Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Party that Wasn't

Last night, my parents and I were invited to a cousin's house for a house-warming dinner. It was a small yet nice house - it was a cozy home. I was looking forward to it until more people came in, and they started talking. I felt ... alone because previously, each time I attended a dinner or a function, I was accompanied by my ex-wife. Throughout the dinner, though I have seen many of them before, I remained silent and sat in a corner. Much later, I gathered the courage and managed to talk to another cousin of mine for a while.

Then the elderly aunts and my dad started talking about the family tree. They were curious how we are all related. One of them, Aunt Ruby, who knows my family and I well started taking notes and drawing the family tree. I was curious so I got to the table and watched. She was drawing up my family tree. She asked for my name, and I gave it to her.

"Eh, what's your wife's name? ..." she asked. She knows that I'm divorced. Dad protested: "No need!!" but she insisted that her name should still be in there. Not knowing what to do, I just gave the name to Aunt Ruby, though I felt awkward. Dad still protested but kept quiet after that.

Then a younger cousin whom we have never met started taking photos so that she knows who her relatives are. She called every one she knew last night, who is related to her.

She called my parents and I for a snapshot. "Eh! Your wife?"

I just said: "No", and mom also said: "No wife"...

I couldn't wait for the party to end. It was like waiting for all eternity for the party to end, though eventually I did talk to Aunt Ruby who's talkative as usual.

You know, people are usually so excited about attending gatherings and parties because they know it's gonna be plenty of fun and socialising. I wonder... when am I going to be able to attend parties without feeling alone again. The food was undeniably tasty, better than the ones I ate at some of the wedding dinners I had attended... so the food was the only thing that I looked forward to last night.

A friend whom I recently met said that when she lost her fiance long ago, it took her four years to pick her life up again; it was too traumatic. Her statement freaked me out. Four years is a very long time to suffer, and I wonder if I'd be in the same boat. It's easy for others to tell me ... "Move on, forget about the past" ... but they're not in my situation. They have never felt what it is like to lose someone and stay alone. Even some friends would stay away from us because they don't want to be dragged into sadness... in the end, you have to fight your own battle - I have to do that.

Life is unfair... really unfair. But that's life. It's also just luck and karma that things like this happen. Those who don't believe in karma would say that it's God's work; He has plans for me. No matter what, the pain will continue to linger.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

When is My Turn?

When I browse blogs, I notice that many parents write about their children. You could actually follow their personal development on a regular basis, and how these parents handle situations. In each of these blogs, I see descriptions, photos and even video clips of the happiness that a child brings to the parents.

When I found my ex-classmates whom I've not seen in over 30 years on Facebook, I chatted with them, and they proudly say that they've kids - one even has six of them - and they've a family photo album on display. When they asked me "What about you? How many kids?", I knew what I had to reply. Yeah, of course I've another ex-classmate who's also in the same boat as I am, and there are thousands who live a joyful single life till the end of time, but that's not the focus here.

When I see my brother carrying his child, I see love, peace and joy. I would certainly like to carry my nephew each day but I can't, for he is not my child. It would be a joy to see your child turn, crawl, walk and ultimately talk at different stages of their lives. It is euphoric to hear the first babble and then the call for mommy and daddy.

Each day,  I have a great dream that one day - one fine day - I'll be a father and experience fatherhood like the rest of you. I don't know if I'll be a good father - I've lost a chance to be one. I don't have a clue if I'll ever get a second chance. Maybe better not because I've a bad temperament, and I'm impatient.

When is my turn? Don't ask because there's no answer; don't expect because it is gonna hurt... Only God knows.

But to all parents - new or experienced - out there, be thankful that you have a bundle of joy that was given to you by the Almighty. It doesn't matter if they're michievous, very naughty or throw tantrums every second. That is your gift. After all, they're kids - white sheets of cloth ready for you to paint pictures on them. Educate and treat them with kindness, respect and love; they will reciprocate. Eventually, the picture you get would be a very pretty and memorable one.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Representation of a Plant

I was in the garden this morning. The weather was sunny, and a plant caught my eye. I grabbed my camera and took a close-up shot with it. Well, I used the "Live View" mode and manual focus to capture this interesting shot which I think represents my present life.

Close-up but not close enough. Next time, I'll try using macro.

You see the cute little buds growing? They represent me, my family and others around me. Coincidentally, there are three leaves, too. Each of us will grow, experience new things and then die - just like the plants and any other living beings. Like the three buds on this plant greeting a new day, all of us have something new to experience; in my case, I've to start a new life and hopefully bloom into something nice. With constant water, sunshine, fertilizers and care, I'm sure the buds would grow well. And I will too, with regular positive encouragement, smiles, words of wisdom and love.

We will all grow old, and I do hope that before I'm too old, I'll see new buds again.

"The new beginning...."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Me, the Writer

I love to write. I've written articles to newspaper editors, poems and a real life story which appeared in the Reader's Digest about 8-10 years ago - I was paid US$500 for that. I'm not a good writer; I don't have enough flair for writing a full-blown article or a short story.

Recently, a colleague coaxed me into writing an article in a commemorative magazine for the Peranakan Association of Melaka (PPCM). I was rather reluctant initially as I knew it's gonna take time, but I love sharing what I know about my peranakan culture with others, so when the Secretary of the association approached me one day, I agreed. I was told to write two pages.

Last night, at the 110th Anniversary dinner, the magazine was sold to guests. Writers were also given a token of appreciation for their contribution to the magazine. Here's what was published:

Front of the commemorative magazine

The 2nd and 3rd page of the article

Guess what? I was also given a special token in the form of cash! That was a real surprise to me. This token was presented by the President of the Melaka PPCM. I walked up proudly on stage to receive this gift. I felt like an important person for a fleeting moment under bright lights and with two cameras facing me. It's a darn waste that I didn't bring my camera or else I could blog about the dinner.

"So, you're Kevin, eh? I've heard a lot about you." the president said as he gave a broad smile and shook my hand. Gosh, I really don't know what people have been telling him about me - I hope it's good, or maybe he was just exaggerating, I don't know. My father is a far more prominent person; I've always remained low profile.

"Come more often to the club," he added just before I left. Well PPCM has a club where members entertain themselves with songs, dance and games. Honestly, I don't go there because it's always at night, and I'm not very sociable. Maybe when I retire, I'll think of joining them.

For now, I've to work... and maybe some day continue writing heavier stuff - romance novels, sex tips etc.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Now I Know Who They Were

I've never thought I'd do this, but I did it yesterday. My parents wanted to visit a relative, and I took this opportunity to bring my camera along so that I could take shots of days gone by. I've been to her extra long colonial house since I was a little kid, and I've been intrigue by some of the photos I saw hanging on the plastered walls. The condition of the black and white photos have not changed a bit. I got to know that those are photos of my ancestors, whose relationship to me and names I never knew - or probably have forgotten - till a couple of days ago. Here are the photos:
Great Grandfather
Mr Chua Lip Tay

Great Grandmother
Mrs Ong Him Neo
Great-Great Grandmother
Mrs Lim Heng Neo
Grand Uncles
You'll see a bit of reflection on each photo as I dare not climb a chair or take them down in case something unfortunate happens. These are some of my relative's personal memorabilia not to be seen elsewhere. The photo of my grand uncles was originally taken in 1933 during the Wangkang Festival. Since there was no colour film at that time, each photo was hand-coloured. That's just amazing.
Well, I'm proud to say that I now know who my ancestors are though I still don't know what they did or how they had contributed to the Peranakans or Straits-born community. Maybe one day, I'll find out... yeah, one day.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I'm on a Diet with a Difference

OK, I've to admit it. I'm concerned about my weight - very concerned. Therefore, I'm going on a diet BUT with a difference. I need to stuff myself with food because I'm LOSING weight. Well, the amount of weight loss isn't too great but I'm having trouble putting on my pants because it keeps falling off even with a belt, and there's nothing nice to see behind the pants... I think I need to add between 5-10kg to my current weight to look nice.... hey, wait! Am I vain? No, I'm not. Men wanna look nice too.

I was very scrawny as a teen. When I started work, I put on a bit of weight, but when I came back to Malacca, I lost those hard-earned pounds. It took me years just to gain 4kg!!! Then I got married, and in the three years of marriage, I put on more weight, and the scale almost hit 70kg. from a mere 59kg, which is good to me. That didn't last long, though. Almost immediately after the divorce, I failed to maintain weight. It kept sliding downward. It has been 8 months since it happened, and I'm now down to 64kg. My height is 175 cm., and if the calculation is correct, the weight is still within the normal range.

To some of you, this little weight loss is absolutely nothing to be anxious about (I hope), and I know that stuffing myself with junk food and fast food is not a good way to increase weight. My appetite has been good; so has my ability to sleep. I don't know if it is my work, lack of happiness or something else that has been stopping me from gaining weight again.

I will never be overly depressed with this weight loss, yet I know if it keeps dropping, something must be wrong. Perhaps I need a change of diet... and a wife to cook nutritious home-cooked food for me. Maybe I should just go work in a restaurant instead of teaching. I want to add a little more flesh.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Long Holiday...what to do ah?

The office was deserted today as many Muslim employees have started their Aidil Fitri leave. So I took the opportunity to sneak out of the office early - I hope my boss isn't reading this. I'm not working for the next TEN days - that's right... 10 days of holidays partially because we were forced to take 3 days off. The rest are special holidays and weekends. I'll start work on ... on.... err... well, who cares? I can't remember but I know it's a Monday. So what am I gonna do?

I don't know. Perhaps I'll continue blogging regularly for 10 days, or rejuvenate my interest in photography. My poor Canon DSLR has been gathering dust in the cupboard for months already because I've been busy with classes, and I leave it at my mom's place most of the time... sigh. What a bloody waste of money; there are people who want one, yet they couldn't afford to own one.

How about travelling? Nah, I don't travel alone. It's no fun travelling without someone you love. Somehow, I'm not a lone traveller.

So what am I gonna do for 10 days? If I blog about it, that means I'm doing something; if I don't, that means I'll spend a lot of time sleeping and being a couch potato.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What to Do?

Last night, I prayed for a sunny morning as I wanted to cut the grass. It had been raining; the weather has been unpredictable in recent months. This morning, the sky appeared gloomy but God answered my prayers, the sun shone brightly by 8:00 AM as I was having breakfast at the mamak stall eating my favourite roti canai and drinking fresh cow's milk.

I didn't waste my time getting the grass cutter. As I was cutting the grass, I saw my neighbour. We exchanged greetings.

"Good morning, holiday ah?", the neighbour asked.

"No, I'm on leave - yesterday and today."

"Your wife working?", he said with a smile. He and my ex-wife are colleagues but in different faculties.

I sheepishly replied, "We're separated already."

My neighbour was stumped. "What do you mean separated?"

"We're divorced." Short and straight to the point.

"Ah?? What happened??" he exclaimed. Can't blame his ignorance as he's seldom at home till lately.

I shrugged my shoulders. What more could I answer?

"But... her parents came the other day right?" - he was still in a state of disbelief.

"If recently, those were my parents. If it's long ago, probably hers."

"So now you stay alone?" he asked. Yes, I don't have another woman in my life.

He shook his head. "So sorry..." - and there was a pause. "Sad la," he countinued as he looked at me. "Nowadays, things are different..."

I looked at him. "Yeah..." that's all I could utter. Then he continued with his work. As he turned around, I heard him repeat to himself, "Sad la".

I continued cutting my grass thinking of our conversation.  Each time someone asks me "What happened?" I just could not respond as I'm partially to be blamed too. As the blade of the machine rotated, I kept asking myself why on earth this is happening to me.

After the divorce, I live alone - except on weekends - while my ex-wife lives with her parents every single day about 300 meters away. Other neighbours could testify that I don't bring women home. Strangers have eyes to see that each time I go out, I'm alone unless a colleague wants to have lunch or dinner with me, which very rarely happens. Go ask any pub owner and see if they've ever seen me before. I'm made to look like the state's No.1 criminal... well, maybe I'm a criminal in the making - damn me.

I'm trying to be happy but each time someone asks that question, I'll reminisce and feel sad. I've lost a wife,  I only have me. Each day I pray that I've enough strength to live on, and live with the fact that there will still be questions like "What happened" and "Do you still keep in touch with her?" till it's time to leave this world; it doesn't matter if I remarry or not.

I finished cutting the grass in an hour or so.

"Hello!" the neighbour called again.

He handed me some mangoes. He plants a mango tree in his garden.  He is an Indian, and to the Hindus, mango leaves are hung above the door frame for blessings. I guess he felt sad for me but grateful that he has a family. Perhaps this kind gift also symbolises blessings that Mr. Siva, my neighbour, is passing on to me.

Thanks, Mr Siva. I need all the blessings I can get... and may God bless you and your family too.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Transformers 3 in Production!

I love three types of movies - science fiction (sci-fi), comedy and animated. One of my favourite movies is Transformers. I've watched both series, and you know what? Transformers 3 is now in production, and is expected to be released in July 2011 (seriously), and in 3D. There are lots of fake trailers out there, but they're all very creative. I wonder why Michael Bay doesn't sue YouTube? Well, it's alright - it's for everyone's entertainment I guess :)

Here's a sneak preview of some of the vehicles taken by a bystander who had been waiting for the cars to appear.

This is REAL footage (taken by a bystander)

This is the FAKE but creative trailer

The official trailer is not out yet.

New vehicles, new transformation, new enemies - and hopefully more exciting than the previous ones. In terms of storyline, well ... I wouldn't expect anything to change. It would just be good against evil, and rescueing a skimpily clothed damsel in distress.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bye-bye Students

Do you remember the time when you had a class party at the end of the year to celebrate the completion of you studies, and to move on to the next level? Well, I completed my school years long, long ago. However, today is my last day TEACHING my present students in this campus. After 13 weeks of sweat and challenges, I can finally raise my hand in jubilation that I've taught them in the best way I could.

I thanked my students for being good, and I apologised to them if I've said or done anything wrong. Well, they truly appreciated my gesture. In fact, they were sad to see me leave. I told them I'm not coming back, which is true, because I have been on loan for this semester. I shall be based in Malacca again next semester onward.

"Teacher, am I good?" one student asked.

"No, you're sometimes naughty, sometimes bad." -  I said with a little smile. My international students didn't know what "naughty" meant - poor kids. I must've been a bad teacher.

"Teacher, I like you." - this kid said .. and he has always been the noisiest one in class. Well, that's sweet, thanks. We're talking about 18-19 year old kids who have come from another country to study here. The other group of students are mostly adults from age 19-40 years old, many doing their postgraduate studies.

Surprisingly, I've remained rather calm throughout the 13 weeks despite the teenage students' antics and mischief. With the exception of one or two loud outbursts, things went very well.

Am I gonna miss them? Sigh... yeah I will, but I'm not coming back here. It's just too tiring.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Early Festive Invitation

It is now Ramadhan - the fasting month, and Muslims will celebrate Hari Raya Aidil Fitri at the end of the month. With just over a week away, the mood has already started. Festive songs are played in the administrative office, and paraphernalias linked to this festival have started to appear in towns.

This morning, a cleaner came into my office. She normally comes with another cleaner, and she has always been the quiet and sultry one. However, this morning was different.  She came in first, and as she was sweeping the floor, she said with a cheer: "Raya bawak rumah eh, cikgu? (Come to my house on Hari Raya, teacher)" - I asked her where she lives and so on.  

It was a pleasant surprise to receive this invitation. I doubt I'll go to the cleaner's house as I'm generally a shy person and I would totally stay away from strangers. Nevertheless, her invitation was meaningful to me. Malaysians are generally very hospitable.

I guess ... there's no place like home - with warts and all.