Sunday, September 14

A Diagnosis

He must be the unhealthiest doctor I've ever visited. 

The glass of Jack Daniels just left his lips when I walked into his office. A pack of cigarettes - Pall Mall lights - rested at a convenient distance from his left hand. The crisp thud of glass meeting table surface resonated in the office as he winced. 

I waited for him to finish his last notes. He wrote in an almost languid manner: like the slow waves of an otherwise still lake, made to move only by a zephyr's urging. Seated at the edge of the patient's chair was a disinterested face masking my slightly bothered heart.

He looked at me expectantly - he knew why I visited. I had briefly explained my malady when I called to book an appointment. Eyes fixed on the fresh page of my file, we recapped my complaints. 

There was a dull, empty ache that has been bothering me for a while. 

It wasn't something that particularly affected my daily routine. I could still go about my life as usual like every other healthy person even when the symptom surfaced. Yet it was annoying, and so I made up my mind to get it checked and sorted out, the flat throbbing below my stomach. 

"Shall we do a physical examination now?"

It was very direct. I remember he once said that doctors don't like to waste time. But of course, how could you afford to when most of the time it's a matter of life and death?

The ceiling was a dazzling white that became a blinding empyrean when he probed my insides. I trembled. He noted. His hands moved knowingly, applying pressure as it traversed my horizontally laid anatomy. Paying attention to every pulse, every spasm, every change in temperature. 

"Face that way."

I never liked clinics and hospitals. They smelled of anesthetics and early goodbyes. They made me fear that which I know very well - my body. 

And fear makes one compliant. 

The obedient patient that I was followed all his instructions. Positioning my body as he asked, breathed and coughed as he ordered, revealing whatever he demanded. I asked questions. He replied some, and ignored most. But with every question asked the pressure applied increased. It sometimes hurt. I knew then to keep my questions for later. 

A blood sample had to be collected at the end of the examination. He drew blood, and it hurt. 

"Am I still passive?" he asked.

More notes were scribbled in his cursive doctor's handwriting before he finally gave a diagnosis. Yearning, he said. Yearning was it. He has stopped the ache for a while, a relapse is inevitable. There wasn't any medication but only therapy. 

"If you ever want it, you can just call me."

I exited his office, with the doctor's estimation that the symptom will resurface in a month's time. I have yet to book an appointment.

Monday, August 18


It's been 2 weeks since the departure and already I've forgotten how the Queen's English sounded like. There was no need for me to control my jargon, or churning my brain for adjectives to go with every sentence. 

He came like a thief in the night. 

So sudden I was caught off guard. So sleek I was hopelessly trapped, without knowing I've walked into a floral cage. 

He had always treated me kindly, with the utmost respect and manners that befit a lady of high station. Doors were held open for me, paths cleared with a hint of a bow that accompanied that British "After you". He was never authoritative as a master. In fact, he never did establish that he was one. 

Never explicitly, that is. 

There were shadows of it, his superiority. The very subtle, almost invisible, condescension when he spoke of his education and his home. They became more apparent the nearer he came, the closer we were. 

"My colonial mistress."

I think I secretly loved it. Being under him, subjected to his command, eager to learn his ways, fervently emulating the crisp British accent. He said that I was intelligent and that it was good that I understood his "banter". I still remember his likes and dislikes, the topics that he love and the areas that he warned about. I think I must quite liked that period. 

The period of being with him, when he kissed me under the artificial stars of the street named after him.

When it was time to finally depart he gazed briefly in silence towards England and said as he turned back to me, "I have a feeling I might remember you." There was no official handing over of power, no fanfare or shouts to celebrate independence after he left. 

Is it really over though, if you remember every detail of the past? That the colonial history should continue to haunt and shape what you are right now.

"Maybe 2 years, or 4 years later, I may be back again... or you should really come to London."

Saturday, July 5

The Last Peel

"From the beginning, the only thing I couldn't tolerate about you was how impossible you were to ignore."- Jennifer Delucy 

There were four bottles of red wine and one white wine -- an assortment of Merlot, Carbanet Sauvignon and Sauvignon blanc -- standing upright on a sheet of synthetic grass in the balcony of a KL café

Muffled excitement, subtle jokes, puffs of tobacco and a hint of exhaled marijuana were golden youths under a starless night sky. 

"Cheers! To the last kopek."

Wine glass chinked against wine glass. The eager gurgled while the bourgeois sipped. Chatter resumed. We talked about dreams and love and responsibilities and age. The grass was warm to the touch, as were their hearts. 

So many things to gain and so little to lose. He asked, "So how was it like?" But how could it be any different? A more apt question would be the plans and the direction decided upon, of which would be answered as such:

"I'm travelling solo towards Nowhere; I wouldn't mind bunking with a fellow traveler during the journey."

"Yeah. Whatever happens, happens."

"Cheers to that."

Another question was raised en route to the car, regarding the after party that was, unbeknowest to him, non-existent. 

"But why?"

"I live in a nunnery."

A reckless laugh, and a request for confirmation of safety. It was pointed that he was just as tipsy, and a possibility of some sort of liaison was enunciated. Alcohol, it was due to the alcohol. 

A greeting, or rather farewell, peck on the cheek came with the embrace that followed the last hearty chuckle. Thirty seven degrees of human warmth and musk. 

That was all there is to it on a burgundy night. 

Saturday, June 7

I Drove Home

I drove home puking my guts out last night. 

I drove home crying my eyes out last week. 

I drove home smiling my heart out last month.

I drove home singing my lungs out last year.

Often, I wished we never met,
he never wooed me,
we never got together,
I never came back,
he never left.

Unfortunately, we did meet,
he did woo me,
we did get together,
I did come back,
he did leave.

And I was happy,
I was in love,
I put effort,
I was hurt,
I got abandoned.

Friends do what friends do and reassured that it was not me and it was him, the same things that he said. It was cliche, 
it was sudden,
it was stupid,
it was unreasonable.

Shit happens and but life goes on. I just wish the pain would go away soon. 

And I drove home.

Sunday, February 16

Dining in the Dark

I miss writing. 

I write emails, proposals, terms and conditions everyday on the job but... I miss writing

So here goes nothing.

Valentine's (belated) dinner was a themed restaurant that the whole city was raving about -- Dining in the Dark. Literally. I couldn't see my fingers, I couldn't see my food, I couldn't see him. 

The optic nerve is overridden - your other senses take over. Every sound, every movement, every taste, every breath is an adventure!

The books say that your body automatically heightens up the sensitivity of your remaining senses should any one of the five fail to function. This could be an adventure for the blessed; this could be an empathetic experience for the blessed.

I pride myself for being able to adjust to a new environment quite quickly. One of the very few useful life lessons that Ogilvy & Mather taught me: survive, or at least try to survive. My hands explored the table as if it were my lover's body.

Lacquered smooth. 

Cold, except for the places where my hands once were. 

Rock solid. 

"On your right are your cutlery. In front of them is your coaster, your white wine will be served shortly. Now, on your twelve o'clock are your dessert fork and spoon, can you find them?"

Metal cold. Four sharp points joined on a long thin metal was my fork. The familiar curve of metal was my spoon. 

But where's the knife?

"Have you found your dessert cutlery... ah good." A hint of a smile. "Can you find each other?"

This must be how being in outer space feels like. Cold, stagnant air on my fingers. This must be how hell feels like. 

Coarse, warm and thick fingers touched mine and instantly grabbed my full hand. I recognise the grip, I know that temperature so well. I found him. 

I wouldn't call it darkness; just the absence of light. The absence of light is fiercely piercing and bright. So bright I felt my eyes tearing and I had to close them for a while. The absence of light is disconcerting. I was in limbo and felt that I could easily stop believing in existence if it weren't for the synthetic woolen cushion I was sitting on, the carpeted solid floor, the lacquered table top and the dull red lights of the CCTV. So dull that after a while, you don't notice them anymore. 

This must be how hell feels like. Am I ready for this? Is life the light and death the absence of it? 


His voice is the crisp of dried, brown leaves as they fall on the pavements. Silky like the first drop of milk, gurgling as it's being poured into hot tea in the coffee shop. I will always remember how I turned my head in the direction of this baritone in my Public Relations lecture. How I fell, oh how I fell in love. 

Appetisers were served: four cold dishes of which three were salads. Two hot soups quickly followed. It perplexes me constantly how chefs and waiters in classy restaurants manage to get the temperature of hot food just right. It was searing but not hot enough to burn the tongue. Like holding hands, the sincere kind, the kind that you know your feelings are reciprocated. He was in a black shirt and stonewashed blue jeans and when he held my hand for the first time it was almost burning. It left a mark. I can still see it today.

I know my meat well. Very well, in fact. Then again, how could you not know chicken when you eat it? How could you not know mutton with the first bite? I've always hated mutton. The smell drives me to the point of revulsion not just gastronomically but emotionally too. He smells of mutton sometimes. It infuriates me. I skipped the mutton and was pleased to find farfelle in a tomato-based pasta sauce, familiar and welcoming. With a swig of red wine, the pasta helped clear the nauseating mutton after taste.

Yet I stabbed my fork on the mutton again. I guess I'm truly a glutton for punishment. His mother once said that I'm actually fine with mutton, since there were a few times I've unknowingly eaten her mutton dishes. That it's maybe me consciously telling myself that I dislike it, I abhor it, but I am actually fine with it. Because I always come back to it. 

And I've never really vomited after eating mutton, anyway.

Desserts are meant to be cold and refreshing, I believe. There should be ice, there should be citrus, at least a tinge of it. Why do they call it passion fruit? Did the ancients intend for the fruit to be a metaphor? Is passion like citrus? I fancy passion to be chocolate, because it can be cloying. Mayhaps this is how true passion should be like, refreshing and heart-wrenching. This is how we are.

It hardly hurt, when we were out of the dark room and met with light again.

"I miss you, baby. Thank you for the dinner, I really love it."

I wish I never need to dine in the dark with him again. I'll miss him too much.