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Nur Imroatun Sholihat

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11 Mar 2024

Even Simply Brushing Clothes with Someone Is Fate

  • March 11, 2024
  • by Nur Imroatun Sholihat

There is a word in Korean, ‘in-yeon’. It means providence or fate… It’s an ‘in-yeon’ even if two strangers walk by each other in the street and their clothes accidentally brush,” – Past Lives (2023)


Recently, there were moments when my mind occasionally wondered about where fate would bring me. Then fatefully, I stumbled upon a movie that eloquently talks about fate namely “Past Lives”, written and directed by the talented Celine Song. In Korean, there exists an expression for providence particularly regarding human connection: “in-yeon”. The narration of the Korean proverb 옷깃만 스쳐도 인연 (“even simply brushing clothes with someone is fate") made me pause the movie and think deeper. It suggests that a seemingly insignificant encounter with someone on the street, when the edges of our clothes brush, is fate. That the presumably minuscule scenes in our lives carry within them the destiny.  And for 2 individuals to eventually marry each other, they have 8.000 layers of in-yeon between them. 


In Islam, we're taught of qadar (divine decree), where even the fall of every single leaf is governed by Allah’s will.


I can write a long essay on how beautiful the movie is—the storyline, cinematography, dialogues, performances, and everything. However, I am here today to specifically talk about my thoughts about fate after watching the award-winning movie. This isn't the first time the concept of “fate” in Korean culture has been discussed and caught my attention. In Reply 1997, the series also delves into its role in human relationships.


Some people believe they are born with an invisible red string tied around their little finger… The string is tied to a person they’re destined to be with. However, it’s hard to find out who is the person at the other end.” – Reply 1997

In Islam, too, we find the notion of predestined connections between individuals. It is said that who we will end up with was inscribed 50.000 years before the earth was created. 

So, my heart should be at ease, right?


Despite the comforting embrace of destiny, an unsettling unease grips my heart. Even within this framework of destiny, where I should find solace, there remains an element of uncertainty I couldn’t help but be worried about. Sometimes I sensed that my paths are not predetermined in their entirety, but rather shaped by the choices I make and the people I encounter along the way. It whispers to me that while fate may guide us, we are, to some degree, the authors of our own stories. 

Hence, I fear I may have avoided a fate that will eventually bring goodness.


What if, in my haste, I've overlooked the subtle signs that guide me toward him? What if that someone has crossed paths with me but I barely register? What if he slipped by, unnoticed? 


What if, in my hesitation, I forfeit the chance for a love?


What if my destined other half is forever beyond my reach?


I am haunted by the possibility of missed connections, of souls meant to intertwine and then destined to remain forever apart instead. 


But also I am afraid that I will give up too early.


Thus, I couldn’t help but think about it over and over while grappling with my own destinies. If there is someone on this earth who is destined for me, why does it feel so impossible to find him? Should I just give up on the idea that somewhere someone is also looking for me? Borrowing Past Lives' analogy: Is there someone out there who shares 8.000 layers of in-yeon with me? Truly, as mused in Reply 1997: If the red string of fate really exists, where will mine end?”.


image source: Henry & Co. via Pexels


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