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Friday, March 28, 2008
One Night with MiniBoyFriend R

'A girl said that I had a very unique face while we laid on the hotel bed. What the hell is that suppose to mean?'

'That you have beautiful eyes,' I replied. He has a beautiful pair of eyes in a very beautiful shade of light brown. 'Hey, is this the same girl whom you meet at the bus station?' I asked.

'No,' came the reply. 'Different girl.'

'Wow, someone's getting lots of action lately.' I said, beaming with pride, like only a mother would.

'Yeah, soon you will have to queue up to see me,' he said.


I love my MiniBoyFriend. We have the most wonderful conversations. Last night, he told me that there is only one way to cry, that is to cry for the wrong reasons. 'There are no right ways to cry, only wrong ones,' he said. How very romantic.

We shared some secrets and I found out that he was one busy boy in my absence here in Europe. I need not worry about my breakfast buddy since he is having more than one girl for breakfast. (laughs). I told him about Bunny and the humbling lesson learnt.

I showed him a photo of myself. With a smile. Finally. It was some time ago when he requested for one of my photo, so he could use as a base for a cartoon drawing. 'You know, give me some happy photos' he said. 'It is difficult to draw a cartoon out of solemn faces.' I had no such photos. No photos where I actually smiled till my eyes were slitty and shut. It is all vanity. Smiles create wrinkles and smile lines. (And bags under the eyes - not nice). But I had a sweet photo of myself taken while sledging during Easter weekend, so it was a rather nice gift for MiniBoyFriend R.

He related a strange tale, set on another hotel bed in another hotel with another girl. 'Have you ever asked your girlfriend to abort a baby?' the girl asked casually. (Men should be extra careful when women ask casual questions).

I don't know about you but I think such a question is the perfect contraception. No 'up, up and away' times after that question, I suspect. MiniBoyFriend R said that he frankly did not know the answer. I argued that one must know the answer. After all, the question was 'Have you ever asked your girlfriend to abort a baby?'. You either did or did not. He said some girls might not have informed him. Being the dutiful MiniGirlFriend that I am, I relieved him of all responsibilities in such an event. It's logical, isn't it? He could not have possibly be responsible for aborting a baby that he did not know the existence of.

'For all you know, you could be a daddy now,' I said. He wearily agreed.


'I'll draw you something,' he said.

I have always loved his drawings and paintings but don't you tell him that. (He can be a very diva artist). He has the talent of a great artist and definitely the charms of one. Just look at the long line of muses he has been collecting. (smiles). While he was away drawing something on a sheet of paper, I chopped and cut and diced and cooked. 'I cooked grilled chilli chicken. Better than Nando's,' I declared to MiniBoyFriend R.

'I am vegetarian lah,' came the reply. MiniBoyFriend R is a vegetarian by choice, which sometimes made breakfast arrangements funny to the rest sitting at our breakfast table. I had his two extra sausages and he had my two extra sunny side up eggs. I think he is still trying to figure out why he is a vegetarian. I guess all vegetarians are romantics at heart. After half hour or so, he came back to the keyboard and emailed the drawing to me.

Obviously the names were altered to protect
the true identity of two rather boring persons in real life.

'Very well done, R,' I said. 'Could do a t-shirt print with this one.'

'If it was a t-shirt print, we are the only two people who would buy the shirts.'

'Could do with more loving words though,' I said. Here we have Mr. R, my generous MiniBoyFriend draw me something special and I had the cheek to ask him to put some loving words into the conversation boxes. Like 'This drawing is perfect, R!' and 'Thank you!'.... that sort of thing.

R said only foul languaged t-shirts sell well. Maybe he is right.

No, let me rephrase. Surely MiniBoyFriend R is right. He is in the industry afterall. And when I get back home, he's going to help draw and embroider something pretty onto my biker chick jacket. I suspect it's going to be another 2 cats with nothing but foul language in conversation boxes....


Thursday, March 27, 2008
Compassion for Bunny

Every now and then, Mr. Easter Bunny writes. Now we met under very strange circumstances and I do not recall much of the night when we met. Other than some boys climbing up a wall and I working behind the bar. Oh yes, I was a waitress in a bar, a long time ago. For fun. So I can write all the things that I write you in ANNN.

During our last conversation, which was last evening, he mentioned that BestGuyFriend was waiting for me to sit on his lap. I do not even remember sitting on BestGuyFriend’s lap. We were very close but it never occurred to me that perhaps it wasn’t your usual boy + girl friendships. Especially not if I sat on his lap for fun...

I should tell you why I call him Mr. Easter Bunny. Like the many other single European men working in Malaysia, he has a spare bunny at his disposal. They met a long time ago while he worked in the Philippines. I didn’t ask much about their relationship, not more than he would share on his own accord. However one day, I asked him without being coy, what he gave her as allowance since it was obvious that she was not working. My question was in the name of writing material research. Quite obvious, isn't it?

Mr. Easter Bunny dutifully informed me that he leaves a stack of cash amounting to RM1000.00 every Monday as pocket money for his little brown bunny. I think he said he leaves the cash on the table and never directly gave it to her. The Tooth Fairy leaves you some money on your pillow for each tooth. Mr. Easter Bunny was far more generous than the Tooth Fairy will ever be, leaving you RM1000 weekly. You don't even need to exchange it for a tooth.

Hence Mr. Easter Bunny's fairytale inspired name.


I am in a predicament. I hate bunnies of all ages because they symbolize how weak women can be. Or perhaps how cunning women can be. Or how smart some women are, when compared to me. I work like hell and I don’t have a Mr. Easter Bunny dropping me RM1000 weekly. Not even monthly or yearly. So I resent bunnies because they get lots of bunny treats without even working hard (or studying hard). These bunnies fly around the world, shop as they please, do not have to work a day of their lives and get money for doing exactly that.

You can imagine how frustrated non-bunnies are. I am a typical stressed out non-bunny. What a snub to our faces! Especially when we worked hard to study, worked hard to enter universities and worked hard at work. We are seeing a very slow repayment for our very hard work. But bunnies just need to look fluffy and lovable (ala Anna Nicole Smith), without having any education or career, they are cared for and paid quite a lump sum of money.

I expressed my opinions and I am sure that Mr. Easter Bunny got a earful from me. I was not quite the polite person that I normally am, arguing the ethics of handing out money to young girlfriends. There are a lot of things the young lady can do, other than sitting around at home and wasting her life and energy away. One thousand ringgit as weekly allowance is sin, I thought to myself.

Like all other men, Mr. Easter Bunny has his set of excuses and reasons for rewarding a young lady for not doing something productive with her life.

  • She comes from a disadvantaged background.

  • She doesn’t have family support and protection.

  • She was a bar girl and I am saving her from the streets.

  • She doesn’t have skills to work properly.

  • She doesn’t have work permit in Malaysia.

  • She doesn’t have a house or a car.

  • She has relatives and family members to help at home.

I told Mr. Easter Bunny what I told Alex years ago. Give the girl education and skills, if you are sincere in helping her. Poking her is hardly considered charity.


I mulled over our conversations through the Easter weekend. Perhaps I am a little too aggressive. After all, Bunny wasn’t my Bunny. She is Mr. Easter’s and if he is fine with the notion of giving away RM1000 weekly, I guess I am not in the position to nag.

Maybe I am ashamed of what my fellow Eves have done. Maybe I am angry because I feel degraded when my sisters are. Maybe I am too proud to ask for man’s help and I feel that women are weak if they do. Maybe Mr. Easter Bunny is right – I do not know what it is like for Bunny. Maybe I am throwing stones at a glass house.

Maybe I should not be so harsh. Maybe there is another ruler for another woman. Maybe Bunny is the way Bunny is because of circumstances. Maybe Bunny did not have all the opportunities accorded to me. Maybe I would be Bunny if I were in Bunny’s shoes. Maybe I should not be so quick to judge her of crimes that I imagined she had committed. Maybe Bunny is as pure and fragile as Mr. Easter Bunny said she was.


The long Easter weekend gave me plenty of opportunity to recollect and reflect on my arguments against Bunny. I wrote Mr. Easter Bunny a short email yesterday and I remarked that perhaps I should have more compassion for Bunny – that I should not be so quick to judge her and beat Bunny’s self to a pulp based on my personal beliefs. That Bunny was not me and I cannot impose my personal beliefs on her.

The compassion was timely. Bunny ate hospital food for dinner last evening after being admitted for being unwell in the past week.

Bunny has pneumonia and a small part of my heart feels pity for the 21 year old brown Bunny.


'Let the one without sin cast the first stone'.


Thursday, March 13, 2008
When The Cat Goes Away, All The Rats Come Out To Play

You know what I hate most? I hate how complacent some people can be. Now I almost used the word “Malaysians” but decided against it since not all Malaysians skip work (or think of skipping work) the moment their bosses, wives or mothers are not eagle eyeing them.

I find this habit very troubling. I mean, aren’t you supposed to work because you SHOULD work? Or are you going about your daily work schedules because your boss happens to be staring at you while you chat on yahoo messenger? Do you constantly need someone to breathe down your neck in order for you to get your work reports done?

My experience managing my staff could be a reasonable example to use here. While I am away from the office, suddenly there is a spike of “I am not happy with (fill in the blank)” complaints. Now I check if the complaints are justified and obviously there are several cases where they were justified and were addressed.

The most recent “I am not happy with…” involves the dishing out of salary. We doubled our list of clients (because of strategic business strategies and research) and 6 new members of staff were hired in the last 4 months to help manage the sharp increase of clients. While I hired new staff, I thought that it was also a good time to reward my senior staff members in recognition for their efforts and contributions in growing the business. Basically it’s a separation and celebration of those who were with me from the beginning.

A junior staff came into the office and cried. Let’s call her Miss Tan. So Miss Tan claimed that she could not survive on the salary both parties agreed on when she began work 3 months ago. This junior member said between sobs “transport to work costs me RM400 and my car loan is RM500 monthly. I live on nearly nothing after paying the utility bills and rent.”

14 years in the position of “boss” I realised that enthusiasm (and a willingness to work) is often time even more important than any qualification or experience any employment can cough onto the interview table. Now Miss Tan is a fine girl and enthusiastic about work, so I suggested that we give her an increment as part of her confirmation package. Therefore instructions were given for her to receive an additional RM200 under petrol allowance.

Naturally Miss Tan was happy when she heard the news of her increment. Her tears turned into joy as she proclaimed that she needn’t work in Singapore (as suggested by her mother). Thenafter the 2 other staff members who were confirmed in March were given similar petrol allowance. The sum varied, according to their talents, experience and work attitude in the first 3 months of work. No problem there.

A senior staff then stormed into the office, telling the head of staff that she wasn’t happy that the junior members received petrol allowance. “I’m not happy that she has petrol allowance.” I am sure it was her polite version of “I want petrol allowance too!” Anyway her reactions pissed me off incessantly and here are the reasons:

  • Salary information is private and confidential everywhere – how did she manage to yank the salary information from the junior staff’s chest?

  • “I am not happy” is not good enough justification for the senior member to receive similar benefit. It is not acceptable, especially not when her 2008 salary is a 30% increment of her December 2007 take-home salary + increment of EPF contribution by employer + a holiday on gratis slated in August this year.

I’m upset that Miss Senior failed to see that her salary is still higher (in every single aspect) and she was already awarded and recognized for her seniority in the company’s hierarchy. In my opinion, she is being very petty for picking on little words here and there. Her reaction to the whole episode demonstrates to me how down right ungrateful she is, for the recognition and salary hikes given to her just 3 months earlier.

I cannot give into Miss Senior’s demands. I have given into my staff’s demands in the last few months in anticipation of the increased list of clients. Obviously they know that the company needs them to work in order to maintain and sustain the number of clients we have at the moment, so they are trying hard to squeeze as much juice out of me.

The most important reason however, is that increment comes with job performance and increased productivity. Increments are made and agreed during appraisals. You have to justify the increment. For example, if you demand a RM200 increment, you have to demonstrate to your boss how you have helped him/her earn more than RM200 in profit. You cannot demand as you please.

Maybe it's time the cat came out again. Keep the rats at bay.


Speaking of staff meetings, I nearly died reading the secretary’s minutes for January’s staff meeting. The whole bloody thing was just a big list of “What my company should buy for me, ME, ME!”. I am not bloody Google, who being best employer in the world, is able to provide its employees with crèche service, free food for whole family, games room for its staff etc etc. Having such facilities and benefits in Google attracted the best brains to the company.

While I am not Larry Page and Sergey Brin, my company does provide free meals for its staff - breakfast, lunch and te. You would think that my staff would roll on the floor, absolutely happy, isn’t it? Oh no, they are not happy. They actually think it’s their god damn right to have free meals served to them piping hot. These days they even complain what they do not want to eat for lunch and what should be cooked for them. In my book, what's good enough for the boss to eat is good enough for the rest. January’s list includes the question if the company reimburses staff’s lunch if they head out of office to buy lunch elsewhere when they do not like what’s served in the company’s canteen.

This all excludes the small budget for staff’s relaxation and entertainment. We encourage the team to organize an activity during one evening or the weekend, to have fun and enjoy each other’s company. I thought it was an excellent way to build teamwork, trust and communication between fellow colleagues. So far, they’ve enjoyed it but I am yet to see an increase in productivity...


The big advertisement was meant to replace the torn one in front of the office. I had made the order before Chinese New Year and was told that I had to wait until CNY was over. And so the wait began. I received a copy of the advert the week after CNY and confirmed its design.

How long do you think it takes for an advertising firm to put up the damn thing?

It is still not up and the old banner is now flapping around the front of my office, like the torn flag of the Flying Dutchman. It’s more than one bloody month! Now I know this wouldn’t happen if I was around. The last time I ordered it, the banner turned up in less than 5 days. What changed?

Oh yes, the cat flew to Europe. So the rats are all out to play.

Last evening the cat told the rat that if he doesn't put up the banner by 5 p.m. today, he doesn't need to it up at all.


My third illustration examplies the Asian mentality. I really hate classifying everyone as “Asian” but I am so fuming mad at the moment, I can’t help it. I have similar encounters many times over, each a little different but yet all revolve around a similar theme – most people must have their balls squeezed till they turn blue or else they can’t function at work efficiently.

I wrote a letter of offer to a security firm for CCTV installation in one of my offices. I felt it was a good way to manage my business and showed transparency to my clients. It was also good timing and planning as the office underwent a major renovation and all the wires were laid into the building. Trouble started when they requested for a short delay in completing the installation due to a sudden huge order from a factory.

Since I manage a business myself, I fully understand the intricate works that goes into managing a business. I could wait just a bit, given the fact that the CCTV was not a life and death situation for me. It would help me manage my business better but one or two weeks later wouldn’t kill me either.

You would think that my gesture would be appreciated and my cameras + CCTV facilities set up within 2 weeks. It took them more than a month to fully complete installation in my office. I paid them with a cheque the moment the invoice came despite the company still owing my staff the necessary training to utilise the software and equipment. Oh how swiftly they bank in the cheque. But what happened to my staff’s training?

I waited until my face turned blue. Finally when I could not take it anymore, I placed an order on another product, which they promptly send to my office. With the products safely in my office and invoice in my head of staff’s hand, I refused to pay them until they settled the training and online access.

“I am utterly disappointed with the service rendered to me. It’s been more than a month since a full payment has been made for the CCTV and the training promised in the package is yet to be conducted. Please be advised that I shall only make payment for the new service when you have fulfilled your previous tasks. Thank you.”

I had to scold them and squeeze them by their balls before they did their job. They finally conducted the training for my staff. I had access to the CCTV online after more than 6 weeks waiting period. Why must people be squeezed and threatened before they are able to work?

I’ve realised that most employees (including my own set of friends) have very similar mindset. They will find ways to escape work, the very second their bosses are not watching. And most companies will stop follow up with the extra service the moment payment is made. How difficult is it to do your best because you want to be the best? Why must your boss beat your confidence down before you would move your ass?

‘Why should I work so hard since the company is not mine?’ seemed to be the acceptable excuse. I obviously have a different perspective since I am the owner and the boss. I want to treat my staff with respect and be generous with my praises for their efforts. However it looks like all these things are taken for granted here in Malaysia. People, or rather, employees, do not respond well to goodness and kindness. They respond very well to fear (of losing their livelihood), threats and self-esteem beating.

If you can’t work hard because the company is not yours, why don’t you open your own business and work hard there? The fact some people are born to manage businesses and others are born to be team players. Your attitude towards work should be the same, whatever the role you play at work – employee or employer. There is no excuse.


Do not take for granted when your boss is generous towards you. Celebrate when you are rewarded for your work. Be happy when your achievements at work are recognized. Do not gloat nor think that you are indispensable when your boss said, “Well done, good job!”. It means that you had done well. It does not mean that you can now parade around the office, thinking that you are one floor above your boss.

If your boss can train you, she can train another to replace you. It might be inconvenient but it is possible. Do not give your boss the opportunity to remind you how dispensable you are. Listening to how dispensable you are is degrading. Your boss does not want to be the bad person. Don’t let her be.

You should be the best that you can, whether you are an employee or an employer. Business is organic and continues to grow after you have completed the transaction. Where service is concerned, make sure you walk the extra mile. Your clients will remember you for the efforts you put into it. Do everything to the best of your ability. Respond to needs and complaints as fast as you can. Keep it simple, efficient and fast. Keep your customers happy.

Whatever you do, do not ever stop serving the minute you receive the money in your hand. It is common practice and it is bad taste. The level of sincerity of managing your business is reflected in the way your after sales service is conducted. Nothing will testify better of your priorities and objectives. It isn’t all about ringing the till.


The cat licked her paws. She has sharpened her claws. Wait a minute, I thought I heard a rat sneak by. Her ears perked up. How vigilant are her eyes. No more rats playing after tonight.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Election 2008: Top Bravo and Boo Boo

No more looking at the horizon for a new home.
I have finally found my home in Malaysia.

Everyone has a moment in time when they stood out for glory or for shame. In the midst of negative sentiments against really bad government administration by really stupid people, a lady stood out from the rest. She will be remembered for having a generous spirit in a very difficult time. Nobody enjoys losing, so Sharizat's composure and calm (be it genuine or scripted) in face of defeat deserves a mention here.

Watch the first 5 minutes of Sharizat's moment and you can see that (while BN might generally consists of baffoons and idiots) there is one lady who spoke with some amount of wisdom and humility.

When a reporter asked if Sharizat was disappointed at her lost, she replied:

"No, I am not. Because you know why, I believe in God you know... kepada saya, saya dah 12 tahun di sini. Saya faham tentang politic. Ada masa kita menang, ada masa kita kalah. Dalam 12 tahun ini, banyak perubahan berlaku. So I go away with great dignity. Like you know, I'm really happy. I worked here with great passion."
~ Shahrizat Abdul Jalil

And she thanked the people of Lembah Pantai and the media for supporting her for 12 years. Top BN people should take note of Sharizat's words. This is how you carry yourself in public, instead of threats of bathing a weapon with Chinese blood or how a woman leak every month. Or man woman stand squat etc.

Sharizat, if you are reading this, I would like to say that I have great respect for you. You showed maturity and grace in a very difficult time. I can't say the same for the rest of the baffoons who still have the cheek to make stupid comments. Sungai Petani losing BN candidate Zainuddin Maidin (as quoted in Star today) would be a good example of stupidity at its highest form:
"It is not that they love PKR or PAS more that they voted against me.

The Chinese showed their resentment because of the economic backlash they often complained about. So, PAS and PKR should not be overly proud of their win (in Kedah).

The people may have to pay a price for their decision."
~ Zainuddin Maidin (as quoted in Star today)

Zainuddin as the previous Information Minister should perhaps read some online blogs to understand the sentiments of an average Malaysian. Do not even start with the threats. You are lucky the people has not demanded to check your background for any corrupt practice. Racial politics is no more relevant, so please bark elsewhere.

Zainuddin remarked to anyone who criticised Islam would be tried under the Sedition Act in 2006. The meaning of "incite" here is "belittling Islam". He is of course free to have his opinion but I find his threat of "amok" is unacceptable. Especially in the Parliment.

"We will not think twice about using this law against anybody who incites...

... But you must remember the word amok comes from this country and there is a limit to everything."
~ Zainuddin Maidin

Boo boo and shame shame on you. The Parliment has no place for people who practice threat or violence. Or one who will run amok or crazy. It is people like you that will drag us back to the middle ages. Thank goodness you are out.


Now the election is over and the results are out. We should all get back to our normal lives. Keep our eyes peeled on the newly elected politicians. Pray for good governence in our country. Flush out stupid people who makes stupid remarks. Stamp out corruptions. Build a new Malaysia that rewards its citizens for great work. Raise a generation of young who are articulate and analytical, who will be participants in our nation's future. Show a generous side of the human spirit and champion the plights of the disadvantaged.

Good night, Malaysia.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

It has snowed since Saturday morning. Everything is covered in whitest shade of white, from the trees to the rooftops and from passing cars to the swing in the playground. Everything that was brown, dirty and old, like the road works happening in front of my apartment, is now all white and beautiful.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have an emotional snowing, emerging on the 3rd day when you are all blemish-free, pristine and as pure as fluffy snow from the sky?


There comes a time when everyone packs their bags and head out into the archipelago, just a little bit off Stockholm. It is like a date that the Swedes have with themselves. 3rd Saturday of June, pack your bags and go into the forest. Prance around the fertility poll, clap hands and sing drunken men songs, sauna and skinny dip with friends accompanied by lots of barbeque and booze.

‘Skål!’ The tiny bottles clinked. Nasty little packages, they are. Nothing starts the day better than 7 a.m. wake-me-up droplets of terribly cheap booze. Come to think of it, maybe that spelt the beginning of doom.

The Scandinavians love potatoes. They have potatoes from Monday to Sunday and on special occasions such as the Mid Summer, they have boiled potatoes with dill. Given the fact that I was a spoilt (still is) little brat that never lifted a finger back home in Malaysia, I was quite a good girlfriend, peeling a bucketful of potatoes with a Korean girl and a Swede.

Don’t feel too happy for me. It wasn’t an international party despite I being totally clueless when it came to Swedish. A Swedish couple adopted the Korean as a baby, so she was oblivious to the fact that she wasn’t really white (or European, if you must) afterall. (We’ll talk about that phenomenon in another story).

Everyone has jabbering in Swedish. One shouldn’t take for granted how little you understand when you understand approximately everything 5th word. Words like “this”, “the”, “one” (and the sequence of numbers), “white”, “come here” and of course, the very famous “potatoes”.

SwedishLove was missing somewhere. He went to help the boys, so I was stuck with two girls jabbering in Swedish. They spoke in English, perhaps 5 minutes of each dreaded hour. Although silent through the whole of their conversation, we managed to skin all potatoes, poured them into an even bigger pot, filled it up and covered the lid after placing some dill in the pot of bubbling hot boiled potatoes.

Everyone gathered and took a walk into the forest. Here is the romantic part, guys. Part of the Mid Summer’s tradition involves girls wearing a garland of wild flowers on their heads. We looked somewhat like earthly princesses, with flowers of every colour sitting in a circle on our heads. A crown of freshly picked and weaved flowers sat on each and every girl’s head. Like icing on top of a cake, I guess.

Henrik and I walked around, searching for little wild strawberries. They were tiny, the size of a large bead. Red and similar to the ones we buy off shelves in supermarkets. Just that they are wild and perhaps taste a little sweeter than the commercial ones. Then again, I think they were meant to be bitter, since they were wild.

‘This is yours,’ he said, then placing the chain of wild strawberries on me. ‘It is traditional to make a chain of wild strawberries for your loved ones.’ He gave me a kiss. ‘Happy Mid Summers.’

It was so romantic, being surrounded by the greenest green forest and wild strawberries on the ground. Summers in Sweden are amazing. The sun rises at 2 a.m. and sets at 11 p.m. With the sun up 20 hours of the day, everything in your soul wakes up. Everything feels more alive and everything is a whole lot more exciting. There were others around but the world felt as if it had stopped. And in that one moment, there was only my SwedishLove and I.

Obviously there is a spoiler to this romantic story. The ghost broke the little moment we shared. ‘So you ready for the barbeque?’ she asked him. She stood a distant away, her hands urging us to join them at the table. The Ethiopian was SwedishLove’s first girlfriend and somehow or rather, they shared friends and were invited to the same Mid Summer party.

Not a problem for the two of them, obviously. But I felt like the 3rd person on a very small bed. The whole lot of them, going on and on, singing and talking in Swedish through the lunch barbeque did not help one bit. Everyone at the party were friends from years ago and they got on like they have never left each other. By then, I wasn’t only the 3rd person on the very small bed. I wasn’t even a person anymore.

I broke down after a few hours of numbness. You will never feel lonelier than the isolation you feel in a sea of people. Loneliness is when you sit at a party where everyone is clearly enjoying himself and you are the only one left at the dock of the unknown. I called the evening short and went back into the dead silent city. Oddly, I didn’t feel lonely despite being alone.


It was my first encounter with the 3rd kind - the ghost of past relationships. Obviously everyone has a ghost (or two) but not everyone has to deal with it in the face. Mid Summer party in the company of boyfriend, his ex-girlfriend and 10 other old friends is not recommended.

It did not end there.

‘Let’s clear up the space in the basement,’ he said. We went down 3 flights of stairs and opened the little cage-like space. I remember how the space looked. It was a corridor with space for each occupant to store his soon to be forgotten 6 months later rubbish.

I opened up a black plastic bag and there were numerous clothing articles in it. Dark navy blue, army green, dirty brown, sweaters, trousers and some odd looking t-shirts. ‘What’s this?’ I asked him, showing him the bag. ‘Do you want to keep it?’

‘Put it in the corner. It’s Jenny’s.’

Such a sweet name for a ghost, don’t you think? I hope that you are like me, thinking ‘What the hell are you doing with her clothes still?’. We didn’t speak about it until the day I left for Malaysia at the end of summer.

‘What would you like to see the next time you come back?’ SwedishLove asked.

‘I want all of Jenny’s things gone.’ And it wasn’t even negotiable.

The ghost of Jenny came and went as she pleased. No utter respect for the living, I am telling you.

‘Singapore is so much more advance than Kuala Lumpur.’

‘You can live in Singapore, for all I care. In Jenny’s panties, if you like.’

‘Jenny’s in the US at the moment.’

‘Like I care.’

‘Jenny’s a very smart girl. She speaks Swedish.’

‘I don’t consider speaking Swedish ‘smart’, especially when you have lived and studied here for 4 years.’

‘Why do you pronounce the word like that? Jenny speaks better English.’

‘Well you can be with Jenny then. I don’t give a fuck. Malaysians have Manglish and Singaporeans have Singlish.’

‘She speaks like you when she’s with her friends. But she speaks perfect English with me.’

‘Well then she’s not being her true self with you, isn’t it? She’s more honest with her friends than with you. I speak to you exactly I speak to the rest of my friends. You go figure that one out.’

I can be a bitch when I need to be. But soon though, I was also a ghost in his life. Now my clothes sits in a black plastic bag somewhere downstairs in the basement, right next to Jenny’s. And together, we are the ghosts that will haunt the next girl. I’m smiling because I know that at least I have some amount of taste in fashion.

You can betray your upbringing by changing the accent you speak. But your clothes will never lie.


Sometimes the ghosts popped up at truly unexpected places. Like last Saturday at the party. Nothing is more frightening than a ghost in her wedding gown. Damn unlucky, if you ever have to look at a ghost in her wedding dress. It helped that her dress was ugly like Princess Diana’s OTT Cinderella-ish pom-pom sleeve dress. She smiled, one hand holding a bouquet of red and yellow African Daisies and the other hand resting on the groom.

I saw the ghost when Kitty took me on a tour of the summerhouse by the lake. Not allowing me a moment of peace, eh, I thought to myself. Actually I was quite shocked to see the ghost bride. She was dead 4 years ago, so she had no place in the house anymore. But there she was, standing pretty in her wedding dress, next to all the family’s wedding photos.

I did not sleep well that night. The whole house smelled foul with her presence presiding over it. I knew in my heart that I had no place there in the house if she lived there. She haunted me, even if she was just an empty memory sitting on wall. That is the scariest, isn’t it? Of all the ghosts you can ever find (in secret locations such as a box in the basement or a photo album) one that sits openly and proudly on the wall to remind you that she is there, watching you every day is of the worst kind.

‘Why are you so quiet?’ he asked, then giving me a little rub on my upper arms. We were walking around the small supermarket, searching for alcohol and extra booze to boost the party.

‘Nothing,’ I said, mucking about. ‘It’s cold.’ It was a blatant lie. I have not felt cold when I cranked up the thermostat to the max in each and every room. Often time, I have to take off my layers of clothes once I arrive in the shops because it’s too freaking hot indoors.

‘Hey you! How’s everything?’ the voice came and tapped him on his shoulders. It was a friend commonly shared by the ghost bride and him. Blonde and wrinkled eyed, I thought to myself. Don’t worry, I was not the only one rudely checking from head to toe. She looked at me too. It was moment like this that I thanked God for dressing up, even for short trips to the grocer’s. In total I met 3 friends they commonly shared on a 10 minute trip to fetch more alcohol.

Bloody photo, I thought to myself. Whenever I was alone, I found myself staring at her, nitpicking and interpreting every little expression on her face. Same hairstyle from 16 until 38 years, I thought to myself, noting how her hair was the very same as the photo I saw of her when she was only 16. I would hang myself if I had the same haircut for half my life. As it is, I morph myself on average twice a year – hair colour, cut and shape. It is a symbolic metamorphosis of who I am and what I am becoming, shading the dead layers of my old self, emerging brand new.

I faked tiredness and retreated to the bedroom (to sulk). Bloody ghost stared from across my bedroom door. It’s like she planned all of this years ago. Sitting there to haunt anyone who dared to walk into the house. The whole house smelled of her, her presence never left the place and her photo was there to remind everyone that she is alive and living in some dark corner of his mind.

I slept and got up only when there was some noise downstairs. I found myself in a situation, similar to what I experienced during Mid Summers a long time ago. A room full of friends shared by the ghost bride and him, ten thousand eyes staring and judging me. I imagined that they were comparing me to her and decided in their minds that she won. You can never win when they have been friends since childhood. (Biased, biased, biased!)

Again I found myself at the sink peeling potatoes. He spoke and I replied, never looking at him. My lungs felt starved of oxygen as each minute passed. It was the most silent 20 minutes of my life - standing there, thinking, smelling and breathing the ghost. ‘Are you ok?’ he asked.

I nodded, unable to say a single word. The whole world will crumble if I spoke. I knew it. I felt a little tear nesting at the corner of my eye. ‘Damn it. I hate peeling onions,’ I said, then wiping the tear away. 'It's not onions....' a voice said in the background. And there was silence when the pots, pans and plates did not make noise.

‘Can you please remove your wedding photo?’ I asked, in the calmest voice I could muster. I must have sounded like a mouse, afraid that the ghost bride would hear. ‘What?’ he said, straining to hear what I tried so hard not to utter.

‘Can you please,’ I said, then crumbling emotionally a little more. ‘Please remove your wedding photo.’ I looked away, sensing that I have been defeated by the ghost bride. The ghost bride must be happy now, I thought to myself.

‘Pardon, Love?’ he asked again, looking at me in the eye. The tears rolled down immediately. Don’t look at me. I will die if you did. My heart will waste away when you do. I took a deep breathe and said, ‘Please remove your wedding photo. I am disturbed by it. You can place it back on when I am not here.’

‘Of course, Love. Of course, I can. This is why you are quiet, isn’t it?’ he said, then washing his hands. Great, crying in public again, I scolded myself. I walked away and hid in the bathroom for a very long time. I looked at my eyes. Do you know the defeated have red and swollen eyes? I was defeated. I let her win. The ghost won.

The photo was gone by the time I opened the bathroom door. She no longer stared into my room and her presence no longer loomed over me. The whole room felt lighter and I found myself breathing for the first time since arriving 18 hours ago in my powder blue jacket and sexy black boots. But she was still there. She will always be there. That is what a ghost do – hang around, judge you harshly and make your life a misery.

I found myself seeking refuge in the bedroom an hour after dinner. They were speaking gibberish, as far as I am concerned. I don’t get it. Why invite someone to your party if you are not going to speak to her in a language that she understands? It’s the 2nd party when they went on and on in another language, when they knew I would not be able to participate. ‘Sorry, I don’t speak English’ doesn’t cut it for me. In my most generous self, I call it rude.

Then again, I guess this is expected. They will not be easily won seeing that they are friends with the ghost bride now ex-wife. Friends stick by friends, right? Even if the relationship is dead, you still mourn for your friend’s dead relationship, won’t you? You cannot replace your friend with someone new. It’s like betraying the memory.

So even if the dead is dead and the person is nothing more than a ghost in the past, you can count on the living to remind you of their presences. The ghosts will never let you go.


‘I’m sorry, Love. I did not know that the photo was there.’

No matter how many apologies you make, it does not go away. It never does. It was very symbolic, the fact that she was still there, hanging and happy. This would be an altogether different story if the photo tucked somewhere in an album or slipped between the pages of a book. But a dead wedding photo hanging next to living marriages is so great a sin, it will live on forever like the ghost.


Is your ghost dead?

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