Archive for the ‘love’ Category

So you lost him. Now what?

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Something on page 156 of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love jumped out at me. The book has been at my bedside for a long time, maybe a year or two. Or three. The passage below of a conversation between Elizabeth and Richard from Texas speaks to me because of the hurt I have been carrying with me for the last four years.

It was back to normal state of mind by end of year one. Still thought of him every day but stopped crying at the mere mention of him in year two. Could see him and hold myself together by year three. I thought I am in year three until a Facebook memory notification pushed a memory of him from four years ago. Has it been that long?

A few months ago, I started having that disturbing feeling again. It feels like a knot in the heart and I’ve been having it on and off. I thought I had finally gotten rid of it and now it’s back. This time was almost as intense as the first, which was akin to having your heart pickled. Sometimes it goes away for awhile, but it would be there again in the morning.

The last episode, I suspect, was triggered by a difficult situation at work. Things were sorted out in the end but the feeling remained. So I continued to feel on edge, wondering if something really bad was about to happen. A few things did happen, but nothing that caused my world to crash down… and now I’m reminded that I finally feel… nothing.

It’s time to move on.

“I can’t stop obsessing over David. I thought I was over him, but it’s all coming up again.”

He says, “Give it another six months, you’ll feel better.”

“I’ve already given it 12 months, Richard.”

“Then give it six more. Just keep throwin’ six months at it till it goes away. Stuff like this takes time.

Someday, you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing and you were in the best possible place in the world for it – in a beautiful place of worship, surrounded by grace. Rake this time, every minute of it. Let things work themselves out in India.”

“But I really loved him.”

“Big deal. So you fell in love with someone. Don’t you see what happened? This guy touched a place in your heart deeper than you though you were capable of reaching, I mean, you got zapped, kiddo. But the love you felt, that’s just the beginning. You just got a taste of love. That’s just limited little rinky-dink mortal love. Wait till you see how much more deeply you can love than that. Heck, Groceries – you have the capacity to someday love the whole world. It’s your destiny. Don’t laugh.”

“I’m not laughing.” I was actually crying. “And please don’t laugh at me now, but I think the reason it’s so hard for me to get over this guy is because I seriously believed David was my soulmate.”

“He probably was. Your problem is you don’t understand what that word means. People think a soulmate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soulmate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your attention so you can change your life. A true soulmate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soulmate forever? Nah. Too painful.

Soulmates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. And thank God for it. Your problem is, you just can’t let this one go. It’s over, Groceries, David’s purpose was to shake you up, drive you you out of that marriage that you needed to leave, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light could get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you had to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master and beat it. This was his job, and he did great, but now it’s over. Problem is, you can’t accept that this relationship had a real short shelf life. You’re like a dog at the dump, baby – you’re just lickin’ at an empty tin can, trying to get more nutrition out of it. And if you’re not careful, that can’s gonna get stuck on your snout forever and make your life miserable. So drop it.”

“But I love him.”

“So love him.”

“But I miss him.”

“So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, and then drop it. You’re just afraid to let go of the last bits of David because then you’re really alone, and Liz Gilbert is scared to death of what will happen when she’s totally alone. But here’s what you gotta understand, Groceries. If you clear out all that space in your mind that you’re using right now to obsess about this guy, you’ll have a vacuum there, an open spot – a doorway. And guess what the universe will do with ghtta be.”

“That doorway? It will rush in – God will rush in – and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed. So stop using David to block that door. Let it go.”

“But I wish me and David could – “

He cuts me off. “See, now that’s your problem. You’re wishin’ too much, baby. You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughta be.”




Sad love songs

“Thank you so much for breaking my heart because you got me four Grammys!”

Who’s having the last laugh now? Heartbreak gave Sam Smith material for his debut album In the Lonely Hour. His album was nominated for six categories in the Grammy Awards and it won four: Best Pop Vocal Album, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist. That’s major redemption and a middle finger at the heartbreaker.

Taylor Swift built her songbook on failed relationships. Some of the best love anthems around are based on jilted love. Does sadness and anger write the best love songs? I believe so. When your heart is ripped up so badly, you become painfully aware of every single emotion. You are blessed (or cursed) with the ability to reach into the depths of despair and articulate feelings with great clarity.

When you’re down and damaged, every sad love song becomes your personal story. I didn’t go out to buy a compilation CD of Songs for the Brokenhearted. These songs just came to me because they spoke to me. Here they are, in no particular order. Has it been three years already? God, when will I have my Sam Smith moment? There has got to be a positive spin to this.

This song still makes me cry when I listen to it. I bet there are many choked up people in the audience each time she sings this.

I heard that your dreams came true
Guess she gave you things I didn’t give to you

Invisible – I feel like I’m invisible
You treat me like I’m not really there
and you don’t really care
I know this romance
it ain’t going nowhere
Invisible just like my love. You treat me like I’m invisible
When you get the need to flirt you do your worst

You just don’t care how much it hurts.

Oh, I could feel that she was almost in tears. This performance on 20 November 2011 was around the time when her marriage with Russell Brand was on the rocks. On 31 Dec, he sent her a text message divorcing her.

In another life
I would make you stay
So I don’t have to say
You were the one that got away
The one that got away

Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am home again
Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am whole again

Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am young again
Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am fun again

Not a sad song, but it reminded of the weekends we had. Meet on Friday, enjoy on Saturday, gone by Sunday.

All the dreams that we were building
We never fulfilled them

This was the song I sent to him when I could feel him slipping away.

I don’t want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard
I just want someone that I can talk to
I want you just the way you are

I could never get a straight answer out of him on why he left. “I’m not in a position to be in a relationship right now,” did not hold water, not when he was the one pushing me into the relationship, and especially not when he announced his relationship status with another just a few days later, on Facebook. Couldn’t even tell me straight to my face he was ending things.

Turn down the lights
Turn down the bed
Turn down these voices
Inside my head

Lay down with me
Tell me no lies
Just hold me close
Don’t patronize

I’m all cried out
You took a whole lot of loving
For a handful of nothing
It’s hard to give you something
When you’re pushing and a-shoving me around

And who do you think you are?
Runnin’ ’round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul

Not the most apt lyrics, but I was reminded of this song by something a friend said, “Don’t let him stay rent-free in your heart, using your emotions and hurting you.”

Happier times.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
I want to know
you’re gonna stay for the weekend

Our love is dead
but the dead don’t go away
They made us what we are
they’re with us every day
Our love is dead
but the dead are still alive
in memory and thought
and the context they provide

Chinese New Year ammunition for the single girl

My most favourite ang pau envelope so far. It's from Ninja Joe, a burger joint.

My most favourite ang pau envelope so far. It’s from Ninja Joe, a burger joint.

Chinese New Year is just one day away. Many would be excited but some may dread it. Family reunions for the single girl can be very stressful if not annoying when well-meaning but nosey relatives ask “Still no boyfriend yet ah?”

Even those who have boyfriends are not spared.

“When are you getting married? Wait for what?”

And if you are married, “Still no kids yet ah?”

It just doesn’t end.

And it gets worse when your much younger cousins show up with a new boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse or yet another kid to add to the brood of grandchildren. Oh wait, I’m the grandchild. I mean great grandchildren.

I can’t speak on behalf of those who are in a relationship or are married, but I can certainly offer some ammunition to shoot back at those busybodies.

This posting is inspired by something a friend put up on Facebook – a Huffington Post blogpost on 5 Things to Say the Next Time Someone Asks Why You Aren’t Married. I found it too polite and apologetic for such an exasperating situation.

I prefer retorts like these:

Please note that they are skewed towards females as they are usually the ones to pry.

1. “Why? And end up whining about my husband, kids and married life like you do?”

2. “Oh honey, I’m not into guys,” and give the person a soft lingering touch on the arm.

3. “Well, I don’t really know. But can you please tell me what on earth possessed you to get married?” while shooting the person a sympathetic look.

4. “No bonus from the company. I need the ang pow.”

5. This one is contributed by someone who got the question in church, “Because GOD hasn’t sent ME the RIGHT man.” Yes, she used capital letters for those words.

6. “Why limit myself to one man when I can have many?” – Say this with a hungry look like a cougar while your eyes scan the room for fresh meat.

7. “What to do? All the good ones are taken,” while you steal a lustful look at the woman’s husband.

I was aiming for 10 but I’m out of comebacks. Feel free to add if you have to offer.

If you’re wondering why such harsh words in the Positive Spin, I’m just being sarcastic. Great sarcasm is an art and anything that squeezes my creative juices I choose to view as something positive.

Disclaimer: I have never actually used any of those lines and I don’t recommend that you do either. It’s just to ‘lepas stim’. I would just say “Tak ada jodoh lagi (I haven’t found my soulmate yet),” while I mouth off those nasties in my head. CNY is a time to get together, eat, drink and be merry, so let’s try to keep the peace.

Plus, I still want to receive ang pows.

I should add that as I get older, people stop asking me that question. I’ve probably reached the age of ‘Why even bother asking – lost cause lah’. I’ve also noticed that it’s been a long time since anyone tried to set me up or hint, hint, wink, wink.

Ugh! This brings back memories of a my late grandmother’s neighbour who tried to set up ‘play dates’ between me and her son. I know I was cute, but I was six!

Happy New Year, everyone. Be nice, and if you’re married, be kind to the single ones, okay?

UPDATE 14 Feb 2014

Today is Chap Goh Meh, the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, the Chinese Valentine’s Day (which this year falls on the same day as the Western one!) and the last day for single people to collect ang pow. If you’re the ang pow giver and think that you will be spared when your single relatives and friends get married, think again.


I’ve also got two more CNY ammunition from a single friend:

8. “Your ang pow is so small, still cannot afford to get married.”

9. “Must remain a xxx (surname withheld to protect privacy and inheritance) to inherit the Bangsar home.”

Love is like a pint of Guinness

You’ll either love or dread next Thursday. In a week’s time, it’ll be Valentine’s Day.

For lovers, pleasant surprises await. The single ones on the other hand, would probably wish that they could go into hibernation until all the fuss is over.

Yeah, yeah, like Jay Leno, we could call Valentine’s Day ‘Extortion Day’, nothing more than a commercial gimmick to pressure men and women alike into parting with obscene amounts of money to lavish their partners with overpriced flowers, teddy bears bearing heart-shaped cushions and conveyor belt set meals.

But admit it, if you’re attached, you too will jump on the Venetian gondola with all those saccharine sweet couples we loathe for their FDA (Facebook Display of Affection).

I am happiest when Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend because I could hole up home until it’s over. It’s not just restaurants with couple tables and perfume counters promoting Valentine’s Day sets that remind you that your only date is the TV at home, which of course will be screening romantic movies starring Reese Witherspoon or Meg Ryan.

Drowning yourself in work at the office is no solution. Not when the tables around you will be graced with big bouquets of flowers taunting you like Cinderella’s stepsisters.

So where does this leave us single gals?

“Maybe some women aren’t meant to be tamed.
Maybe they just need to run free till they find someone
just as wild to run with them.” ~ Sex and the City

Will we ever find someone to love and love us in return, or will we wake up one day and realise the love boat has long left the port?

Don’t despair. Love is like a pint of Guinness. Good things do come to those who wait, like Eve Pell.

The author of We Used to Own the Bronx: Memoirs of a Former Debutante recently wrote about meeting the love of her life at 67.

He was a widow, she was twice divorced. They both belonged to the same running club. Eve knew a gem when she saw one. Sam was charming, single and fit for a 77-year-old.

With the help of a friend, she set herself up with Sam. A house party led to movies, runs together, dates in Chinese restaurants, a holiday in Europe, and finally, marriage three years later.

Read the full story of The Race Grows Sweeter Near its Final Lap here in the New York Times. I promise it’s one you will want to finish. Happy Valentine’s Day.

P.S. I would like to thank the regional boss of a former workplace of mine. He anonymously arranged for every woman in the office to have a rose on her desk on Valentine’s Day. It was a very thoughtful and sweet gesture.

Old love

I saw them a few times when I was at the Latin American Film Fest last week. An old couple, seated in the front row. When the show was over, I’d see them shuffle down the stairs. They would always be holding hands. I never saw their faces. Just their backs. 

They were not teenagers with excessive PDA (public display of affection). Just a quiet old couple spending time together. No grandkids to buffer them. I don’t think I ever saw them talk, but he would always hold her hand. 

Sometimes when I look at married couples, I wonder if they still love each other. If they enjoy being together. On their own. Not with the white noise of children and the drone of daily life. Do they still cherish each other’s company as much as when they were courting? Do they love one another out of passion and the goodness of their hearts, not out of obligation and ‘for the sake of the kids’? 

Remembering that old couple, I’m comforted by the sense that true love prevails. But what if one passes before the other? 

This is a love story that is inspiring and tragic. It took place when I was in my early 20s and it started with a death. 

Her name was Haseena. Her husband was Former Supreme Court judge Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader. He was her second marriage. I tried to find out more about them online but there is scant info on the two. I just remember reading the full page ‘ad’ he would run in the Star on the anniversary of her death. There would be poems in Latin professing his love for her, complete with English translations. I wish I had kept them. 

What is inspiring about them is the difference between the two. He was a learned man who spoke queen’s English and knew Latin. She was a simple woman who understood neither, so he would speak to her in Malay or Chinese. I read somewhere that they would just sit in front of the TV, enjoying each other’s company, holding hands. 

When she died, she left a big hole in his heart.  Three years later he filled it with a bullet from his gun. 

Here, I would like to share one of his poems, courtesy of another blogger

My love, Light of my Life!
I think of thee in silence
And often speak thine name
All I have are memories
And photos in a frame
To thy resting-place I wander
To place roses with love and care
But no one can know the heartache
As I turn and leave thee there
No monument can stand more stalwart
Than the everlasting love we share
Let’s then rejoice and ever bear in mind
That such a bond surely makes us but one of a kind


And here is one more from another blog.

My dearest darling, half of soul, light of my life and jewel of all wives
I think of thee, of thee and yet of thee, like thee there never yet can ever be
Thine two intoxicating eyes I miss, and thy cheeks and lips I used to kiss
If Helen of Troy were clad in the beauty of thousand stars, then thou gentle as evening air art in mine eyes, as shine the moon among the lesser fires
Of all the queens that ever lived, I chose thee to rule me, mine very own Haseena, my one and only, to the very marrow thou will see I love ye
O’ how in the world am I to live without thee?

To all who loved and lost, rest in peace.

UPDATE 17 November 2013

I recently came across an article by Wong Chun Wai in StarMetro that sheds more light on Eusoffe Abdoolcader. Read it here.

Loss and faith

“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”

When I got to KL in 1999, one of the things I looked forward to was the arts scene. Nothing much happened in Penang. I could only read about all the exciting things happening in KL. Actors Studio at Plaza Putra, Dataran Merdeka was easily accessible, so I would spend many a Sunday afternoon there to catch a matinee show.

Going to klpac again recently, watching the ever passionate Faridah Merican and Joe Hafsham introduce the Short+Sweet Festival, I’m reminded of the great big flood of 2003 that destroyed the Actors Studio. I still remember the picture on the front page of Sunday Star. Faridah in tears, clutching a doll in front of the theatre she set up with Joe eight years before. The theatre, along with the premises of the Dama Orchestra, were completely destroyed as the underground location was submerged for days. They lost everything.

But sometimes, good things need to fall apart so better things can fall together. This is an account of what led to klpac, taken from its website:

10 June 2003: Floods devastated The Actors Studio’s Plaza Putra complex.
20 June 2003: In search of a new space, Joe, Faridah, Teoh Ming Jin & Ng Seksan visited an old National Railway (KTM) warehouse in YTL Corporation’s Sentul West.
9 & 10 August 2003: At the fundraising event Banjir, Faridah met the late Datin Paduka Seri Endon
Mahmood (then Chairman of Yayasan Budi Penyayang) and told her about the potential space.
Late Aug 2003 – Early Sept 2003: DPS Endon met Tan Sri Francis Yeoh of YTL Corporation and mentioned The Actors Studio’s interest in the old warehouse.
September 2003: Joe and Faridah presented a proposal of klpac to Tan Sri Francis Yeoh who responded with the now famous words “Go for it!”
21 May 2004: Launch of klpac attended by members of the media and arts community.
9 May 2005: klpac team moves in.

Likewise, I hope losing M means making way for someone better to come into my life. He made me happy when he found me and sad when he left. Happy Birthday, M. Yes, I remember it was yesterday.

If you have not been to klpac, pay it a visit. It’s a beautiful place, constructed from an old railway depot and surrounded by a park. I don’t have any pictures at the moment, but just imagine an oasis in the middle of the city, a place caught in time.

Today’s little blessings

I once told a depressed man to be thankful for every little thing that came his way. He took my advice and I was glad. Then he took my heart and crushed it and I was sad. Very, very sad.

From the positive person that I was, I became bitter, hurt, angry and lost. Still am to a certain degree. At least now the physical pain is gone. I never understood what heartache really felt like till I experienced it myself. It’s like having your heart pickled, or a wrecking ball hit it and staying stubbornly lodged.

Pain and sadness are not the worst things about heartbreak. It’s the crippling fear of life and what the future holds. And the loss of desire for everything that you once loved. All that cliche about makan tak kenyang, tidur tak lena (eat not full, sleep not satisfied) is true.

For as long as I could remember, I wanted to travel. Growing up, money was very tight, so the only travelling we did was balik kampung (going back to hometown). Even taking the bus for a day about town was a big deal.

So when I started working and earning my own money, I went after that dream. Sometimes I had a travelling partner. When I couldn’t find one, I took off on my own. And that’s how most of my travels were. Solo. I didn’t want to put my dream on hold just because I couldn’t get anyone to come along.

I met M just before I set off on a month-long holiday (this time with a big group of like-minded people). I wasn’t really keen on meeting up because I had a lot of things to sort out before I left. But he was persistent and I relented. Why not give it a chance? Besides, the separation would be a good ‘trial’. If there was real chemistry, we would last the distance and time apart.

The first meeting was awkward, but then we had a second and third. And the whole time I was away, we kept in touch by chatting on Facebook and our feelings for each other grew stronger (or so I believed). When I returned, we picked up where we left off. Things were moving very fast.

We had a lot in common and one of the things we both are is well-travelled. Although his was mostly for work and mine is for leisure. Like any couple in a relationship, we talked about the future. Of sailing in the Caribbean (not Cuba where I wanted to go, because he’s not familiar with the waters), biking in Australia, driving in Myanmar, visiting his friends in Hanoi and Kerala, even a short break for a local road trip if I had gotten the job I wanted so badly.

But all that did not happen because he left. Slammed the brakes and left me by the roadside in the middle of nowhere (figuratively speaking). All the plans we talked about (the travelling and other things) was just him building castles in the air. He may have even been stringing me all along, making me think there was more to our relationship. Now I’m not even sure if he really went to all those places he mentioned as a hotshot engineer.

When he left, I lost interest in everything. Even travelling, which many friends know I really love. I would have at least one big trip a year. As long as I could pay off my home loan and bills and keep something aside for my retirement fund, everything else was saved for travelling.

For the first time in my life, I had nowhere I wanted to go. Gosh, this is how it feels like. I could not fathom those who use their precious annual leave to stay at home. Now I know. There is just no desire.

That time of the year

Yes, it’s that time of the year when we need to think about clearing our leave days or have them forfeited. As I had used my sabbatical to go on that long trip earlier this year, I still had many days left over.

Here’s another first. I had so many days left (about 12) and I didn’t know what to do with them! Even after reserving a few for balik kampung and Christmas, I still had more days than I knew what to do with. Stay home? And mope around feeling miserable? Nah.

If this was a year ago, I would’ve just picked any place and set off. But this time around I was not motivated to plan anything. So I looked up the travel company that I had been following for my last few trips. It organises backpacking trips, which takes the hassle out of planning. The only problem is most of the trips are long. The average is three weeks.

But wait. Hey! Here’s a 10-day trip and it’s not to China! (I have no interest in China – where most of the shorter trips are.)

And that’s how I found today’s little blessings.

I had to get my visa done. Wanted to do it yesterday but couldn’t find the photocopy of my passport. Searched again last night and it was there where I last looked! Strange.

Took the bus to town this morning, not sure where the last stop was or the exact location of the visa office. I got down where I guessed it was and lo and behold! It was right in front of the bus stop.

That’s not all. If I had not looked again for the copy of my passport, I would be making another copy at my work place today, and going to the visa office tomorrow, when it would be closed for the country’s national holiday! Oh, I would be mighty pissed.

I was also delighted to find out that courier service was available for only RM10. Applications are in the morning but collections in the evening. It’s easier for me to go to work late than leave early.

And since my favourite watch repair shop was nearby, I popped over to get my faulty key copy fixed (times are hard, so they need to diversify – their services include making key copies, selling mobile phone top-ups and repairing handphones).

The watch repairer is a treasure because these days, most things are made to be broken and thrown away. He managed to fix the wind-up vintage watch I bought from the Amcorp Mall flea market. The seller was hopeless. When I returned with the dead watch, he said he would fix it. But when I got it back, it only ticked for awhile before stopping again.

Mr. Brilliant Watch Repairer not only brought my watch back to life, he also threw in a 6-month guarantee. That’s longer than my relationship with M. It’s a shame he can’t mend my broken heart.

If you have any watches in need of some TLC, visit him at T Sing, No. 56, Jalan Tun Perak, Kuala Lumpur. Same row as the Masjid Jamek LRT station, two traffic lights after, heading towards Puduraya. The shop opens from 10 to 7.30, Mondays to Fridays. Half day on Saturdays. Tel: 03-2070 4058. Tell your friends about him. Repairing is a dying art and businesses like his need all the support they can get.

By the way, that key copy didn’t work. It’s a goner. This was the second fix. The other copies are fine. But it’s okay. I’ve been blessed in other ways today.