Wednesday, February 23, 2011

No Extraordinary Tale

I was up early to make her chicken ham and cheese sandwiches. She was aghast when she saw them.

"Coach does not allow us to eat bread!" she wailed, "She said she doesn't want to see anyone having bread..."

It was rather early still and the sleep-deprived me found it impossible to be in a pleasant mood.

"That is just plain ridiculous. If she wouldn't let you to eat, ask her to call me. Give her my phone number."

At 1pm, my mobile rang and I saw the coach's name flashing on the screen. My first thought was - that silly girl actually told the coach to call me? She actually did? So, what should I say regarding the no-eating-bread issue? Ought I be blunt and tell her what I really thought? I won't be polite.

I answered the call. A frantic little voice greeted me. It wasn't the coach.

"Coach said I have to have my costume."

"What costume?"

"The pink shirt."

"Where is it?"

"I think it is on the couch..."

Well, yea, it should be on the couch for I remember having had it in the laundry, and they're all still scattered on the couch because I hadn't the time to fold and put them away. I assured her I would bring it to her, and that she should wait for me at the guardhouse.

I found the shirt and rushed out. It was the time of very heavy traffic in the area. Cars were parked and double-parked along the roads, halted at box junctions, trying to squeeze through the tiniest spaces - it was horrible. Some were going in the opposite direction from those of the arrows painted on the road. It was horrible.

I hate traffic congestions just as much as I hate crowds, and normally, I would be extremely irritated that I had to be caught in the midst of one, simply because someone forgot her costume! Normally. I quite surprised myself for being calm - I even chuckled at the thought of how mad my mother would possibly be, had it been her in my shoes then.

It took some effort to get through the horrendous stretch but I got there, at long last. I saw her, sitting on a bench looking small and forlorn, eyes anxiously searching for me. When she finally caught sight of me, she jumped up and ran towards the car. As she got nearer, I saw that her face was tear-streaked. She opened the door on the passenger side and flung herself in, into my embrace. She was sobbing audibly and tears were fast trickling down her flushed cheeks.

I felt so amused. There I was, arrived safely - despite having taken longer than the journey should be - with the shirt she needed, and she had to cry! I knew it wasn't for joy - perhaps she thought I would scold, and so, got the tears ready to counter that. I wanted so much to kiss her, but she was all sweaty and stinking... oh, well.

Perhaps I will scold the next time this happens.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Chapter 23

Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton? - a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! - I have as much soul as you, - and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh; - it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet, equal, as we are!


I offer you my hand, my heart, and a share of all my possessions.


I ask you to pass through life at my side - to be my second self, and best earthly companion. Jane, will you marry me?


You - you strange, you almost unearthly thing! - I love as my own flesh. You - poor and obscure, and small and plain as you are - I entreat to accept me as a husband.


Make my happiness - I will make yours.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Big Eyes

It was the year I would turn 12 years old. I was in the school's percussion band, and we had just received our tailored uniforms. The teacher thought we looked plain wearing just white blouses with blue (or orange, for some) polka-dot skirts, and decided to have us include a headgear. It would be a songkok-like thing, self-made from cardboard with colourful strips of crepe paper pasted onto it. It was very ugly. We, being mere children at the time, might not have expressed our opinions in so many words, but how we felt must had been plainly visible in our facial expressions.

The teacher singled out a girl who was done wearing her headgear and put her in front of everyone.

"Look at her. Look how pretty she is!"

It was a futile effort to convince us that the headgear was "pretty", for the girl herself was lovely beyond normal standards. We knew the difference, children that we were.

That is the first memory I have of her. We were in the same class the following year, and we've been friends ever since.

I've always regarded her as a sort of older sister. She is only several months older, but so much wiser, more mature and much more dependable. Growing up, as Convent girls, we were a crazy, wild and loud bunch who mostly behaved like boys. We hurtled through the days recklessly and sometimes insensibly. She was the one always level-headed in thoughts and action, graceful in gait, and gentle in speech. She made good judgement and sound decisions. She kept her feet firmly grounded, and made sure none of us strayed too far with our heads in the clouds.

Being an exceptionally good listener, she was, and still is, the one we would go to when we're angry, hurt, emotionally-needy, or simply in the mood to bitch, and needed willing ears. Her being understanding, compassionate and supportive makes it so easy for us to just pour our hearts out to her. Even when she is unable to help us resolve our issues, she can ease the heartache just by being there.

She accepts me just as I am, in all my silliness, eccentricity and insane stubbornness. She encourages me in my endeavours, motivates me when I'm down and reprimands me when I am wrong and being obstinate about it. She laughs with me when I'm jovial, comforts me when I'm upset, and joins me in scolding whoever who pissed me off. She is the kind of girl every girl wants for a girlfriend. I am aware of how lucky I am - how lucky we all are - that we have her.

Have I mentioned she's lovely beyond normal standards?

The very selfish part of me is reluctant to let her go. That is extremely irrational, for I know she will be happy, well-loved and well-taken care of.

Here's to wishing my much-loved Big Eyes a blissful married life!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Woeful Wednesday

When bad things happen, they happen all at the same time...

When Bad Thing #1 happened, I was so affected that when someone laughed, I made him take back the laugh! And mind you, he wasn't laughing at me - he was just laughing - like, just laughing. Poor fella.

When Bad Thing #2 happened, my seething rage was so overwhelming it took a lot of effort to remain calm, be professional and contain my contempt. I consider it a triumph that I managed to keep control.

Then, Bad Thing #3, which I feel I could reveal here, happened. My water tumbler had cracked near the cover, and I know not how or when. I lay it down on the front passenger seat in my car on the way home and the next thing I knew, it had leaked so much the seat was all wet. All wet! On top of all the previous bad things! Too damn much! I sent a message to Roomee. I wailed about the whole thing and lamented that I have no idea how to deal with the soggy mess.

She replied:

"Take a dry towel and put it on your wet seat, then sit on it until your butt is all wet."

Thank you, Roomee, for making me laugh. You made this horrible day bearable just by being a small part of it! =)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Every time it happens, I tell myself it is because I had expected too much. If only I hadn't, I wouldn't be let down when things aren't as I thought they ought. Perhaps I never learn, for I really do, so very frequently. As always - what I thought were, never are; what I thought should be, never materialises; what I felt might be, never is; Perhaps I am a poor judge of people and matters, or perhaps I do expect too much too often. Indeed.

Must I then, live without expectations?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Her Fearful Symmetry

This is the second novel of Audrey Niffenegger, known for The Time Traveller's Wife, which I didn't like all that much (read about it here). One would wonder why I bothered buying another book by an author I didn't enjoy reading. Actually, I wondered too. Perhaps I was, at that moment in the bookstore, allured by the brief synopsis given on the back cover of the paperback - it hinted of manipulative schemes, dark secrets and ghosts - it was appealing. My curiosity got the better of me. And, to my own surprise, I found this book very much more palatable than Ms Niffenegger's first. The writing is more refined and elegant, there were no rude nor crude words or phrases, and character development was way more in-depth.

The story is disturbingly simple and empty. Yes, I found it rather empty - as how one would be if I were to turn the past (very eventful) year of my life into a book. Twins Julia and Valentina Poole were bequeathed the estate of an Aunt Elspeth, the twin of their mother's whose existence they never knew. It is then revealed that twins Elspeth and Edie (Julia and Valentina's mother) had not seen nor spoken to each other for 20 years, and implied that they fell out with each other over something no one knows about. In her will, Elspeth insisted that the twins must stay a year in her apartment before they can sell it, and that their parents must not step foot into it, nor have access to her personal papers. Reader, you can tell the mystery is being set - the reader, at this point, feels the promise of the unravelling of what happened between Elspeth and Edie, why the girls must live in the apartment and what the (possibly evil) agenda behind it all is (the reader is, a chapter or two later, informed that Elspeth meant it as an "experiment"). It kept me moving eagerly through nearly the entire novel, and it wasn't until the final few chapters that I realised that the why of the story will remain unanswered. It was a little exasperating for me, to say the least. However, I realised the book is, in a way, beautiful in its story-telling, not in the story itself.

Robert, Elspeth's lover, is depicted as a man of deep passion, both for his partner and his doctorate research into the history of the cemetery at which he works as a guide. His love and devotion for Elspeth has him mourn long after she was gone; his intense fascination with the lives of Highgate Cemetery's resting inhabitants leads his thesis to grow to over a thousand pages long. Martin, who lives in the flat above Elspeth's, is a brilliant crossword-puzzle setter and ancient scripts translator afflicted with the obsessive-compulsive disorder. He is aware of his illness yet is utterly unable to stop himself. Perhaps I might have missed something, having read all 480-plus pages in just 2 days, but these characters do not serve any purpose whatsoever in the aforementioned mystery setting. They are just there - being a part of the story - though I found their portrayals both profound and moving.

I would recommend this read, but Reader, bear in mind you ought not be looking forward to the end - the end doesn't clear all the enigma. Perhaps there isn't really any. Real life's like that sometimes. Just enjoy as you go along.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I Will Protect You

Am badly in need of amusement (yes, writing is amusement to me); and I thought - why not amuse everyone else as well? So here's a story - true story, of course:

It was unusually crowded on the train - given the hour and the direction I was heading. People were pushing against each other, there were barely enough room to stand properly and most passengers were struggling to hang on to their belongings while vying for whatever little space they could get their hands on on the nearest rails, handles or poles. Inactivity - for being caught in such a distasteful circumstance one is effectively incapacitated for pretty much everything - I would usually resort to observing people around me. However, I was feeling so rotten that day I didn't even want to look up. I kept thinking how I would never, NEVER again suffer myself through such journey. EVER again! My sour mood encouraged the angry thoughts which further fed the sourness and I was just silently fuming and enduring and ...

"Ba careful with your chest!"

Someone's voice, raised well above the regular irritating noise generated by idle conversations, caught my attention. Now, the warning itself isn't odd, for it is common knowledge that ladies should all take good care of their chests (and necks, butts, thighs, etc.) in crowded places because... well, because men are stinking, sneaky creatures, so... you know. Out of curiosity, I looked at the source of that warning and saw two young girls. One of them was holding the other's breasts! No, Reader, you did not misread the last sentence. One of the girls was actually cupping the breasts of her friend, albeit in a protective manner, while narrowing her eyes at the men crowded around them.

Now, I have always believed in standing by and protecting my friends, but I must admit I was rather shocked. I've never imagined one could violate one's girlfriend in order to protect her from being violated, and the girlfriend didn't mind one bit! Incredible! I must've stared at the two of them for quite a while. Although it didn't make the rest of the journey more pleasant, it was at least a welcome distraction.

End of story. Sigh... not as amusing as I hoped it'd be for me. Hope it was better for you.