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Friday, April 14, 2006
To Hell And Back

*Open this link in another browser before reading this post. It has a song that goes beautifully with this post. Click on the song, if it doesn't load automatically and pay special attention to the lyrics*

Dedicated to Brandon and to other readers who wonder about my life.

When I was very little, I was very well loved. Both my parents were teachers and every afternoon after school, the three children (that's my two brothers and I) and my parents would sit for lunch together. They listened to all the stories we children told them as we ate. We repeated the same tradition come dinner time. Till today, I am moulded by that childhood memory. Mealtimes are always about laughter and friendship, all rolled together and served on hot plates.

Although my parents were teachers and we were not from a rich family, we travelled a lot. Come any school holidays and our bags were packed for a trip somewhere. I have been gold mining in Terengganu during a short gold rush in the late 80s. I have been to most islands, lakes, all states (except Sabah) and visited all museums and places of interest. All done during my childhood. Those were the best times, my brothers packed their He-Man and I packed my one and only Barbie Doll, the five of us hopped into the old Nissan and drove for hours with the guide of a map.

Unlike my two brothers, my parents sent me for classes that I truly enjoyed and had a talent for (they just tagged along). I had once attended a piano class but i hated reading the notes and saw no reason to do so. I cried and my mother switched me to ballet and I absolutely loved it. I spent more than ten years training as a ballet dancer and a lot of my childhood and teenage life revolved around this ability.

I was sent for art classes with many different teachers and learnt many different styles. In my adult life, I used my ability to sketch to document my boyfriends' body parts. I did many drawings, especially during the time when I was with Alan and wondered what has come to them. I cross my fingers Alan has stored them in a safe place or burnt them. Have not held a pencil or brush in such a long time that I forgot all about the years my parents fetched me back and forth from one class to another. I had prepared a gift - a sketch of my hands wide open - for R as a weekend surprise. Just like some men in my life, R had the ability to bring out the best in me. It was when he saw my sketch that he commented that I had a flair for color and art and only then, did scenes of my father fetching me around town popped in my mind.

I never doubted people and never feared. There was no reason to. Everything was so safe and everything was true. Childhood was about fishing and playing by the nearby park. My father drove at 6 p.m. every evening when I was young, just to tire me enough to sleep for the night. My mother bought me dolls that none of my friends had and my bedspread was "Mickey Mouse from Singapore" (so said my mother). There is nothing that my parents could have done to make my childhood better than it was. Of course there were quarrels and teengage angst but childhood is filled with trips to the countryside during weekends, special mealtimes, of a father who spent his time with his daughter and songs that my father sang to me as a child.

These were the gifts that my parents gave me in my childhood and they made my life sweet.

In my 8th year, I attended a picnic that totally altered my life. Organized by the church through its Sunday School ministry, I found once again all my talents being put to use. For more than 10 years, I danced on stage for parents and children alike. Good Friday, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Children's Day, Valentine's, Christmas and whatever occasion, you will see me up there with my ballet slippers and hair all bunned up, sequin skirts and a leotard. My photo albums are filled with photos of children smiling and I would be in the center of it all (naturally since my father took photos of me - duh!). And when I entered my teenage years, I taught others to dance and everyone performed in the church and in public.

My whole social life was spent in the church. All parties I had attended were organized by the church. I never attended any parties that were threw by my friends. I never slept over at any of my friends' homes, not even E's or PY's. I never listen to pop songs sung in the 80s or 90s. I listen to gospel songs. I went to church. Everything was centered on God and on church. In my local church area, I was always in the limelight because I danced everywhere and children were sent for ballet lessons, so that they could dance like me. Till today, I meet up with old friends from those times during weekends but it was never in church. I meet them while buying a drink at the bar.

Something happened when I was 19. Something that absolutely changed my world and what I understood about it. Someone came and took away everything I believed in and everything that I lived and breathed for. Those were the years I felt like a walking dead. I drowned in my own tears and I fought to breathe each morning. I slept with a pair of scissors and I knew what was pain. While my peers were studying and partying during weekends, I was working, taking on responsibilities that were far too heavy for my shoulders, sucking in all the pain, dulling my senses so I could never feel again. Rotten relationships have that ability to make you feel dead.

I did not see flashing lights, loud "ungodly" music nor did I take a sip of alcohol until I turned 21. I asked my father to accompany me to visit some pubs in Bangsar because I was curious and my father took me around. He walked me through the streets and I observed what was happening in all these "ungodly" places. Everything felt so different and so raw. Some months later I was away from home doing my Masters degree. It was in The Roof (which is now defunct) when I took my first drink, a Screwdriver. Followed by a Frozen Magharita with my best uni mate, Catherine.

I then realised that with all the love and good intentions my parents had for me, they had spun a very small and protective cocoon around me. I did not know how to ride a bus or even hail for a cab when I was 20! Thus began my journey, one that I insisted on taking and one that I took alone. I did not have a childhood like you and so I am not like any ordinary person. Perhaps that is why I do not feel the same things like you do, my readers. Simple tasks such as driving to the petrol kiosk to put in petrol and taking a bus from town to home became exercises of independence. I insisted on doing many things on my life and refused to have anyone accompany me. Perhaps that was a mistake and I had made some. Then again, these mistakes taught me about life as they acted as a springboard for comparison.

I possessed childlike qualities that people were not used to seeing in an adult. BGF smiles whenever I make a comment that he finds childlike and he cannot believe that I am 30. I think people who met me in real life did not know how to react to my childlikeness. It was also during this time that I met a Hungarian friend who witnessed my life, from my old to my new and it is him who gave me The Little Prince. The Little Prince gave me so much comfort because I could see myself in him. I was also on a journey too when I first met my Hungarian friend, just like the Little Prince. The reasons for our adventures were the same but I hope that I would not vanish like him one day.

It was AB who taught me to dance. Or maybe it was with AB that I felt free to dance in a sea of people. If I was a child dancer in the church, I became a dancer in another stage; the DJ console and the dance floor in my early 20s. The feeling of dancing with AB was so electrifying, it remains within me till today and I can still feel his hands tracing mine. He, who is the total opposite of me, breathed life back into my body while we kissed behind the trees and buildings.

I had Alan and Swedish Love, of course. Each man taught me different things in life and the only reason why I gave up each of them was because I needed to be free to explore and to journey more. With Alan, I learnt social things, I did my stint with Clairol and stayed away from home a lot (because I was hanging in his house too often!). With my Swedish Love, I travelled to Europe and laid my eyes on the Parthenon, the Vasa, the Sex Museum and walked through streets in the cold windy months and ate ice cream in the sun. He opened my eyes to a lot of things and made me realise that there is more to life than what I had here in Malaysia. And suggested that perhaps, I should reside in Europe if I found Malaysia too regimented. That was how I got my Swedish PR.

So when I was a child, I wore dresses sew by my mother's seamtress. When everyone were decked in their Nikes and Levis in the 90s, I was still wearing dresses (of a larger size, of course) and danced in church. And when everyone was wearing sneakers to attend their university classes, I wore suits and high heels to work. And when everyone wore work attire, I put on my dancing shoes and went drinking and dancing instead.

You see, I have been everything. I have REALLY seen some things that women are not supposed to see. My eyes had witness love and betrayal. My ears kept secrets and my heart saw truths from lies. I have been good. I was rensponsible. I went to church. I have danced for God and I have danced for me. I went to work. I met men and women. I was propositioned by rich old men and young punks, a few lesbians and butches, one who was really good looking. I have attended a few grand parties and rubbed shoulders with business men, when I was still a child. I had been stalked, loved and obsessed. Equally I have been hated, despised and cursed.

I laughed at myself and cried myself to sleep. I brought life to some men and was a muse to some. I have never took the hand of a preacher man and made love in the sun but emotionally I have shared with AB, a life that I feel could have been forever. I have been taught what is the meaning of true love and as karma goes, I have taught others. I have walked with God and did the tango with the Devil. I have had my heartbroken and my spirit died. Now I wind down my window and smile when I feel the breeze through my fingers. I have risen from the ashes of death.

You see, I have been to hell and back. And I have been to Paradise. And now with Alex, I have been to ME.


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love this piece.
The younger you sounds like the younger me, especially the dancer part. Except that i never tango with the devil :>

2:53 am  

Ok me is your perm-reader now.

Ego meter up 1.

3:09 am  

I love this entry so much. and what a journey you have there. So much colour, so much emotion.

3:57 am  

Thanks. You did ballet too? It's kinda cool, ain't it? If I am not mistaken, you are a Christian too, isn't it? So you will understand what I am talking here...

Wahhh I got a permanent reader! Thanks for the compliment. Write to me whenever because reader interaction is crucial to me understanding you and writing in a way that you would understand. Cheers!!!

Everyone has a journey and a story. Perhaps I just remember more than some others and allow myself to feel a whole lot more ;D

Happy reading!

4:31 am  

hey otto, yup i can totally relate to your story. no i didnt do ballet. We dont have ANY BALLET teachers in our poor kampung!wanted sooo much to learn ballet! Was a gymnast(not the flipping kind, the rhythmic kind) though. Gold medalist at tat!! kekeke

5:02 am  

I did gimrama too!!!! I didn't like it tho and quite. Much prefered long jump. Which kampong you come from?!

5:07 am should really come sabah...nice views and has the best seafood....=D....Keep up the good reading your blog...

9:32 am  

If I had a magic wand, I would now grant you what you've desired to have in your life before this.

9:49 am  

I've been a lurker. I enjoy all your entries. So, this is my first comment. It's something about this entire post (or maybe my weird mood swings today) that spoke a lot to me. Heh malu* I cried buckets reading it.

There is a chance that I'm going through what happened when you were 19. And somehow I can't wait til I get to where you are right now. :)

Awesome stuff, Otto.

11:03 am  

If I am still ard in May (and not in the UK) I would come to Sabah for the harvest festival :) My highschool sweetheart was from Tamparuli.

12:02 pm  

But life's odd.... despite everything that happened, I don't want to change a single thing. It was painful but I got thru stronger and I like the ME now (which I am sure I wouldn't be should my pass be altered).

12:02 pm  

There is a limit to how much a person can take before it is not worth the effort put in. Learn to love yourself and learn who you are inside =)

I am sure you'll figure it out. Much love from me. If anything, just send me an email and we'll talk in private.

12:05 pm  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:10 pm  

What a brilliant piece to wake up in the morning reading the news.

Such a powerful piece...wouldn't claim that I know you better now...but sure feels like it.

Life's got a way of running herself to make up for lost time, I feel. We can't go through life missing the growing up bit, and boy, what a quality of have when others are old and jaded.

But after all's that said and done, I think you just deserve a great, big


12:12 pm  

Hahah you've got me hooked onto your writings!Captivating and had me begging for more.

I think its great that you got to experience all that. Makes me think about making my life more fulfilling after reading about yours.especially since you had all that when you were just 19.

Btw I did rhythmic gym and am currently still doing ballet now! =)

3:52 pm  

Time for group hugzzzzzz...

*hugs everyone here*

Happy to hear I've got an additional happy reader =) Each of us have our ups and downs and we all learn from it. If we fail first time, we just need to stand up and try again.

What doesn't break you will only make you stronger!!! Cheers!!

4:38 pm  

Yeah, the song really goes nicely with your entry! It evokes such bittersweet feelings..

Hmmm, I'm a ballet dancer too. ;)

-hugs you too!

3:41 pm  

I like the song very much! Invokes a lot of emotions in me....

Do you think that ballet helped you now that you are grown?

5:12 pm  

Well, actually ballet made me grow up a lot.. Especially emotionally. It's a really long story! I'll tell it one day alright?

Oh but one really good plus point is the posture I have cus of ballet. Like how I don't hunch at all, and it feels absolutely natural!

5:43 pm  

Ya, ya, ya! I agree!!! Good posture is one of the clear benefits from all the years of "one, two, three, four... Two, two, three, four..." with arms stretched....

5:46 pm  

Haha! Actually I only stopped my classes last year, and I'm intending to dance again after my exams end! :)

I love dancing! Haha. Even with all the bad things that came along with it, like being overconscious about my body!

6:06 pm  

I love love love love dancing too!!! And all the years of training made dancing in any other dances much easier. Helps my confidence level too... and there is nothing more appealing that proper posture!

6:23 pm  

Hahahah!! Yay! I totally agree!! I love the posture I have too! Just that sometimes ballet training makes me a little stiff for other forms of dances. Easily made up with lots of practising though. ;)

7:20 pm  

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