslims/Middle Easterns, you would be nothing without their oil, so wake the fuck up and stop your racist comments!!

GoateeCat said...

How about, stop being racist because therein lies the true retarded behaviour.

I don't need oil to be nice to someone perfectly respectable like a muslim.

Vercingetorix said...

Anonymous 9:47 is clearly the dangerous racist here. However, this enemy of our culture sounds articulate and credible because many of the anonymous posts who attempt to defend the Anglo-celt culture are so ridiculous. I must agree with him when he suggests that such posts are pathetic. They do make white people sound like cavemen with money. Use your brains or stay silent. There is a point to be made and a cause to fight for in this undeclared culture war - let the capable warriors do the fighting.

To 9:47 - lets see the look on your face when the USA's plans for alternate fuels kick in and the West doesn't need the Middle East's oil anymore! Did you see the look on the Kuwaiti ambassador's face when Bush announced the plans in the State of the Union address? Fantastic! You do realise that USA is one of the largest oil producers in the world. The only reason they import oil is because they consume 3 billion barrels more than they produce. The reality is, when the USA goes low oil - Islamic nations will be importing US oil. The West will always have the last laugh. The dark ages... it's been a long time for a westie like me... I'll have to go to Iran and refresh my memory. A lot has changed for the West in 1500 years, can't say the same for the Islamic world.

Irfan said...

It's great to see the circus back in town. Sadly, all good circuses must come to an end. I won't be allowing through anymore abusive or irrelevant comments. If you don't like it, try trolling someone else's blog.

TheZionist said...

Ok Irfan. You are the Iranian Ahmedinejad version in Australia. Cant help but censor ay?

Anonymous said...

I'd like two circus tickets to see the fat performing monkey please.

Anonymous said...

Irfan, why do you advise anonymous commenters to joing the NSW Liberal Youth party? Are you jealous because you got SACKED from the party? do you still wish to be a member? you dont deserve to be a liberal. Go join the ALP communist unionist stalinist party.
You are fat. Do you roll to work or drive? I think you roll because you wont fit in your car! hahahahaha you unionist.

Augustus said...

Membership of the NSW Young Liberals used to be something of which to be proud.

As much as I hate to say it, it was a long time ago when Irf was indeed a member and a valuable one at that. Back then there was no hint of his Islamic Fundamentalism.

However, times have changed. The NSW YL's are now controlled by a group of morally and idealogically bankrupt thugs with no real talents beyond branch stacking and vindictive thuggery. God help us if any of them make it into parliament. Irf on the other hand has taken a dramatic turn to the left. Equally as disturbing because of his fabricated media profile.

Something's rotten in the State of New South Wales and the smell is coming from all directions.

Anonymous said...

Moderate Muslims such as Osama bin Laden and Sadam Hussein keep giving their Australian brothers a bad name.

All Muslims must be deported from Australia and Western countries to keep public order.

Anonymous said...

Irfan, you attention seeker, did you put yourself on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irfan_Yusuf

Anonymous said...

Hurry and up kill yourself. You are not a real muslim. It's just your sick way of getting attention like the spoilt fat loser child you have always been.

Anonymous said...

I heard you are suicidal like your mate John Brogden. Are you dead yet? If not why not?

Constantine said...

There has never been a time when membership of the young liberals or the liberal party has been somthing of which to be proud. They have always been a disgrace and always will be.

The only rotten thing that I can see is the slowly decaying body of the liberal party in NSW. If they wish to beat labour at the next election they need to get their house in order, and replace Debnam with someone who actually has shown some leadership.

Anonymous said...

Liberals have a god given right to run this country. Not Labour.

Anonymous said...

Irfan, are you the awaited Messiah of the Muslims, Christians and Jews?

Anonymous said...

In his frequent periods of delusion Irfan may think he is the Messiah but we all know he is just a fat and smelly political blackmailer and thug with the complexion of a turd.

Anonymous said...

The ragheads in Iraq have killed at least 3 imans today. How many more to go? I don't think they are killing imams fast enough. They even killed an Iraqi female journalist. That's a good sign also.

Anonymous said...

Yes. Irfan is the awaited Messiah.

Anonymous said...

Irfan, see how the prime minister and treasurer are making the socio-political environment anti muslims. muzzies are clearly not welcome here. so why are u still hanging around.

Anonymous said...

"so why are u still hanging around"

Irfan can hang all he wants. There are telegraph poles everywhere. Just give the word Irfan and I'll bring enough rope for you and your entire family. And if the rope or the telegraph pole breaks because of your gargantuan weight thats okay - I'll just tie it to back of my car and drag you down the street until you've lost a bit of blubber.

Anonymous said...

It's about time that politicians flogged the muslim camel to get votes. As far as I am concerned the muslim camel should be castrated and it's testicles put into one of Irfans kebabs. Actually the best way to solve the muslim population problem is to legislate that each kebab must contain a muslims testicles.

Anonymous said...

Irfan i saw you in the cronulla riots forum hosted by 60minutes. I could recognise you straight away. You were taking up two seats and I could smell your stink from the other side of the room.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the Australian Nation that was foretold by Pauline Hanson.

Muslims Out!

gravelrash said...

Damn, it must be getting harder and harder to maintain your facades, hey Irf? Hard to continualy fool yourself that this is "your country". Hard to continue the pretence of Islamic suitability in a society that has its roots in Judeo-Christian ethos.Hard to hide your antipathy.
The "cartoon wars" show Islams total lack of understanding, intelligence, rationality;
the complete impossibility of Islam to show restraint. Whatever "credit" Islam had, in societies that extend tolerance, you have exhausted.
The heat is on, the pressure is rising, and "we will decide who comes to this country". Guess who we don't want!

Anonymous said...

Go ahead and burn the australian flag you muslim scum. We will have the last laugh. None of you should ever of been allowed here and you know it. But guess what. We are cottoning on to that fact as well.

Anonymous said...

They should make every muslim re-swear the citizenship pledge. They should be connected to lie detectors and asked about Sharia law and the Australian Flag. Anyone found to be lying should be tapped in the back of the head with a nail gun and if they survive they get deported as well. Thats the way to deal with muslims.

Anonymous said...

God Bless Pauline and Peter Costello and John Howard for telling it how it is. We will never get our suburbs back from muslims but at least less of them will come.

Graham Bell said...

Constantine (at 6;04pm) criticised the Young Liberals. Go on, you weren't even trying.

During the Viet-Nam War, the Young Liberals was a haven for gangplank-dodgers. They were the thousand mile war heroes and super-patriots who made damned sure they never put their lives on the line fighting the Communists in Viet-Nam but were wildly enthusiastic about sending other young Australians off to die in a foreign land. And when Australian Diggers returned from the Viet-Nam War who joined with the Communists, so-called "Labor" and Trendy Lefties to stab our returned Diggers in the back? The sweet little darlings in the Young Liberals, of course.

It took decades to expose the abuse of the Stolen Generations and other similar scandals in Australia; it will take decades to expose that disgrace and treachery by the Young Liberals. Still, we might be able to speed up matters a bit with defamation writs against me. Come on, what are you guys waiting for? Easy target. Heaps of brownie-points just for a few scraps of paper. Have a go; you haven't got a thing to lose, have you?

Anonymous said...

irfan, i thought you had made a decision not to allow anymore anti Muslim/Christian/Jew comments anymore. Whats with the last few comments ay? theyre all antimuslim. What these white australians are forgetting is that they are migrant descendants too. The only people who dont have migrant blood are the indigenous population, every single other soul is migrant. Not get rid of your white chauvinistic agenda and welcome to the New Australia with a 10% nonwhite migrant population. Get the fuck out of the 1950s will you.

Anonymous said...

Every bag of wheat we send to Iraq should contain a muslim.

Anonymous said...

No lebs. No paki. No mussies. Go home. You are not wanted here

Anonymous said...

It was Liberal Minister for Immigration Michael Mackellar and failed Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser who let all the leb muslims in. Typical of leb muslims they were uneducated, often criminal and lazy. Today these same people are still uneducated, criminal and unemployed. Of course not one of them ever voted Liberal in gratitude. That's whats wrong with the Young Liberals - letting in muslims when even the Labour Party would have had the good sense to reject them. Listen to Labor Premier Iemma. He has them in his electorate. No wonder he hates them as well.

Anonymous said...

Leb Sand niggers GO HOME

Anonymous said...

We need a CHristian DDT to kill moslem mozzies.

Anonymous said...

I cannot help but pity the anonymous young liberals who come here and leave silly messages thinking they are smart just because they have learn't to type. Yet given the irrelevance of their dribble, it's obvious they haven't yet learnt to read.

Irf, is there some way you can find out who these people are using the information embedded in their e-mails? if so, perhaps they should be exposed. If the are members of the Young Lib exec, perhaps their stuff can be given to some journalists.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:41
You are a traitor to Australia. You deserve nothing but contempt. Too gutless to leave your own name. You are an example of the worst that Australian society vomits out. There was no point ever giving you any schooling. There are Millions of clever intelligent people who should be living in Australia and instead we got you. Irf is a liar. You are a fool.
- Barry Richardson

Anonymous said...

The big difference between migrants and muslims is simple. There was a general consensus in this country that we should populate with more white people or perish having recently and luckily survived the Japs in WW2. FOr this reason the White Australia policy for 30 years ruled out Lebanese muslims from coming here. No-one was ever asked did we want the worst of the muslim scum of Lebanon to be allowed into this country. Then some Liberals decided they should come. It's about time that the Liberal Party tried to undo some of the incalculable damage it has done.

Anonymous said...

Go home and dont come back (and take the abos with you)