Thursday, October 30, 2008

His (Love) Story

Something I wrote a very long time ago, recently edited...

* * * * *

I was particularly happy yet not completely happy that day. I was happy because a friend had offered to give me a ride back to my hometown, which was three hours’ drive away. I hadn’t been home for quite some time, and was eager. Yet, there was a feeling of emptiness in me that I could not explain. It was strange, odd, weird. It was like I was missing something - or someone.

My friend dropped me off at the university campus which we'd moved out of some months before, which was still about an hour's drive from my home.

“It’s okay,” my dad said, “Just give me a call when you have reached, and I will go pick you up.”

“Call you only when I get there?”

“Of course! How else would I know you have reached?”

“But it will take you an hour!” I said.

“I am sure you can amuse yourself for an hour.” was his reply.

And so, I had an hour for which to amuse myself. Slinging my bag over my shoulders, I walked towards an academic building - let's call it Block A. There was a computer lab inside this building meant only for the Business Major students, let's call it Lab A. I used not to care about the fact that I was an Engineering Major, and used the lab at my own free will. And I was not about to bother about the fact that I was no longer a student of that campus.

I went into the Block A and it was pretty much the same as it was when I saw it last. Lab A was also as it was - glass windows and glass doors. One could see all that was in the lab just by standing outside of it. The lab was rather fully occupied and there were no available computers as far as my eyes could see. Well, that wasn’t the only lab on campus, I decided, I can always go to another.

Walking out of the building, I sighed, and my thoughts involuntarily went to her. Her, to whom my heart inclined, yet kept silent and distant. I saw her in my infatuated mind - her flawless complexion, rosy lips and sparkling eyes; her sweet smile, melodious voice and graceful gestures. I walked, I believed, dreamily out of Block A and headed towards another academic building, let's call it Block B. This building housed several other labs, meant for the Engineering Majors.

Thinking of her, I went into the building. Still thinking of her, I pressed for the elevator. The elevator came and I stepped into it, thinking of her. I reached a computer lab and found an available computer, drowning in thoughts of her. Like a clockwork, I logged on to an instant messenger service program as soon as I sat down. The list of my contacts appeared and to my utmost surprise, she was right there - online! I blinked - she was still there! I pinched myself a couple of times to make sure I was fully conscious and not dreaming.

Quickly, I sent her a message. The reply was almost immediate. I had to pinch myself again to double confirm I was not dreaming. Where was she? What was she doing? She told me she was in the campus where I was. My heart skipped a beat. The reader may think that that was just a figure of speech, but no - my heart really skipped a beat. I felt it, I'm sure! She told me she was in Lab A. Now, I didn’t see her when I was there earlier. Or did I? I could not trust my senses nor my short-term memory anymore. I was too overwhelmed!

I logged out. I had to look for her or I wouldn’t be able to sleep that night - or ever sleep again, perhaps! I rushed out of the lab and tripped over myself down the stairs - no time to waste on waiting for elevators! I got out of Block B at twice, maybe thrice, the speed I got in, and headed towards Block A. Nearing it, I consciously slowed down, calmed my breathing and wore what I hope was a devil-may-care look. I could not let her see that I was anxious to find her. I could not let her see the admiration and desperation in my eyes. Not just yet.

Lab A still looked fully occupied from the outside. I strained my eyes painfully, and searched frantically for her, but to no avail. I took a deep breath, straightened my hair and sauntered into the lab as carelessly as I could manage. My eyes scanned every face in the room. She was not there. Disappointment crushed me such that if I were not a man, I would had wept!

I turned and walked out of the lab, head drooping, eyes cast down. “One more look! Just one more!” my heart screamed. I shook my head involuntarily. “Just once more!” my heart implored. “One more look!”

Biting my lip, I turned around and there she was - looking straight back at me. I jumped with the most joyous shock I'd ever known! My heart gladly skipped another beat! I was speechless, motionless; my throat was dry, my senses numb. She was much more composed - for she smiled first, and then came towards me. We greeted each other - but I was not entirely sure of what I said. My heart thumped so hard I thought she might hear it.

I asked her how she was going home, and a sickening thought came to me - since I hadn't a car at that time, I wouldn’t had been able to give her a ride eitherway!

“I am driving,” she said.

“What about dinner?” slipped before I could stop myself, to my horror. “I mean - have you taken your dinner?”

She smiled. Oh, what a lovely, bashful smile! My heart melted before it could skip more beats.

“Yes. Took it when I first reached.”

In that moment of desperation, I almost urged her to eat a second time, with me! Thank my still sane mind that I didn't! Moments later, she took a look at her watch and made a comment on how late it was already. I realised then, that my dad too, would had reached by then. But I was so reluctant to take leave of her.

“I think I’d better go now,” she said.

It tore me to pieces, but I wished her farewell, a safe journey and other things an ardent admirer would say to his ardently admired, without directly betraying the way he felt. Then, she was gone.

I walked as if in a trance to the main gate. A familiar-looking car with a familiar-looking man in the driver's seat was there, waiting. Oh, it was my dad. I hastened my steps.

“What held you? I had been waiting for at least ten minutes!” he complained.

“Ten minutes isn’t a lot,” I replied.

“Well, considering that I was slowed down by fifteen minutes due to heavy traffic on the way, you were pretty unpunctual!”

“Sorry, dad,” I said to pacify him. I know I wasn't really sorry, because if she did not say she wanted to go, I was sure that I would happily had left my dad waiting, rather than be parted from her!

* * * * *

Thank you for reading :)

Friday, October 24, 2008

True Tales for Halloween

There were 4 of us sharing the master-bedroom, which had two bunk beds in it. 1 was shared by me and E - she on the upper-bunk, me on the lower. The other was shared by CS and Aunty S. Fresh out of secondary school, I still had the habit of going to sleep early each night, and waking up at 4 or 5 am to study. As I was accustomed to do, I would set my alarm to go off at the time I intended to wake up, but would then silence it and snooze for an additional 20 - 30 minutes.

That morning, my alarm went off at 5am. It was still dark - I got up groggily, and reached out for the alarm clock kept under my bed. The clock was purposely placed out of the usual range of my arms, so that I would have to somehow be awake enough to stretch a considerable amount of my upper body out of bed to get to it. As I stopped the ringing, I turned my face up - perhaps coincidentally, perhaps by instinct - and saw E; the dark outline of her head and shoulders stretched out of the side of her bunk, presumably staring at me. I thought, my alarm clock must had woken her as well. I flashed her an apologetic smile, and went on to snooze as usual.

I must had been really tired that day, because when next I opened my eyes, it was light - probably around 8am already. And E was sleeping cozily on the wooden floor, her head comfortably on her gigantic fluffy pillow. It didn't surprise me because it wasn't the first time E had moved onto the floor in the middle of the night - she always did so when it got too warm or stuffy in the room. I got up, followed by the others shortly. I told E I was sorry that my alarm clock woke her up earlier that morning.

"No, it didn't" she said.

But it did! I saw her up and looking at me from her bunk. Then, she woke up and went down to continue sleeping on the floor!

"No, I was sleeping on the floor since last night. I didn't sleep in my bed at all." she said.

I was struck speechless. Don't tease me, I said.

"She was sleeping on the floor since last night." CS confirmed.

No, I wasn't dreaming. I was wide awake, and I saw "her" looking back at me from her bunk! I saw... oh gosh, what did I see?!

(Note: I would like to ask the reader to share any experiences of similar nature through the comment feature. I would like to see how many we can gather by Halloween!)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ode To An Insect, Drowned In Gravy

O, cruel Fate -
Which granted thee such untimely death;
Hapless in thy flight
Thou fell into my plate,
And there in my reluctant sight
Thou struggled in the liquid for each breath;
As I watch thy every convulsion
I thought -
What good riddance!


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Beg You

I flipped open the cover page and there it was, at the top of the page:

Plz Sir/Madm let me pass. Plz just let me pass is enough. I've study hard but still could't perform. I don't want to be terminated this sem. Let me continue. Plz sir let me pass.

At the bottom of the same page:

Sir/Mad., this is my second attempt. I need sympathy from u. Plz let me pass. Plz let me pass plz.

At the bottom of the next page:

I beg u from my heart. Plz let me pass. Plz.

And the next:

Plz. Plz. let me pass.

At the top of the last page:

Plz sir/mad plz let me pass. It is my second time i take this subject. I study hard but I still not satisfied and sure with my answer. I beg u. I just want to pass. Plz let me pass this subject.

OK, dear boy. I will do my best :)

(disclaimer: I do not mean to mock the poor fella. If anyone feels that this post is unethical, kindly email me and I will remove it)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tales II

#1 Tale from the Dojo
There we were, in 2 rows. The first, the attacker, and the other, the being attacked. And there she was - short-haired, slim, wearing a black belt - holding her fists in position, staring into my eyes. Focus, do not tremble, and go - aim at her jaw, look back into her eyes, and another aim at her middle. She moved fast - darted back, swerved to the side, and arghhh... what's that pain on the right side of my abdomen?! Her fist made contact! She retracted, and signalled me to go on. I lunged again - and again she made contact in her counter-attack! My poor side was throbbing with every breath I took. Keep breathing, I told myself, hang on - you'll reach the end of the room soon enough. And we did. But then we had to repeat the sets, reversed roles, back to where we started, and then again, and again! I lost count of the number of punches I sustained - but somehow, my right side was throbbing a little more than the left side. I'm guessing Ms Black Belt is a right-hander.

#2 Tale from the Exam Hall
It was a paper compulsory to be taken by foreign students, and the hall was full of them. It was quite an experience as I'd never encountered international students in such a large number before. They were very different from the local nerds, most notably, in terms of dress and decorum. Some were in formal shirts and slacks, others in T-shirts and short pants. One had a massive head of hair, bigger than Einstein's, several others had hair fully braided. One girl dressed like she was going to a rap concert while another put on 3 inches of make-up and enough perfume so I could smell her from 5 tables away. The worst (some may think on the contrary) was the girl who wore no bra - she bent forward right in front of me to fill up a form, and... I do not think further illustration with words is necessary.

#3 Tale from the Disillusioned
That which you thought were, weren't. That which you thought you saw, was a figment of your imagination. That which you believed was true, became convincingly not with every passing second, as you slowly regained your sensibility. You were certain you had been a fool, and then you weren't. But, surely only fools would've fallen for such a ploy - if indeed it was a ploy. But what if it wasn't, what if it really was sincerity - your thoughts went along the rosy what-ifs for a while, and then you realised - you were a fool all over again. You waited, though you knew it would be in vain - but still you waited, yearning, hoping, breaking your heart. A hopeless romantic, a foolish idealist, drowned in self-imagined indulgence and wishful-thinking - you were lost, and found, and lost, and found again, but lost yet again...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


#1 Tale of the Bean Sprouts
Music notes are known to look like taugeh (bean sprouts) for one who doesn't know how to read them, or one who hadn't been looking at them for a loooong time. I am the latter. Recently, I stumbled across a simple-looking score for piano solo of a piece of music I really liked, and decided I'd try it. I thought, how hard it could be - it looked like a Grade 3 piece at most. It wasn't until I actually sat down at a piano with it that I realised how much the notes look like taugeh to me. Being at Grade -1 that I am now, it took me several seconds to determine what note I was looking at, and several more to match it to correct the key on the piano. It was hard enough hitting the right keys, but then my fingers kept getting entangled amongst each other. It took me a whole hour of practice just to play the first 8 bars brokenly. At the end of the hour, I had to stop because my right wrist was cramping badly, and my neck and shoulders stiff. Oh boy!

#2 Tale of being Passed Around
It is quite amusing that the system here requires that I obtain authorization to perform a task that is mandatory to every person in the same capacity that I am in. It is even more amusing that when I first joined, I was not informed of these many systems and their funny, petty "requirements". A couple of days ago I sent a request through the system, to get myself authorized to perform my task. To make the long story short, I made a mistake in that request, and had to get it reverted so I could make a new one. I had to call the fella supposedly in charge several times before she answered, and when she did, told me to email her. I did. Several hours later, she forwarded my request to someone (I was in the 'cc' list), and 1 day later, that someone forwarded it to someone else, and that someone else forwarded it to yet another person. 2 days later, the other person finally replied with the news that my request had been reverted and that now I can make a new one. Pheeeewwww.

#3 Tale of the Stacks
They were big and there were so many! They were divided into two halves and carried by hand through a roughly 10-min walk. When I finally put them down on my table, my arms were trembling and drained of strength. And these stacks have to be done with within a certain deadline, and they will be the reason there may not be anymore tales from me for the next couple of weeks or so...

Well, not that I actually write tales that often, but still...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October Babies

I once wrote a piece on my typical day in university - from waking up in the morning to getting to class, and about the people I met and saw on the way, using purely descriptions, without any names. (I really ought to publish that piece here!) Now, 7 years ahead, reading back - I have no idea who half of those described were. I take it as a sign that I'd failed myself terribly. I hope the same isn't going to happen with this post.

There are so many of you (of us, I mean...) - the October babies!

Nos 1, 2, 3 - I cannot remember much of birthdays and such before the early teenage years, but as far as my memory stretched, the 3 of us had always celebrated our birthdays together within the month of October. We used to have parties, sleepovers, and even (sometimes nasty) tricks (I wrote about 1 such here). But as we grew up and grew physically apart, the combined celebrations were not always achievable anymore. It is, sadly inevitable, but we'll be having one soon. Real soon now!

He is one of the first persons I knew outside my school gang to be an October baby. Ever since I knew his birthdate, 10+ years ago, I'd always sent him a greeting card. Every year. A real, tangible card that had to be posted through Pos Malaysia. And he never sent me anything in return. I think I ought not to send him anything this year, especially since he hadn't been behaving well lately.

He was the formidable figure of the club, the president, the one whom I was quite afraid of. When he wasn't smiling, it seemed to me he constantly had this dark expression on his face. It took quite some getting to know him to dissipate the fear I had of him from first impression. But once that was done, it was easy to see that he is really a funny, friendly, very likeable guy.

She was my roommate when I first entered university. She was really special because up till I met her, I only spoke Mandarin with my own family, and English with everyone else. She was in fact, the first person in my adult life with whom I communicated with in my so-called mother tongue. There were others after that, but she is the first! We were not very good for each other academically - when she woke up in the mornings and saw that I was still sleeping, she'd go right back to sleep; when I came back from class, I'd go straight to sleep if she happened to be taking an afternoon nap; if one of us saw the other studying, we'd strike up a conversation that lasted till it was time to go to sleep... (yea, we slept a lot!)

He is the guy who taught us the art of skipping classes! Our friendship is a little different from the usual because, in some weird way, it may be said to had started from the previous generation - my father and his father were classmates in their younger days. We clicked well, I remember, and were rather close, up to the point he got himself a girlfriend (yes, laugh if you must). Don't ask how we are now that he has a wife. I hope he is aware that I still exist.

He is my favourite - a Halloween baby! I first met him during our university's orientation week, when queuing for food. Back in those days, even though there wasn't any rule saying that the boys and the girls must form different lines, somehow the students simply did it. On that fateful afternoon, the "girl-queue" was very long whereas there were only a few guys in the "boy-queue". A girlfriend and I decided to break conventionality and joined the guys in their shorter line - and that was when I met him. Thereafter, I was told recently, I was frequently seen stuck to him around campus (which, I assure you, isn't true).

He is one of the latest addition to my list of October babies. He is known for his animated story-telling, his many stories, his voice, his love for singing, and now, his new-found passion for work. *ahem*

There are still others (but the post is getting long and it's getting late and I'm tired...) - Mrs L, the one who does disappearing kata, the twins, the Ipoh beauty, the fat one...

I know this post meant nothing to most of you reading it. But here's wishing a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY to all the October babies! Many happy returns :)