Ian Dory, rock climber and ninja veteran, starts his daughter young on a climbing wall.
Some parents plop their kids on a piano stool pre-preschool; others are taught to serve shuttlecocks before their first solid meal. Where I’m from? My parents shove literary material into our tiny hands during potty time.
If there is one word synonym to the Lee Family name, it’s books.
Below are several points that epitomise the Lees’ relationship with wordy tomes:
In my early years, money was tight. A family has got to eat, but we spent the bare minimum on food. 50 cents curry puffs? No. An extra t-shirt? Absolutely not.
Books? Splash away!
“Never stinge on books” was my father’s motto.
Most of us have longer relationships with some books than we do any romantic partner. Off my head, I name the Christy Millerseries my bible and greatest influencer.
If the Vulcan greeting is “live long and prosper”, the Lee greeting is “what’cya reading?”
Books take precedence over human beings. If there is one remaining empty seat in the car, the books ride. Human being, take the bus. True story.
It’s your birthday! Now, predict your birthday gift. Is it a book? Or is it, gasp, two books?!
A looming school exam calls for a sanction on leisure reading.
Score well in said school exams, and you will be rewarded with… wait for it… books!
Book fairs are a big deal. Every minute there is precious. Therefore, we gorge an enormous breakfast to prep. The last thing we need is to sacrifice book time for lunch!
We had strong opinions that MPH bookstore wrap their books to prevent browsers. How to read now?! What kind of rubbish policy is this?!!
P.S: Dear MPH, it wasn’t this way before. You changed.
P.P.S: Thank you, MPH staff, for entertaining my constant bugging.
P.P.P.S: Also, I apologise for the wasted plastic.
P.P.P.P.S: Here’s an idea to save the environment: don’t wrap your books.
Running, cooking, throwing a punch, how to tail a suspicious looking character down a busy street- we learnt it from a book.
Our default meeting place in church or at the mall is the library or bookstore.
You are severely judged for your choice in genre.
P.S: I stand by the institution of Chick Lit.
Very often, the government’s tax exemption limit for books is insufficient to cover our total literary cost.
By age 9, I knew that my father’s “5 minutes only” before disappearing into a bookstore really meant “2 hours. Minimum”.
The way to a Lee’s heart is …
Fun note: My best friend practically lives in a library, I’m talking about her room. She eventually earned first class honours in english literature, and currently makes a living (a lot of money!) writing propaganda statements to cover screw ups (although she might disagree with my definition of her job).
I was reading the news… fine, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and learned that my friend is engaged. Here’s the best part, she proposed!
Darn straight. Welcome, 21st century female empowerment! Why give the guy a chance to mess up the proposal? Also, screw social norms.
The post evoked a chain reaction, and induced a burning question: how would’ve I propose to my husband?
After careful though, I drew up 3 potential proposal (pun intended!) strategies, hopefully each ending with a “yes!”.
THE ONE WITH THE LEGO
On his birthday (need an excuse for the exaggerated set-up), I’ll lure him into the dining room of my condo. The lights are dimmed, because he digs yellow lighting (something about “ambience”). John Legend’s All Of Me is playing in the background, probably on some cheap speaker I snagged somewhere.
The dining table is empty, except for 2 huge gift-wrapped boxes. I sit him down.
“Open this, baby.” I say, inching box number 1 forward.
He tears the wrapper off, face (hopefully) dripping with anticipation.
Underneath is a box of lego- the one he’s been lusting after (one of the many on his list).
Hopefully he’s smitten. It’s hard to tell with boys. One moment they promise you the stars, next they camp in front of a laptop screaming “cover me! cover me!” as if you don’t exist.
Of course he’s eyeing the next box. “This is for you too, baby.” I gesture at the neatly wrapped box. It’s bigger than the other, he notes.
He tears through the paper once again, to find… a plain cardboard box?
He shoots me a puzzled look.
“Go ahead, open the box,” I nudge him.
Inside, lies a huge lego board. On it, arranged with lego blocks are the words: MARRY ME?
At this point of time, I whip out a lego ring, and go down on one knee.
With the best doe-eye look one can muster, I form the words, “we are like two compatible lego bricks, perfect together. I love you, will you marry me?”
THE ONE WITH STAR WARS
Also on his birthday (again, can’t have him suspicious), I bake him a Star Wars themed cake, garnished with an X-wing plane- one of the more aerodynamically-logical aircraft in Star Wars.
I’m dressed as a rebel pilot- probably a Taobao enabled purchase.
This time I balance the cake in both hands. I approach him while (probably) singing an off tune version of Happy Birthday.
After his hearing recovers from my singing and he blows the candles, I say, “look under the X-wing, baby.”
He reaches under the sugar laden cream with one sweeping finger motion, his expression quizzical, till he hits solid.
He pulls out a silver ring with the rebel emblem. Of course its covered in sugary goodness, but I don’t care.
I pry the ring out of his hands, and drop to one knee, thank goodness for the jumpsuit and its knee-abrasion-prevention properties.
“Amazing, you are. In love with you, I am. Marry me, will you?” I pose.
P.S.: A Princess Leiah outfit is not an option due to the impossibility of anatomy accuracy.
THE ONE WITH THE NOTE
“Hey dude!” I call over the thundering roar of whatever game he’s playing.
“For you,” I say, and thrust an envelope into his hands.
He pauses his game… just joking, he never pauses his game.
During his next toilet break, his curiosity gets the better of him. So he rips the envelope open.
There’s a piece of paper and a solid object in the envelope. He turns the stationary upside down, and something hard and metallic drops out with a ping on the floor.
He bends over to retrieve the mystery object to find, to his amazement, a gear ring (his friend got her man one, and he’s been fancying it since).
He glance at the paper in his hand and reads out loud:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue;
Can’t wait to have sex,
So marry me, will you?
Should he say yes, I present him a neatly wrapped box. In it is lingerie, and a note: “to supplement your wedding gift.”
P.S.: 50% of this piece was written at 34,000 feet above MSL, the remainder in a hungover blaze.
What’s Christmas? What are the elements of Christmas? Here, I break down my understanding of the season of noels- a point in every letter.
C – carols
Nothing charge endorphins like that of Christmas carols over blasting Bose speakers
H – holiday
“Holiday” is not dictated by one’s employer. “Holiday” is a state of mind. My company can steal my Christmas, but they can NOT steal my Christmas spirit.
R – run for no man’s land
My liver’s endeavour this season of giving.
I – intense humidity
No eggnog, roasting chestnuts, evergreen spruces, or falling snow. But we Malaysians have our heat. I’m dreaming of a humid Christmas.
S – Santa Claus
Apocryphal fable. Unless you subscribe to the logic of a speeding sleigh at 650 miles per hour, which is 3000 times the speed of sound or 23 times the speed of a Ulysses space probe (the fastest man made vehicle).
T – tree
If I say my plastic tree branch, erected in a juice bottle, garnished with earrings, is a Christmas tree, then the heck it is.
M – mistletoe
Where can I find one? To felicitously embellish my make-out hut, aka couch potato haven (my sofa).
A – aliment
Nosh that consist of the main Christmas food groups- fats, sugar, cholesterol and alcohol.
S – Son of Man
No, Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th (try June-ish, or so the experts say).
So we celebrate His generic birthday. But is HE generic too? I mean, I rant about the unsubstantiality of Santa Claus (refer to point “S”); but am I hypocritically celebrating another fictional character?
Rather than indulge the emotional whirlwind many Christians spiral into, I decided I like facts.
Here goes, although He wasn’t born amongst mistletoes and falling snow, non biblical data suggest that Jesus existed. (Because of course the bible is bias in this context- every rationalisation should begin from a plane of congruous underlying assumptions).
“Nero fastened the guilt … on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of … Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome….”
Wrote Roman historian Tacitus on Emperor Nero’s bid to “tai chi” blame to the Christians for the engulfing fire that ruined Rome in A.D. 64.
The “extreme penalty” of “Christus” is believed to be Jesus’ crucifixion during the reign of Pontius Pilatus; and “mischievous superstition checked”- His resurection.
I like the use of “mischievous superstition”. I have a mischievous superstition about drivers who switch lanes without using the turn signal.
“They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food – but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.”
This could be a slight stretch, or perhaps its gravity is lost in english translation. You be the judge.
In a letter from Pliny the Younger to Emperor Trajan, he wrote about the Christians, seeking advice on how they should be dealt with legally.
He mentions their worship to Christ, “as a god”. Historians believe the expressed message is, “they worship this man as if he were a god”, which indicates the actual blood-and-flesh existence of a man named Jesus Christ.
Of course, “as a god” could hold other meanings. But I’m inclined towards the man-God theory.
“About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he … wrought surprising feats…. He was the Christ. When Pilate …condemned him to be crucified, those who had . . . come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared … restored to life…. And the tribe of Christians … has … not disappeared.”
Jewish historian, Josephus wrote in his book, Jewish Antiquities, a portion called Testimonium Flavianum. There are conflicting views on this passage. Because of its tune, some scholars think a Christian edited it. But even after disregarding the chilli sauce and pepper, the skeleton remains- that there lived a man named Jesus. (Remember that our question under focus here is did Jesus truly exist, discounting the accompanying theologies)
“Being therefore this kind of person… Ananus, thinking that he had a favorable opportunity because Festus had died and Albinus was still on his way, called a meeting… of judges and brought into it the brother of Jesus-who-is-called-Messiah … James by name, and some others. He made the accusation that they had transgressed the law, and he handed them over to be stoned.”
Another portion of Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities mentions Jesus. The focus of this passage is not Jesus, though, but His brother, James.
During that time, there were like, a million men named James. To specify the James in question, Josephus relates him to Jesus. But since there were 2 million Jesus’ at the time, he goes one step further, and labels Him “Jesus-who-is-called-Messiah”- synonym to the Jesus of the bible.
“On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald … cried, “He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy.”
The Babylonian Talmud is a collection of Jewish rabbinical writings compiled approximately between A.D. 70-500.
“Yeshu” is Jesus in Hebrew, and “hanged” refers to the hanging off a giant “T”- crucification.
The “stoning” in question, is what the jewish leaders were planning to do before Roman involvement. And the “sorcery” is that the perspective of Jesus’ accusers. However, the stoning and sorcery are irrelevant given that our issue at hand is “did Jesus really exist?”, and eye witness accounts once again implies so.
“The Christians … worship a man to this day – the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account…. [It] was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.”
This passage, on the other hand, is no eye witness. However, the Lucian of Samosata, Greek satirist is believed to have gather his sources on Jesus from that other than the new testament, hence its status as evidence of Jesus’ existence.
I try to base my faith on facts and evidence. I work extensively to NOT be a Pocahontas Christian (everything has a spirit, has a life, has a name). However, the emotional whirlwind I mentioned? Guilty at times.
Because, what is a relationship without sentiment? I possess head knowledge that my husband is a good man; sweet, sexy, and talented in bed responsible. But our relationship won’t BE a relationship without my fervour for him.
In the same way, I know Jesus is the way, the truth and the light. I know He was born (not on December 25), and crucified for my sins. But my relationship with Him stems from more than knowledge. It sprouts from the warm of His love for me- my best friend, heavenly father and 24/7 counsellor.
It is widely known that when I first met Dickson (broady: short for broad shoulders), it was on the tarmac in Penang- as depicted in our wedding video above. I took over his aircraft, he thrust his entire chart pouch into my arms and raced off like Cinderella at midnight. Here I stand, with his chart pouch, my own chart pouch, a nav bag and an overnight bag. Needless to say, I was 10 shades of annoyed.
The second time we met, CK took us out for lunch (10 minutes before, CK says: “oh! Btw, Dickson is coming too). Broady and my bladders were bursting with no available toilet. So, we peed on the floor of a tiny room that could pass for a bathroom if they tried. (Guilty, guilty, guilty)
Eventually, I forgave him for the chart pouch- but mention it regularly- just because.
And this is the tale of all that follows.
It all began with a beer mug.
To be precise, it was a 1-liter Oktoberfest beer mug. One of those you can fit, like, 8 golf balls into.
But before I proceed, it is fair to note that a significant event like this has every making of a flashbulb memory. In that, the strength of the memory is greatly fueled by emotions at the expense of the peripheral truth. The feelings are prominent, but details- blurry. Couple that with vision through broad-shoulders-goggles*, and my tendency to romanticize, circumstances render me an unreliable narrator.
*For the unaware, I have a radical obsession with broad shoulders.
It was a dark and stormy night. I’ve just got home after a flight. My rented minimalist apartment glow with seductive allure. Finally, me-time! I give my hair a thorough shampoo and a healthy coat of conditioner before curling up with a book (Vampire Academy was all the rage then) and a cup of steaming hot chocolate.
I crack the AC up a notch and gather my hair into a ponytail when my phone buzzes to life. A group of colleagues are grabbing a drink at Beach Street. Do I want in? Typically, I pull every excuse in the book to stay rooted in my introvert little bubble. So imagine the surprise when I pull a black tank top over my head against a pair of old jeans and run a brush through my unruly waves.
Half an hour later- because Penang island (where we were based then) is tiny- I walked through the jingly doors of a poorly lit bar. A few people are watching football on the television set. Others clump in groups of threes and fours. The largest group present occupy a long rectangular table, and from the looks of it- very unconscious about their volume. And at this table, HE sat, broad shoulders apparent in a black Nike T-shirt, face evident of his very recent round at the Oktoberfest.
I squeeze into a chair not far from where his broad shoulders protrude out like a different kind of tangible sexy. I gladly accept a pint of beer. He’s playing a card game, or something- the unreliable narrator has boosted an extra pair of beer goggles.
Everybody is talking. My girls’ trying to shaft drinks down every available throat. Cute shoes! Omigawsh! Drink!
I gladly play the role of supportive bystander while nursing my drink- allegedly nursing my drink. The card game takes a turn for the intense.
I put an elbow on the table and rest my chin on the palm. I’m on my fifth (sixth?) pint. He says something- funny, assumedly- and I burst out laughing. Broad AND hilarious?!
He takes another swig of his beer. I sense slight drumming between my ears. The rhythm is picking up, drowning out my surroundings. I take another gulp from my glass.
They’re still at that game. Somebody makes a passing remark. Now he’s laughing hysterically. Love how the corner of his eyes creases when he chuckles. Gosh, what a funny bunch.
“Drink this water,” my friend says out of nowhere as she placed a glass of warm water into my hands. “You need to sober up.”
What? I’ve only had 3 tiny glasses. Maybe five. Eight tops.
“I’m driving both of you home,” she gestures at broad shoulders and me.
“I’m not drunk. I can walk straight. Look!” I demonstrate. A tightrope walker has nothing on me. I think. I think?
We pile/ get piled into her backseat. A loud buzzing pierce my temple. In fact, it’s coming from inside my head. There’s a bee in my brain! My skull feels heavy, and vision blurring. Stay awake, Chow Ping! Don’t die!
I lean sideways… And hit solid. My head fit perfectly onto… a shoulder?
-A broad, broad shoulder.
I nestle into his shoulder. The alcohol on his breath is heavy; yet fail to burry a scent- a scent I’ll accustom to in years to come. A whiff that eventually translates to home, comfort and love. But at this point, the scent was enticing, captivating. Curious, even… Richly intriguing that alerted my senses. My subconscious scream mystery guy!Must know**!
** On a later occasion, I learnt that this intuitive scent detection mechanism ties to our ability to sough out a partner with reproductive genetic advantage.
We ride the remainder journey with my body weight on him and head snugly on his shoulder.
Then we pull up at his condo, and our friend turn chauffeur says, “here’s your stop, Dickson.”
“Don’t forget the beer mug.”
In a flash of blur, a huge beer mug is manhandled before my eyes.
Now, it is fitting to mention my uncanny obsession with de-cluttering. I have close to zero sentimental genes in me. At one point, my goal was to throw one item away daily. When we moved back to the Klang Valley ages later, I piled our respective possessions into two large piles: keep or throw out. Most things failed the cut.
But then I clutch that heavy Oktoberfest mug in my hands. Typically, an object of that size and weight finds its way into the “out” stash faster than you can say “no”. As enigmas have it, I place that humongous piece of glass into the yes pile.
-The effect of a strange, unplaced sentiment.
And to this day, this sacred relic sits by our marriage bed every night- a testament of our drunkard head nestling, a covenant of the unspoken that faithful night.
However, lets not jump the gun, and return to our (alleged) chronology of events.
As with most other blooming Gen-Y love, our days to come are filled whatsapp messages and haunted museums (what? Not that one?). But the joy has nothing on that of Butterfly Park day.
It is common knowledge that Dickson fear butterflies with every cell in his being. “The reincarnation of the devil”, he says. Despite that, he visited the butterfly farm with me. This is a tale as old as time, one widely circulated within our circle of friends.
Yet, few know of the moment he held my hand in his. For the first time ever, in that cage swarming with beautiful butterflies. My heart beat like a motorboat. *** And everything was perfect, or so I thought. Clearly, “perfect” was yet to be defined.
*** Occurrence took place not long after a captain, in his drunken state at a colleague’s wedding, blurted out “Dickson really, really likes you, you know”- cat out of the bag. He eventually broke into a quick dance number onstage (unplanned), so goodness knows how much he remembers of that bombshell. Also, moral of the story, it’s a myth that “cockpit talk stays in the cockpit”.
Cenang beach, Langkawi is teeming with tourist. In fact, nearly every restaurant within walking distance booked full to the brim. After all, it is New Year’s Eve. And what better way to usher in the New Year if not at the beach, stoned with booze, under the soothing ostinato of the twinkling stars? Somewhere, the upbeat tune of My Girl plays…what can make me feel this way? My girl… I’m talking about… my girl, my girl!
The sand is soft and welcoming under our bare feet. We buy one of those paper Kongming sky lanterns. Lighting it was hard work, but we managed with a borrowed lighter. Together, we set the lantern free. A light breeze carries our paper project over the shoreline and into the night sky. We watch, hand in hand, as our lantern huddles with tens of others, dotting the dark skyline…
… When it suddenly catches fire! What was a picture of serene bliss is now a blazing ball of flame. Our trusty lantern’s fate is sealed within seconds, as the charred remains drop like a stone into the dark waters below.
Our jaws hang with horror, hands still linked.
But then a unified voice overtakes our attention. Suddenly, we don’t care about the lantern anymore.
And the unreliable narrator notes these facts- the fireworks that burst into the night sky, an assortment of brilliant colors as the loud bangs punctuate the occasion. The cheers rising from all around us layered with gaily laughter and muffled happy new years- the sea breeze that tease my careless locks.
Yet, the whistles, the shouts and glee fade into a quiet backdrop. We stand motionless in the eye of a typhoon- indifferent to the chaos. And he leans over…
… And kisses me.
Round 2 of fireworks paint the heavens an array of lively zest. But we barely blink. Nothing tears us from this endless kiss.
This time, the unreliable narrator is confident of her event accounts.
-Because, how does one romanticise perfection?
P.S: We might sound like alcoholics here, but I promise you- we aren’t.
The very personification of bride and Godzilla contoured into one: me. A living breathing bridzilla.
I mostly single handedly folded 2000 origami airplanes. Each detail of my wedding fine tooth combed with painstaking deliberation. Pages upon pages of checklists and agenda planned with the meticulousness of a moon mission.
I prep for our wedding like I would simulator sessions (mental flying, they call it); running each step, every move and procedure through my head. Searching for loopholes, probing for imperfection.
I poured my very soul into building the wedding of my sweetest dreams, a reflection of my husband and me. And 5 minutes into wedding planning, we agreed on a theme: NO RED (the ultimate Chinese wedding colour).
Actually, our theme was “Our Superlative Takeoff”. Perhaps, I should rephrase: our vision and concept for the day was crystal clear. We do NOT want a Chinese wedding.
In fact, every outside attempt to Chinese-fy the day was met with scorn and spite.
I guess it was, fundamentally, a Chinese wedding with a 170 degrees twist (10 degrees of oriental element retained).
Our dinner format was Chinese, where guest seated at round tables are served dishes in succession. The food, however, was un-chinese. We did welcome angpaus though, (or rather, the money inside), no grievance there.
And we did do a couple of yum-sengs, and only because I relish yelling at the top of my lungs.
Upon parental request, we obliged to tea ceremonies. However, the one under my control (bride’s side), was conducted in the most non-cina manner possible. We washed my parents’ feet and served green tea in mini mugs.
Upon careful self-analysis, I realised that these Chinese traditions and me, we just don’t oscillate on the same frequency. “It’s not you, it’s me.”
My best friend, Jo is a banana (her Chinese vocabulary is limited to “da bian ni”).
Concurrent Chinese words give me a headache.
And, in a previous post, I shared about a break up that was caused primarily by my inability to relate in my supposing mother tongue.
And if I send my children to Chinese school, it will be all about the opportunities that come hand in hand with being trilingual, and nothing about embracing their Chinese roots. In fact, I once toyed with the idea of sending them to a tamil school, this on the sole basis that I will not raise a Chinese child.
I should try harder (preach to me) to embrace my ancestral ways. And I plan to. The efforts are just, um, temporarily dormant.
But, seriously, how important is it for me to be “Chinese-y”? I’ve been asked point blank too many times if I’m a banana, WHILE conversing in Chinese, mind you. Apparently I have a distinct banana accent. Does this place me in a different class? Am I not “one of them”? The outsider? The failure?
What are Malaysian Chinese? An elite club?
If I may, the “华人帮华人” (Chinese must help Chinese) mindsetis the very last nail in the coffin that is Malaysia.
And guess what?
This bullshit perceptive viewpoint is an anchor that will could head dive our society into a plane of inevitable doom.
What was perhaps a necessary survival strategy during my grandfather’s generation is today nothing more than a muddy pit of saturated quicksand.
Why segregate? Why favour one on the mere virtue of skin colour? Because he/she is “自己人” (my people)? I recall a radio public service announcement that goes “who are your people? Because that’s where your humanity ends”.
Where does it end? Skin colour? Religion?
Malaysians are no stranger to the “One Malaysia” or “Kita Anak Malaysia” propaganda. But are these verily just superficial convictions?
Today, I read an article in Free Malaysia Today by Michelle Chen (upon digging, she’s a, woot woot, Taman Sea girl! Awas Nilai Bertindak!) about her experience with a judgemental concerned Chinese couple about her bilingual status. Apparently, bananas are the wedlock children of the Chinese community *eye roll*. They are too “modern” and “culturally deficit”.
Jo once remarked that everything bores down to language (preceding looks or interest). East Malaysians present a more united front because of their general fluency of our national language, Malay (they have their own slang). At the end of the day, everybody wants company they can comfortably converse with. As a result of this, one tends to home towards their own ethnic group.
And It is for this very reason that I am a staunch believer that every Malaysian should speak Malay. And if the choice comes down to learning the Chinese or Malay language, choose Malay. Many would argue that the Chinese language outweigh the Malay language in usefulness. After all, China’s population of 1.379 billion (great nation that they are) easily outnumber Malaysia and Indonesia’s combined 292.2 million.
However, this does not excuse us from our civic obligation. Our Malaysian duty, truly. As Michelle puts it, if speaking Chinese is mandatory to communicate with a fellow Chinese “are you as worried about being able to talk to the Malays or Indians (or bananas)?”
If you can’t communicate with your fellow Malaysians, sorry buddy; don’t cry foul over racial discrimination, because you might be the problem.
I remember a write up I produced for a liberal arts class, stating: I prefer a Malaysian Malay or Indian as company over a Chinese from China any day of the week. Although I speak their language.
Somehow, I don’t care about being Chinese. I know I should, and I should feel ashamed for saying this. But I really don’t.
What I do care about, is being Malaysian, in bountiful measures.
“Farah* is pregnant,” the words taunt me through the tempered glass of my Sony Xperia.
*Name has been changed.
You could be next.
“They just found out. She’s grounded now.” Farah is a fellow pilot (female, obviously, in respect to biological stipulation) who is happily married. She did a flight and night stop with her husband (who is also a pilot). The destination of their layover was obviously a boring one, which led us to scene number 2: The miracle of life.
Three days. Three freaking days.
I’m happy for Farah, I really am. But…
Is it contagious?
I mean, duh, pregnancy is not contagious. Or is it? A study in the American Sociological Reviewconcludes that “a friend’s childbearing positively influences an individual’s risk of becoming a parent”. Yes, I checked.
Sure. The risk stems from the psychological influence of staring down drooling babies on Instagram. But could this be a gestation epidermic preying on female aviators? Like, maybe, Aphrodite, goddess of fertility, floats around going “aha! Female pilot! Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo! Implant embryo in womb!”
Really, one can NOT be too careful.
Speaking of caution, we even took extra precautions this month! (Condoms. Durex fetherlite, if you must know)
But now my period is 3 days late, and I’m shitting bricks.
My friends go for drinks (my choice activity). But instead, I drive to the pharmacy with a smiling cashier (“miss, would you like to join our membership?”). I slam a pregnancy test on the counter and slur “no bag. To go.”
I position the plastic covered stick under a stream of urine gushing out of my lady part at impressive manifold pressure. Then came the worst bit: waiting. Longest-three-minutes-of-my-life-ever.
The verdict is swift.
And I sight in utter relief. (One line = no preggy)
I remain convinced for the next week or so, before worry rears its ugly head again.
By now, I’ve wasted 7 sanitary pads and 3 panty liners.
This time, I get the pregnancy test with the bowl.
Pee in bowl. Put stick into bowl. Stare at stick in bowl. Keep staring blankly at stick in bowl. 3 minutes…
Yes! *Pumps fist*
Because twice is not the charm, the third test I took cost RM28. My best friend, Jo snapped one off the shelf because it’s “the best in the market”. Jo, hubby and I stood in our bathroom blinking at the idle stick against a timer next to it.
Time dragged its feet and the decree is finally announced: not pregnant.
We twist and turn the test under the fluorescent lights just to be sure. And I feel like I’ve cheated death thrice.
PERIOD, PERIOD, WHERE ART THOU, PERIOD?
My period (or, uterus season, as I christened it) has been regular for as long as I can remember. But then again, I didn’t keep meticulous record of my menstrual cycle till the day I got married and gave my flower away, hence opening myself up to the prospect of motherhood.
And for the past 146 days (that’s how long I’ve don the Mrs. title), my uterus shed very comfortably within the envelope.
Then I began command training and plunged into sea of veritable stress (mostly self induced, I admit). The husband even remarked that he has never ever seen me so stress before.
The stress is a logical explanation to my halted cycle, and coincidently exposed my lack of desire for offsprings.
where are my maternal instincts?
I’ve become increasingly aware of the insane number of baby pics flooding my Facebook feed. The days of overflowing college assignments and clubbing till the sun comes up are over (mostly). Now are the days of baby showers and socks the size of three fingers.
Not to mention the baby bump and we-are-one-big-happy-family pictures.
Off my head, I count 2 friends with motherhood-is-so-rewarding blogs. And I believe you, motherhood IS rewarding.
But is it worth it?
here are the facts
Hello, obvious. Who is going to care for the baby? Me, of course. I should give up flying, stay home, and tend to my baby’s needs day and night. Really, it’s my God given responsibility as a woman, right? In doing so, I forfeit everything I have worked so hard for. I pour my sweat and tears down the drain, flush it down the toilet, tuck it safely into a coffin to be lowered 6 feet under. Sure.
Maybe my husband should defy social norms, quit his job, pick out a macho looking apron and become a house husband. As supportive as he is of my career (one of the many things I love about him, other than his broad shoulders and habit of farting in his sleep), I am reluctant to subject him to the negative stigma surrounding homey-papas. Besides, providing for his family is one of the pillars that props the male ego (although his lack of ego is the other thing I love about him, on par with his ability to consume excessive potato chips).
In Sweden, parents are gifted 480 days of paid paternity leave till their child turns 8, which can be taken by either parent. This policy promotes workplace equality, as is evident by the common sight of “latte papas” on Swedish streets. Now, if Malaysia have laws like that, I just might try for a little one tomorrow (or near future). Unfortunately, that’s not the reality we live in.
“What about your parents?”, one may ask. Well, it is my personal opinion (one I would not impose on another) that our parents have paid their dues. It is unfair and irresponsible to unload child rearing responsibilities on them. Besides, let’s put it simply: it is not their job.
Also, too many unfit parents are bringing children into this world. And I don’t mean the lack of financial means, because if anything, shortage of money builds character. What I refer to, is infidelity and immaturity. In my previous post “The Adulterer“, I lamented about the adverse effect of unfaithfulness on families for generations to come. I’ve seen this too many times (a regrettable norm in the aviation industry). Really, people, if you can’t be loyal to your spouse, don’t have children.
And if you have trouble with basic human decency, do not reproduce.
Which brings us to a follow up question: am I ready?
Besides, I’m not equipped to have an extension of my heart strolling down Bukit Bintang, kissing heartbreakers and speeding down the Plus Highway. Confession: I’m a control freak. How long before I double over with a heart attack?
But another part of me wonders, if a second line materialised in that little window of my pregnancy test that faithful day, would I sing a different tune?
We never broke up, because we were never a couple.
Recently, our cosmos realigned to map crossing paths. Akin de novo, I notice another pea in the pot, the closest proximate I’ve known to a male version of me. Definitely not identical, but vastly similar. Our thoughts hitch the same train, Jan’s* instinctive behavior a dead ringer to mine. Previously, I observed that we deal with hurt and anger similarly, not to mention our common trait of legendary stubbornness.
He was more a best friend than a boyfriend. The guy I confide in, rather than one I lust and pine after. We spent many weekends riding the free bus (student budget) for RM1 ice- cream (student budget again), exchanging views on whatever weights our minds. It fascinated me how our convictions almost always travel down the same battered path. He was my emotional crutch. On top of common family backgrounds and reciprocal regard for the world we live in, we shared a dream- to become airline pilots.
After all, we were churned out of the very same mill of a mega church system.
Also, he certainly isn’t bad looking; God didn’t shortchange him in that department.
Along the way, lines got blurred.
We hooked up.
Perhaps, I found comfort in his company. At the end of the day, touch is runner up on my language-of-love sequence. I now question certain choices, but I never regret the person or our proximity. Different people appear in our lives at different times for varying reasons, and his role in mine resembles Gale Hawthorne to Katniss Everdeen in Hunger Games: crucial, critical, support system… but not her end game.
We never broke up. We just grew apart after jetting (pun not intended) off to different flying schools.
I dated my share of guys, some steady, some otherwise (although my memory of those relationships pale in his shadow).
Then I met Dickson, my Peeta Mellark. In a previous post, I described our chemistry as two aptly fitted jigsaw puzzle pieces. If Dickson and I are two perfectly matched pieces, Jan* and I are identically shaped ones. The matching two fit beautifully. On the other hand, although the identical ones comfortably coexist, and may even pass as a single entity, uniting them is a predicament.
If Jan’s* opinions almost always mirror mine, Dickson’s doesn’t. Nevertheless, Dickson never fails to understand my basis. Instead of a snippet from my tousled cloth (we are not cut from the same cloth), Dickson admires, supports, and embrace my cloth; his sleek fabric tone down my unkempt own.
Life rode me through windy paths and giant potholes. Unknowingly, I arrived at the revelation that I celebrate difference. I yearn compatible disparity.
Perhaps, non-identical personalities are the congruous ones.
We are well versed with U.S. President Donald Trump’s hot mic incident that went viral last year.
You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful- I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss, I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.
The media has since move on to other equally fascinating Donald-said-what?! But his blatant disrespect for women still hangs over our head like a Chinese lantern during the lunar new year.
The wound still stings in equal measure to my burning fury; and here’s why:
the notion that power and riches (or stardom) equals a thru-panties passport
It does NOT. And there is nothing more disgusting and degrading than a man who thinks otherwise.
Men are hunters, and women are gatherers. The fairer sex seek security, no dispute there. But the thought that women will tolerate sexual harassment just because the zeros on his bank statement is impressive, is nauseous and revolting to the very core.
A group of rotten apples, for whatever personal reason, might attest to this loathsome viewpoint. Every woman has her own story, a series of events that edge her towards her choices and decisions; perhaps it’s a survival instinct. Nevertheless, this fails to fuel the assumption that every single woman will compromise her dignity for the allure of kacing-kacing-bling-bling-bling.
It’s high time men dismiss the fallacious perception that deep pockets mean deep into her panties.
“it’s locker room talk”
Says Donald, Melania Trump, and thousands other people.
Nobody phrases it better than Trevor Noah. Watch from 7:46 to 10:08 minutes.
They are confusing sex talk and sexual assault talk… There is a big difference between saying dirty words and glorifying non consensual sexual content… Guys talk dirty… But guys are not all having conversations about sexual assault. It feels like more people are focused on “he said pussy”. It’s not about that. It’s about saying he forces himself on women. You tell me which is worst? A guy that tells me: “Last night, I dined with a lovely lady, and immediately afterwards, I escorted her back to her residence, and proceed to caress her genitals despite her lack of invitation”… Or is this worst? “Oh man, last night, I was rolling with this bad bitch. I was, like, yo, you gonna let me smash that ass? And she said no, and I was, like, okay, no pussy for me”. Which one is worst?… non of them is ideal… but one of them is crude, and the other is against the law. There’s a big difference…. It’s not just locker room talk. Trump can try to excuse his behaviour by calling it “locker room talk”…
Bingo-correcto! Thank you, Trevor.
The word “pussy” is like the giant butterfly I tattooed on my forehead the day of my disastrous haircut. Everybody was too busy debating and commenting about the tattoo, they didn’t notice the giant bald spot the hairdresser shaved above my left temple. (This might or might not have happened, you’ll never know)
Everybody’s so concern about usage of the word “pussy”, they forget the context is sexual violation of a woman’s body. Saying “fondling her private parts without her consent” doesn’t improve the situation, neither would replacing “pussy” with “vāgīnae” (latin).
Our focal point should be the suggestion of a non-consensual, intrusive advancement towards an unwilling woman. The content of his statement is the issue, not the execution of the message.
…But I am not. The present day version of yours truly is a recollection of qualities and lessons ingrained in me from a young age. More accurately, my caliber as a woman has been strongly shaped by her “walk of the talk”. Shaped by the woman who carried me and another 4 children in her womb for 9 months (at a time). Who, in her quiet yet determined spirit, raised me to be who I am today. My mother.
screw what people think
For as long as I can remember, her reply to my concerns about people’s opinion of me has been: “haiyah, don’t care la”. After long-term observation, I realise this is a quality three generations of women in my family share. Maybe even four, if I had the privilege to know my great grandmother.
By example, mama taught me to keep the good and discard the bad. Upon careful analysis, I discern this to play a huge role in mama’s seemingly endless joy. Like my grandmother, she has the gift to psyche herself. An ability I hope I inherited to the same degree.
One thing most people can agree on is mama’s incredibly high tolerance for pain. In fact, one lesson she imparted to me when I was young was that women undergo childbirth and have periods. Both of which might cause pain. Therefore, pain is a sensation women will be accustomed to.
It came as a shock when other mothers send circulars for every scratch and paper cut they encounter. Because, mama has her lips zipped tight until she is bed ridden with pain. Literally.
love and sex
One fine day, I asked, “ma, what if a guy is in a relationship, and he meets a prettier girl. Does he leave his current partner for the more attractive one?” To that, mama replied, “Ping, you don’t know what love is”.
That instance was when I first learned that love extends beyond superstitious physical attraction. Over the years, I gathered my own understanding of what love is, the journey kick started by that one faithful day.
When I asked the dreaded million dollar question, “where do babies come from?” she painstakingly explained every bird, bee, detail, nook, and canny of sex. It took awhile to wrap my young mind around the concept. More than 20 years later, I appreciate that we can openly discuss the topic, like peers.
When mama was a young woman working in a rubber estate, events led to threats from troublemakers towards the Christians. Mama trekked across the estate to the housing of affected families to encourage them. At night fall, the rowdy individuals appeared to taunt the residents and mama stepped out to make peace. She did this in the dark, alone, at night, in a secluded rubber estate. If that isn’t courage, then I don’t know what courage is.
Later in life, when she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, one of the first things she said was: “I don’t fear death. Because I know I belong to Jesus.” Every step of the way, the treatment, the pain, she took in stride. Her faith and courage never wavered.
She stares levelly at life and its challenges. Her shoulders are squared, arms crossed, like Michelle Rodriguez in Fast and Furious. She squints her eyes and says: “you’ve got nothing on me.”
My father once told me amidst his reminisce of their dating days, that the quality that attracted him to mama was her simple childlike faith.
In regard to her heartbreaking diagnosis, she said: “if this underlying condition draws you closer to God, then it is all worth it”. “The mustard seed faith (Matthew 17:20)”, she shared, “emphasises not the size, but the resilience of the faith”. Early this year, our prayers were answered. Mama has now gone into remission. All glory be to God.
I told the guest at my wedding that like most girls, I struggled with body image as a kid. So mama said, “every girl wants to be pretty. But with Jesus at the centre of your life, it won’t matter even if you aren’t. Somehow, you just won’t care as much”. I called that moment “the light unto my path”. The truth is, that is just one story from an archive of stories about her influence on my life. Strangers on the internet suggested I keep my speech below 5 minutes, so I picked this sole event. However, 5 minutes does no justice to the magnitude of her faith.
On top of her underlying condition, mama has another cross to bear: an autistic son. The mother of another autistic child once confided in me with generous praises for mama. She never flinches, never wobbles, is never fearful, aunty said.
Amidst embarrassing screaming, spitting and agitation, mama stands tall with her head held high. Her grit overflows. She never gives up on bro, patiently teaching him the basic skills in life. Sweep the floor, brush his teeth, write his name. Her fervour never fails.
When I think of mama’s tenacity, a bible verse comes to mind: She is clothed with strength and dignity. She can laugh at the days to come (Proverbs 31:25).
And she truly is a PWG- Powerful Woman of God, and also a PWP- Powerful Woman of Prayer. Her initial instinct to any situation is to get down on her knees and pour her heart out to God. My impending simulator sessions or exams had her ardent in fast and prayer. Many times, I think that all I have achieved today is merely an outcome of my parents’ fervent prayers and undying faith.
I recall a time when I contacted her with concern about her health. Her watsapp reply was “talk later, parliament voting has started. Need to pray”. Because, you know, priorities. Stage 4 cancer versus praying for our nation. Prayer for the nation, duh.
the end result
Perhaps, it is no surprise that from her womb sprung this thick skin, wannabe iron woman with a little too much resolve in her system. My success and accomplishments are build on a myriad of mama (and papa)’s sacrifices, love and prayer. The frustration, the pain, the disappointments, just so I can be who I am today.
The english language fails to properly apprehend the magnitude of a parent’s hard work and love.
To which, all I can say is, thank you.
Happy mother’s day!
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of the householdand does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. “Many women do noble things, but you surpassthem all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honour her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gates.