Saturday, February 18, 2006,5:52 PM
Why Are You Punishing Yourself This Way?
Excerpt from the last chapter of
Nude Not Naked


Indie walked at a quick pace towards his car when I tried to etch a smile. I stroked the back of his neck. I could hear his heart beat fast as we walked closer to his car. I could not see my right foot but I knew where it was since it hurt a lot. The scar on top soon will have a matching scar at the bottom.

“Why don’t you choose a good man and let him take care of you? Why all these men? Why David? Why Seven? Why Adidas Boy?” Indie said. “Why are you punishing yourself this way?"








Dear readers,

I have decided to stop publishing Nude Not Naked stories at the moment. Indie's questions are answered in following chapters, which I am still writing. You will have to wait for Nude Not Naked to be published *hahaha* to find out the ending to this story. And by the end of the story I hopeful you will come to love and accept all the Otto-s living in this world.

Most writers will tell you that their first book is often something they know well and/or can relate to. There is some truth to it, if you really think about it. You can only write about things that you are familiar with or have an indepth knowledge of.

A book often reflects its writer.


Thus if you can't wait for the book, then have a sneak peek of my life instead.

Thank you for your comments and support.

xoxo,
Otto



*****
Small Talk
The image is borrowed from here. Thank you very much, TRC.

*****





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posted by Otto
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Monday, December 26, 2005,3:10 PM
Bloodied
“Ouch!” I said.

I looked at the corner of the boy’s toilet. Two men walked in, laughing and poking each other’s arms. Their eyes nearly popped out of their sockets when they saw me sitting in the men’s toilet.

It was an interesting boy’s toilet, to be honest. A guy saunters into the toilet, walks up to the urinal, finds one that is vacant, proceeds to unzip his trousers and does the deed while looking at girls gyrating up and down each other’s waists outside. Whoever that designed Lola’s boy’s toilet surely had a penchant for looking at girls while peeing. The row of urinals faced the whole dance floor, where each man could pull down his zip, pee and watch everyone else in the bar dancing through a panel of glass in the wall. The panel of glass in the wall was approximately three inches in height and was placed strategically at the average Malaysian men’s height, so every man that stood at the row of urinals to pee could see everyone else dancing.

And it was at this special urinal peephole that I was staring out from the toilet. One will never miss a beat by coming in here for a breather. I sat on what I would call a powder table with the exception that I do not think men enjoyed the fact that their boy’s power room had a powder table. If furniture were French, then this powder table was masculine. It had long straight lines, made of dark wood. A grand mirror against the wall with three rattan balls in a bowl on the other end of the table. Very zen.

“I’ll try look for something,” David said, “Sorry about this.”

He gripped my hand tight for a second.

A man walked into the toilet, only to stop and stand aside when David passed him at the door. David smiled at him and walked into the sea of people, who parted as he walked into them. David should be renamed Moses for leading the fashionable who-is-who in KL through the wilderness of carnal living, I thought to myself as I swung my legs gently.


***
It has been four weeks since I had the 0500 hours conversation with David, three weeks since I have been in Lola, two weeks since he avoided me and one week since David began warming up to me again. I guess time do heal some things. I wonder if David saw the eyes looking each time he leaned over to give me a peck on my cheeks. I wonder if he knew his close proximity evoked strong stirrings in the hearts of many.

David’s table is no ordinary table. It is the table to be seen in Lola, if not the whole of KL. A large chandelier hung above, an eye catching light source in the darkness of Lola. It was as if a reminder to everyone that it was at David’s table that nightlife began.

And in this night time heaven, David was god. Eve summed David very well one evening not so long ago. David makes every girl look good. Beautiful car and free flow of drinks in the hottest bar in KL. What’s not to love?” Eve is right. The most beautiful girls are found at the next few tables. Always perfect looking, dolled up and dressed to stop traffic, these beautiful creatures will do almost anything to get noticed.

But will they go as far as to physically hurt someone else?


***
I looked up towards the ceiling each time a male patron came into the toilet to pee. Some random guy whistled as he peed. I wondered whether he whistled out of habit or as a distraction from me bearing witness to his call to nature.

“Where are you?”

“In the boy’s toilet,” I said. “My toes’ a little cut.”

The mobile went dead. I swung my two feet, one black satin heel still strapped onto my left foot while the other side at the end of the black table. I smiled when I saw Indie walked in.

“She dropped the bottles of beer and that’s how I got these cuts,” I said.

Shrugged nonchalantly as Indie knelt in front of me. He placed my left foot on his lap. He then took my remaining dangling, bloodied foot and looked at it closely. A healed scar was visible on the top of the ball of my right foot, approximately two centimetres long. Blood flowed along the arch of my foot. Indie looked closely and pressed the ball of my foot hard. More blood flowed from the cuts.

“Ouch!! Indie!!!” I said.

“Here, I got some tissue and a first aid kit,” David said, as he walked into the toilet. “Oh … Hi, Indie.”

Indie stood up that moment. He took my handbag, the right side of my black satin high heels and said to David, “Her foot’s cut deep. Pieces of glass stuck. I’ll bring her to the doctor.”

In one swift scoop, Indie carried me into his arms. He adjusted his grip a little and walked out of the toilet.

“I can walk, Indie,” I said to him gently. I waved to David and my mouth worded out the words “thank you, sorry!”. David stood there, numbed by the experience, the sight of us leaving the boy’s toilet. I held onto Indie tighter as he walked me out from Lola. Everyone was looking as Indie carried me. And my bloodied toes.

I heard a few girls giggled. They must have thought it was a romantic gesture. Probably they thought that Indie proposed to me, I accepted and thus, he swept me off my feet literally and carried me home, to eternal matrimonial bliss.

How far from truth it would have been. I was being carried out of Lola because I bloodied my toes. My toes were bloodied because a girl accidentally dropped a bucket of Heineken just inches from me. She accidentally dropped the bucket of Heineken just inches from me because she was angry. She was angry because she has been eyeing David the whole of tonight and the previous few months.

And David had eyes for no one else while I sat at his table. He knew it. She knew it. I knew it.

“Why are you doing this?” Indie asked.

“I didn’t wish for my toes to be bloodied, Indie,” I said.

“No, you know what I mean. You knew that girl was eyeing on David from the beginning. She did this to you on purpose.”

“She did not,” I said.

“She did, Otto. Face up to it. She has been hunting David down and you stood in the bloody way and now you have a bloody foot,” Indie said. There was hurt in his eyes.

Indie walked at a quick pace towards his car when I tried to etch a smile. I stroked the back of his neck. I could hear his heart beat fast as we walked closer to his car. I could not see my right foot but I knew where it was since it hurt a lot. The scar on top soon will have a matching scar at the bottom.

“Why don’t you choose a good man and let him take care of you? Why all these men? Why David? Why Seven? Why Adidas Boy?” Indie said. “Why are you punishing yourself this way?"





**********
Short talk
Click Escape Me Now for the author's comments on this short chapter in Nude, Not Naked.
**********






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posted by Otto
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Tuesday, November 01, 2005,3:25 PM
Frangipani
“Papa, can you accompany me out for supper? I am hungry,” I said.

My father was comfortably tucked between the sheets in his bedroom. His reading glasses rested at the tip of his nose. He was gently dozing off when I came into the room at 2100 hours. He made some noises as he got up.

“Papa, can you accompany me for supper?” I asked him again.

“Mmmm…” he said.

He rubbed his eyes, sat up and leaned against the headboard. He pushed his glasses back into position, at the bridge of his nose. He looked at me. I walked closer towards him, hopped onto the bed and sat next to him.

“Can you please?” I asked.

“Why don’t you just have some instant noodles at home?” he asked.

“I am craving for the fried noodles,” I replied.

“Okay, just give me five minutes to stretch and get ready,” my father said.

I switched to Channel 8. A young man and a girl were hosting a talk show. My father got up and changed into a pair of dark blue trousers. He picked the comb on the dressing table and combed his hair. He flicked the comb to the right, then to the left. Placed the comb down, took another look at himself. Slowly he pushed his hair downwards, flattened his upswept hair.

I took my car keys and we took a ten minutes drive to the night market. The street was busy with all the peddlers vying for the attention of passer bys. Pirated DVD sellers with movies so new, they were not even shown on the local cinemas yet. Fruit sellers and their local fruits all laid out on mats, middle aged ladies selling T-shirts imported from China and Thailand. An Indian man and his wife, busy deep frying some ground nuts.

A family of four stood up, they were ready to leave their table. My father walked towards the soon to be vacant table. They exchanged smiles. I walked towards the cook and placed my order. A plate of friend noodles, just a little spicy. The cook was a lady, perhaps in her forties. A red cap absorbed her tiny beads of sweat as she worked tirelessly by the huge stove. There was an Indonesian lady who collected the orders and brought the orders to different tables.

“How is your book coming along?” my father asked.

“I am suffering from writer’s block.” I sighed.

The night was clear. The pale moonlight shone, illuminated the whole street with its magnificent light. It was amazing how the moon reflected sun light and shone so beautifully. The night was humid. There was noise everywhere as people walked through the streets in search of good buys for the week. Young children squeezed through the crowds of people as they played tag. Their laughter infected those who watched them play.

We took a stroll down the street. Bought a packet of jackfruit from a young boy. He was barely twelve years old but he was skilled. He added and subtracted with great ease, having helped his family in the evenings as they traveled from one night market to another, selling fruits. What a hardworking and smart boy, I thought to myself.

As we snaked down the street, I stopped by a stall selling beautiful hair clips. I reached my right hand out and picked up a hairpin. I pinned it to my hair and looked into the mirror. Pleased with what I saw, I turned around and searched for my father.

“Papa? Do you think this looks nice?” I asked.

“You look pretty.”

“Do you think I should buy it?” I asked my father.

I believe not many fathers accompany their daughters shopping. However this was the special relationship I shared with my father. As a child, it was my father who accompanied me when I shopped Chinese New Year dresses. He was the one to teach me about sex and especially about men. We spent many hours chatting and I confided in him like my close friend.

“Do you think I should buy this?” I asked him again. I turned my head to the left, revealing a pretty artificial white frangipani, glued to the hairpin. I loved quirky pieces of clothes and was never one who enjoyed girlish outfits. But there was something about that white frangipani.

“Well,” my father said, “Are you sure you want to wear a white frangipani?”

The lady had a pink plastic bag ready. She was convinced that I would buy the hairpin. Her sales pitch was perfect: Oh looks very good on you. Very cheap, cannot find anywhere else. Give you special price because you are so pretty looking. You won’t find anywhere else. RM3.50, good discount. She placed one of the hairpins into a pink plastic bag.

“You know that white frangipanis are planted in many cemeteries,” my father said.

I put the white frangipani hairpin down. I smiled at the lady and shook my head.


***
“Otto…” the voice on the mobile phone said, “Please come and pick me home…”

I mumbled. I kicked the duvet and rolled over to my right, my toes peeked out at the end of the duvet.

“I don’t know where I am…” the voice struggled on.

It sounded very noisy and I could hardly hear a word he said. He sounded confused. The bass thumped hard, so loud it was that I placed the mobile phone a little away from my right ear.

“Aidan, it’s half five…” I mumbled.

“Please…”

His voice was frail. He was disoriented and he was mumbling, “It’s noisy. I don’t know where I am. They are still in there. I can’t take it anymore.”

I took a deep breath. Exhaled. I rubbed my eyes. I wriggled my toes. With the duvet up to my neck each night, my toes peeked out of it. Those ten toes moderated the temperature underneath the down duvet. I rolled onto my stomach, switched the mobile phone from my right ear to my left.

“Please…” he said again.

“It’s too late, Aidan. I need to work tomorrow,” I said.

“Please Otto, please…”

I wore a sweater on top of my pajamas. I was determined to fetch him home and then rush home for the last few minutes of slumber. Drove down some junctions. Not a single car insight. I yawned. Took a left and parked in front of a club. I looked around but he was nowhere in sight.

“I’m outside,” I said.

“I don’t know where the door is,” he said. He sounded so pathetic and sad, lost in the underground dance floor.

“Just concentrate and look for the ‘exit’ sign, Aidan.” I said.

Some minutes later, I saw him walking towards the car. You know how you try to aim a bowling ball down a lane and it sways to the side? That was how Aidan was. He tried hard to walk straight but he was swaying to the left. Then he swayed to the right. Then he reached my car. He pulled the door, looked into the car and smiled.

“Hi,” he said, “Thank you, Otto.”

“Get in. We are going home,” I said.

He sat in the passanger seat. I buckled him into the seat. His eyes were glazed. He was not able to sit still, having sway to the left or to the right. He laughed.

“Okay two rules, remember? One, no puking in my car,” I said.

He nodded his head.

“Two, no swearing…” he said.

He leaned his head against the window. His eyes closed, he panted.

I switched on the headlights and drove down the street. Everywhere else in the city was quiet and dead but on this street, there were stalls selling warm drinks and supper for the bar hoppers and pill poppers. People were walking everywhere; groups of friends out on a night of high and fun.

“What are you on?” I asked.

“Two tabs of E,”

“And earlier in the night?” I quizzed him.

“Some shit joints at Cassie’s,” he replied.

I was a little annoyed. Okay, I was feeling rather unforgiving and impatient as I drove him home that morning. Anyone would have felt the same, given the circumstances. What an ungodly hour it was to be awake! It was almost 0600 hours and the day was about to start. The moon was sat low, large and bluish gray against the horizon.

Sniffle, sniffle. I sneezed. Twice. Held onto the steering wheel. Closed my eyes and sneezed again. My eyes were runny. So was my nose. I sniffled and reached out for a piece of tissue paper.

“Can we stop at Seven-Eleven?” he asked, “I need to get some ciggies.”

He came back into the car with a small plastic bag. I was puzzled but refrained from asking him any questions. What is the use of asking someone who drank probably three bottles of Heineken, five shots of vodka and had 2 tablets of amphetamine and joints that he could not even remember. I knew better.

I reached out and turned my right palm up. He searched for his house keys. He passed them to me when he found them. He lit a cigarette. A puff of smoke later, the main door was opened. His paintings littered the whole floor space in his small living room. Paint bottles and brushes were everywhere, on all table surfaces, on the floor, on the shelves, everywhere.

“Oh don’t go,” Aidan said, “Come watch the water lily bloom.”

I looked at the pond. A water lily planted in the middle of the pond that Aidan made some months ago as a weekend project. He said the sound of the water swirling in the pond soothed his soul and gave him inspirations. It was not going to bloom then. It was not going to bloom for the next few days.

I sneezed. I loved early mornings. However the coolness of dawn often triggered a round of rhinitis. I took a deep breath, pushed my hair to the back and looked at him.

“We can watch another day, okay?” I replied, “It’s time to sleep. Go to bed, Aidan.”

“Come sit with me please. There will not be another day.”

He held onto the plastic bag, his cigarette dangling between his pursed lips. He walked me to the pond.

“Come sit with me… please…” he said with great emphasis, “There will not be another day.”

I hated moments like this. Moments when his mind was colors twirling in a never-ending tunnel. Moments when he was dancing the fine line the conscious and the darkest depths of his mind. Moments when he was an innocent as a child. Moments when he painted the most beautiful. Moments when I had to drag him home.

Aidan pointed towards the garden bench and patted it. I sighed and sat on the chair. I looked at the water lily, still a young bud. I looked at Aidan. Ashes were falling off his cigarette. He walked back into the house. He came back out with a duvet in his hands. Aidan placed the duvet on my lap. He pulled the blue duvet up towards my back and wrapped it around me.

“That’ll keep you warm,” he said, then patted my head gently.

He walked back into the house and came out with a glass of water. He placed the glass of water on a makeshift table made from pieces of wood found by the side of a road. One of its legs was shorter and the glass of water tilted towards it. Aidan opened the plastic bag and took out a box of Tylenol.

“Have two. They will help decongest your nose,”

He took two tablets out from the box, passed them to me along with the glass of water. I reached out and took them. Dumbfounded. I placed them on the table again.

“Swallow them,” he said.

“I don’t want to,”

“Swallow them,” he said again.

“No Aidan, I don’t like taking medicine,”

“If you take them, I have a small reward for you…” Aidan said.

He reached down, to the plastic bag between his feet. He reached into the bag, muddled around it a little. I looked on, curious of what he had in his little plastic bag.

“If you take those Tylenols, I’ll give you your favorite sweetie,” he said. He waved the tube of Mentos and smiled. “I know, I know… just the orange flavoured ones.” He smiled again.

I reached out for the glass of water and the two Tylenols. Popped them into my mouth and sipped some water. Aidan looked satisfied. He smiled. He opened the tube of Mentos and searched for the orange flavored ones. The first was a purple, so he placed it in his mouth. The second was a yellow. He placed it on the table, next to the glass of water. The third was yet another yellow.

I coughed the two Tylenols into my left hand while he was searching for it. Placed them sweater. I look on as he searched for my favourite Mentos, the orange flavored. Aidan finally found out and quickly placed it into my palm. I popped the Mentos into my mouth, twirled it in my mouth. I smiled.

Suddenly he grabbed my hand and pulled me to another part of his garden. There was a huge pot (the largest in the garden) at the end of the pond. He lit a cigarette and took a close look at it. He sighed.


“She is suffering from fungus at the moment but she'll get better,” he said, looking at the leaves.

“Your plant is a female?” I asked.

“But of course… and when she grows up, my frangipani will blossom into the most elegant of all flowers,” Aidan said. He looked at another leave, looked at it and let out another sigh.

“Guess what’s her name?” he asked.

I enjoyed conversations with Aidan. You will never know what he would say next. For example, we discussed on the possibility of life on other planets over last weekend. He was completing a piece of painting entitled, "Nude And The Frangipani". He painted at the edge of the coffee table, near the sofa where I sat with a book in my hand. Alternate Sundays were fun at Aidan’s, having spent them painting and making great conversations. All these while reading The Five People You Meet In Heaven.

Conversation revolved around the possibility of other life forms on other planets. Aidan believed that there were beings far more superior than the human race and he was convinced that some day, these beings will visit us when we are ready. And when will the human race ever be ready? When mankind reached a state of peace, he replied. I doubted any life forms will ever visit us. If they are smart enough, they would not. Mankind are great fuck-ups. He laughed when I said that.

“So what is her name?” I gently asked Aidan.

He laughed to himself. He swept his hair back and looked at the fungus infected leaves again. It felt almost redundant to repeat the question again. The moon was long gone and sun was rising. Other than a dog barking three doors away, everything was still. He had heard of my question but for a long time, Aidan did not look at me nor speak to me.

“Oh my darling, don’t worry. I will protect you and make you well,” he said. He patted a leaf on the white frangipani tree, “I promise you, Otto, you will be the most beautiful frangipani tree on earth.”
 
posted by Otto
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Wednesday, October 19, 2005,3:51 AM
And That's How You Know
It was a late weekend afternoon. Indie and I were walking in the along the aisle. I picked up an orange and rotated it about. Indie looked on, smiling. We were shopping for dinner that night. We were growing up faster than we had wanted and tonight is to be the first of many dinners to come. Dinners that would one day replace our maddening nights out. Yes, it was time for us to bow out of the clubbing circuit. Soon. I am not ready yet for the bowing out though.

I arched my eyebrows. He shook his head and smiled.

“You smile at everything.” I said. “Even when you disagree with me.”

He walked on, packed a bag of bananas and another bag of lemons an placed them in his trolley. I walked on the other side of the aisle, with the crates of fruits separating the two of us. I could see his newly cropped hair, his eyes and part of his ears and nose. His shoulder length hair was trimmed and given a lease of life last week at Toni and Guy. Now he’s a “hair raiser”. He acquired a new skill of tweaking and twisting strands of hair so it would stand on its ends. Looked rather grunge, befitting of his masculine body and tanned skin.

I swung my green Aldo bag as I walked down the aisle; pass the oranges, pears, apples and dragon fruits. A little further on were wooden crates with mangoes, jackfruits and soursops. I turned around to look for Indie but he was no longer walking along the aisle. He must have walked at a quicker pace. I hastened my pace and I saw him at the end of the fruit section, where he was waiting in line to weigh his bags of fruits. Walked towards him and stopped when he was standing right in front of me.

“Certain things in life can be quantified. Like sugar cubes in a hot cup of tea in late afternoons with my father. Like these two bags of bananas and lemons.” I said. “But how do you quantify an abstract emotion called love?”

Indie smiled again. The lady took the first bag of bananas, placed it on the weighing machine, pressed a button, then another and proceeded to place the printed sticker on the bag. She did all this without looking at the machine for a second, not one. She was numbed by the daily repetitions of weighing fruits in our local hypermarket and by now, she weighed accurately without even taking a peek. She was like a lifeless machine, going through the motions.

The lady instinctively weighed and measured all the bags that came across her workstation. Maybe she can tell me how to measure love?


***
Dear readers, have you ever thought about this volatile emotion called love? Love is so fleeting, that it might last a moment or a lifetime.

When I was a child, I loved like a child. Loving my parents was natural. It was simple to love and be loved. My parents loved me and I never questioned their loyalty and love for me. They never failed me, ever and they were nothing but a hug away whenever I needed them both.

When I was 10, I had puppy love and I felt love for a boy riding on the same bus to school. We corresponded by letters and we professed our love for each other when I was ten years old and he two years older. The most amazing thing happened when I read through my diary, written then recording every thought I had for my twelve year old love.

Apparently my then love’s monthly test scores were the precondition for my love as a ten years old. I recorded many moments in the diary when I felt disappointed that he scored poorly in his exams and my love for him was quantified by how much he scored. It sounds silly to you now, my dear readers, but it made full sense to a ten year old me then.

Is it not wonderful when life is so simple and test scores were the only preconditions for our love for a person? Then at least most of us could redeem ourselves by studying hard each month and trying to score well. At least we could do gain more love by having the initiative to study harder.

Alas now I am grown and now love is no longer measured by test scores.


***
The first time I met Indie, he was drunk. So was the second, the third and probably the fourth. He was drunk for most part of the nights and sometimes even at 0800 hours in the morning when he was supposed to be up and ready for work. When he introduced himself to me, he said his name was Indie. He then smiled. He made no mention that he was broken by love. But he was.

“And she left me to marry another man.” He said. We were sitting under the blue night sky. I am not aware if there were stars but I would like to imagine there were. I liked to imagine that because I would like to think that a star could help guide Indie to a place where his heart would be mended and he felt no pain anymore.

And so he drank. He drank to forget how it felt to sleep next to her. He drank to stop himself from thinking how wonderful she smelled. He drank to remember how her legs would rub against his, as they curled in bed together, how she would nuzzle in his outstretched left arm, how he would hug her as they closed their eyes to sleep each night. He had slept with her for more than ten years and now it was too painful to be awake alone at night.

I spent many night saying good byes to him and watched him stumble out my car, fumbled as he looked for his keys, tripped as he tried to find his way upstairs to his first floor apartment. I carried him home a few times as I listened to him mumble her name. I tucked him in bed, next to his many photos of her. Switched off the lights, locked the door and went home.


***
Dear readers, emotional scars, unlike a cigarette scar, cannot be seen. Moments when we are hurt, abused and betrayed are etched into our souls, deeper than any physical scars can. And unlike a cigarette burn which can be soothed by running it under cold water, who can soothe the soul of a broken person?

How could she not see that Indie missed her? Why did not she see that he loved her dearly? Was his love for her greater than her love for him? Was this new man’s 3 months of courtship stronger than Indie’s ten years? What were her thoughts when she had to decide who loved her most?


***
Our very first dinner consisted of eight friends, both old and new. Each of us – Eve, Arif, Indie and I – brought a new friend to be introduced to the group during dinner. It was a simple meal in the garden, surrounded by lush clumps of Canna Lilies and palms. Arif laid out the table earlier that evening, dressed by candles and fresh cut orchids. Eve, being the perfect companion assisted him and I could see both of them laughing as they did.


“Tuck in, my friends.” I said, “Here’s a toast to good health and great friendships.”

“To good health and great friendships.” Everyone said. Glasses clinked and soon conversations flowed smoothly, like the three bottles of red wine freely flowing on the table.

Conversation soon revolved around popular dinner topics such as the lunar eclipse in the coming weekend, the current state of politics in Malaysia, some mundane comments on Book of Revelation and its relation to the end of the world. Somehow it flowed to jokes and each of us had a turn sharing a joke we enjoyed. Everyone laughed and gigled, sipped on glasses of red wine and soon the bottles were empty.

We proceeded into the living room. Indie switched on the TV and everyone sat around the sofa as they chatted and watched The Amazing Race. Indie’s living room was simple but extremely comfortable. Painted in light blue (all boys like blue, isn’t it?) with the feature wall in deep blue, scattered pillows on the carpet, a small coffee table and a fabric sofa of a complimentary colour.

I leaned over to Indie’s and whispered, “Who do you think loves me the most?” I slipped my hands between his left and tucked in closely to him as we sat on the sofa. Some family members were squabbling on the TV, and everyone watching the episode laughed.

He closed his eyes, blew smoke upawards away from the group of sitting around. He then tapped his cigarette on the ashtray three times. Indie opened his eyes.

“You mean between everyone like Seven, Adidas Boy, David etc etc?” He asked, just to be sure of the people involved.

“Well everyone…” I said, then looking confused, wondering who I should categorize as “everyone”. I pondered on the thought for a few minutes.

“You want to know who loves you the most?” Indie asked again.

I nodded. He got that question right. Indie lit another cigarette and took a deep breathe. He smiled again. He blew a cloud of smoke upwards, tilted his head towards me and looked into my eyes. He smiled again.

“Well I love you the most.” Indie replied.

I arched my eyebrows and squinted my right eye, looked at him suspiciously. I was not too sure Indie was part of the “everyone” catergory. He knew I felt confused for a second, so he patted my hand and smiled. He leaned against the pillows, relaxed in his seat.

“I love you the most, do you know why?” He asked.

I shook my head. I was very curious of what Indie would say. Indie has been my best friend and loyal companion for more than two years by then. Indie was around right from the start. Boyfriends came and went but Indie stood firm, next to me since our first hello.

“I love you the most because you can go out and make a mistake, come back to me and I will still love you.” Indie said.

He snuffed out his cigarette butt in an ashtray. He looked at me and smiled. He always smiled.

“You see, Otto. Love frees you to be who you are and that's how you know.”
 
posted by Otto
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Thursday, October 13, 2005,8:49 AM
Fix You
I opened my eyes this morning. Looked at the ceiling. Saw a dark brown spider spinning its little web. Oh yes, it was a HUGE spider with busy eight legs, knitting a new palace to trap the innocent passer-bys. It is the law of nature that the strong prevails and the weak, spun in a web of deceit with death being the only sweet release.

I wriggled all ten toes and wrapped myself deeper into my duvet as the sound of rain splish splashed down from the skies. I could hear the occasional cars driving pass during the morning rush. The ceiling fan rotated at a slow speed, creating a gentle coolness in the deep purple bedroom of mine.

My mobile buzzed.

“I’m up, I am up.” I said.

“Well would you like breakfast at the usual place?” My father asked.

“Sure, I’ll see you there in half hour.” I replied.

I kicked the duvet off. Arched backwards and stretched my lazy bones awake. Oh it felt good, had a dream of going home with Seven to Kota Kinabalu, I thought to myself. I closed my eyes. Dear God, I pray that you will guide me and help me through today. Show me Your ways and grant me favor among men. Amen.

Had a lingering shower, only to rush the rest of my morning rituals. I looked at the clock. Shit, I had another ten minutes to dress and arrive at my father and my usual breakfast spot. The rain stopped as if it knew that while I loved it, I wanted to be dry when I reached the breakfast café in my azure blue beaded high heels. I beeped the car open, looked left, right, left again (courtesy of good kindergarden education) and ran in the drizzle. I laughed throughout the ten meter sprint, through the front door, pass the gate and hopped right into my car.

The drive was short. It was less than five minutes drive away, consisting of a right turn at the first junction, a short probably two hundred meter drive along the main road and a left then after. Today’s drive was no different, excepting that all cars were driving in a less than usual way.

I noticed a dog lying in the middle of the road, on the opposite side. It laid on its side, its legs kicking. Tears welled up. I am such a wuss, I can not see pain. I signaled to the left, alighted from my car and locked it. I stopped a car on my side of the road and ran towards the other, towards the dog. I could hear the poor baby yelping in pain. I saw blood trickling from its big brown body when I reached it. A man on a motorcycle ran towards us and arrived a few seconds later.

Tears filled my eyes. I patted the dog and whispered to it repetitively “It’s okay, everything is going to be okay. It’s okay, everything is going to be okay.”

I chocked on my words as I looked into its eyes. It tried to give a bark but nothing came out. The man who arrived and stood next to me, left me comforting the poor dog. A few seconds later the dog was still and nothing that I could do would have mattered. I continued to pat it as if it would bring the dog back to life. I only stopped when the Malay man took off his red helmet, bent over and tapped me on my shoulder.

“Come, miss. Let’s bring the dog to the side of the road.”

The stranger smiled. Together, we carried the lifeless dog to the side of the road. Cars were driving by and traffic resumed its speed. I bent down, looked around to be sure that it was dead. The Malay man who got off his motorcycle about twenty meters away shook his head.

“The dog’s dead, miss. Let it go. I will call the town council to pick the carcass up. You go on your way. Don’t worry, I will take care of this.”

I whispered thank you to this stranger. I tried to give a smile. He smiled in return, looked me in the eye and said, “It’s okay, miss. I will take care.”

I walked back to my car. I could see the Malay man standing by the dog. He was calling the town council using his mobile telephone. I closed the car door and drove on to meet my father. The morning was no longer the same. My hands felt wet but it was not the rain.

It was pain.


***
Dear readers, if you saw a dog, broken on the road, would you not have stopped to help? Would it have made any difference if it was a man or a dog?


***
“Go away!” He screamed.

The house was dark. It was pass seven in the evening, the sun was no longer shining and there were no lights lit in the house. Music from the stereo engulfed the whole house and him. I could only see a tall shadow of him pacing back and forth between the sofa and the dining chairs. He had a bottle of Paraquat in his right hand and a knife in his left.

“Come out, Damien.” I said. I begged him to come out. “Come out, please come out.”

He paced up and down the living room. The television was switched on and random advertisements flickered, its reflection danced on the marble floor. He did not say a word. He walked to the back, towards the kitchen area. I ran through the block of terrace houses, to the back of the house. Through a small slit between the windowpanes, I could see him sitting on the floor with his back leaned against the white kitchen cabinet.


***
The kitchen cabinets were installed approximately four months beforehand. The previous cabinets were old, as old as the house that was built approximately ten years ago. Damien had intended to have new cabinets installed for the coming Chinese New Year celebration but he had them replaced more than six months ahead of schedule because he had broken most of the doors. He kicked and broke most doors in a fit of rage during an argument a month ago.

I let Mr. Liew, an old carpenter into the house so he could measure and build the new cabinets. He was amazed that the doors were as broken as they were on the day that he saw them. He asked me whatever had happened. How do you tell a stranger that someone you love broke each and every one of them in a fit of anger?

I did not know how, so politely I smiled and looked away.


***
His lips were moving but I could not hear a thing. It was getting difficult to see what he was doing in the house as light gave way to the night. He shook his head, then nodded. He mumbled and cried. He knocked his head against a cabinet door.

“You don’t want me anymore.” He said.

“No, no. I want you. We’ll be together.” I said. “Just open the door and come out.”

Damien hugged himself. He screamed and kicked the kitchen cabinet. He pounded his fists against the white doors. I took a deep breath. He might have changed the cabinets but he was still the same. Months later he was still relentlessly banging on them again. Six months earlier I told him that I could no longer cope with his anger issues. I asked to end the relationship and he asked for my patience while he changed.

He enrolled into a counseling session with our church pastor. Damien prayed to God every day, asking God to help him. Pastor James held our hands and prayed, “Change this man, O Lord. Give him a new spirit. Guide him and help him control his rage.” Each night before I slept, I asked God to help me and help him. Make Damien a new man, change his heart and help him manage his anger. I whispered to the omnipotent God, please help Damien. Please help me.

Another emotional storm brewed and blew last night. We had an intense argument and his temper flew, along with our dinner and cutleries. During dinnertime, he expressed his wish to exchange his five year old car with my less than a week old Proton Wira. I told him he could borrow it for a week but he had to return the car to me at the end of the week. I believe those were not the words that he had wanted to hear. I crouched as he threw my car key against the pale blue wall and broke the mirror. He not only broke the mirror, he broke the reflection on the mirror. He broke my soul.

“I really can’t do this anymore. I am sorry.” I said. I took my car key, my bag and walked out last night. I went home and it was pass 0300 hours by the time I laid in bed. Five hours of sleep for countless of days has finally caught up with me and I was late for work this morning. It was the fourth time this month as I stayed up to soothe and comfort Damien during his emotional breakdowns. Last night was the end.


***
Damien ran his fingers through his hair. He let out a loud scream. The kitchen cabinet took another kick. I drew a deep breath. I looked at my watch. It was almost 8:00 p.m. Two hours passed since I arrived there, after receiving a telephone call from a suicidal Damien.

“Open the door, please Damien.” I cried. “Please open the door.”

I broke down emotionally and sobbed. I turned around and slowly slid down. I could hear him cry inside. I could hear myself cry. I was exhausted mentally and physically. My spirit was broken. I did not wipe my tears away. Let the earth receive each tear drop.

There was silence and all I heard were crickets.

I stood up and peered into the kitchen. No longer could I see Damien. He was no longer leaning against the kitchen cabinet. I looked to the left of the kitchen, towards the sink and the stove. He was not there. I stretched myself a little more and looked to the right. It was the row of cabinets with the refrigerator at the end. Damien was nowhere to be found.

I squinted my eyes and tried to make sense of the dark kitchen. Finally I saw a shadow of him, lying very still on the floor, face down along the wall nearest to me. I called him softly. Damien did not move.

“Damien?” I said. “Damien, are you asleep?”

I screamed when I noticed a pool of blood seeping through his body. I banged on the back door again and again, asking and begging Damien to wake up.

“Wake up, Damien. Please wake up and open the door.”

It turned frantic and I wailed away. A man staying in a house on the other block opened his back door. He ran towards me and all I could do was bang on the door and scream for Damien to open the door.

The man peeped between the windowpanes. He looked worried and hurriedly he ran back to his house. I slid my right hand through the kitchen door and tried to reach out to touch him. He was too far away. He was not moving and I could no longer control my tears. He must be dead, I thought to myself. And it was all my fault.

A locksmith came to open the back door. I rushed into the kitchen as soon as the door was opened. I rushed towards Damien. I turned him over. I could see crimson red blood flowing from both wrists. He cut himself deeply and there was a gash on each wrist. Neighours were whispering worried words. The old lady staying next door shook her head. I clung onto Damien and hugged him tight. He was not moving. He did not utter a word. His eyes were closed.

In the dark, I rocked his body back and forth.

“It’s okay, everything is going to be okay.” I repeated those words as I wiped blood from his now serene face. I tried to stop the tears from falling. I took a deep breath and calmly said to Damien, “It’s okay, everything is going to be okay. I'm sorry, I promise I will never ever leave you.”



***
When you try your best but you don't succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
could it be worse?


Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above or down below
When you're too in love to let it go
But if you never try you'll never know
Just what you're worth

~ an excerpt from Fix You by Coldplay





Tags


 
posted by Otto
Permalink ¤ 9 comments
Saturday, October 08, 2005,5:58 AM
Probability and the Guessing Game
Two text messages. I swept strands of hair off my face. My bedside lamp glowed, warming my bedroom in a soft shade of yellow. I looked at the clock and it said that it was half pass four in the morning. Rubbed my eyes a little and looked at my mobile phone. It was bright and glaring, so I retrieved the messages with my eyes shut.

  • Indie

  • David

Clicked on Indie’s text. It read. “He confused, never mind. You don’t confuse ok.”

I took a deep breath and sighed. Rubbed my eyes a little more and probably wriggled my nose a little. I combed through my hair, so my hair was neatly tucked behind my ears. I have a mop of hair that needs monthly taming at a hair saloon. I love my hair long and wavy but at times, it can be a pain.

Like when I clicked on David’s text. Strands of hair were falling over, covering my eyes and it felt frustrating straining my eyes to read the text between strands of hair.

“Reached home? Drink more water and sleep well.”

Another deep breath and a sigh. I placed the mobile phone on the floor, rolled the duvet to the left and slept among my seven pillows. I build a nest each night when I sleep. Two pillows on my head, one on my right, another on the left, one under my knees, one to hold and the seventh as a comfortable spare.



***
It all started with a text message from Eve at 2300 hours last night. “We are in Lola. Come over.”

I was already comfortably dressed in pajamas, swearing that I would take Friday night staying in since I was not feeling well. I slept the whole of yesterday as I felt that I was on the verge of falling ill with flu. All flu like symptoms flew out the window when Eve’s text came.

Took some clothes out of the cupboard - a red bikini top, an ethnic inspired blouse from TopShop and a pair of dark Super Low Cut from Levis. Changed and dolled myself up. Been experimenting with darker eye colors and it worked to my advantage last night. A pop of color on my cheeks and a coat of lip gloss on my lips later, I walked towards my car.

Indie got into my car two traffic lights later. He looked as handsome as ever. I liked the way Indie dressed, always simple and always showing off his best physical qualities. A white sleeves shirt, cargo pants and sneakers was all it took to show his beautiful broad shoulders, toned abs and sexy chest.

We walked into Lola close to midnight. Not five steps into the bar, someone tapped on my shoulders. Indie who walked ahead of me, continued walking on, searching for Eve and our table of friends in an extremely packed Lola. I tried to reach out to Indie, to let him know that I was caught at another table.

It was David. He shook my hands. I leaned forward and gave him a warm hug. He was sitting at his table. He held my hands and asked me to join him and his friends. I smiled and obliged. His friends were a lively bunch and I have drunk with them on more than several occasions. I looked around. It was a table full of boys and two girls leaning against the wall. Both were doe eyed, fair skinned and pretty.

I nodded and smiled at them. One has to be friendly with the girls. It makes my life far easier, I hope.

“You know Jason. He’s just back from Melbourne.” David whispered into my ears.

“I know him. He fetched me home once.”

“Hah? When was that?” David asked Jason.

“You remember Christmas night where the girl cried?” Jason replied.

”Ohhhhhhh.. that one…” David laughed.

“Jason fetched me home that night. Too much drama, too much heat.” I said.

The waiter came over with my drink. Vodka lime. Smooth and chilled, just the way I liked it. I offered to pay for my drink. The waiter shook his head and smiled. I pushed the fifty Ringgit note into his right hand. He gave it back to me.

“You think my staff will listen to you or listen to my instructions?” David asked. “Keep your money away. My treat, Otto. Let’s drink.”


David introduced me to a (let’s tick through my list of what constitute a good looking man) tall, tanned Chindian (Chinese-Indian) with facial hair. Woah, was he a sweetie or what?!

He smiled. I leaned over to David and said, “I know him. We’ve drunk together.”

“You don’t play-play with my brother here. He’s a handsome SIA pilot ok. Playboy.” David teased his high school buddy, John. “These boys are all sharks, trying to get me drunk tonight. Three of them against me, one.”

David introduced me to a few of his other friends on the table. I whispered to him that I knew all of them.

“You’ve introduced me to all your friends. All your friends know me already. Can be your girlfriend lah.” I said with a smile.

“Oh if you are willing to be my girlfriend, I’ll be thrilled.” David said.

I smiled. Everyone was more lively than usual. David was more vocal than usual. Jason and his brother were dancing and John kept toasting David to drink.

Surely he’ll be drunk tonight, I thought to myself.

The DJs spun the crowd’s favorite tunes and everyone was getting hyped up. Everyone was busy talking to everyone else. Girls were giggling while some were gyrating against each other’s hips. Lola was filled to the brim, by tables after tables of young people, having a good time. Flashes of light from cameras, taking photos that everyone will laugh at the following morning.

I leaned over to David and whispered into his ears, “Excuse me for a while. I want to go back to my table, ok? I’ll see you a while later.” David nodded. I wanted to get back to my own table of friends. Eve was there with Arif. So was Indie and some other friends whom I normally meet at midnight for drinks. Glasses were clinking every few minutes.

Before long David came to our table. He said hello to everyone and chatted a little with each of them. Indie smiled at me as he lit his cigarette.

“Your boyfriend’s here.” Indie said.

“Rubbish.” I replied. “Eh, you think he really likes me or he’s just trying to get into my knickers?”

“He likes you.”

“You sure he likes me. Or he’s just trying to get into my knickers?” I asked Indie again, unsatisfied with his previous answer.

“He likes you.” Indie stood firm by his answer. “He might like you the same way he likes all the other girls in the club too.”

That was a far more convincing and realistic answer. This is one of the few questions that Indie does not really have an answer to. He often tells me revealing things about how men think (sex, sex, sex and more sex) often to my remorse and great horror. However being with Indie always felt comfortable and secure. He always told me the truth without sugarcoating anything.

It did not take long before my heart started pumping fast. I was not sure whether it was my heart beating fast or the speakers above my head doing nasties to my body, causing me to think that my heart is beating faster than usual.


***
Dear readers, just to let you know – I have a healthy metabolic rate that helps me space out my drinks well at night. When I am tipsy, I stay really still, relishing the conversations I have with myself in my little head. In my humble opinion, I don’t think it’s sexy if a girl can’t carry her drinks well. Consequently I am very aware of my personal consumption and very wary of being drunk. In my years of non-stop partying, I’ve not had a hangover in my life.

And I was not going to start last night.



***
In the first hour, I had two vodka limes and probably that did the trick last night. The two vodkas probably were two shots each with a slice of lime (versus the traditional one shot of vodka mixed with some lime juice). I decided to excuse myself and retreat home to my bedroom to rest. Should not have come out anyway since I was not feeling well.

I asked for my keys from Indie. He passed me his house keys. I looked at him. He laughed and passed me my car keys. I was tipsy but I surely recognized my damn set of keys.

Said my goodnights at the table. An extra good night handshake to Miro, who bought me my third vodka lime. I gave Eve a warm hug good night. I walked towards the door. Everything was spinning and I knew I had to get out of the place, far away from the heart thumping music.

A hand slipped between mine.

“Where are you going?” He asked.

“I’m feeling tired. I am going home. Good night, David.”

“Are you sure?” He held my left hand tightly and walked out of the bar, next to me. I saw Sandy on the way out and she walked behind me. I smiled and gave her a hug. Sandy was David’s best friend from high school and she was often my only female companion on a table full of boys whenever I drank with David and his friends. David took a step backwards and allowed us a few minutes of conversation.

We exchanged some words, I smiled and tried very hard to carry the conversation to the best that I could. Fucking vodka limes, I thought to myself. I turned around after the goodbye and David held my hand again. When I turned around again, I could see Sandy looking into David's eyes, talking to him in their friendship language, saying something that I did not understand.

“Are you sure you are alright?” He looked at me.

“Yeah. I need to get home. I’m tired.” I replied. I took a deep breath to regulate my breathing. I clasped my right hand near my heart, as if it would help me feel better.

“I’ll send you home.” He said.

“No, it’s alright David. Don’t worry. I am just unwell. You go back to your friends.”

“No, at least let me accompany you to your car.” He said.

Before I could protest, he slid his fingers between mine. He led me towards my car. His grip tightened as we neared the next street where I parked my car an hour earlier, as if it would hold me a second longer.

“Careful.” He said as he pointed to a little hole on the street.

I giggled and rested my head on his right shoulder for a second. I whispered to him, telling him that I was fine. I beeped my car and sat in the driver’s seat. He lowered himself to my level. David stroked my hair a few times and wiped strands from my face. He tilted his head, to look me in the eye. He smiled.

“Are you okay?” He asked for what I felt like a millionth time last night.

“I am fine, David. Don’t worry.” I replied. I laughed a little, relaxing into the swirls of vodka running through my veins.

“You seriously worry me sometimes. I care for you a lot, you know.” He said.

“You care for me because Third Uncle asked you to babysit me, right?” I sighed and laughed a little more. I closed my eyes and smiled.

He leaned over and gave me a peck on my cheek.

“No, it’s nothing to do with Third Uncle. I care very much for you. Me, David... Care for you, Otto.....” David said.

I laughed. Laughter became a natural action to fill up the voids that neither of us knew how to fill with words. Laughter was a positive response in any given circumstances and it made everything feel safe. Laughter had the power to make everything feel normal and comfortable again.

He leaned over again and kissed my forehead. He cupped my face and kissed my right eye, the apple of my cheek, my lower cheek and right next to the corner of my lips.

He rubbed his face against mine. He stopped. I could hear him taking a deep breath. It felt silent despite my car being parked on a busy road. Cars passed us while head lights flashed every few seconds. But it felt real still and I could hear both of us breath.

He let me go. He switched on my head lights, tucked me safely in the safety belt and gave me a last pet on my head.

“Go home and sleep.” David said.


***
I can still feel his kisses on my right cheek. Little tiny gentle pecks trailing my face.

I don't understand him. Maybe I never will. All I know it'll take another two weeks before David will call me again. Maybe it takes him two weeks to go through the list of people on his phonebook? Maybe he misses me after two weeks? I don't know.

I guess I could have asked him last night, if I wanted to know. We were alone when he accompanied me to my car. David is cautious with what he says and does, so it is rare to catch him in an open mood, whereby he would tell me private things. Private things about him. Private things about me.

I guess all I needed to say was, "Yeah, you care for me. Like the way you care for everyone walking into Lola." And at that very second, I would have an answer. I imagine David's answer as, "You know that I care for you differently." If he did say those words, would I have believed him anyway? Probably not.

I guess he knew that too.
 
posted by Otto
Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Thursday, October 06, 2005,3:01 PM
Kan Kan Kan? Ikan
I nominated yesterday as a girlie day out, a reward for myself. It was refreshing to be able to go out alone and just feel free to roam aimlessly in a shopping mall, with no agenda other than to walk and yearn for all the beautiful things in the window displays. I had a grand plan by lunch time and texted the number in my phone book: “Am in One Utama. Can have lunch or tea, if you are free.”

My third reply read: “If you busy, then never mind lah. Can meet when we are old.”

His reply: “Pls dont sulk. We catch a movie aft I finish work in Mid Valley, want? Can also make movie together, if you want :P”

I did not bother replying. Damn bloody pissed, I tell you. To invite Seven out for coffee felt like the most arduous task. Probably it was for the better, just not meeting. I walked for a bit and bought a lime green suede bag from Aldo. It felt instantly better. Who needs a therapist when you can just buy happiness on a shelf?

Obviously being the softie that I am (such a sucker, I tell you) I called him just as I drove from One Utama; the obligatory guilt inducing “I am tired and pissed at you for not coming” call.

Less than 15 minutes later, he hopped into my car.

“Why your car like this?” he asked.

He tried to pull the safety belt across his chest but the strap was not long enough. I laughed when he tried fiddling with the safety belt. “How? Cannot strap.” He kept saying, as he tried to pull the belt across his belly.


***
I remember the first day Seven walked into my life, quite literally. I was sitting in the middle section on the left side of the church aisle. Everyone was seated after the worship session. The pastor asked everyone to bow their heads to pray.

I lowered my head. Closed my eyes. Clasped my hands together. Just waiting for the pastor to begin the opening prayer. I heard the door open. I turned to the right, leaned myself forward, opened one eye and saw the most beautiful thing.

A young man walked in. He wore a white hooded Benetton t-shirt and a pair of black slacks. While all eyes were closed, hands clasped and the pastor saying a prayer, my eyes were glued on this alien being in the church. I cannot remember what the sermon was about or who the pastor was. All I can recall more than ten years ago is, he was beautiful.



***
We were sat opposite each other in Chilli’s, Mid Valley. He wore a white shirt with blue stripes. He had a faint moustache. His eyes were as beautiful as the first day I laid eyes on him. He had less hair, just as he mentioned whenever we talked on Yahoo Messenger. He even put on some weight. But in my eyes, he was beautiful.

“So what is this?” He asked.

Our conversations through the years often revolved around philosophizing even the most trivial of things. And last night while sitting in Chilli’s, Seven pointed at the promotion placed on the table. There was a picture of something that resembled a sunflower.

“Potato.” I replied. Gave a smirk, almost smelt victory.

“Nope, close. Try again.”

“Carrots? Beetroot? Turnips?” I tried.

“Nope, but close. Grows in the earth. Try.”

Four or five times later, I gave up.

“Give up.” I said.

“Come on, you can do it. Try, verrrrrrrrry close already.”

“Dunno ler.” I said.

“On-“ he said, trying to tempt me.

“Onion?” I asked.

“Yup, it’s a big Mexican onion. Cut it, then fry. Dig out the heart and you’ll get this.” He said, punctuated by a warm smile.

“By now, you owe me three kisses.” He added, a sly grin on his face.

“HA?”

“Ya, you guessed three times and didn’t guess it right. So you owe me three kisses.”

I changed topic, I think. I can’t remember now. It was likely that I laughed myself out of that topic. He asked me a rhetoric question: “Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to chit chat with your love every night on bed? Talk about beautiful things?”

I said that everyone wishes to be able to chit chat about their day with their loved ones. He corrected me, citing that he wanted someone to share his passion and his ministry among the disadvantaged residing in KL. He always had his heart for the poor and the desolate. This was especially true for his people, the Kadazans.

He always wanted to help others gain an education, the same way he was offered. Since the moment I met him, I knew that he had wanted to offer companionship and spiritual guidance to the young and needy. He wanted to be motivate young people of today, to plough in his time and energy to serve the people who needed him.

He had that sort of heart right from the start and I loved him for that and more.

“Won’t it be nice if I could talk to my wife and we share about our work among the poor? Kan kan kan?” He asked.

"Ikan..." I added quickly. This "Kan kan kan? Ikan." quote was something that we shared, a joke we created when we were very young, sitting on a church pew. Something that we shared when I attended ballet classes with my soft pink leather ballet slippers and he played on the church kapok guitar as a song leader in the Bahasa Melayu ministry.

I smiled meekly. He was talking about me. I knew he was talking about me. He knew that I knew that he was talking about me. We both knew it. What we both did not know is where that girl he was talking about has disappeared to. I think this is the main reason why we are no longer together. I am no longer that innocent dove and he was no longer my protector.

Life was no longer just a simple play of words, "Kan kan kan? Ikan."

Conversation with him was at times awkward.

“I love you very much. You know that. I came back, hoping to be with you again. But you were with him.”

“He loved me very much and he was there for me. You left me for the second time. All alone AGAIN, Seven. AGAIN!” I said.

“You know why I left. My sister needed me. She was pregnant, you know that. I came back and I hoped so much we can be together. And you broke my heart.” Seven said.

“And you broke mine.” I lowered my eyes.

Silence.

The same conversation. Again and again. We have had this conversation for years, with each new boyfriend I found and lost. He criticized far more than my father did. At the end of the day, the conclusion is the same. No one else would have been the perfect one.

Dear readers, the numeric number 7 is considered the perfect number in the Bible. Everything that had to do with perfection or completion is illustrated by a 7. For example, “On the 7th day, God rested.” The seventh day was the completion of God’s creation in the book of Genesis.

And in my world Seven was perfect.


***
“Who am I?” He asked. “Look at me in the eye and tell me who am I to you.”

Our eyes met. I was not fiddling with the coasters. I stopped biting on the straw. His eyes were light brown.

“You are someone whom I loved when we were both innocent.”

Those words shocked me. I did not see those words coming out. But they did. It must have shocked him too; at least a little. It had to be.

“Then let us go back to the way things were. Everything simple, everything innocent. Just you, just me.” Seven said.

“But I am no longer that person……… I am no longer innocent. You are no longer innocent.”


***
I was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.

~ an excerpt from a famous church hymn "Amazing Grace"
 
posted by Otto
Permalink ¤ 4 comments
Wednesday, October 05, 2005,1:52 AM
Colorful Days and Even Brighter Nights
Cam whoring.

This is the IT word at the moment. Everyone is camera whoring these days. It is no longer the preoccupation of tourists but the major occupation for many souls.

Let me ponder for a moment. Dare I say my father created camera whoring? Probably I dare say so. Being the first child, I have the privilege of being the “first” for my parents’ parenting skills - the first step, the first birthday cake, the first words, the first song (which is recorded and I have a copy of myself singing as a child of no more than three years), the first everything.

My father loved photography as much as he loved fishing. He took many photos of my mother fishing (combination of both loves) and by the time I was born, he took many photos documenting my development from baby to toddler to pre-teen to teen to young woman. The last time my father took a photo of me was approximately three weeks ago.

I am very thankful that both my parents doted on me so much because they gave me a pass that I cannot purchase with money. Photos of my parents and I in late 70s baby clothing (including one with a bikini that was sewn by my mother), photos of my childhood toys (including a blonde doll that could speak), photos of my preschool and my childhood friends etc.

So yeah – I can officially say my father created camera whoring.

It is one thing being a cam whore and you taking photos to immortalize yourself in time. It is another thing when others immortalize you.

Have you ever wondered what others see in you? I know I have.


***
“You are as drunk as a skunk!!” I said.

I propped him up against my car door. He could hardly stand up. It was the first night of our meeting and yet, he uttered: “I have been waiting to see you.”

He had thick glasses and shoulder length hair. Under the pale moonlight, he wore what appeared to be a white linen shirt and dark pair of jeans on the first evening we shook hands.

I’ve turned gate climbing into an art form, having climbed over my house gate every so often in my tumbling high heels. That night, I climbed over the gate, after him. He emptied both his pockets and handed me his set of keys. I slid the glass door open, revealing a neat living space, filled with colorful art work leaned against every available wall surface. I held him tightly under the arm, the way only a trained nurse knew how, placed him in bed, where he fell into a heap of sheer slurring drunkenness.

I was looking through his art work when he got up and placed his finger on my lips. It must have been close to 0400 hours and by then, all he could say was repeated, “Shhhh… Shhhh….”

He took a few pieces of paper, some crayons and a sip of water out of a very old mug. He crossed his legs, in an effort to stabilize himself and keep still long enough to turn lines and circles into something symbolic.

“That’s you.”



***
Dear readers, this might sound weird but alcohol (and specifically the consumption of alcohol in sinful amounts) was the platform that launched a few of my friendships. My friendship with Aidan was layered thick with drinking huge amount of vodka, reading and painting. At least 50% of our conversations were had when he either drank vodka or smoked weed so much that the whole world became an object of beauty. Vodka not only calmed his soul, it flowed in strokes of colors of crimson red and hazy purple.

He was stuck in a rut. He yearned to spend his waking hours drawing and painting. Aidan was beautiful when the moon shone and he painted. His later ego, a serious bespectacled accountant will rise from his soul at sunrise each day. This was his daily metamorphosis.


***

That first night, he drew three portraits. In the first, my eyes were disproportionately larger than the rest of my facial features that were circled with dark kohl. The second was playing on shadows and light, using only a deep green crayon stick. The last was my favorite, which featured me with my eyes closed and my right hand raised.

His initial paintings and subsequent paintings immortalized both of us eternally in time.


***
Dear readers, my take at this cam whoring thing is this: Do it as much as you wish. You have only one life and you are young only but for once. So cam whore all you want, so when you are old and gray, when your grandson says "Ah Mah, you so lauyah, so old already, no cool like me." you can proudly tell him, "Your Ah Mah has seen colorful days and even brighter nights."

Probably you'll be just like me, stashing up all the photos in a small folder somewhere on your laptop, under the name "Personal Photos" or something.



***
I showed Seven the photo above. He said it was illegal to take such suggestive photos. Oh I love giving him the scare and watching him sweat..... hehehehe...





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posted by Otto
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Monday, October 03, 2005,12:44 AM
Take 'Em Off
There is this song that is being played to death on my iTunes list at the moment. It’s Craig David’s “Take ‘em Off”. Bloody hell, can get nose bleed imagining things this head of mine as the song plays.

Girl them jeans that you're wearing
(Just Take Em Off)
And that shirt that you came in
(Just Take It Off)
Don't be mad if I'm starin
(Just Take It Off Baby)
(Take Em Off)
Tear those sheets off the bed
Cuz we're bout to go ahead
(And Take Em Off)
Girl them heals look so right so just leave ‘em on
Ain't no clothes allowed here
So baby girl just Take ‘em off…



***
Dear little boys who are probably gonna grow up to be hamsap men - I officially name this song as THE let-me-try-my-luck-take-her-knickers-off song when you innocently invite a girl to your room "to check out your LOTR/iPod/Lego collection". Just give it a listen. Man, the power of suggestion....

Dear little girls who probably read too many fairytales - Let Aunty Otto tell you now. Be vigilant when boys invite you over to their place to chill/relax/enjoy whatever. There is nothing so innocent about inviting you over for tea/coffee/lollypop etc.

Esp if there are songs featuring words such as "take 'em off" being looped to death on his iTunes list.

And even more so if it's Craig David's singing to you. My suggestion is to run as fast as your two little feet can.



***
Am thinking of Alexander-Craig David at the moment. Mmmmm, always think of this gorgeous friend of mine, Alexander when Craig David is playing. DAMN!

He is so gorgeous, I will be forgiven if I licked him like a sweet lollypop.




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posted by Otto
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Wednesday, September 28, 2005,1:40 PM
Girlie Badge on My Sleeve
I’ve decided to turn this page into a blog for the moment. I’m a little too busy to be able to concentrate on writing the stories, so I’ll stick to writing about my life.

While putting on a fashion parade on Wednesday evening (as preparation for my interview) I walked around the living room in a pair of Aldo. I have been digging the ‘grandma’ look for quite sometime and have funny outfits straight out from 60s grandma closet. And this pair of leather shoes with funny diamantes was part of that collection.

Now this pair of shoes became a rife between my mother and I. Yes, after 25 days on Malaysian soil and life at peace with her for the pass 25 days, this pair of shoes caused a commotion at the home front. No matter how I answer her questions, it is sure die situation.

I must now add a little story about my mother. She’s a pragmatic lady, one who is strong in character and weak in spirit, all at once. She is the modern day woman; one who strives for independence from men domineering her life and yet craves for the attention of my father, all roll into one. I think she’s at best, an unhappy feminist.

She is our modern woman. She works hard and she earns her keep. Like our modern day women, she sacrifices her wants and saves for her children. Now her three children (my brothers and I) are grown, all went for private education and we are talking about a pair of government teachers saving and sending their kids for private college education. I greatly appreciate her sacrifices and now wished that she would relax a little and enjoy a little.

“No need to save so much already. All your kids are grown.
You must learn to enjoy life, mum.”
I always tell her.


She complains that no man spends on her. She does this as she eyes up my father. To tell you the truth, my father spends on her. The whole family does. The thing I wished my mother would learn is, to accept these acts of kindness with a gracious heart.

Dear readers: In our haste for equality with men, our modern woman forgot what it is to be a woman - to be loved, cherished, pampered.

When men treat us, women well, be a fair lady, smile and say, “thank you”. Learn to accept little gifts of love with grace. Learn to love ourselves and to allow men to pamper us once in a while.

When a man holds the door, say “thank you”. Don’t stare at the poor chap with your “You think I what? Handicapped ah? Can’t open my own door ah?” cold stare. Instead, smile and say “thank you”.

When a man says that you are pretty, just say “how sweet of you. You've made my day” and smile. Trust me, many men will die to hear those words from a woman’s lips.


***
So when my love bought the now guilty pair of shoes for 45 quid, I smiled and said, “thank you’. I told my mother this.

My mother gave a traditional reply: “Wah you use his money. Then how to get initial capital for own business? Spend so much, how to be rich?”

We want equal footing with men. Equal footing does not mean we women playing the role of Superwoman. I believe we can have equal footing with men while wearing our feminine badge with great pride. For me, it's a nice pair of shoes.

I personally do not believe in feminism. I believe that modern day women need to know her place in society. How we must work for ourselves, study hard, work hard, contribute something to our Malaysian society and the community as a whole.

Why wear a Superwoman cape when you can slip into the most comfortable and sexy heels?? Vote me as a politician and I promise you that my chief propaganda is to encourage all girls out there to wear our girlie badge with pride! Embrace our feminine side. Allow a man to love us and give him a chance to protect us. When he does something kind, smile and show some appreciation.

***
And I wished my mother would say that once in a while - just a whisper of “thank you”. Well I bought us three (Father, Mother and I) a short holiday to Chiang Mai in the month of October. I hope she’ll take off her Superwoman cape and just kick back, relax and let everyone around love her.

Because we do.
 
posted by Otto
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