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Malaysian Alien


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Thursday, May 24, 2007
Musical Chair

‘And when the music stops, you find a chair and sit,’ the lady in the hat said.

The birthday girl and twenty of her friends walked around the circle of chairs. Their tiny footsteps soon caught up with the music played. They froze the very second the music stopped and after a few bedazzled moments, they ran towards a chair. Some shrieked in delight as they sat on their chairs. Others clambered towards the nearest unoccupied chair.

The birthday girl ran for one and the moment she touched it, she lost the chair. So she ran for another, just three chairs away. Before she could even reach the chair, it was taken. By the third try, tears formed at the corners of the birthday girl’s eyes. Her mother came to hold her hands and guided her towards the side; the side where everyone stood and watched the little game.

The birthday girl stopped in her footsteps and she refused to walk away. She turned and looked at the game unfolding itself when the lady in the hat started to play the music again.


Ironic, I thought to myself. Sometimes life can be pretty ironic. PY, E and I were sat in our little corner in Starbucks. The two girls chatted away when my mind travelled to another day and time.

‘My husband forbids me from going out with Otto anymore,’ I imagined her saying. She was the 4th girl in our group and the four of us were good friends in the last two years of highschool. How we became friends was rather interesting. E and I sat next to each other since we were 14 and on the last year of our education, she had decided that we needed to concentrate on our studies. In other words, E decided that we should start doing homework and concentrating in class instead of exchanging notes about boys we liked.

And so one day I came to school and there sat this really tall girl with the sweetest dimples. Her name was Jane. E assigned herself to sit next to another girl and that girl was PY. And that was how four very different girls ended up sharing recess break together. We could not be anymore different but yet we were friends.

Jane somehow ended up in an accountancy course, far away in the north. PY attended Form 6. E went to work and I attended college. We kept in close contact. There were photos of us together during our 21st birthday, each of us sporting really ugly haircuts. There were even photos of us together in a toilet cubicle, taken the night before Jane left for Dublin with her boyfriend.

Education did its work on all of us. For Jane morphed from a teenage nightmare with dangling earrings (we are talking about the early 1990s, a time when even MTV videos were innocent) and tattered jeans into a beautiful and responsible young woman. She studied hard, graduated and worked in Dublin. She eventually ended up with the other non-Muslim in the course, a boy a year older than all of us.

It was this boy that turned into a man that she married ten years later. It was this boy that told her to stop communicating with me. It was this boy and her that decided that they were too matured and responsible to hang around a very irresponsible me.

Approximately four years ago, Jane and I stopped talking. It was as if we woke up one morning and decided that it was best that we did not talk to each other anymore. I had enough emotional baggage and I was quite glad to get rid of one. She said that I was wild and irresponsible as a 25 year old and I felt wronged by a very close friend. We just stopped talking.

But through PY and E, I heard news of Jane. She shared a house with her husband almost immediately when they tied the knot. They started working very hard and were promoted very quickly through two mega international companies. I was genuinely very happy for them despite all of us having gone our own ways.

You can say that I was this overgrown kid, still hanging out in the clubs with the boys. I had so many boys that I could rotate them for my meals and still had spare. Those years were spent fast and wild, sleeping only to wake up for yet another party. When the 3 of them settled down blissfully into their respective permanent relationships, I was this girl who had a new boyfriend every third year.

‘I don’t know what’s wrong with Otto. All the men were fine. SwedishLove was fine and she broke up with him,’ Jane lamented a long time ago. ‘And now she is going out with this new boy, Alex. He is fine too.’


The men were all fine. What made me wriggle uncomfortably every so often, I don’t know. But I know that I have to move on to another relationship. It was as if I had changed and grown, the men had to change and grow, mirroring who I had become.

Since leaving highschool, here are the counts of men that the four of us dated, had relationships and married:

  • One permanent partner, a boy a year older than us.

  • One boyfriend who drove fancy cars from his 2nd hand car company.

  • Currently happily married to a man 14 years older.

  • One man she loved, married and shared children with.

  • One boyfriend since her separation from her husband.

  • Alan, SwedishLove and Alex as permanent partners.

  • Seriously dated at least three other men (with the intention of forming lasting relationships).

  • A few permanent MiniBoyFriends such as BestGuyFriend, R and Adidas Boy.

Needless to say, I was the hopeless one in the group. I was the one who couldn’t form lasting relationships and I was the one who was crazy.

‘I tell you, this is what happens when you go to church as a teenager.’ Jane said a long time ago. ‘I was doing all this partying when I was a teenager and now that I am in my 20s, I am stable and Otto is like this mad teenager.’


Ironic, I thought to myself. 2007 is presenting itself as a year for pregnant ladies and a year for great break-ups. Great break-ups which included Jane’s, E’s, my boy cousin from my father’s side and a very young girlfriend who called me every now and then. PY and E were talking about Jane’s divorce and how it was affecting her. Every so often, E mentioned how she was coping with her own break-up from her Muslim boyfriend.

‘No future,’ E said, clasping her hands together. Their relationship blossomed at the same as Alex’s and mine and now 4.5 years later, they broke up and Alex and I are still hanging on together. Somesort.

The girls were concerned for Jane when she returned for Chinese New Year celebrations this year. She and her one permanent partner were filing for divorce immediately after the Lunar celebration. E’s boyfriend became their appointed lawyer. This event broke more than just a vow to love one another and a housing loan. It broke Jane’s heart. PY was worried for Jane because she looked depressed and was depressed for quite a few weeks.

‘Oh tell Jane that she will survive it. Better do it now when she is still young than when she is 45 with two kids,’ I said between licking the tasty cream off my coffee. ‘Consider this as a clean start in life. Look at it this way. Now Jane can choose someone that is suitable for her NOW, than to deal with an old love that was a reflection of her when she was 19.’

My mind was far away when PY and E were talking about E’s new life. 2007 is the first year that E is truly single. She had a permanent partner since she was 15. That’s like 16 years ago. My god, she had spent half her life with a man. Now she is spreading her wings and feeling so happy and adventurous. There were all these new boys that were calling E, confessing how much they were smitten by her presence and how much they had wanted to be with her.

‘Can you believe it? 5 different messages from different men, telling E how much they love her and want to be her boyfriend,’ PY said the following morning when we were having breakfast.

‘I hope you told E never to believe the crock men say.’ That was me dispensing advice to my girlfriend. ‘Men will say anything and do almost anything, just to have half the chance to get into your panties.’


Ironic, I thought to myself. Now all I hear during coffee breaks is the weekend adventures for two of my closest friends. How they’ve visited the latest club and have phone numbers stuffed into their hands. With much more money and financial freedom in our 30s, these girls are feeling the freedom that only a single woman could feel. How empowering and good it felt. How you feel that you could live forever.

‘This boy asked me to go to Tokyo with him. That boy said I could stay with him in Hong Kong while I nurse my broken heart,’ E said as she pointed at the photos of boys and what they had promise her in recent weeks. Her eyes were so full of life and she was so happy talking about them. One sneak peek at the boys and you could see that they were physically good looking and had the financial freedom that only came with men in their 30s.

The world has no limits.

I walked down that path and I had the boys. I still have the boys but I am telling myself to give up. Slowly I am giving all these up. It is time for me to move onto another level. I know that it is. I don’t know where I am going but I know that it isn’t shagging in some dingy pub toilet cubicle, next to puke. Those days were wild and those days are now gone. I want something more meaningful and I seriously think that my bones can’t take the vigorous shaking in the cubicle or shack.


All of us are participants in a game of musical chair. Life is like a game of musical chair and each chair represents a stage in our lives. There are no two same chairs as there are no two same stages in life. When the music stops, you and I are sat on different chairs.

Do not make a mockery of your friend’s chair. Do not say that your chair is the best. Once the music starts again, all things are fair. You might just end up on the very chair you despised. Do not look at your chair and feel that the world is lost. Do not feel lost. And when you are sad, do feel sad but do not feel too sad. One day you will change your chair and you will find yourself in a different stage.

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I guess some people get self-righteous when they should be compassionate and non-judgemental. But people learn, and hopefully become better people and better friends. :)

7:09 am  

Me and my girlfriends hang out all the time talking about our men, love lives that may not eventuate into long term relationships and my non-existent love life.

We realised that 5 years ago we were talking about the same subjects. Will things be the same after 5 years?

Now the only difference is instead having our chat sessions at the nearby mamak over teh tarik, we have our coffee at starbucks or a cafe/restaurant. Relationships are still the same.

8:23 am  

I find this post very sad. Am I the only one? It makes me think of the Nelly Furtado song 'All Good Things Come To An End', which by the way, I found out about through your blog. So thanks, Otto. =)

3:46 pm  

things will happen in due time.

12:54 pm  

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:27 pm  

I love reading your blog and especially this post even though i have no idea who you are. To a certain extent, I could really relate to what you said about moving from one relationship to another every two years or so. Whilst most of your friends are contently settled in their happily-ever-after lives.

I wish you all the best with Alex or whoever else you may end up choosing as your life partner. Let's toast to celebrate the liberty that comes with being single. CHEERS, Otto!

2:34 pm  

And every once in a while it's also nice to sit a while on a chair, really get a feel for it before tossing it to the dumps. :)

2:51 am  

I am sitting on a chair that I despise and I am pretty much just counting down the days until the music starts again so that I will be sitting on another chair.

I love reading your posts. They keep me sane to a certain extent because they always make sense. :)

12:27 pm  

you're still the best on life, otto!

3:28 pm  

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