Monday, 5 September 2016

A story of a couple and five kids

I don't think they planned for their lives to be like this. They were both insurance agents in their early-30s, earning a decent amount of money. He had a graduate degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics; she had none - and yet she contributed to a greater portion of the household income. They had two children; one, a pre-schooler, and the other, barely a toddler. Despite her tender age, the eldest child had visited more places than some people would have had in their entire lives. The Hawaiian islands, the Swiss alps, the palaces of the Joseon dynasty... Every Sunday after church, the family of four would dine at a restaurant - dimsum was their perpetual favourite. They weren't exactly considered wealthy but as parents of two, they were on the right track to a comfortable retirement. If. Only if they had stopped at two. Or maybe, three.

The third child didn't come as a surprise. Neither was the forth, or fifth. Each child was perfectly timed, with a three year gap in between each one. It was as though they had set a huge alarm clock to remind themselves that "it's time for your next child!" If one did not care to find out the reason behind their abundance of offspring, one may assume that it is due to an overflowing love for kids, a strong sense of national duty, or mere investments for the future. A close friend or relative would tell you that she never liked kids, couldn't give a damn about investments and well, had some sense of national duty (although it wasn't a priority). And he, he always gave in to his wife.

But that's not the point of this prose.

They were both fervent believers of their faith. Each child was neither the manifestation of a great love for parenthood, nor the result of a spur-of-the-moment desire for each other. Each child was instead a demonstration of their faith in the providence of their almighty God, and an obedience to the Maker.

She left the insurance company upon the arrival of the third child. Not long after, he went into a business partnership to make up for the significant cut in household income. They were certain that the forth child would be the last. They were already financially stretched to the limit. Never did they expect that (three years later) they would receive the mandate for a fifth child...

With the addition to the family, overseas trips were rare. Even when they travelled during the school holidays, it was usually a drive down to the neighbouring country. Dining out became an exclusive event for special occasions. Even then, they would refrain from incurring extra expenditure on overpriced drinks that were sold at half the price in supermarkets. When his business suffered the brunt of the financial attacks, they were obliged to downgrade to a smaller apartment. An outsider would consider them blessed to be living in a well-situated penthouse, but a close friend would know that seven people residing in that 2-room apartment was not at all a comfortable thing.

But this is not a story to gain your sympathy.

Despite the humble situation that they were in, the family remained as a source of envy to the people around them. How were they adorned in fancy garments when they could not afford a decent house for seven? Their Heavenly Father clothed them. How were they so joyful despite the economic depression that they were suffering? The joy of the Lord was their strength. Why did they seem to lack nothing when their resources were scarce? They were filled with love for one another.

I don't think they planned for their lives to be like this. They could've been living in a luxurious house, with their two kids (and a room to each). He could've accomplish his childhood dream of watching a football match at the Emirates stadium. And she, she could've had a lifestyle of sipping Green Tea and tasting fresh Sashimi after a dip in the hot springs. Instead, he was satisfied with staying up till 3a.m. in the morning to watch the Premier League finals on TV with his son. Instead, she was blissful making tea and biscuits every day at 3p.m. in the afternoon for her four daughters.

I don't think they planned for their lives to be like this. But I'm sure that they are beyond a doubt grateful that it turned out this way.

And so are we, daddy and mummy!

(Family photo courtesy of Joy, the forth child.)

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Finding my first love

The last drop of water touches my chapped lips, caresses my tongue and slides down my parched throat. The village seems so far away. I stretch out my left hand and stick out my thumb. The mountain village - the place that I'm heading towards - is barely the size of my thumb. The scorching sand beneath my feet seems to be giving way. Or maybe, just maybe, it's my legs whispering to me that they cannot go any further. No. I must go there. I must go to my First Love! The wind blows and I let it carry me for a moment. Waves of sweet sweet memories wash over me. I remember the time that we ran along the beach. The sand, then, was soft, warm and comforting. I remember the days when I had no food. You fed me, without ever once looking down on me. I remember crying - no, sobbing, in Your embrace. I remember the taste of freedom, as I lingered in the bosom of Your love. I plug in my ear piece and use up the 1 per cent of battery that I have been conserving. "I am a flower quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow, a wave tossed in the ocean, a vapour in the rain. Still you hear me when I'm calling -" The screen goes blank. The air goes stale, again.

I drag my feet forward. One, two, three, four, five... The ground seems to be closing in on me. Racing towards me. My head hits the earth and I am suddenly engulfed in blankets of dust. I shut my eyes - a sign that I am finally accepting this tragic end to our story. My mind goes back to the day that I met You for very the first time. Tears trickle down my face as I realise that I may never see You again. I surrender. I surrender...



All of a sudden, I am lifted off the ground. Beneath me are arms as solid as steel. Pressing against my face is a chest as sturdy as the Theodosian walls. And beneath that seemingly indestructible chest is a fluttering heart. I listen closely to the familiar rhythm of that beating heart. I heave a sigh of relief as the corner of my lips inch upwards.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Impalpable lifeline

Where are you? Where are you right now?
I can't come to you but I need you.

They've drowned my lips in layers of tape.
They've tied me up with fetters of iron.

My bloodshot eyes yearn for reprieve.
My punctured heart cries out to you.

Can you hear me?

You said all I have to do is to call out for you.
Knife to my throat - what am I to do?


I'm barely hanging on.
Another step, another sigh, another word -
The rope is about to snap!

The seas are raging beneath me.
They stretch our their arms and beckon me.

I'm coming!
I'm coming.
I'm com-

Please catch me.

The wind carries me (for a moment)
And feeds me to the waves.

Darkness engulfs me as I sink deeper
and deeper.
and deeper still.

Suddenly, I hear your still small voice.
My fingers itch for you but
I'm no longer in control.

I can't come to you but I need you.
Don't let me die, please. Don't let me die.
I'll cast my cares upon you.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

What makes everything else extraordinary

I shut my eyes and grab his hand with all my might -
In exactly 3 seconds, we would be plunging through the air and into the abyss.
I love high places. He doesn't; but he does it for me, anyway.
Adrenaline pulses through my veins. My spirit is lifted from my body, momentarily.
In that split second, I forget about yesterday, today and tomorrow.
In that split second, the world falls away and I'm flying through the stratosphere.
No, I'm not flying. I'm soaring.
The wind gushes through my hair. The cold stings the tip of my ears but
I don't care. I'm the sailor of the ship -
My personal albeit tiny ship that hosts the two of us.
I lock my hands with his as we head for the island.
The sun is up. The temperature is slightly too low for my liking but
It is otherwise a perfect day.
The warmth of the sand beckons me. And I respond.
I'm soaring again; faster than the wind, faster than ever before.
Brain freeze. He tells me to slow down but
When it comes to gelato, I can (almost literally) gobble up the entire cup.
It is probably a bad idea to do it tonight, though, since
It is probably one of the coldest nights this winter. I shudder, as
The blob of pistachio-flavoured ice-cream slides down my throat.
I stretch out my hand to touch his finger. It doesn't bring me any reprieve -
It is as icy-cold as mine. I look up to the sky full of stars and pray that
This would last forever.
He squeezes my hand and wakes me up from my reverie.
I am greeted by the unfinished essay that is due when the sun rises.
I am awakened to my reality of study, eat, sleep, and repeat.
I glance at him with dread and he immediately recognises the look on my face.
He knows that the word "mundane" is banished to the lower chambers of my dictionary.
He knows how restless I become when I'm confined to the four corners of the room.
But he also knows that I persevere because the ordinary is what makes everything else extraordinary.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Break down, break up

You know, he took my breath away the first time I met him. He looked so smart in his navy suit and tie; I just couldn’t take my eyes off him! I asked him to dress up for dates but he just couldn’t be bothered. I had to beg him – can you believe it?

I spent hours and hours preparing for his birthday surprise. You have no idea how difficult it was, trying to keep it a secret when I see him almost every day! And guess what…? He expressed more gratitude to his old friends who simply turned up.

Of course I loved his random surprises. I would receive clothes, bags and shoes out of nowhere – oh, I loved it best when he brought my favourite food home! But I would have traded all these gifts for a day well spent together…

I have insomnia. It takes me hours to fall asleep and I end up watching him drift into slumber every night. I wish, how I wish he had waited for me to retire for the night. It would’ve been easier, probably.

I honestly thought that he was the one for me. Although it wasn’t perfect, I was willing to compromise, to work things out. If only he had the courage to tell me to stay…

I miss him.

I tell you, she’s beautiful. She’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. I don’t understand why she had to dress up all the time. I loved how she looked in glasses, t-shirt and shorts. She never believed me. What could I do?

I showered her with gifts on random occasions to make her happy. The smile on her face was worth a year’s wages. Well, she did seem happy but it just… never felt like I was doing enough?

She was an amazing listener. I looked forward to going home every day to tell her about my day at work. She somehow made it better without saying anything! It’s just that she never seemed to understand that what I yearned for was her kiss, her embrace, and her pat on my back.

I am an early riser. I was always the one waiting for her to open her eyes. I wanted to be the first thing she saw in the morning but she never tried to get up early, before I left for work.

I swear, I would’ve proposed to her. The moment we got together, I knew she was the one I wanted to marry. Why did she have to say those words? I would’ve forgiven her. If only she said she was sorry…

I miss her.

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