Saturday, January 17, 2015


Happy Birthday Audrey.

One after Another, they Wished.

I'm Disappointed, 
That the One who matters,


I was many things to You.
But I wasn't Everything.

The Lover, remains Dead.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The Top of the Hand

I saw a Man who kissed the top part of his companion's hand.
Repeatedly. Over a short period of time.
I do not know how.
But I'm very sure he Loves her.
Very Much.

Most Definitely.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Double Chocolate Chip

Famous Amos cookies, we tend to be generous about it. 200g of No Nuts, and you, another 200g of Double Chocolate Chips. Really dark brown in colour, almost like night, with flavour as soothing as sunshine on a cold day.

I've never been a fan of those Double Chocolate Chip variety though, only until now.

Recently, if I were to buy a bag of them sumptuous cookies, I'd invariably choose the latter. It tastes much better than No Nuts. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Arigato Gozaimasu

I used to speak perfect Japanese,
That made You Laugh.

You did a perfect rendition of Jay Leno,
That made Me Laugh.

We were Happy. Were.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


You don't know us.
But you made us laugh aplenty.

I wonder if we'll ever see U again.
Just to smile.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


I remembered vividly the day I taught you how to Plane-spot.
East Coast Park, under a Lonely shady tree.
You doubted me at first, 
but I can still picture the neon glow in your eyes,
 when the planes kept on coming.

Definitely one of those Memories I Treasure most.
We sat upon a Transformers towel,
Under a shady Lonely tree.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Different Kind of Candy

I'd be lying if I said I didn't allow my mind to wander back across past pastures. I have no control. Im just too lonely. Sometimes I can afford a weak smile. Sometimes, the Rain comes for me.

Dwelling in the past is slowly killing me. I can feel its strength. Yet I allowed it to tug at me. Why? No one knows. Yet I find myself again wandering to places we've been.

11 April 2011, 7.30pm. We were outside Candylicious, Resorts World Sentosa. I had in one hand a chocolate popsicle. And I had on both cheeks, chocolate stains. You said I eat it like a small boy. But I was fine because I was with you. And nothing else did matter.

17 November 2013, 3.00am. I just looked from afar at the Candylicious store. The seats that we used to sit at were no longer there. It was replaced with some others though. And there was a young couple. The girl, seemed like she was squeezing a zit out of her lover's cheeks. Like how only you would do for me. They are happy.


We were happy too. Once before.

Caramel, You leave a special stain in my heart.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Every Single Day

Every Single Day,
I'll call out your Name.
And All I Hear is Echoes.

Still, You are Remembered,
In All my Prayers.
Every Single Day.

Torn. I'm All Out of Faith.

Natalie Imbruglia plus additional 10Kgs,
No one can replace U.
Still the best. By Miles.
May God grant me Safe Passage.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Sweetest Downfall

You are my Sweetest Downfall.
I Loved you First. I Loved You First.

-Regina Spektor, Samson

Sang Nila Utama

Sang Nila Utama walks funny. 
Saw him once, by the foot of the Singapore River. 
With smiles and laughters, one of the best days of my life. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Abandoned Breverage

Dear Caramel Frappe, 
I often wonder if I've been missed. 
I still remember you, 
With extra Drizzle...

As I Had my Heart Set on You.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Honey I'm Home...

Of all things past,
 the Flinstones I miss most.
 When Fred says, 
'Honeyyyy...I'm Hommmmme'. 

Because nobody else probably knows what it actually means.

The Empty

An Emptiness echoes deep within.
Like a Minute of Decay.
Please pour some Sugar in my bowl.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013


Is a solitary mess.
Like a wilting flower on Autumn's dawn,
Just a slow Burn.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Heavy Chains

The weight of the world on ones shoulders. 
Is heavy indeed. 
One is burdened, not by mere Sadness, 
but disintegration of a heart that once bathed in Sunshine.

May A Passage Be Dug.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Despicable Me

Despicable Me was such a brilliant movie that was not watched alone.

And then it became impossible to watch Despicable Me 2. Unless. But no, its not meant to be. And shall not be watched.

Despicable Me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Warmth of the Heart

One of the most vivid memories I had of my recently deceased grandmother was circa 1990. I was about 8 years old, and I looked forward to going to school in the morning session...not the educational aspect, but more so for the solitary few moments grandmother and grandson had between arising from my coma, till the moment I board the pasty white school bus.

I'd usually be the second in the household to arise, when I was attending morning school. Grandma was first. As I wrapped myself in the comfort of my towel, and grabbed my toiletries housed in a cheap blue pail, between half sleep and consciousness, I'd trudge down the stairs, to the rear of the kampung house, for my bath. The wooden house, greeted mornings with a cool silent air about it, on the verge of chilly.

I'd stop just before the bathroom entrance, peer at the water heater switch, just to ensure that Grandma has switched it on earlier. It was one of the primitive water heaters, that needed at least 15 minutes to heat the water up to an acceptable heat. As usual, Grandma would be busy in the kitchen just outside the bathrooms, preparing breakfast. She'd always ask me what I wanted. I was pretty mechanical in my choice. It was either cornflakes with chocolate milk, or white Chinese bread (the soft fluffy ones that is shaped like a keyhole) with peanut butter.

My routine was fixed. Bathe. Dress up. Lug my bag to the front entrance. And as I was putting on my shoes, I'd usually take a few inquisitive moments to awe and gasp at the vast, dark sky, littered with stars. I still remember how deeply intrigued I was at the North Star (I only knew it was the North Star when I was in my late teens). Larger than the rest, it seemed to draw my gaze with forceful magnetic charm.

I'd then take a short walk via the garden to the backyard where the kitchen was and sit quietly consuming my breakfast. Grandma would be busy preparing breakfast for the rest of the household, and she went about her tasks briskly, without a word.

Once done, Grandma would walk with me toward the front gate. We'll sit down on the stone bench, and wait for the bus. In these few moments, we'll have a decent conversation. From school, to exams, to friends, to comforting advice, these moments now gone, I treasure most, for I felt warmth in the heart.

On days where she had extra pocket money, she'd try to shove it in my pocket or school bag but I'd usually decline. I usually won in that duel. There was once though, if I remembered correctly, that I really wanted to purchase some extra Flag erasers and succumbed.

It was a dollar. An old blue one-dollar note. Which is not in circulation anymore. Somehow, I wasn't sure why or what crossed my mind, but I never got to spending that dollar. It wasn't conscious on my part to preserve that note, but today, I choose to believe that perhaps a mystical force was at work.

It was only recently that I realised, nestling within my jar of loose change, rests that same one-dollar note. Still half crisp, with minimal decolourisation. As I am writing this, the night remains still. The sky painted black, adorned with the glitter of stars. And I still am intrigued by the thought of gazing into a dark open sky, searching for the North Star. Sadly though tonight, it chose to abandon my gaze.

I switched my focus back toward the dollar note in the jar, and I felt that familiar warmth in my heart.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Man In The Shadow

My first impressions of Uncle Alfred was formless. I was only about 18, working part time at a pool side bistro. I have to admit, I didn't care about the world back then. Just needed the money to fuel some foolish chase. It was a motley crew that worked Summer House that one year or so I was there.

John and Choon Hong were aspiring but crazy chefs. Rachel, Jessie, and two other equally aloof teenage girls provided much comic relief while being reliably efficient at waiting tables. Nizam, Christopher and Man worked the bar and knew every concoction like their alphabets. Lily was a door bitch. Period. Desmond and myself were just the washing and replenishment dudes. Then there was Uncle Alfred, the man in the shadows, whose job was basically supporting the chefs in the kitchen. It was a small family, that cooked up a pretty colourful history of my life.

I remembered Uncle Alfred was a man of very limited words. He was in his fifties, but pretty sturdy and strong for a man his age. He has a couple of diminishing tattoos that must have meant dearly to him, though we could not decipher the beauty of his chosen design. But he set about his job with few words, his facial expression, and constant empty stares, seemed to want to voice out, yet remained hesitant.

I remembered one particular night as we were done with closing, most of the guys had already hit the showers. Choon Hong, the younger chef decided to not waste the scraps of whatever ingredients we had left over and was busy preparing a simple dish.

I was sitting on the stainless steel kitchen top, looking on. Uncle Alfred was in the corner, as usual, sharpening the kitchen knives upon the slab of sharpening stone. He was it for a good ten minutes or so, just that single knife. It was a common sight, and we were immune to it. Dedicated we thought, that 60 year old man.

"Aiya Alfred, you play play play the stone knife wont get sharper la bro", Choon Hong poked fun at him. Alfred just smiled wryly. "You see I just do this this this a few times....can already!", Choon Hong continued as he proceeded to chop some carrots. But deep down, Choon Hong knew that that old man probably had some kind of magic or secret skill that he mastered over the years sharpening knives. Choon Hong did mention to me before, there was a difference using the knives sharpened by Uncle Alfred. No matter how many times Alfred tried to teach those two chefs, they still couldn't get it as sharp as he did. The tailor always has the better suit I guess.

What did I know I thought as I munched on whatever Choon Hong conjured in his kitchen. Choon Hong whistled as he brought the entire pan to the bar to share with the bar boys.

I decided to stay around with Uncle Alfred that night. The sleek sound of "schick...schick...schick" filled the kitchen as Uncle Alfred was deep in concentration, hardly battling an eyelid as he went through in perfect gliding motion, like silk on ice. It was almost...comforting.

Slowly, Uncle Alfred raised his head and looked toward me. "You young people, what do you guys know. Never tasted hardship in life.Whole life got people doing things for you", Alfred lamented. There was a long pause before he continued.

"You want to know Uncle's secret anot boy?", Alfred spoke in hush tones. "You know when you are sharpening knives, the stroke, angle, repetitions...all these are important...but not everything. Anybody can follow the motion man!", Alfred continued. "But they can never get it razor", Alfred moved on. "Something is missing my friend. You know what?", Alfred stopped abruptly as he gazed upon me from the shadows. I jerked my head slightly to signal him to continue.

Alfred sighed as he continued with the incessant sharpening. "If you want your knife to be the sharpest, put some soul into it. You got to imagine what you want to do with this knife. Imagine you are going to kill and slice your enemy with this knife. There. That's the key", Alfred finished his sentence as his placed all the knives neatly on the towel and walked out, leaving me speechless.

I was bewildered. I honestly thought the guy was loco. Until today. A good ten years on since I last set foot in Summer House with the motley bunch. I opened the local newspapers and was struck dumb when I saw Uncle Alfred plastered across the home page. Murder of the highest degree. With no intention to run or hide, the police found him there, by the lifeless victim, a fellow man in his sixties. Probed further, Alfred admitted his motive had always been revenge. He just wanted to kill the man that stole his Margaret from him in 1965.

My mind rolled back again to that particular night when Alfred talked to me. I didn't really grasp what he was trying to say then. But then it strikes me now, as I read between the lines. It wasn't entirely hatred and revenge that fueled Alfred into a master craftsman of sorts. It was sheer Patience, Perseverance, and brutal Ambition.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Times...They Are A-Changing

"Times they are a-changing."

It was apt that this jewel of a song by Bob Dylan blasted through my earplugs, shutting myself from the world. The afternoon sun remained stubbornly treacherous, and beat downward mercilessly. As the bells rang to mark the end of school, shrieks of joy and laughter replaced the corridor void. Elsewhere outside, domestic helpers scurried into position and ceased their womanly gossip, with huge umbrellas hovering over their heads like parachutes.

The primary school kids welcomed their domestic helpers with unseen sighs of relief, akin to flight arrival passengers spotting foreign strangers carrying boards with their names scribbled on them. They scampered toward their domestic helpers, racing for the safe haven beneath the wings of those umbrellas. Automatically, they off-loaded their backpacks unto the helpers' shoulders. The girls, amazingly had roller bags.

Some of the well to do ones had a better unspoken deal going on with their helpers, exchanging their backpacks for a PSP! With utmost focus, they glued their attention to the screens, while trudging back home.

What happened to good old catching and police & thieves and bola rembat and guli and rumah dayak and Chinese VS Malay friendly football rivalries? What happened to growing oblivous to blistering mid day suns, and hide & seek across the entire HDB neighbourhood? What happened to Tamiya racing in dingy drains and flicking on a piece of 'country-flag' eraser in a winner take all duel?

All the above I cherished. They were simple games, but they moulded a nation of tougher kids. Most importantly, they etched a deep and lasting memory of wonderful irresponsible childhood, every boy secretly dreams of going back to.

As I sat and gazed upon what lay before my eyes, my mind rolled back the years of past landscapes and friends. Some good, some forgettable, some unrecognisable, and a few...sorely missed. None more so than a certain Benny Fong. The good times we had was irreplaceable. I remembered being in Primary 2, and we were hell bent on running the 'country-flag' eraser economy dry.

Benny Fong was in the same standard as me. While majority of the students including myself joined the school since Primary 1, Benny only joined the school in Primary 2. I was in class 2-3, and he was next door in 2-4. He was two years older than any of us. He looked every bit Chinese, but Benny was Malaysian, of Peranakan Baba heritage. For someone who joined much later, he had trouble blending in initially. While everyone had their own cliques and recess playmates, Benny I reckon, was trying to make friends wherever possible.

I have to admit that I didn't really caught on with the 'country-flag' eraser thing until early Primary 2. Prior to this, I preferred perspiring like an animal over football during recess. It was one day after recess when the boy sitting beside me showed me an entire box of 48 'country-flag' erasers he just bought at the bookstore. While most of us only had one or half an eraser, he had 48 full, new ones!

Why I asked him, did he need that many. He explained to me that it was to challenge the other kids at school. In a match, 2 students chooses an eraser of his choice and with flicking movements, try to pin their opponents'eraser. Winner takes all. Blatant gambling they say. I honestly felt it was harmless blissful fun.

With a dollar a day for pocket money, I figured investing 10 cents for such an eraser was not such a bad idea. And so the next day, with my mind set in stone, I made a beeline for the bookshop the moment we were released for recess. I was enthralled by the choice of erasers befalling my view. After much deliberation, I settled for Greece. Not because I have visited the country, but because I vividly remembered a documentary I watched not too long before, of Santorini's mystifying blue waters. In my young mind, I thought if I didn't have the chance to go there, at least I had the eraser.

With Greece in my hand, I marched for the 'gambling' table. It took me just 20 seconds. I lost. Albeit a little unfairly I thought for my opponent pushed his eraser over mine rather than flicking. But I lost graciously. I ran toward the bookshop, and Greece again it was. Same opponent, same result.

For the third time in 5 minutes, I visited the bookshop again. This time I bought Greece and Chad. But I didn't battle. I figured I need some practicing before roughing it out.

That night, and many nights after that, I spent my time perfecting my strokes and techniques. Counter movements, long shots, side shots, close shots...until I felt I was ready for the real thing.

Two weeks later, I was back at the same table, with a different opponent, and Greece tasted its maiden victory. Now I had 3 erasers, yet I yearned for more. I didn't want instant success and resort to buying an entire box like my classmate, I wanted to earn it.

For many days after that, this eraser game got me completely possesed. There were good days and there were bad ones, but the scale tipped more toward the good side as time goes by, and soon enough, I had amassed more erasers than I could ever imagine, and my reputation swelled.

Then Benny came along. I remembered I was waiting for remedial classes. Likewise he. I was alone and reading a book when Benny came up to me. "Want to play rubber?", he asked in earnest hope. "Sure!", I exclaimed gleefully. "Winner takes all yeah?", I laid down the rules, in recent view of how some of the kids only wanted to play 'friendly practice' duels with me now. "OK", Benny retorted, as he took out about 15 erasers from a box. "This is all I have", he confessed, sheepishly prying over the huge mass of 40 odd erasers I had in a plastic bag.

It was pretty fair game for the first ten minutes, but after close to half an hour, Benny was down to his final surviving eraser. He lost. Graciously. With a smile on his face. Humble and accepting of defeat, he shook my hand and commented where he went wrong on that last one. I reciprocated and told him the good and bad points to the session. And that was the first conversation we ever had.

As the time for remedial classes approached, Benny turned around to pick his bag up when I noticed a blue patch of cloth sewn over his shorts, and a sudden gush of guilt swept through me. Here he is, wearing patched up school shorts, and here I am, with 15 of his hard-earned erasers. "Hey Benny", I called out to him. "You can have these back", I gave in, pushing the newly won erasers toward his end of the table. "Never mind la. You won fair and square", Benny reasoned and dashed down the foyer.
I sat there as his thumping steps faded into the distance and I somehow knew that Benny and I, will be close pals somehow.

Almost everyday after that, we would stay back after school to duel. But it became more of a friendly practice session. The camaraderie that grew from those sessions seemed to outweigh the competitive landscape of the game between us. Benny developed a more defensive approach to the game, beating his opponent at the last moment while I adopted a more aggressive and offensive tactic from the start.

Benny began to win me more often, and our duels grew even more constructive as we learned from each other's style of play. At the end of these sessions, we will divide and return the erasers to its rightful owner. We had utter mutual respect for each other. At recess, we will be competing with other students, and after school, we will share our experiences and showcase the hoard we have acquired for the day.

Not long afterward, I had accumulated such a huge number of erasers that I figured I couldn't keep it at home anymore without being caught. Likewise for Benny. So one day, together we scoured the tuck shop and found an empty Jacob's biscuit tin to house our prized possessions. We consolidated our erasers into one tin and hid it far beyond the prying eyes of other students, in an abandoned building known as the 'haunted house' at the far end of the school premise. There, our loot remained safe.

So on a daily basis, we would take out a few erasers to challenge other students at recess, and after school, we would dump it into our tin. It was a perfect tag-team, built to win.

And in a couple of months, we had criminally progressed to a total of 4 tins brimming with erasers. This I kid you not. Then we noticed that fewer people wanted to challenge us. With the decreased competition, our interest in the game waned as along. And before long, we completely shut down and moved on to other games, but our friendship remained strong.

One fine day before the end of the year school holidays, Benny asked if we were ever going to take those tins of erasers back home. We always procrastinated and mulled over it for it really takes much effort to lug it around. With the safety of the 'haunted house' for cover, we figured no one will ever come across that stash anyway. And so we got on with other things and soon, those erasers were somewhat forgotten. We eventually took back the erasers sometime in our Primary School life, two tins each, fair and square.

As we departed to different secondary schools, we lost contact. I'd reckon we moved on to face a new aspect of life. Teenage angst, rebellion, girls, pimples, cigarettes but deep down from time to time, I often wondered if Benny was doing fine.

It was only until I was 18, that I finally bumped into Benny. I just ended my driving practical session, and he arrived late for his motorbike practical session. We walked past each other, and funny enough both of us turned our heads to have a second look.

It was a good feeling, bumping into an old friend, albeit under such rushed circumstances. "Eh you still have the tin of rubbers?", Benny jokingly asked. "Dunno where la all those have gone to", I replied. "I still have mine you know!", he exclaimed with a smile on his face before scooting off for his lessons.

And that was the last time I ever saw Benny Fong.

As I sat there, watching, the blistering afternoon sun began to show mercy at last. Nearby factory workers started coming out after a long day at the production line. I turned to my right and smiled in disappointment. An empty playground at 5pm. The kids must still be at their PSPs I gathered. And not out to play like how we used to in the old days.

Perhaps this is the bitter inevitability of the times. With technology and progress, there's no holding back that the kids of today, and that of tomorrow, will seek solace and happiness differently.

Times indeed are a-changing. But I for one know that during my growing up days, I enjoyed thoroughly how simple it was screaming and shouting in the great outdoors. In my opinion, I wouldn't want to swap that piece of childhood with what the kids are experiencing now. Back then, it felt like the only way for boys to grow up and cherish their boyhood. If only, some things in life remained unchanged.

On behalf of all the boys that grew up circa 1980-1990, may our wonderful growing up memories be forever etched in our hearts. Boys will always be boys. Boys, should always be boys.

P.S. To my good friend Benny Fong,

I will be getting married this coming November. It would be really great to finally see Greece for the first time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Simple Things in Life

Of all the boys in Primary School, I remember a certain Flanagan the most. He was chatty and entertaining, generously leaning toward the boisterous mark, hence always incurring the wrath of our form teachers. But he was popular amongst the students, the 'notorious' bunch that is.

Flanagan was a kid from the old code. Never to succumb to those pesky hand held games, he was a sucker for the outdoors. Catching, hide and seek, football, fishing, fighting spiders, now these were the things that Flanagan excelled in. The gleam in his eye at the mere mention of such activities is obvious, as he discards whatever he is engaged in and charges forward.

Sadly though, his grades were something that was frequently scorned upon, depressing him deeper into isolation in the academic sense. The teachers gave up, and his less educated parents couldn't offer much help, even if their eager hearts wanted to. I begin to question the professionalism and quality of the teachers one day as I witnessed the Math teacher slapped the exercise book upon young Flanagan's face.

Flanagan slowly bent to pick the book up, embarrassed, shamed, and gritting his teeth, he finally made his way back to the desk beside mine, tolerating piercing stares from the rest of our classmates.

I slid the book off his hands and saw the red pen marks the teacher had sketched all over the pages, obscuring Flanagan's own writing. A big fat zero yet again...the seventh in 2 months. But with the teacher losing faith in him and to have seemingly given up, Flanagan's heart seemed fragile as he visioned his future, dark and hazy, like a piece of drifting wood out at sea. And for the first time, he cried.

The whole class transformed into a silent chamber for a mere few seconds before they resumed at whatever activities that had consumed them prior to the debacle. It was the first time anyone, including myself, had witnessed the breaking point of good ol Flanagan.

It was then that I offered Flanagan some help. I invited him to one of our study groups that we had twice a week with some of the boys from the other class. They were all brilliant in Maths, and I reckoned we could do a little something for Flanagan.

The boys looked reluctant when they saw us approaching the study corner that day, whispering and conspiring like little snakes. One of them brought me to the side during one of the breaks and told me they didn't like the idea of having Flanagan in the group. "He's slowing down our pace" was the term coined. "M***********s", I uttered under my breath as I grabbed my haversack and motioned for Flanagan to follow suit.

We walked toward the back of the school where an old wooden bench stood forgotten, lying under the comforting shade of the majestic Angsana tree. It creaked a little as we sat upon it, but the solid wood somehow reassured us of its stability. That was the first time I tutored Flanagan at Math.

Every other day, as the year end exams loomed nearer, I would attempt tutoring Flanagan at Math. Already buddies for our insatiable zest for sports and the outdoors, we grew even closer during these study sessions. I've grown to understand the other side of Flanagan that many fail to see and understand.

You see, Flanagan, unlike most of us, does not come from a middle class family. His parents do not have the luxury to send him for tuition classes. His toy collection remained limited, consisting of predominantly hand me downs from another era and those made by his very hands from whatever scrap materials he could find.

I still remember pausing really hard when I asked him this question. "Did your parents promise you anything if let's say you get a good grade for Math?" His eyes lit up a little before he lowered his head down once again to reply. "I don't even know if I can pass this paper man. You all know I've never passed any of our Math tests this year. But But mum did promise me, that if I manage to pass my final Math exam and get into EM2, she would get me those Neckermann sandals!", he replied full of glee. "That's IF I pass....a really big IF", he continued before attempting the next Math problem.

I was dumbfounded. Just the week before, my mum bought me a pair of those Neckermann brand sandals. And it wasn't even a reward. I had pestered her to get it for me since it was the 'In' brand at the time. I pondered to myself ashamed and guilty, but I promised myself, I would try my all to help poor Flanagan.

I would be profusely lying if I mentioned that I didn't get agitated during those study sessions. It wasn't that Flanagan was stupid and dumb to grasp mathematical problems, it was just that he needed more time than most students to fully understand certain concepts. With the short-fused impatience of the teachers, it was no wonder that he was left astray, spiralling toward the bottom rung of educated society.

But things eventually picked up, and I grew to enjoy study sessions with Flanagan much more as compared to the smarter boys whom I used to study with. With them it was always about achieving at least an A* for Math. If I knew them well, I'll just be bold and say that in their very minds at that moment, they must be thinking that my grades would dip and I'd fair much poorer than I used to. Secretly, I was hoping that I can pip them from the Top 5 perch for Math in our class.

The exams came and went, as we welcomed the fun days where we can bring all sorts of board games and the likes to class as we await our results. After a week or so, results day greeted us with a gentle shower in the morning, making us shiver, but more so because we were eager for the results.

One by one they stood up and collected their Math paper as the form teacher handed them out. From the abrupt shouts and celebrations, I knew that the boys whom I used to study with did well...very well. Iqbal, one of them pranced around the class as he boasted to everyone that he got a perfect 100 marks.

I fidgeted with fear as I knew my name was about to be called upon at any time now. Flanagan, who was sitting beside me had his palms locked together in prayer as he donated a faint smile toward me.

"Ryhan", Miss Mah called out my name. Her facial gesture remained stone cold as she handed me my paper. A sign that perhaps I didn't do well as them other bunch of smarty pants. I refused to look at the grade as I reclined back to my seat and placed the paper face down. I wanted to know how Flanagan did first before I looked at my marks.

"Flanagan", she called out before continuing. "Well done Flanagan, the most improved student in the class! Everyone, give Flanagan three cheers!", as the class erupted into raptures.

Flanagan had on the broadest smile as he held his paper high up in the air. "I got 60 marks!", he said as he sat down. "Thank you man. This is the first time I ever passed at Math...and 60 marks some more. Im so proud of myself!", he exclaimed. "How much did you get?", he quizzed me.

I turned the paper in one swift motion to reveal my marks. 90, it said in red at the top right corner. 1 mark short of the A* grade. I was kind of disappointed to be honest, but I was filled with joy for Flanagan.

That day, as we all made our way out of school as happy school boys, I wondered to myself why I was sulking after achieving 90 marks. Isn't it supposed to be brilliant. Flanagan mentioned that he could only dream of getting those marks. So why was I sulking? Perhaps it was because I didnt manage to beat the other boys that I mentioned earlier. But then I realised something.

In the past few months, I've gained something much more than any of those boys would ever achieve perhaps even in their entire lifetime. I've learnt, that you can feel much more elated and rewarding, knowing that you have helped someone in dire straits. The study sessions with Flanagan wasn't exactly one way traffic.

I've learnt from Flanagan that to really succeed in life, money and results only account for a small bite of the pie. What makes life colourful is indeed the warmth of friends, not the bitterness of competition. Humility, Patience, Ambition, and Sincerity are certainly values that would help us trudge on much further in life.

Flanagan finally got his Neckermann sandals. We often look pass this, but in all honesty, it's always the Simple Things in Life, that makes us whole again.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Simple Theory

Lately, I find myself being quite a magnet for being consistently beleaguered with a bevy of boisterous individuals, hell bent on attaining cheap and quick success in life.

Some are complete strangers, whilst some, pitifully are those I once considered friends in one way or another. What irks me most is not the fact that they are malnutritioned from the blood, sweat and tears that is hard work, but that astonishingly, these people loathe those that pulverize and grimace with pain each day to attain their goals.

"Work smart, not work hard", they moaned with a glee of satisfaction.

How trivial I thought to myself as they continued watching others from their coffee shop seats and repleting finances.

As much as I want to contain myself from harbouring ill intentions toward them, I know I've failed. Deep inside me, I yearn for the day I shall look below upon these people and laugh away at where cheap talks and lazy walks had brought them.

I vow to myself to ignore the Bastards once and for all. I strongly believe in that quote that states... If You Don't Scale The Mountains, You Can't View The Plains.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Connecting People

Airports, with an exhaustive myriad of people from all around the globe, can be quite an unusual, unconventional, yet very apt location to just people watch. Being quite an lover for metropolitan city states with its fast paced shuffling, 24-hr eateries and dry subway humour, I found myself locked yet again, in a web of transit.

As soon as I alighted from my transit flight, I trudged within the mazy tunnel which was unusually dim, still reeking of that aeroplane smell. The massive steel structure and architectural feat that is the new Bangkok International Airport soon greeted me as I gasped and marveled in awe, trying to logically fathom how those engineers did it. Before long, I gave up, as I made a beeline toward the smoking room.

2 hours before my 20-hour flight to New York City. It was imperative that I had my dietary supplement of ash and tar and harmful nicotine. Staring blissfully at formless smoke blown out of one's mouth...nothing like cigarettes to recharge and perk you up for an arduous journey strained within the confinements of a miserable seat, stuck between two fat people, with only in-house entertainment TV, and a good book for comfort. Secretly though, I wished I had the courage and guts to smoke in that small cubicle of a loo on board...but nahh...I wouldn't wanna be an odd commodity attracting stares throughout the long journey.

The smoking lounge was as miserable as a prison cell, size wise that is. But at least the authorities spared a thought for fellow smokers to curb their urges. Nevertheless, I wasn't complaining. I squeezed my way to the last unoccupied space between a burly Caucasian and a trendy young Japanese man. As accommodating as the situation was, I lit up.

The lounge was cold as it was silent as everyone minded their own business, deep in thought. No points for guessing how that much needed smoke fueled their thought process, acting as a peculiar catalyst.

I sat rooted and observed each and everyone of their behaviour. The Caucasian man, burly and scruffy, had a hint of adventure in his blood. His jungle hat was a giveaway, and so were the tattoos and hiking shoes. Must be back from roaming the tropical rainforests of Thailand, I assumed.

An attractive blonde, which I shall assume was Swedish simply for the assumption that most blondes hails from Scandinavia, was wiping dust off her shoes. She was well dressed, and looked every bit a New Yorker. Perhaps giving me a sneak preview of the flavour of women paving the New York streets.

And as I shifted my gaze upon the Japanese man, I was awed to perfection. Finished with his cigarette, he whipped out his mobile phone which had a bigger screen than usual. He fidgeted with the keys before dialling in a number. Upon establishing a connection, he began moving his hands and making weird signs with his fingers as he 'spoke'.

I peered over his shoulder as close as my chin could go. The person in the large LCD screen was 'speaking' back in similar fashion. Having helped out in a deaf & mute school for children, I relatively understood the conversation that was ongoing.

It was a conversation between husband and wife. In summary, what I learnt from that few minutes was that the husband had been away for a few months now, on a work project and he was on his way home. They missed each other alot, and he missed his 2 kids at home dearly. He requested for his wife to point the camera toward their sleeping children so that he could catch a glimpse of their angelic faces.

That made him tear a little as he forced a smile followed by soft laughter. He told his wife that he would be back in just a day's time and that he's missing her Roasted Lemon Chicken.

Amazing, I pondered to myself, the beauty of how modern technology bridges two souls together. What deemed an impossible act not too long ago, you wouldn't expect a mobile phone to be of handy use to someone who could not listen, let alone speak.

What I witnessed today opened my mind up to a million possibilities. It is very much comforting to learn that as we move on and embrace new technology, even the less privileged benefits.

Connecting people. I've learnt something new today how that phrase transcends beyond mere communication. In every sense of the word, so simple, yet baffling, the manner in which two souls embraces eternal love and human touch. Whatever technology spills out tomorrow, let us hope that as with mobile phones, it would make the world a better place.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Go Fly a Kite!

Go Fly a Kite.

That was exactly the advice a close friend recently ranted out to me as I whined and rambled about the qualms of both my professional and personal life. "Shut the fuck up and do it", he vehemently urged me as I vividly recalled.

Not one to enjoy kite flying in my growing up years, I could however appreciate the art and mechanics behind kite flying. I was more of the 'guli' or marble kind of boy, besides football and fishing in murky large drains of 1980s Singapore.

Shrugging off the idea, I left it at that...mere coffee shop talk. Until one fine day, well, one fine horrific day at work to be precise, I found myself storming out of the office with my termination letter. Strangely, I remembered feeling light and 'full of spring' for a man that just got fired. Perhaps, I just knew that nothing could possibly get worse henceforth.

With the sun still scorching bright in the afternoon, and office rats rushing back to their meager cubicles, I trudged on happily, briefcase en-towed with a loosely tied necktie around my unbuttoned shirt.

I went to the beach that afternoon to be alone and reflect on recent incidents. I took off my shoes, rolled up my trousers and buried my feet in the soft subtle sand by the coast, leaving my imprints on the beach as I lined the coast. And there just up ahead, was an old Chinese man, dead to his surroundings as he stoned near his makeshift stall, selling home made kites.

"What the hell", I thought to myself as I paid for one. It had a smiley face printed on one side. How ironic.

I dumped my belongings by the side and went out onto the open beach, wind howling across my face and hair. I stretched the kite out with my right arm as ran against the wind. With a violent surge forward, I lunged the kite into the open sky as I let the wind take over.

Up up and up it soared as I tried to trace it amidst the blinding sun rays. But there it was smiling back down on me. I felt like a boy once again, free from worldly troubles. I tugged and loosened the string intermittently as I was determined to let the kite stay afloat. In a matter or minutes, I was at the end of the spool.

The next few minutes consisted of a series of ups and downs as the kite plunged land side and me repeating the routine all over again, but it made me feel light for a change. And in one of those instances when the kite was up once again, another kite I was battling swooped in and cut my line and down down down it went. I smiled and it made me ponder.

Kite flying. As trivial as it is, it somehow mirrored life in a way. In life, it's never an easy thing to be successful and happy. But with sheer determination and hard work, it isn't difficult for things to run its course.

There are times when we soar, and times where we delve deep into turbulence. It is the man that gets up and tries that soars once again. There will always be bastards that try to cut u off, but there will always be luck and love, which like the wind, can make one climb once again.

I was a happy man as I made my way back home once again. I'll not know what tomorrow holds for me but one thing's for sure, I'll be trying my best.

And to those out there who is feeling that life has been a little harsh toward you lately, here's a piece of advice..."Shut the Fuck Up, and Go Fly a Kite!"

It helps.

Monday, November 30, 2009


First you ensure that both ends are of equal length. Cross the laces and pull. Make a bunny ear on the right, and repeat with the left. Cross the bunny ears, make a bow and pull hard. There you millions of others before me, that was probably how your first lesson with shoelaces began.

It was a heavy meal by my standards, nothing quite marvelous, but acceptable. It could have been better but I wasn't one to complain that day. We strolled along the quay side river and sat upon an abandoned bench with rays of sunshine coyly penetrating through gaps of grey clouds.

The air smelt and hinted of rain, but I wasn't going to let that deprive me of some quality time with you what with the wind subtly beating upon my face and dragging me to slumberland.

The river seemed calm and the soft murmuring of the river boat in the distant added to the charm of the colourful shophouses lining what used to be a thriving settlement. As the boat loomed nearer, you can make out the eager tourists with their cameras and video recorders, pointing to something whimsical that attracted their curiosity.

These scenes contorted a heartwarming backdrop to our special moment together in close proximity, discussing varied topics from wordly issues to mindless bickering and debatable humour. Just as we were laughing and arguing, she casually pulled one end of my shoelace like a playful puppy. I wasn't angry at all, but after 25 years of bunny ears and pulling, who likes it right?

Fast forward a year later, the setting was similar albeit now in a different country. The sky was painted with gloom as the cobblestone path seemed wet, guilty of rain just moments earlier.

I sat upon a lonely bench, thinking of home as I unwrapped my sandwich and reminiscence. I really missed her so. There was a mother of two nearby trying to control her unruly but undeniably cute rascals. They had blonde hair and envious eyes. They were chasing, and irritating one another repeatedly,one brother and one sister...but they seemed loving.

Just as their mother gave both quite a tongue lashing, the sister cunningly unlaced her brother's right shoe. He was just about 4 years old and his mother obligingly bent down and muttered,"First you ensure that both ends are of equal length. Cross the laces and pull. Make a bunny ear on the right, and repeat with the left. Cross the bunny ears, make a bow and pull hard."

I smiled to myself, frozen with thought. I didn't know it until now though it has always been there.

At times I miss you alot. But at most times, I miss you more.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Drawing Faces

As a child, Ben has always been one of the brighter kids at school in an unconventional manner that is. And though his zest for learning was overflowing, somehow his investments of energy doesn't seem to transcend down toward his grades. His debatable grades harbor toward the borderline cases less for his language subjects.

As a result, he has always been the bane of his mother for not being able to emulate his elder siblings who's undaunted heaps of appraisals for colourful marks sky rocketed them to the elites of their school.

Now besides languages, Ben mastered in his Art class. Constantly being ridiculed by his mother and siblings, they made him feel how wrong and unsuccessful a career Art can be. Everyone in his class usually marvelled at his paintings, drawings, and artifacts. No one knows where he got his Art genes from, but in short, Ben was simply magnificent for his age.

As much as his mother doesn't want to admit to Ben's keen eye for the arts, countless times during one of those mundane parents' teachers' meeting, she would hear Ben's form teacher muttering under her breath, "Your son Ben....well...he's just one of those creatively inclined students. And thats that. I do not know how else I can motivate the boy. He doesn't cause any trouble...well...except for his marvellous grafitti on his desk". Ironic isn't it?

And so as the prophecy goes, Ben got accepted to a good Art school, going against his mother's wishes to pursue Art as a career. He aced and came out tops in the entire cohort and in just a couple of years, he is now lecturing not only in local art institutions, but also in many prestigious art colleges around the world. I myself find it hard to fathom that he is just 28 years old today earning 6 times more than what any of his siblings are earning, having more holidays than his siblings combined, and sleeping peacefully every single night, not having to bother about a certain client, or a project deadline, and robotic accounting windows, unlike his siblings. But yet, he still years for his mother's blessing. "It's not a real job", she would whisper to the chatty neighbours.

Already giving up hope on winning his mothers' favour, Ben led the life he always wanted...unconventionally. And one fine day, his sister called to discuss on a birthday bash for their mothers' grand old 60th. They wanted to discuss about the gift. It was agreed that the siblings were to have dinner at Ben's place that night. After much friendly disagreements as how siblings usually have them, it was agreed that they would do something special, yet simple. They were going to present to their mother, in a grand brass frame, a portrait of herself. And as soon as it was agreed, all of them looked at Ben, automatically implying that he had to be the one responsible for the creative aspect of things. "Easy", Ben cooly replied. Just give me a couple of days to locate a suitable reference photo, and I'll take it from there yea?

No news from Ben, and Mother's birthday was just a day away. Rejecting their calls, his siblings grew worried and fidgety and so Joanne decided to pop by Ben's place that afternoon. Ben still refused to pick up as Joanne stared sparingly at the red front door of Ben's apartment. His car was parked outside so he is definitely at home she thought. "What an asshole", she muttered under her breath.

Joanne rummaged her handbag for extra set of keys Ben trusted her with and opened the door. The house looked like an aftermath of heavy partying and boozing. His winning art pieces hung on the walls, slanted from the norm. There were canvasses on the floor, paint everywhere. His place was a terrific mess. Ben's tattooed body lay sprawled on the floor behind the couch....motionless.

"Hey idiot", Joanne barked out at him as she gently kicked the side of his leg. "Hmmmpf", Ben muffled. "What do you want", Ben forced himself awake. "The portrait asshole...are you done with it? We heard no news from you", Joanne fluttered with desperation. "I haven't started lah. Had a party last night over here. My head hurts. Give me awhile la ok? Lemme just wash up and I'll get down to it", Ben said nonchalantly.

"What!!! You haven't started? How are we going to finish this in time. Are you sure you got time to finish it anot you idiot?", Joanne was on the verge of a catastrophic meltdown. "Relax lah. Kancheong for what? 2 hours can already. Ok?", Ben comforted his sister. He has always been closer to Joanne as compared to his other siblings, for Joanne usually was his accomplice during their growing up years, unlike the other 2 siblings who were basically hardcore nerds.

Ben reappeared 30 minutes later with a roll of canvass under his left arm, an easel in his right hand, and a couple of charcoal pencils. He carefully placed his reference photo and began sketching. Joanne nestled herself comfortably on the couch as she intently peered over Ben's shoulder not wanting to be left out of the artistic developments.

"Hey!!!", Joanne wailed. "Do you think this is a joke? What the hell are you drawing. That doesn't look like Mum", Joanne rattled on as she tilted her head sideways to convince herself that she isn't dreaming. "It looks more like.... me it seems?", she now seems puzzled.

"Yah yah. What the hell do you guys know", Ben defended himself. "Anyway, you're her daughter what, so there must be some form of resemblance right?", Ben sarcastically replied. "I'm not done. This is just the base. Now is the fun part", Ben muttered, with a glint in his eye and his head tilted back at an angle, as if absorbing the energy from the canvas.

Joanne stood up and pulled a stool so that she could sit closer to Ben. "You remembered in Primary School when I chose to join the Art Club instead of Science Club?", Ben asked his sister. "Well Mum was really disappointed", Ben continued as he added a fine line across the forehead. "And then I failed one of the year end exams badly and couldn't progress to the next level. That deserved a few more lines", Ben exclaimed as he let his charcoal do the talking.

"Father had an affair when we were in Secondary School, that really took a toll on Mum", Ben muttered again as he drew a deeper groove this time near the temple and below the eyes. "It took a good 1 year before the divorce case was settled", Ben recollected as he added a few more fine lines here and there.

Joanne now began to see how the portrait began to unfold as she began to see more of her mother now. "Remember December 1998?", Ben quizzed Joanne. We attended our prom night, we got drunk and didn't come home. Mum got really angry at you, and at me for dragging you along. "If only she knew the truth back then about who devised that plan!", Ben smirked at his sister Joanne as he added a few more creases onto the face.

"And this is for the time i got my first tattoo, and when I opted for Art School, and when I went into NS. And when you were dating that older guy. Wait...older ugly guy! Haha", Ben laughed, together with Joanne as they reminisced the past. "And this is when Debra miscarried her first child. And this is for when the house caught fire one evening and we had to stay with Aunty Sue for a couple of months. God Mum hated Aunty Sue's husband", Ben went on.

Slowly but slowly, Joanne found herself starring at her mother, who is looking straight back at her from the canvass. "She seems sad Ben. Can you do something about it", Joanne commented with a tear in her eyes.

"Wait lah. Still not done.", Ben defended himself. "Remember the day Dylan was born? Mum shed tears of joy in welcoming her first grand child", Ben shuffle Joanne's memory as he drew some fine lines around the mouth. "And when all of you guys graduated from the university, and when all of you got married, and when Thomas got that president achievement thingy", Ben continued as he drew those fine crevices so it formed a smile on his mother's face.

"There, I'm almost done", said Ben as he applied the finishing touches. "Wow", Joanne gasped. "You're really brilliant. You're really something. Gift from God you are", Joanne exclaimed as she sat amazed. "Somehow, I still feel something is amiss", Joanne muttered as she snatched the charcoal pencil from her youngest brother.

"What the hell? What do you mean? What are you doing?", Ben fretted as Joanne brought the charcoal closer to the canvas. Joanne drew in another fine line around her Mother's mouth. "And what's that supposed to be?", Ben seemed puzzled and eager to know. "You know how much Mum doesn't show her appreciation toward you?", Joanne paused for a while. "Well, its not as bad as it seems. She's old fashioned yes. But she has always told us that she loved you most. And she is very proud of what you are today, albeit choosing an unconventional path, whenever she reads your name in the papers or see you on television, she never fail to say this...",Joanne stopped, with tears already welling in her eyes.

"What?", Ben whispered. She would say proudly to all, "That's my son Ben. My son."

- Inspired by an ageless Enid Blyton classic.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Home Sweet Home

It had been a hectic week for us all. To squeeze everything for completion before the long weekend break was near impossible. Or so we all thought, right up till 11pm that Friday evening as we switched off the lights to the office and waved goodbye to the week that just eluded by.

It was too early a night or so I concluded to be retiring into comfortable pyjamas and a comforting mug of simmering hot chocolate. And so I asked if anyone was up for some drinks. I was in the mood to party, and so were thousands of others lining up the quay side pubs and cafes.

"I promised my wife I'll have supper with her", said one. Understandable. "I want to spend some time with my parents", said another. Forgivable, considering the hours we put in at work. I reckon he only gets to see his parents during the weekends, despite living in the same house.

"My cousins are coming over. We got a PS3 battle scheduled for tonight", said the other. I looked over my shoulder to the remaining two colleagues, half expecting them to bid farewell. I couldn't be bothered to know their interest level anymore. "Erm..I wanna spend time with the family", said one. "I'll join you", said the Malaysian.

Smiling, we eagerly trudged forward toward the taxi stand, half excited, and half asking what just happened a few brief moments ago. Brothers, Families, Children, Parents. Families. Such is the plight of expatriates, plying their trade, be it far away or just in the neighbouring countries, nevertheless, we're still alone. And more often than not, though I for sure hide it so well from my exterior, I do miss home. And I'm sure my Malaysian colleague felt the same way too.

The night didn't disappoint. We made new friends, we had fun, we sweated on the dance floor, and most importantly, for that few minutes, we felt like we were home, right up till the lights came on and suddenly, the dance floor seemed smaller as compared to when the lights were flickering along the pulsating bass lines. Then reality smacks us right back in the face. Time to go home. No. To loneliness.

"So Duncan, tell me, what's your fondest memory of home?", I asked. He didn't need to deliberate as he began his story.

"I was about ten", he flashed back. I could tell from the far away look in his eyes how his mind journeyed back in time. "It was the best time of my life. All the rascals were drafted into the same class. All of which were my closest friends. We rode our rusty bicycles to school each morning, laughing, mocking and mimicking the teachers we disliked in school."

"Then some time just after the mid year holidays, we had this milk campaign. We all had to order those liquid milk that came in packets of 6s. To grow strong bones and teeth they said. And for our art project, my friends and I, we decided to do up a wall mural. It was kind of like the ones you see in the doctor's waiting room. The ones with all the animals and you have to stand beside it to monitor your growth in height. And they had this giraffe as the tallest animal. We had that too. It was beautiful at the time."

"We grew up of course. Went to different schools. But we remained friends. Then during Chinese New Year earlier this year, I went back to my hometown. It was a ritual for most robust young men to venture out of small town Ipoh to harvest their rewards. My friends did it, and so did I. It was indescribable. The 5 of us, together once again. With money this time round. How trivial. Then one of them suggested to visit the old school."

"It didn't seem like fun at first, but we didn't have a better plan. And so with a couple of beers we drove toward that side of town. It wasn't difficult to spot the pale yellow walls of our former school. It was peeling with age, but the emblem still stood out proudly from the main building, with its bold lettering below it. The cemented road had major cracks in between, but that was it. The rest, was just as how we left it. Even the air smelt the same, except that it was silent now, missing were the frantic laughter of children within the compound."

"We trudged up toward the second floor and loitered along the corridor as we approached our former classroom. And as unimportant as it is, it was weird that we all still remembered where we sat and where the other blokes of the class were sitting. Good times we all thought. Then as we were about to leave, one of us wailed in delight as he pointed at the door entrance."

"There, in its faded glory was that mural we all did all those years back. You could still make out the numbers by the side if you were to just concentrate a little longer. The mural seemed midgety all of a sudden as we all seemed like overgrown giants now. But the mural brought about silence that moment. We didn't say it out, but I knew for a fact that at that exact moment, we all remembered who we really were and how innocent and fulfilling those growing up years were. It was a miracle how all of us faced life adversities from young punks to aspiring professionals. And for once in the longest time, we felt free."

I gasped as I tried to share the beautiful memory my friend had of his growing up days and home town. I didn't expect this for an answer to my question, but his story struck a chord in my heart. Sometimes people do not appreciate the fact that they have a home to go to every day, no matter how long they spend their time in the office, no matter how hard they slogged that day.

Brothers, Families, Children, Parents. Friends. Always close, but never close it seems for us expatriates. At best, we see them briefly perhaps once, best three times a year. If I were to ask that question to a hundred expats, I would get a hundred different answers. All of which reminds us of home in the unique manner we choose to remember it by. All of which, priceless as priceless can be, will forever be our Home Sweet Home picture.

I Love Thee

I Love Thee,
I Love But Thee,
With a Love That Shall Not Die,
Till The Sun Grows Cold,
And The Stars Grow Old.

- William Shakespeare

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Addict

Ash as he was colloquially called, looked brittle and worn. The area around his eyes gave the impression that he had applied some kind of cosmetic. It was black as soot, very much panda like. How ironic, as you may perhaps deduced where he got his name from. His eyes seemed dead and struggling to blink, though in a daze.

Ash rummaged his wardrobe, frantically searching for his fix. He began to perspire profusely as he emptied his drawers. He mumbled to himself whilst continuing surging with his search. He looked under the mattress, in his wallet, in his jeans pocket and yet he couldn't find what he was looking for. The only thing that was important to him his whole life.

Tears rolled down his cheek as he struggled to come to terms that he had run out on drugs. He yearned for it. Depended on it. It had become part of his flesh and blood, streaming in his veins, he needed it to keep himself calm and think happy thoughts.

Full of angst, he pressed a couple of numbers on his mobile phone and impatiently waited for the other party to pick up the telephone. It seemed longer than usual and Ash began to pull his hair. "Yes?", the heavy bass-like voice answered on the other line. "Do you have some on you?", Ash struggled with his stuttering voice. "I have a couple of pills on me. Be here in an hour", the other guy said without saying goodbye.

Ash clenched the few pieces of notes he had on the dressing table, tiptoed to his mother's room and crept toward her cupboard. Like a mouse, he silently took some cash and was out of the house in a flash.

Before long, he arrived at one of the smaller neighbourhoods on this little island country. The blocks seemed to be breathing new life as a fresh coat of paint was recently applied to it. Part of the neighbourhood upgrading. Hiding years of moss and algae that had previously conjured its walls, especially those on the lower floors.

Ash hid behind one of the pillars of the opposite block as he dialled the number again. He allowed it to ring about four times before shutting it off. A signal for the guy to drop of his goods at the usual place. Ash became wary all of a sudden about his surroundings. He looked left and right and fidgeted with his hands as he trudged forward toward his destination. Unknown to him, he was being watched.

Ash walked past the elevators before darting up the stairs to the third storey. He opened the piping cabinet and grabbed the little ziploc left for him on the concrete floor. He placed the money there and scampered down the corridor, as he examined the contents of the ziploc. He smiled to himself, with satisfaction and full of glee.

As he trudged down the staircase at the other end of the block, he popped the pills into his mouth, affording a smile as he felt the pills slither down his throat. He walked toward the vending machine at the void deck as he emptied the coins in his jeans to get some liquid to drain down his pills. All this while, his watchers kept a roving eye on him, contemplating on whether to go for Ash, a small time consumer or the big fish instead. "You tail him", one officer said to the other. "I'll look out on the third floor", he whispered.

Before the officer could reach Ash, he was already on his way as he hailed and boarded the taxi cab in a jiffy. Ash tilted his back as he sat so that he could park his heavy head unto the headrest. He closed his eyes and allowed the drugs to take effect.

Ash felt light all of a sudden, as though he was being lifted from the ground. He felt good all of a sudden as he rhythmically grooved with the drug. It sure felt good alright as his heart kept pounding faster. Millions of lights darted into his vision though his eyes were closed. Lights of all shapes and colours. A million colours! They formed all sorts oh shapes and weird objects. Ash felt as though he was watching the most brilliant commercial or movie. This was the life....or so it seemed as he languished in this comforting high.

What seemed like seconds, and the taxi cab pulled over at Ash's block. He passed the driver whatever cash he had, too eager to wait for his change as he hurried out of the cab and walked briskly in zig zag fashion for he could hardly feel his legs. Meanwhile, the officer who had been trailing him pulled up on the other end of the block, as he prepared to ambush a weakened Ash.

Ash dragged himself forward, creeping against the walls for support as the lift seemed Oh so far away. All he could think of was his dark humid room. how much he wanted to just rot in his bed and enjoy the effect the drug had on him. It was just moments away, or so he thought.

Just as he was about to press the lift button, a firm hand gripped his wrist. "What the hell are you doing Ash?", an all familiar voice boomed through the silence. Ash forced his puffy eyes open and looked at the officer. "Adam? What do you want?", Ash tried to sound normal but he couldn't hide his actual state of high. "Why are you doing this Ash? The last time I met you, you said you're done. You're clean. You promised! What's going on Ash?", Adam quizzed as he himself fell into a daze of confusion.

"I got to take you in Ash. You need help", Adam continued. "No!!!!", Ash barked at Adam. "Let me go....let me go!!", he tried to wrestle with his cousin Adam but the officer was just too strong for him. "Please...pleasee", Ash begged with tears in his eyes. "You owe me this one Adam. Remember the things I did for you back then. Don't forget where you came from Adam. You just don't forget!", Ash bargained with his cousin, who used to be more like an younger brother to him back then.

As confused as anyone could ever get, Adam loosened his grip and allowed Ash to disappear into the lift. Millions of thoughts haunted Adam soon after as never expected to come face to face with his drug addict cousin. His walkie talkie broke the uncomfortable silence and echoed in the corridor. "Did you get him? What's your location..over", his partner asked. Adam let the officer in on his location and waited for him before they proceeded to Ash's residence.

The officers caused such an upheaval, considering the blood ties that was involved between officer and addict. Neighbours awoke and crowded the corridor as Ash left the house, barefooted, high, in hand cuffs, and leaving behind a distraught father, and a crying mother.

That night, Adam tried hard to rest and get some shut eye. Memories of younger days shoved him in his thoughts and Adam questioned his integrity between family and work. He felt though he had cheated on the most important thing he held close to him. Adam felt deep regret though he knew it was probably the best thing his cousin needed to finally wake up.

Adam didn't see Ash again until 4 months later when he got news that Ash had committed suicide in his jail cell. Surprisingly Ash seemed calm and comforted as he was lowered into the grave. Jail was just too much for Ash it seemed. Guilty as one could be, for the rest of his life, Adam knew he could not shrug the guilt he is feeling.

Not a single day went by without Adam asking himself What If questions. What If he had let Ash go that day? What if he wasn't going for that rank promotion? What if life was just as simple as it was back then? Just two kids, full of mischief, running down the corridor in their mud stained shorts, after breaking the neighbours flower pot. After all, that will always be how Adam remembers his cousin Ash.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


If I were to be interviewed one fine day, and the reporter were to ask me what was the most difficult thing men can ever come across in life, I already have my answer.

Growing up and being told what to do? You can always rebel or oddly sneak out and do the prohibited anyhow. Studying your socks off? Its more about the question of sound time management and a cure for laziness. Striking it rich? Climbing that tall corporate ladder?

I've always felt that it is within our control to manifest our dreams. Only sometimes we need a little luck, and a sprinkle of the right opportunity trudging our way. But breaking a promise? Now that's heart wrecking.

Wednesdays. I really hate Wednesdays. For Wednesdays reminds me of horrifying end to end liaising and paper work and endless jabbering on the telephone with someone that's as irrelevant as they are important in my line of work.

The minutes ticked surprisingly quickly the moment I stepped into the office. I tried my best to delay my task proper. I lugged myself to the pantry for a miserable cup of coffee and already soft biscuits...i strolled back to my cubicle, switched on my terminal, and fiddled with my phone before it began to beep.

"Can we have dinner tonight?", it read. "Sure. Can't wait to see you tonight", was my careless reply. Not thinking through but rather acting purely out of love and badly missing that someone.

"Shucks!", I thought to myself. It's god damn Wednesday. I don't even know if I was going to have time for lunch! But I tried, to the best of my abilities to prioritize my tasks and sorted whatever I could as efficiently and swiftly as possible. Things were looking good.

As each hour passes, she would text me eagerly over the phone. At 12 Noon, it read, "7 hours before I see you". At 2pm, it read, "5 more hours". Those messages never failed to lift my spirits despite the chaos I was going through. But it was going to be well worth it I mused to myself. Spending a simple quiet dinner with your loved one after a long arduous day.

At 5pm, things were looking suspiciously good. Then something happened that could have happened to any other person in the creative industry. You got to rush an urgent AD. Your whole world crashes on you as I morbidly pictured her face transforming into a heap of black sadness. Now conveying to her this piece of news, it needs a man to be supported with a battalion of courage to do so.

ADVERTISING: If it doesn't kill murders you.

Surprisingly, she took it rather well. That's the first sign you're in big trouble. Like any other man, you'll probably expect a string of Whys and How Could Yous coming your way. But all I got was a sleek OK..I understand.

I didn't blame her for feeling a heave of mess and sadness. I didn't mind not having a thing to eat for lunch or dinner that day, hoping that whatever time I saved, it would increase my chances of meeting her for dinner that night.

I didn't mind, having just a few hours of sleep almost every single day, for I'd somehow feel rejuvenated around her presence.

I only hated myself for breaking a promise. Reading her text messages earlier that day made me feel worst. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do in the longest time, and I hope I don't have to do it ever again. If I do, just so you know, I'm deeply sorry. I only wanted the best. Always have, and Always will.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Answered in Silence

There were many fleeting questions that streamed through my mind the past few weeks. None of which I could muster up an answer to.

I asked. I asked myself. I even questioned my heart. Still, the silence grips me in a stranglehold, as more and more questions flooded my head.

How funny those feelings scamper away when I'm with you.

As you gradually disappeared into the drifting taxi cab that night, instincts compelled me to turn. The same exact moment you looked back at me. I forced myself to a wry smile in your direction. The other half of me wanted to just run forward. But smaller and smaller you disappeared into the long road, admist the subdued silence.

Queer as it was, I wasn't even questioning, nor was I asking. I just felt what I saw, and then I knew, the answers to all my questions.

It has always been in front of me. YOU.

P.S: Bily.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Rather Disturbing Dream

As I woke up one clear Friday morning, I somehow knew something was amiss amidst the seemingly clear blue skies, free from fluffy white clouds. It wasn't often, considering the tropical climate of an equatorial country, for the skies to paint itself a deep concentrated blue hue, like a 16th century painting hanging in a museum.

We were totally caught off guard, in such a trying time as the economy stretched our dollars apart. We got the house, then the newly acquired car, and a couple of life's simple luxuries which we can't live without. But the gift of life was always one we shouldn't push aside. If it is His wish to bless us with a shining light, perhaps he has his ways to shower us with whatever necessary to aid us through to the welcoming of our first born child.

Too many a times have I witnessed close relatives and friends receive similar news with tears welled up in their eyes. But how different it felt, when it happens to oneself. Consumed by happiness and overwhelmed with excitement, I for one was lost for words when the doctor confirmed the test results.

With added vigor and a new sense of motivation, I propelled myself harder at work, working extended laborious hours, just so I can provide more, for my family, and the anticipated welcoming of our first child. Though what I made seemed rather adequate, it pains me to see my wife propelling just as hard at her job.

Full of admiration for her tenacity and bullish drive, it came to a point her health suffered. It started off light at first, with sporadic headaches and back pains. But it became apparently worse as the months wore on. "It's OK dear", she lamented. "We can do with the extra cash", was what she always says as I brought up the topic of her quitting her job temporarily.

After much consistent persuasion, she finally gave in. It was a good 3 months before the due date, and boy was I glad to know that she finally has proper rest, limiting the possibilites of any complications.

As the days wore on and the welcoming seemed ever so near, I found it ever more so difficult to concentrate at work. My mind was always elsewhere, lingering into mindless day dreams, full of happiness and smiles. It was on one such day that I received a horrific call from my in-law.

"We're on the way to the hospital", she sobbed in between the lines. Her voice, heaved with sadness and fear. Never one to sit idly at home, my wife apparently slipped in the kitchen and passed out. There was just so much blood everywhere, as my in-law recollected her words when she entered the kitchen to find her daughter sprawled on the floor in a bloody mess.

I rushed to the hospital as swiftly as I could, driving like a raging bull, my pessimistic mind filled with negative publicity. I recognized the doctor from afar as he pulled up his hand to get my attention. With a comforting arm around my shoulder, he explained the situation as calmly as a doctor possibly could.

"I'll get straight to the point", his heavy voice spoke. "The good news is that though almost 2 months premature, the baby is safe. Now the bad news is that your wife was hemorrhaging blood when she got here. So much so that she's in a coma", the doctor's voice suddenly faded away as I felt a sense of heaviness within my head as I run my hands over my face.

"Now we have done all we can. The hemorrhaging has ceased but we cannot be sure when will she come out from her coma. It could be a few days. It could be a few years we do not know. Let's all pray shall we?", he comforted me as he opened the door to the ward where I saw my wife's angelic face asleep, like how she always looked so beautiful as she sleeps in my arms.

My in-law got up to leave, as I requested some alone time to recollect the events that happened within the past few hours. The atmosphere was silent like how all hospitals were. Reeking of death and misery. I touched her face, half hoping that the doctor was lying. She remained asleep.

I sat there, running my hands through her hair and talking to myself, hoping that she would come out of her sleep soon so that we can take a look at our child for the first time together.

The days wilted away and still, she laid frozen alive. I have yet to see my child. Relatives lamented on how he had my nose and her lips, but I still remained adamant to the fact that we just had to look at our child for the first time together, just like how the whole journey first began.

The doctors told me to rest as I looked pretty much lethargic, sitting there starring into her eyes. They said that if there was anything that could aid someone out from a coma, it is by hearing the voice of a loved one. Though she remained unconscious, she could still somehow hear. It was a long shot, but I remained positive.

I started to read aloud her favourite books. Mostly fairy tales and the sort. I read her some of the old books we had, which had been shoved away in the store cabinet. I even read her some of the letters and poems which we wrote each other during our courting days.

It was on one such day that I read her one of the first letters I wrote, that I fell asleep on her lap, clutching her palms in mine. I thought I must have been dreaming when I felt her fingers move! Slowly, I raised my head and looked upon her face. Her eyes fluttered open, as though she was opening it for the first a beautiful butterfly that was becoming and taking its maiden flight.

She was back alright, and I could feel the life sucking into me once again as I kissed her on the palms like I always did. "Is the baby alright?", she asked with a glint of concern in her eyes. I comforted her that the baby is fine and healthy. It has been almost a month since she slipped into a coma, and though premature, the baby is doing better than normal, just as what the doctor said.

"Who does he look like?", was her next question. "I don't know for sure. I've yet to see it", I exclaimed. "You liar!", she managed to joke a little as she didn't believe a word I said. "Well it's true. The rest of them have seen him but me. I just thought it would be sweet for us to see our baby for the first time together", I continued.

I shall never forget the first time I saw my bundle of joy, as it laid comfortably nestled in his mother's arms, peering out of the cloth that was wrapping him, eager and curious just as his father is. They say the best moments of raising a child is when you watch him grow, for once he reaches a certain age, they'll just fly away, like how we all did when we left our parents homes.

Though this story was entirely based on a recent dream, I choose to believe that the actions of the characters somehow reflects upon my ideals in life. I'm positively sure I would have reacted just the same.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pixie the Gnome & The Golden Princess' Tears

After just a few minutes of trailing behind the witty and gallant Yvein, Pixie broke the silence of the forest sanctuary in her cute little voice that went, "Yvein! Do you really know where you're going and how we are going to break Plexine's spell casted upon my friends?". "Of course I do. If there is anything to reverse a magic spell, it would be The Golden Princess's tears. And that is exactly what we are going to do!", Yvein almost boasted with new found confidence.

"But The Golden Princess don't cry. Haven't you heard the tales the elders speak of?", Pixie said in a puzzling manner. "Aha!. That's where you're wrong my friend. You just wait and see what I'm going to do!", Yvein proclaimed. "Now stop whining and lets go. Craven's Nest is not far from here", Yvein began to walk faster.

"Craven's Nest?", Pixie began to feel more clueless than ever. But she trusted Yvein and decided not to irritate him further. The gnomes arrived at Craven's Nest just before the napping hours and just in time to see one of the Cravens nestle into their giant nests. Now Cravens, though they look menacing and ferocious, they really are nice creatures...once you get to know them better.

"Pixie!....Pixie!! Come here!", Yvein hissed out to Pixie while indicating with a finger over his mouth for Pixie to stay quiet. "Lay on the the floor and wail in pain like the spoilt brat you are", Yvein requested. "But I'm NOT..." "Well you don't want to walk all the way to the Glass Palace now do you!?", Yvein cut out Pixie's attempt at retorting before she could even complete it.

Reluctantly and in utter bewilderment, Pixie obliged. She laid on the grass and began wailing in pain as instructed. If you looked closely, you can even spot a tear welling up in cute little Pixie's eyes. That was how good an actress she really is! In an instant, Yvein darted toward the nearest nest and shouted in exasperation, "Help! Help! My friend...she is in pain...Help!".

"Now what is this ruckus bothering me from my snooze time", a loud shriek voice cackled as a Craven popped its head from within the nest. " what we have here. Its dear Yvein again. What do you want this time boy?", the Craven asked.
"My friend over there...she's been stung by Acid Bees, if we don't take her to the Glass Palace at once, she'll surely die! Please please I beg of you", Yvein pleaded.

"Well, it really is a nice lazy afternoon. Perfect for a nap. Why should I help you worthless cunning gnomes?", the Craven challenged Yvein. Quick thinking, Yvein took out just one Honey Walnut from his brown sack that glittered in the warm sun. "There are hundreds of these where it came from. It's all yours if you let us sit on your back and fly us to the Glass Palace", Yvein blurted out an offer the Craven can't refuse.

Licking it's hungry lips, the Craven obliged. Yvein ran back to Pixie, cheekily winked at her and helped her up onto the Craven's hairy back, which was quite comfortable in fact, just like a soft velvet couch.

The Craven soared high into the sky and above the clouds as the two gnomes looked down at the forest below and thanked their lucky stars for not having to walk all those million miles. "Faster faster!", Yvein roared in excitement for he enjoyed the wind guzzling against his face. Pixie on the other hand felt rather uncomfortable for she was darn scared of heights, and so she gripped Yvein tightly, which caused him to gasp.

Before long, the Craven began to descend and made ground for the brownish slug of a land just before the Murky Rivers. "Hey this is not the Glass Palace!", Yvein rattled in anger. "I'm sorry my gnome friends. We Cravens must not fly above Murky Waters. There is an old curse that warned us about flying over these evil waters. I'm sorry but this is as far as I can only take you", the Craven apologised with geunine intent. "But once you cross the Murky Waters, the Glass Palace is not far away. Trust me", the Craven tried to comfort the gnomes.

"Well alright Craven. Here you go", Yvein slung forward his brown sack and tied it neatly around the craven's legs. "And thank you for taking us this far. May we meet again kind friend!", Yvein bidded the Craven farewell as it soared high into the skies once again.

The Gnomes looked toward Murky Waters and wondered how are they ever going to cross these dangerous swamp. Just then, a huge Crocodile waddled toward the near bank and smiled sheepishly at the gnomes. "What are you two gnomes doing far away from your villages", the crocodile asked cunningly while he thought about having them for supper.

Knowing fully well that Crocodiles eats anything that moves, the gnomes took a step back, while orchestrating a solution. "You know what?", Pixie voiced out. "We are indeed on our way to the Glass Palace to collect our just rewards from the Fairy Princess. We helped her carry out a couple of errands last week and she promised us two huge brown cows. You can have them both if you let us ride your back to the other side of Murky Waters", for once Pixie displayed her hidden genius ability.

Crocodiles, who only possess brains the size of a ground nut, didn't have to do much thinking before agreeing on the offer. The crocodile just imagined about the fine meal he was about to have once the gnomes returned with the cows. Almost immediately, he agreed to let the gnomes ride on his leathery back.

Hand in hand, the gnomes put one foot on the crocodile's back, then the other as they balanced atop his lean muscular back. All this while, wary of the cunning but dumb crocodile. They reached the far bank safely and both gnomes ran to a safe distance before shouting, "Don't worry Mr Crocodile, we'll be back soon with the cows. Wait for us!".

The gnomes ran as fast as their little legs could take them and before long, they arrived at the Glass Palace, just as the Craven had promised. The Glass Palace was indeed a sight to behold. Standing like a jewel from the farthest lands, the gnomes gasped at its tremendous beauty. There were golden carriages on the lawn and the pillars of the palace was coated in the most exotic materials they had ever laid eyes upon.

There were Fairy Princess' roaming everywhere from the gardens to the big rooms which they could see from where they were standing from. Each Fairy Princess looked ravishing and captivating in their raw beauty. Each of them emitted a radiant light, an aura of sheer magic about them.

The gnomes stood by the main palace doors and and before they could even knock, the doors flew wide open and they were greeted by one of the Fairy Princess'. "Why what do we have here? Two little gnome friends. How can I help you beautiful little creatures?", the Fairy Princess asked. "Erm..Erm...We are here to see the Golden Princess", Pixie struggled to find her words.

"And why may I ask do you seek the Golden Princess?", the Fairy Princess queried. The gnomes related their story about Plexine, Alfen and the Crystal Blue Waters and begged the Fairy to show them the way.

"Well if it's true what you say, then I shall show you the way to the Golden Princess. But you have to earn it my gnome friends. Golden Princess's tears are precious...Good luck getting it out from her diamond eyes", the Fairy continued with a smile.

The Fairy brought them to The Golden Princess's room high up in the Palace and closed the doors behind them. "I have visitors", the Golden Princess spoke. "It's been a long time since I had visitors. I don't receive much visitors these days for they never got what they came for. It is my tears I believe that you are looking for yes?", the Golden Princess said almost nonchalantly. "Well good luck my friends", she said, putting the gnomes in a spot.

"Well, we don't care about your tears oh Golden Princess. My friend Pixie here does not believe you exist. So I brought he here to show her", Yvein said confidently. "And now that she has seen you, we should be on our way home", Yvein continued.

"Wait wait little gnomes", the Golden Princess suddenly felt bad. "Since you have come a long way, why not sit with me for a cup of Caramel. It soothes the soul you know", the Golden Princess offered.

The two gnomes didn't need a second offering and joined the Golden Princess at her table. As soon as they sat, Yvein started to tell the Golden Princess the whole story of Plexine and how they killed her under the Crystal Blue Waters using the hand mirror.

At once, the Golden Princess laughed and she laughed and she laughed for whoever thought that the evil Plexine could be killed by two cute little gnomes! She laughed so hard that tears welled up in her eyes and streamed down her cheek and without wasting much time, Yvein grabbed his glass vial from his pocket, uncorked the opening and caught the tear just before it hit the ground. More tears streamed down her cheeks and Yvein caught all of them till the vial was almost half filled!

Satisfied, Yvein corked it shut tightly and smiled impressed with himself. "My my, such clever gnomes you two are, tricking me like that! I've never laughed like I just did in years! I like you gnomes. I'm going to grant you one wish! Now what is it that you wish for my dear little gnomes?", the Golden Princess asked.

"Please Oh beautiful Golden Princess. Give us wings and the ability to fly!", Yvein requested without much hesitation. "If it is wings that you seek, it is wings that you get!", the Golden Princess blew magic star dust on the two and a pair of wings, translucent but in a golden shade grew from Yvein's and Pixie's back!

Happy, the two gnomes bade farewell and promised the Golden Princess that they will come visit her again soon. As soon as they were out, they tested their wings and they took to flying like fish to water! They flew east and north and up and down and enjoyed every minute of their new found ability.

They flew toward Murky Waters and over and saw Mr Crocodile still waiting. "Hey you two! What are you doing up there?" the crocodile asked in amazement. "Where are my cows you promised?", he asked. "You are not getting any cows you evil crocodile! You have been so bad eating up all the fishes and deers that drinks from the river so you are not getting anything from us! We just needed a ride from you, that's all. We planned this all along!", Pixie sniggered at the crocodile as the two gnomes flew toward Plexine's castle.

At the castle, Pixie called out to her dear friend Alfen. Alfen flew to Pixie, along with another enchanted butterfly that was cursed by Plexine. Yvein took out the glass vial from his pocket and carefully dropped a drop of Golden Princess's tear onto them and watched in amazement.

Slowly, the butterflies transformed into their original selves and they hugged each other in utter happiness. They danced and jigged and was soon out of the castle and back into Forest Greenwood where a whole new set of adventure awaits them!