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Wednesday, July 21, 2010
It Could Be Worst

"Think of it this way," I said to Hill one afternoon under the swaying tree. "It could be worst..."

I lived here with Mr. Husband and baby (plus domestic wife, whom I fly back and forth along with me) since February this year. Hill lived for the past 2 months, so it was a good time to discuss our experiences. Our husbands are both working as expatriates in the engineering field and it is fair for the two of us to expect some amount of traveling and living abroad. We are now officially expatriate wives.

"Remember this, Hill." I said, "It could be worst. It could be Azerbaijan..."


Indonesia is a weird place to be. I don’t mean it in a bad way. It is weird simply because it is not what you would expect it to be. Take shopping in Semarang for example. Did you know that you cannot find a tampon to save your life? But you can buy two pairs of Guess shoes. I know this because I am still flying my tampons to Indonesia and I am now the owner of two pretty new pairs of shoes sitting on what used to be the fish pond. (I will get to the fish pond turn shoe rack story soon).

It is an adventure trying to find fresh chicken but heck, you can find plenty of Chicken Cordon Bleu or Chicken Picatta (my favouite!) in the restaurant by the sea. They even have a fridge for the restaurant! I seriously considered the option of bringing the damn pepper mill because I love freshly ground pepper in my cooking. You cannot find any – pepper or mill - not even in Carre Four (the epicenter for grocery shopping). It’s shocking, I know!

This does not mean that Indonesia is a poor nation. I have not seen this much Louis Vuitton bags since Milan. There are many rich people living and working here. They are just discreet. You never know where they live though I suspect they are living along the hills of Semarang, where the houses are the size of office building. The sheer number of people living here means money is changing hands constantly. All restaurants are always busy, especially those without refrigerators. Bakeries are always zooming with customers buying ‘roti tawar’, which is sweet and not ‘tawar’ at all.

Maybe I should not use the word “Indonesia”. I should probably limit it to “Java” and “Semarang” to be more precise. We live 70km from Semarang and it takes us 1.5 hours to drive there. In a car, not a water buffalo. Perhaps if we rode a water buffalo, it’d be faster. Though we might have to hire more than one water buffalo to take the circus troupe that is my family. It would also be less expensive to repair if we knocked into another water buffalo along the way.


I am suspicious of our driver. He is terribly reliable and is there when we need him to be. He drives us in the morning at 4 a.m. when we need to get to Solo for our flight back to Malaysia and he drives us at 12 p.m. to lunch at the restaurant by the sea. He will be there, no questions asked. He reminds me of John Statham, a professional transporter from Transporter, the movie. They are identical twins if only John Statham had a moustache ala Burt Reynold’s.

I never had a driver before this, so it can be both liberating and confining to have one. For sure, most long drives are now much easier because Bambang (that’s his name) drives the car. We all sleep through the journey and arrive on location in good spirits. Then again, we realized how restricted our lives have been since moving here. We have to call him to take us to KFC whilst in Malaysia, we would have just driven ourselves. What is fast food if it isn’t instant, right?

If you are curious why we have a driver in Indonesia, the answer lies in the traffic rules here. There simply is none! And if they had a rule, it would be ‘just keep moving’. There is no rhyme or reason for why cars or buses or water buffalos start or stop. They just go along and move along and everything is fine. We suspect that one must possess a certain genetic material to survive driving in this chaotic calm. It is advantageous if some village folks doesn’t kill your driver when he runs over a suicidal chicken on the road.


Do not take what I am saying here as a complaint. They are not. Living on the Javanese island has been a wonderful experience thus far. I love the fact that we are away from our normal routines back in Malaysia. I work on my laptop only when something important cropped up at work. Otherwise my life is quite easy and relaxing, with my little boy being a great distraction. It is such a privilege to watch him grow and learn about his world!

Being away from the comfort of my home taught me many things. It showed me what I have been taking for granted and made me appreciate some other things. The whole experience breathes fresh life into my being. I have to make do without some things that I am used to having and stretch me to accept some other things that I never had in my life.

“There is a Body Shop in Paragon!” Hill said. “That is my best bet for some decent make up.”

“You mean we can’t get some Chanel eye liner?!” I asked, batting my eyes while smiling at her. Hill and I became close friends since her arrival in Java 2 months ago. We share similar kind of silly humor.

As a matter of fact, we are quite alike in many ways – we had a baby recently. Her daughter is 6 months. We met because our husbands are now working together in the same office. In our old lives back home, we were working too but over here, we are quite free to do as we please. So we usually meet up for lunch daily to catch some sunrays and to get out of the house.

“I wore high heels all through my pregnancy,” she said.

“Oh my goodness! I wore heels throughout my pregnancy too!” I screamed. We were behaving like two teenagers, giggling as we confessed our mommie crimes. Some women are born mother earth type – embracing motherhood and organic vegetables – and other women like Hill and I, are born to get out of the house, wear beautiful shoes and have Super Girl Fridays.


Many friends and not so close friends asked how I adjusted to life without rushing through the door for work each morning. Some women wear shorts and t-shirts, scrunch up their hair and walk around in slippers all day. I happen to be the one who wears proper day wear, light make up, proper coiffed hair and high heels at home. Being home is not sufficient reason to slack.

I might be an irresponsible shopper, buying 3 pairs of white shoes on the same day but I am very disciplined in other areas of my life. I have a timetable that I abide to daily. I might be messy with my things but I am not a slop. That’s just how I am built, I guess.

“That’s why you are the party pooper, my love…” Nikki said some time ago. She patted my head as she said it. We were discussing whether teenagers should be allowed to ‘party’ on weekends. My opinion was clear: there was no necessity for a 15 year old to disco dance or a 14 year old to have supper with friends at midnight. Nikki obviously felt otherwise, perhaps because she was from another culture altogether.

Oh I am diverging…


There is a Javanese version of Glastonbury Festival happening at the moment as I am typing this to you. A neighbor of ours is organizing a ‘keselamatan’, which I understand is something like a thanksgiving party. It lasts 3 days minimum with 7 days being its maximum. It is 9:30 a.m. in the morning. What the hell are the drum rolls for?

Oh my domestic wife just remarked that it is probably a dangdut festival. “Hopefully it is just for one night”. So who needs U2 for the Glastonbury? We have some Javanese pixie singing, “Ah Ah” while gyrating her hips seductively…


Thursday, July 15, 2010
If it takes you nine months to make a baby…

… it will take you a year to lose the fats.”

Those were the wise words from Mr. Husband. The problem is, it is now more than a year. Fourteen months, to be precise. It sounds strange calling him my husband, to be honest. “Boyfriend” sounds more attractive for very unknown reasons. At least to me. So does “girlfriend”.

I know many search for relationships and they dream of the day when they will feel complete. Usually it coincides with the day they marry. It is the same day they make a long list of loving commitments to each other. Somehow I have grown apathic and do not possess the butterflies that are tied to feeling of getting married.

Don’t get me wrong. I do get the butterflies in my stomach. I get them when I see him brush his teeth in his underwear. I often wonder why men have such beautiful bums (and beautiful, if not super hairy, legs). I get butterflies when we ride on the jet ski he bought last month. It isn’t motion sickness, I swear. I get them when we sit in the car on our way to dinner on weekends. The wonderful feeling of closeness and warmth of knowing someone deeply is all there. It is just not tied to a wedding or a marriage.

What most people didn’t know was, or rather is, we were not married when I was pregnant. The fact that we were not married made it easier for me to call him my husband. It sounds strange, I know. I am a strange woman. While most girls would prefer some form of ‘solid’ commitment, especially with a bun in the oven, I was actually very happy and relaxed without the need to rush a wedding. I felt secure in our relationship. We spoke about being pregnant for a few months before. Consequently we were ready and delighted when we were. Married or not, it did not add or subtract anything.

And if you are asking me, “how the hell did you register the birth?”, the answer is obvious. Many are led to believe you need a wedding certificate to register a birth. Even at the counter, the lady will ask for a wedding certificate. I don’t know which blue smurf started that rumor but that is definitely untrue. The birth certificate indicates “Father” and “Mother”, which means biological parents of the child. It does not say, “Husband” and “Wife”. (I can imagine a lightbulb moment a few seconds ago when you read the previous sentence.)

So all you need to do is to proof that you are the biological parents. It is easier for the woman to proof that she is the mother. It is a little more challenging to proof the father. Well, we solved that by presenting Mr. Husband, himself, at the birth registration counter during his paternity leave. Yes, he had 2 weeks of paternity leave, which sounds swell except for the bit that he had to travel back to Java once the 14 days was up.

You can imagine me with happy smiling baby at 3 a.m. for a couple of months. Note: Baby smiled, not I.


Now that is all history. It is amazing how something so profound and life changing, can and will, with time, become something of the past. You will forget about the tears, lack of sleep and feeling of terror as night falls. All that is left is a beautiful boy, trying to insert a DVD into the DVD player. That’s his favourite skill today. Yesterday he practiced opening the door. Mind you, he can’t reach for the keys. And the day before, he was pouring body lotion after bath. It’s all pretend play but he seems quite excited about everything.

Mr. Husband and I agreed that a little boy did not belong in the middle of nowhere. So we delegated our duties. Me with baby and work in Malaysia. Mr. Husband with work in Java. It went on for nine months due to the H1N1 flu yadda yadda yadda. But we finally made it here, to Java, two weeks before the Lunar New Year. We are now here for the fourth time this year alone. That is quite a lot of flying for the little boy, who turned one in May.

So where the hell are we? Well the nearest direct flight airport is Solo, which is a 2.5 hour flight from KL. And then it’s another 3 hours of driving to the little town where we are now living. It is by the sea and on most days, it feels like living in Phi Phi island. There is a pretty café bar next to the sea, a Japanese restaurant inland, a proper English pub and a few up and coming eateries and places to hang out.

Don’t be fooled by the description because this is a very strange land. It feels like island paradise as long as you walk within the perimeters of expatriate establishments. Outside those lines lie filth, dust and poverty. Children run without shoes in mud houses. Roof is nearly always leaking, even in the best houses. And the most amazing sight is of a river near Semarang, where the residents bath, wash dishes, throw their bodily waste and even brush their teeth next to each other.


Everything has changed yet everything still felt quite the same. It is an adventure, one that I had not imagined but am excited to embrace. I am like a duck that has never seen water. Now there is a pond in front of me and I will have to learn to wade in it. Hopefully I will be a happy duck. Those around me seem wade around quite easily. What is it with women and marriage anyway? Pfff...!

Like Eve. She has now three children, her third was born at the same week as my first. She is busy zipping around with her life and is now preparing to attend the French Independence party this weekend. She looks exactly the same but an improved version. Body fats do not bother her. (not that she has any) Neither does stretch marks nor dry skin. “Dress to your advantage,” she said the other day when I lifted my shirt to reveal a not so flat tummy. After giving birth, trust me, nothing shames you anymore. “I no longer think of my belly or thigh fats,” she shrugged and tucked merrily into her lunch. “You don’t even have stretch marks,” she blurted after a few seconds of, what I like to presume, thought.

“Madam,” said my domestic wife, “Think of it this way - you had your mojo and now you passed the mojo to your son…” Hmmm, it did not comfort me at all. While it is true that the little boy is a dashing boy (every mother thinks so), I would much prefer to share the mojo than to pass the mojo entirely.

I am happy to announce that there is wisdom in Mr. Husband’s words. The fats melted away as little boy blew one candle. Somehow everything just went ‘POOF!” over night and everything looks smaller in the mirror. Perhaps I have a magic mirror in Java! Even my hair looks lustrous as before. I had to chop off my locks, giving up the thought that it could resuscitate itself after the pregnancy.

“Why don’t you ask me to lose some weight?” I asked Mr. Husband once. A man of few words but he summarized everything succinctly. “Because you will never allow yourself to be fat.” He was still reading Finnish news online when he said that.


“Honey, we need to talk,” I said on one side of the bathroom door.

“Yes?” he asked. He was packing our bags for the first Singapore night race.

“I think I am pregnant,” I said, heart beating ever so fast, looking at the two stripes on the white pregnancy test kit.

“Honey, you can’t say that you are pregnant just because you feel fat….”


Yes, I married that man and this is the story of our lives.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Love requires courage. Courage to merge and be one with someone not you. Courage to take care of someone's heart more than yours. Courage to continue loving in times of extreme difficulties. It is easy to love someone when times are good and the sun shining everyday. The true account of love manifests itself in the darkest nights along the looming clouds of troubles. It is at this point that you will find true love. Or not.

There is something magical about darkness. We all instinctively fear darkness because of the uncertainty of daylight. What we must remember is there is always light at the end of the darkest night. And without the darkness, we seldom appreciate light. In these dark moments, we stand to be tested - to see if our love is pure. Those who still stand together when day breaks, now those are the ones who love. And for us to stand at daybreak, we must have courage.

Love. Courage. Faith. These are all emotions. So are jealousy, anger and fear. The lines between the emotions are very thin and if you are careless in your love, you will cross them too easily. There is no right or wrong emotions. Emotions in themselves are neutral. You can love someone and yet feel extreme jealousy and possession. When you lack courage, you will have anger and when you have faith, you will not fear. But more often than not, all the emotions will float in your heart like little boats in the vast ocean.

I am still a student of life and I am still learning about love - when to love and when to hate, faith in the love we share, courage to have faith and wisdom to guard my heart.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010
A Series Of Old Letters - 4

I wrote this email to SwedishLove during the two months we were apart. It describes an intimate moment I daydreamed. It clearly and honestly shows the act of loving someone in the most instinctive and purest form and it is probably the only record I have of my own sexuality - my desires, dreams and wants from a lover.

Loving someone demands the revelation of your deepest person and then allowing... no, trusting another person to come complete you and feed your body and soul. The yearnings of a woman deeply in love resonates through the whole email.


Subject: close your eyes and imagine this...
Date: 15 May 2001 13:04:40 EDT

Our bed, by the window. Lots of pillows, just the way we like it....

A soft breeze blew into the room. We walked into the room and switch off the lights. I held your hands and led you to our bed. First I laid on my back on the edge of the bed and smiled at you... I teased you to come and give me a hug. You gently lowered yourself on top of me and we hugged each other warmly. We pushed ourselves onto the bed as we gently bit each other’s lips. Our lips met passionately...

I breathed into your ears softly, "I want you." You smiled at me. My hands roamed downwards, caressing your body softly. You took your shirt off and helped me take mine. Throwing the clothes on the floor, you then lowered yourself on top of me again. I kissed you passionately as our tongues touched. I traced your lips with tiny kisses...

You gave my right nipple a gentle kiss. Slowly you moved down a little to suck on my right breast. I sighed as the sensation from your kiss as it floated all over my body. I asked you whether you enjoyed my body. You nodded your head, not saying a word.

I held you tightly in my arms. I leaned upwards and nibbled your ear a little... moved myself away from your face... I moved downwards and smiled cheekily at you. You smiled and gave my thigh a little kiss. Our eyes met. I looked down and ran my fingers along your body, slowly in circular motions.... dancing from your chest to your tummy... and down to your thighs... your eyes were following where my fingers went. Your body yearning for my touch.

I held your right hand and brought it closer to me. Used your fingers to trace my body... from my thighs... to my tummy… along the side of my body... up between my breast... along my neck... slowly I put your finger into my mouth... sucked it... my tongue danced around it... teased it...

Suddenly you took your finger away. I smiled. You reached downwards and kissed my inner thighs... I took a deep breath as you flicked your tongue. I moaned at the sheer pleasure it brought. I leaned to my left and planted a wet kiss on him. Then I put it in my mouth, so slowly it felt almost painful to wait for the pleasure to arrive... Slowly inch-by-inch, I sucked on him. You moaned and showered me with even more kisses. The pleasure was so warm. I sighed. I wanted more. I knew you wanted more...

I wanted to feel you inside but I wanted to feel the longing... of wanting you... I wanted to see you wanting me. I wanted to watch you as you become excited; excited when you licked and sucked me. Excited that you knew that you were going to come inside me. But we had to wait... we waited for the emotions to build up... we teased each other into excitement... time stood still before I could feel you inside... but that was the way our passion built... It felt so good, so good that it felt almost painful... I wasn’t able to tell the difference... it was so good....

The pleasure was so wonderful as you licked and fingered me. So pleasurable that sometimes it felt like time was eternal. So I held onto the pillows to stop myself from stopping myself from feeling the pleasure. Breathless.... I surrendered. I wanted to feel it. I wanted to feel it all. "Help me..." I let out a soft sigh as the warm sensation flooded all over my body like a wave...

I smiled at you as you wiped your mouth. I hopped on top of you and kissed your lips. You smiled at me. I gently sat on top of you, pushing you in me slowly.. gently... little by little... inch by inch.... I cringed a little. So you lifted my hair up and began to kiss me lovingly as I eased myself into position… you ran your right hand along the base of my neck, slowly making its way along my back… you held me tightly in your embrace... it felt so good to be held… to feel the protection and the love.... What first felt like pain, clearly was sheer ecstasy.... And soon it was warm and lovely when I took him all in...

Holding you in my arms, I started rocking myself back and forth... you let out a sigh..... a sigh of pleasure... I pushed you to lie back on the soft bed... you reached out your hands and cupped my breasts. I continued to rock slowly, squeezing and relaxing.. letting him feel my all... I wanted you to feel how much I loved you.... how much I wanted my mortal body to join with yours.... to please you... how much I wanted to hear you come... how much I wanted to hear you love me... love my body... tell me how much my body is bringing you pleasure because all I want is you...

You hugged me lovingly for what felt like forever... No, we didn’t move…. I could feel you pulsating inside.. You laid me on my back… moved your hands over mine... As your hands reached mine, you held them in security... You pushed him inside of me again as you showered me with kisses…

“I love you” you said.

“I love you too” I replied, feeling your every shiver.

With that, you started to thrust with deep longings. I looked at you. I felt your breath on my face as you felt the pleasure building inside. I loved watching you love me. I loved watching you close your eyes to feel every single sensation that was floating around your body. I watched you making love to me.

Slowly. Quickly. Deeply. Purely.

You clenched your teeth as you came. You moaned deeply, pushing him deeper inside, rubbing her in ecstasy. I squeezed tighter, to feel you more.... More, my baby. I want more.

You closed your eyes tightly to feel every single throb. You rested on me, still breathing heavily. I pat your head, kept you warm in my embrace. Your heart beat fast. I snuggled closer into your arms. As you savor the last few orgasmic moment, I whispered in you ears, “I love you baby.. I love you very much... much more than you know.."

You got up.. held my hands and led me to the bathroom, where we sat in the tub. You cupped some water and ran it on my back. I kissed your left knee gently and offered a smile. We exchanged glances. I took the towel to dry you. You moved your hands along my body with the towel, drying me. We kissed each other as we walked to the bed again.

I curled up in your arms... gave you a kiss good nite... you kissed my neck and held me even closer.. I snuggled warmly into you... I could feel you breath...

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Sunday, January 17, 2010
A Series Of Old Letters - 3

Let's dance in style, lets dance for a while
Heaven can wait we're only watching the skies
Hoping for the best but expecting the worst
Are you going to drop the bomb or not?
Let us die young or let us live forever
We don't have the power but we never say never
Sitting in a sandpit, life is a short trip
The music's for the sad men
Can you imagine when this race is won
Turn our golden faces into the sun
Praising our leaders we're getting in tune
The music's played by the madman

Forever young, i want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever, forever forever
Forever young, i want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever
Forever young

Some are like water, some are like the heat
Some are a melody and some are the beat
Sooner or later they all will be gone
Why don't they stay young
It's so hard to get old without a cause
I don't want to perish like a fading horse
Youth is like diamonds in the sun
And diamonds are forever
So many adventures couldn't happen today
So many songs we forgot to play
So many dreams are swinging out of the blue
We let them come true

~ Forever Young, lyrics by Alphaville


A flood of memories rushed to greet me when I started reading the entries. It was a warm and idyllic time of in my life, filled with traveling and experiencing new places, gooseberry ice creams on hot summer days, walking in Gamla Stan, going out with many friends and eating roti canai under the tree. We played Bomber Lord and watched lots of movies on the bed. We were in Perhentian before it became all hyped up, long before Bubu Long Beach laid its first brick.

I was surprised by the amount of Swedish I spoke and wrote prior to enrolling into Folk University Sweden. The translation for the following phrases in this email is:

"Jag lik den lång" --- "I like it long"
"Tack själv för älskande mig" --- "Thank you for loving me".
"Pojkvän" --- "boyfriend"
"Flickvän" --- 'girlfriend'.

I was even more surprised by our living arrangement - 4 months in Malaysia, 2 months apart, 4 months in Stockholm and 2 months apart. That was a pretty impressive living arrangement, one that gave us so much freedom of movement. I remember having lunches in Vurma on Saturdays and lusting after clothes in Indiska, waking up in the yellow bedroom and dressing up was carefree. Many emails were punctuated with 'see you later at 4 p.m.' or whatever time. It simply indicated that despite being together a lot, we each had our individual space to do our stuff. I was probably at work and he was at Coffee bean when we were in Malaysia. And in Sweden, it was probably the opposite.

We argued once and it was over his ex-gf of three years. They met when she was a foreign student studying in Sweden. I hated the comparison between Malaysia and Singapore, which I felt was a subtle comparison between the ex and I. But for most, the emails were cordial, lively and sometimes a little horny. Having such beautiful emails, you will begin to wonder why the hell we broke up. I found the answer by the end of the email exchanges.


Subject: Jag lik den lång
Date: 19 Mar 2001 05:07:35 -0500

To my dearest horny pojkvän,

I am very happy and thankful that I have you by my side. It has been a very interesting week and I bet that it will just get better by the end of this weekend.... mmmmm, geram! Honey, open up your legs....

You have been a tremendous joy to talk to and be with. For example, I am very happy just lying by your side last nite, talking about things. We could joke, tease, tickle and play with each other. I feel so comfortable with you!!!

I am just so glad that you are mine. I am so happy that we can be together, just enjoying each other's company. We make a great couple because we have plenty of things to talk and discuss! Both of us have a sense of humor (thank goodness we do) as do we share common sense of style and ideas..... and we sometimes say the funniest things that brighten up our days.

These days I also feel loved by you. To hear you whispering into my ears that you love me, makes me feel so warm inside. I also know it from the way that you hold me.... I feel very cherished by you. Tack själv för älskande mig :)

I feel excited each time I think about you and about us together. I can smell, feel and taste how good it will be... do you understand what I am saying here?

Anyway I am looking forward to meeting up with you later tonite. We'll attempt watching the movie AGAIN tonite *hahaha* will be there approx. 8:30 p.m. You enjoy yourself, ya?!

Love always,

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Friday, January 15, 2010
A Series Of Old Letters - 2

I was amazed when I found the following two pieces of correspondence. They were the very first times Henrik and I communicated. What a rare jewel to find these and to discover that we were sat in Coffee Bean on 20th January 2001. Eve and I were having our usual morning weekend breakfast. There was this beautiful creature sat across us, holding a book on architecture. He had the most amazing face and the most piercing eyes.

We devised a plan to find out who he was looking at. I walked over to the dispenser on the pretext of getting us some water. Naturally he would trail after the girl that he was observing. I made my way back to Eve with two white paper cups in my hands and was informed that he was looking at me. You should see the smile on my face... We sat there past our breakfast, hoping that he would walk over to our table and introduce himself. Those were the days when men dropped drinks and themselves at our tables all the time, so it was a very realistic assumption that he would do the same.

After 5 hours, I gave up and told Eve that we'll go home. This was ridiculous, I mumbled. I am not that desperate for a man albeit he is a very good looking guy, I thought to myself. I remember sitting in the car on the driver's seat when Eve bleated, 'Oh just give me your email address. Our new year resolution is to do all the things that we did not dare do and this is crazy....' I jotted my email address on a torn scrap of paper and off she ran upstairs, smiled at him and told him that if he liked me, he could write to me.


Subject: coffee bean ;)
Date: Sat, 20 Jan 2001 12:26:49

hi! i saw you today at coffee bean and your friend gave me your adress. i'd
really like to meet you!!! email your number and i'll give you a call...



Subject: Re: coffee bean ;P
Date: 20 Jan 2001 20:22:56 -0500

Hi there! Yes, I saw you too, sitting in Coffee Bean yesterday.... as requested, this is my cell phone number, if you would like to talk to me...


Please call me on Monday morning between the hours of 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Catch you then...


Greece, summer 2001

This exchange of so few words sparked a whirlwind of adventures spanning many countries and lit a different flame in my being. It marked the beginning of my womanhood, of growing comfortable of my body and asserting my thoughts. Henrik encouraged me to be who I was - a young woman. And till today, I hold a very Scandinavian view of sexuality and the human body. The photos we took of each other stacked more than 10cm high and were the most physically beautiful period in my life.

Reading the emails reminded me of how active we were as a couple. I was still performing dances in churches, learning Sign Language and socializing immensely. Most importantly, we were smiling crazy in all the photos. We were deeply in love.

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A Series Of Old Letters - 1

The last 48 hours was spent in a frenzy letter reading session. Eve found an old box of letters containing all the letters I ever wrote her. I wrote to her nearly everyday while we were in highschool, despite sitting next to her desk! And those letters were very passionate. Many heartbreaking letters about HighSchoolSweetheart and even more letters about the interracial love between a Chinese girl and a Kadazandusun boy in the early '90s.

You know that movie where the guy went back to all his girlfriends to make amends? Well that was my last 24 hours. Those letters to Eve sparked my journey of catching up with those important men in my life. Daytime was spent chatting to HighSchoolSweetheart and the whole night was spent talking with SwedishLove. I can safely tell you now both their names - Richard and Henrik.

We talked about our love and the time spent loving. There were many reflections and many thoughts, often punctuated with love and a small dash of sadness. By the time Henrik and I spoke, I was reading through the old letters we wrote each other. My penmanship is clearly visible and the different stages of my life brought about different choice of words and style of writing. Letters to Eve were emotional, lovelorn and hostile (Eve and I had a lot of teenage pent up anger). Letters to Henrik were, in contrast, full of optimism, love, hope and lust.

I'll try publish a collection of the letters in the next few days. And perhaps you will be able to read my life. These works are graphic and unedited. It is an honest look into the life of a young Malaysian girl - all her hopes, dreams, her wantings and her love experiences. They are bittersweet and lovely. I am sure that I am not the only girl to write as I did and I am not the only girl to receive such letters as indicated in the next few weeks.

I don't know why I am publishing them here. Most probably I am trying to immortalize the words and to rediscover who I was. It is a soulful read. So here it goes - I chosen this particular email exchange for its graphic nature. I was quite shocked and embarrassed when I read it this morning but there were very many letters like this - lustful, flighty and filled with innocent love. I was 25 years old then and Henrik was 28.


Subject: wet dreams...
Date: Tue, 08 May 2001 21:03:59

i love you flickvän, it's that simple. today you were on my mind every single second throughout the whole day... again! i miss u!! and it makes me soo happy to get your emails and read about all the things you experience, and especially to read how much you love me. don't let me go!!!

well, i've done some good thing today i guess. it's now 22:10 and i just finished painting for today. half of the first coating is done! so in two days everything will be finished :)

you want a photo of my family? i was actually thinking of sending you one, and maybe take some photos one of these days to finish up the roll. so lets do some trading. i'll send a photo of the family, and you'll send me a photo of you wearing your sexy underware. how's that? so that i can have some wet dreams too... ;)

i'm glad you're feeling sexy at the moment because you ARE extremely sexy. if only you knew how many times a day you turn me on when i start thinking about you. damn!!! not to mention at night when i lie alone in bed, thinking of the times we've been intimate... it drives me crazy!!! i think of that time in the hotel room when i came inside of you for the first time. do you remember? ohh, that was soo good... you were lying naked on the bed letting me caress your body, letting me kiss your lips, your nipples, your thighs... before sticking my toungue inside, tasting you. and then i came on top of you, holding your arms down above your head pushing him inside... slowly, inch by inch until he was all inside. my god!!!!! Otto, never think it's only because of sex that i want you, but oh sex is good with you!

wow, i think i should make my way to bed straight away now... :P wish you were here with me now! have a great day tomorrow and tell me more about your life. i'm longing for tomorrow when i have a new mail from you to read :)

yours forever!!!!!

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Snake and Ladders

‘Aiyo!’ I sat up and looked at him, ever so seriously. ‘I am on the other fucking ladder!’

It was past 11 p.m. and he was to wake a few hours later to catch his flight back to work. I blinked my eyes and nestled myself on my pillow. It was the harder pillow, filled with some kind of beans that were supposed to promote wellness and sleep. They were not very good beans, I guess. I was awake for the next hour, having a little therapy session with him.

‘What’s the first ladder?’ he asked, smiling. He always smiled and depending on my mood, I either loved his smiles or get superbly annoyed. That night, I loved his smile. If men could be doe eyed, he most certainly was so.

‘The first ladder is the girlfriend ladder,’ I said. ‘Girlfriends are freaking cool, always look like a pornstar, gorgeous hair, good skin, the most beautiful clothes and the highest high heels in the whole land. Girls on this ladder are ever hopeful and exciting. Men love them because they are cool, elusive and coy.’

‘And the second ladder?’ he asked.

I went off tangent and babbled on, ignoring his question. Men love girls on the first ladder because they were dangerous. They smelled like the heavens, knew the rules of games by hard and played even harder. They knew exactly when to bat their eyes and look away. If you asked these girls to spell the word ‘fun’, they would do it with lipstick, high heels and nothing else. Oh yes, they will spell every word in capitals.

And men loved them. Men loved them because these girls always played it right. They knew when to smile and when to get coy. They threw the bait and fish would climb up their poles. You would love them too because truth be told, girlfriends are fantastic. Their sex is stronger and they ride harder.

There are thousands of reasons why men love a girl on the first ladder. The girlfriend, apart from being exciting, is also unavailable. You see, these girls have something that the girls on the second ladder don’t. They have the ability to walk away. And the more able they are to walk away, the more attractive they are.

And quite honestly, girls who are able to walk away are the happiest girls around.


‘And the second ladder?’ he asked again.

‘Oh the second ladder…’ There was a pause. ‘… the second ladder is the wife ladder.’ I said, shrugging my shoulders. ‘This is the ladder for the wives, who turned grumpy, naggy, unhappy and all the words that ends with ‘y’… like ‘fatty’ or... or... 'frumpy'!’

He found my comments amusing because he laughed. He laughed so hard that the baby was about to rouse. Perhaps that was what he wanted to do, as a mean to escape our night conversation. But I chose to be optimistic that night and so I thought my remarks amused him.

Women sometimes jumped from the first ladder to the second. Other times they were unaware that they had transcended onto the second ladder and were very surprised (and probably angry) when they woke up one day to discover that they had landed on the second ladder. Whether willing or unwilling, women of all ages will one day find themselves on the second ladder.

And who sits on the second ladder? Grumpy wives, nagging their husbands from sunrise to sunset remain the most popular group on the second ladder. They are angry and bitter, often disheartened and disarrayed after the love glow waned. The men they married still looked the same and more often than not, behaved exactly the same as the first day they were acquainted. Second ladder women have love battle scars. They have the fatty tummy after the baby, stretch marks to remind them of how they used to be or perhaps a 20cm long caesarian scar, like me. Men looked exactly the same and most probably smell just a foul as the first weekend you met them.

Second ladder women are burdened by the responsibilities resting on their shoulders and the years of stress often marked their faces. It is an evil cycle. The more burdens they take on, the more they nag and the more they hate themselves. They hate to nag but they have to nag because the men were not listening. Not that nagging helps anything. Nothing saves these women on the second ladder. It is a lost case. Which is why women here are often resentful and hurt. And they talk like a broken record.

No woman walks down the aisle hoping to land herself on the second ladder.


‘I need a broom,’ I whispered.

‘Why? We don’t have a broom,’ he said.

‘To beat the first ladder women away,’ I said as a matter of fact. I could have been reciting the periodic table of elements. ‘I am Chinese and Chinese don’t like the broom… so I guess I need a broom’

He turned to his side and gave me a hug from the back. Ah, spooning. It is such a ‘couple’ thing to do. He was gently breathing behind my neck as we lied in bed together. The curtains were not drawn so the streetlight was shining through. There was a moment of calm. He was holding me tightly as my mind went wild. First ladder. Second ladder. Me on second ladder, now in need of a broom to beat the evil young things trying to tempt my honey away. BAM! Wake up call, babe. My mind was doing the mid night marathon.

‘I know. Probably the vacuum cleaner would do the trick.’


Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Grey Whiskers

The nurse looked away. “Leave the room, please,” he said. The nurse turned and walked away from us. She pulled the curtains that separated the consultation room from the nurse’s room. I could hear her chatter with the other nurses. Inaudible noises from beyond the four walls.

“Why didn’t you pick up my calls?” he asked. He took the strap and tied it just beyond my elbow. I looked away as he tapped my arm. I always looked away. While I was the sort of person who really needed to know everything, I was also quite afraid of really graphic scenes. Like drawing blood. And bloody hell, there were three tubes to fill today. “Take a deep breathe,” he said, “It’ll be over very soon. No pain, I promise.”

First tube, second tube and then the third. He was right. It was quite painless after the initial prick. He swabbed it when it was over, placed a cotton across it and folded my hand. He gave my hand a gentle squeeze and kissed it. His facial hair gently grazed across my fingers.

“Don’t you know that I love you?”


I could hear his laughter as soft as it was. “What do you mean?” he asked.

“Fragile,” I repeated myself. He was keying some data on his laptop when the nurse helped me onto the bed. “I feel fragile.” My fingers were fiddling over my huge belly. The white ceiling and a patch of screen with flashing data were above me. He came through the white curtains and sat to my right. I looked over and saw him sat there, like all the months before this. But the feeling was different.

“You don’t have to feel fragile,” he said. He took the ultrasound scanner and ran it across my stomach. The moment he touched my stomach, I heard my baby’s heart beat. 157 beats per minute, like how a healthy baby should. “You needn’t feel fragile at all.”

I have never felt so vulnerable in my life. I detest visiting doctors and try my best to avoid them. Avoid doctors like a plague, I thought to myself. Going to a doctor on monthly basis felt foreign and took a lot of getting used to. He was a stranger who became a lesser stranger as the months and weeks passed.

“You don’t have to feel fragile,” he said. He reached over, grabbed a tissue and wiped my stomach. “You don’t have to feel fragile because I am right here and I will make sure that you will be alright.”


“Ewwww,” Eve said. We were baking muffins on the last Saturday before we became mothers. I developed a habit of baking muffins to pass the last two weeks quickly. It was far more exciting than sitting on your ass waiting to birth a baby.

I am no Martha Stewart. I baked from readymade Pilsbury recipes. Before baking trays of muffins, I indulged in sewing. I managed to sew a proper blanket for my baby and was mighty proud of it. It was straight where it was supposed to be straight and right angled at the appropriate corners. After the blanket, I sew a few skirts. The working prototype was a skirt for PY’s daughter. I sew a purple skirt for PY and eventually a cheerful skirt for myself before the sewing machine died, hence the muffins which now sits in my fridge.

“Ewwww,” Eve repeated again. Her face was all bunched up in a grimace. “Dr. V, sexy? Ewwww.” She popped a muffin in her mouth. See, muffins were (and still are) pleasant looking little delightful gifts. I must have baked enough to feed a small nation. “Why Dr. V?”

“Don’t know,” came my reply. “Maybe because he has a moustache that reminds me of my dad,” I said in the most nonchalant manner. I popped a chocolate muffin into my mouth. We poured the next batch of muffin mixture into the tray of 12. “I love his composure,” I said after giving it some thought.

That was true. I loved his composure and the way he talked. He was not a great talker, which I found very appealing. I never liked men who talked like great salesmen of the year. The way he looked intently into my eyes and the way he carried himself was attractive to me. “He’s so ah pek,” Eve said. Dr. V was ah pek (trans: uncle) to Eve but to me, he was perfect.


“So what’s the big drama today?” he said as he chuckled. “Nothing that big today,” I said with a smile. I sat on the chair next to him. I must have been like every other patient he had met that day – pregnant and feeling bloaty. “I just wanted to show you my strawberry mark,” I said.

He looked puzzled, so I stood up and turned my back to him. I lifted my right foot and showed him my second toe. “There,” I said, pointing to the red dot, the size of my little finger nail. He gave a chuckle.

“See? It looks like a strawberry mark, isn’t it?” I asked, pointing at the red little specks resembling a tiny wild strawberry in the forest of Sweden during Mid Summer.

Dr. V laughed and waved his hand, inviting me to sit on the patient’s chair. He looked absolutely delightful like my muffins, with his mop of grey hair, geeky glasses and moustache. He keyed some data into his patient database. Then looking at me, he said, “It is nothing. It is just a virus and it will go away. Don’t worry.” He gave me a pat on my right hand.


There are currently three men in my life – The Bachelor and my two obstetricians. It is amazing how the two doctors pop up in my conversations with The Bachelor. It happened at the most unlikely places and times, such as while we were trying to reignite the sparks between the sheets.

“Will you ask Dr. L about this during your next visit?” he said, fiddling with the condom. He hates the condom and I hate it too. It however was not the cause for my pregnancy. We were happy together and wanted to have a baby. Condoms or the lack of it was not the reason for Sunshine who is now sleeping in his cot next to me.

“I will ask my sexy Dr. V,” I said, snuggling closer to The Bachelor. I had those dreamy doe eyes whenever I mentioned Dr. V. He is so yummy, I thought to myself. Dr. L was good but Dr. V is just MMMMMM with a capital M!

I guess the intimacy with one’s obstetrician/gynaecologist is to be expected. He is, after all, the next legitimate man to take a close look at your Fifi and not get slapped for it. Next to your life partner, a obstetrician or gynaecologist is also the closest man to you. He is like your best friend, the one you can intimately share details of your sex life with. He is like your gay friend with the exception that he is not gay. (He could be, if you chose to visit a gay obstetrician.)

I cannot help it. Dr. V was the one who held my hand (very literally) throughout the nine month pregnancy journey. He made sure that I was safe and that my wellbeing was taken care. He saw very private parts of myself such as my toes and my Fifi. And he listened and chuckled at very private stories and jokes.

Many pregnancy books inform you that pregnancy brings about all sorts of hormones and that a pregnant woman usually has greater sex drive. Books also mention that a pregnant woman fantasies more when she is relaxed. The books were right because I had many sexual dreams that felt very real. Some were dreams of The Bachelor but some were with my obstetrician such as those that I wrote above.

Eve did not experience such closeness with her gynaecologist. It is not surprising for someone whom I named “The Butcher”. The above stories were little fantasy escapes for a woman with a bloaty stomach and swollen feet. I needed them, I guess. Those dreams gave me a sense of wellbeing, of being cared and loved – that I was still attractive and lovely despite my 38 inch waist and very unattractive hair. They were my little adventures with Grey Whiskers.


Friday, March 20, 2009
Seeing Butterflies

(written on 20th February 2009)

In ancient Greek the word for butterfly is "Psyche", which translated means "soul". This was also the name for Eros' human lover and the two figures are often depicted surrounded by butterflies.


The first time I saw the butterfly, it was sitting on the grey marble wall. It had an outline of black and dots of reddish orange. It flapped a few times, wrestling the afternoon wind. Then it gently floated across the garden onto a plump green leaf of a palm. It was at that very moment that I thought of the title for this entry, “Seeing Butterflies”.

Butterflies usually symbolized a change in life. Perhaps it is a left turn off the course of what you usually call ‘normal’ or a step towards the right direction. Whatever it is, butterflies and a change in your life is often welcomed, especially if the changes are good or desired.


‘Look the right,’ she said. She took a step forward and stared intently. ‘Your nose is still the same size,’ she concluded, as if she expected my nose to balloon.


I have not written since my last entry in August. That is a change, wouldn’t you think? There were some changes in my private life and I felt that I needed some space in order to grow and change. I think many readers have realised that I will only write about things that I wish to share. And when I do not have anything to share, I just don’t.

I wrote many times but published none. There were times when I feared that I would lose all my readers, which took me more than 2 years to build. But then I realised that I had changed and those figures do not matter much to me anymore.

I had reached a point in my life where I feel peace. My soul is at rest and I am happy just where I was. That was a huge change, one that took some effort and time to acclimatize.

Do you know that it takes courage to be happy?


‘Hey you, I’m dropping by,’ YC bleated like a sheep on the phone. And when I arrived to pick her up, it took her some seconds to recognize the car. Just like a butterfly’s metamorphosis, even my wheels went through a change last year. ‘You got yourself a new car?’ she asked as she plopped herself into the passenger seat.

We decided to have some nibbles in a Korean restaurant nearby. ‘Check out those tits,’ I teased. Mine were overflowing through the pink blouse. ‘My tits more than twice your size wei.’

I don’t think she finds it funny at all.


We bought a house and renovation began in September. We tore down the floors and replaced them with granite on the ground floor and Merbau wood on the remaining two floors. The kitchen went in sometime in October and November was spent chasing after the plumber, who had never seen the washing machine plumbed next to a sink in the utilities.

We were supposed to move in 3 days before Christmas, which was postponed to 2 days before and then the day before. We finally slept in our bed for the first time on the 28th of December last year. I took a sabbatical and for the following 30 days, we spent it in the house blissful and happily waking up whenever we felt like.

Days that were spent zipping around the city, working in the office, chasing after clients, meeting friends, having meals and shopping were soon replaced with searching furniture pieces, strangling the plumber and arranging our very first lion dance during the Lunar New Year. These were punctuated only by visits to the doctor’s.

Nights were filled with cuddles and kisses, sometimes in bed but often time on the plush sofa, which was our very first purchase for the home. We fell asleep in front of the TV, preferably to CSI or some movie than Discovery Turbo (if you know what I mean).


‘Are you sure that it is a boy?’ she asked, staring at my nose again. ‘Your nose is nice and sharp. Boys usually mean fat, ugly noses.’

In reality, I had the very same conversation with a couple of friends. It is either the nose or the belly. Sharp belly equals a boy and a fat, round belly means buying everything in pink. I cannot agree with the nose statement because my nose is still as cute as a button despite seeing my baby’s nuts on the ultra scans twice.

However there is something about the sharp or round belly. You see, Eve has a rounded belly and guess what? She’s having a girl. I have a sharp, pointy belly and it is undeniably a pair of nuts during each monthly scan. A trip to the doctor confirmed that Eve and I must have been doing the horizontal tango on the same day.

It was a beautiful Sunday morning…


‘Honey, I think we need to talk,’ I said from one side of the door.

‘What is it?’ he said from the other side. He was packing our stuff for the Singapore F1 Night Race. That is one of the more endearing qualities he possessed. He packed my clothes, shoes and make-up into bags at each trip. (He said he had replaced the Indonesian maid but I digress).

‘I think we’re pregnant,’ I said. Needless to say, I felt miserable in Singapore as any fabulous girl would feel if she found out that she was expecting a crying package in nine months or so. Nothing says ‘miserable’ like the act of dragging a slurring, drunk 41 year-old man whom I lovingly called ‘ancient’ home.

Let’s up that statement a little. Nothing says ‘miserable’ like the act of dragging a slurring drunk 41 year old man on the same day you found out that you had to lay off those 4 inch platforms for some months because there was a bun in the oven.

He made up for it on Sunday night though. He took me on a crazy trishaw ride and all that I could see was a river reflecting lights off buildings and roads. I had not laughed or screamed so hard for a very long time.


I like this change. I really do. I yearned for it for the longest time. Many people were caught by surprise. Even you must have thought that I was a colourful party creature with a winsome smile, flirtatious eyes and conversations that entrapped many men. I guess those were true (or at least I would like to think that I do at my ripe old age) but only to a certain extend. If you really know me deep inside, you will know that I am more than that.

Or less than that, as YC discovered the very first time she met me. She found me quite plain and I took it as a compliment. Some compliments are better in smaller doses.


It was amazing to watch the butterfly. It sat prettily on the leaf, dainty and graceful, even as the wind tossed the leaf a few inches up and down. Changes are like that, I guess - tossing you and moving you along life’s many routes. You have to hold on tight if you want to survive the trip. Just remember to put on your best smile and highest heels and float gently like the butterfly.

The garden was wet after an hour of watering. Then the rain came to water the new garden a little more. It is always the same story. It rains whenever I drench the garden in water but it never seem to pour when I forget.


Today is his birthday and we are apart for the first time. It was not always this way. We were together for our last two birthdays and he was a very good friend during those years. Now we share a house, the house mortgage that we thankfully can afford, two cars and a soon to arrive maid. However nothing beats the excitement of sharing a baby together.

It is those butterflies at work again. He is in Indonesia and I will soon join him. The last two years were full of changes. Changes are good when you grow and renew your soul. I look forward to a little time for myself. I am excited about a new life and I am not sure if I will make a good mother. All I know is that I will try my best.

When we are apart, he calls me each night. That he has done for more than two years and is also yet another endearing quality. He sends me a message when he wakes up and again when he sleeps. If I could be in Indonesia, I would have flown in an instance. I am no longer allowed to fly until the baby is born. Thenafter, I think we shall be traveling quite a lot between Malaysia and Indonesia and then again, twice more to Europe each year.

This will be the longest time we are apart, a whole 3 weeks. He will of course come back soon and travel back and forth until the baby is matured enough to travel to Europe to meet the family. Then we will all be in Indonesia – baby and I there on alternate months until his contract (and the economic gloom) runs its course. Quite a long metamorphosis, I guess.


I saw two purple butterflies. Purple pygmy butterflies, they must have been. They were the smallest that I have ever seen.

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