This year I told my well-meaning, ever-inquisitive relatives, friends and neighbours that I am going to tie the knot come next Chinese New Year. The irony is that they don’t seem to believe me even though this is the very piece of information they asked for and sad to say, they don’t seem to be very excited. The past years, I’ve always managed to smile bashfully and quietly mumble something along the lines of the time not having arrived yet, needing to meet a man first etc and now, the first year I actually am able to spew something positive, they don’t run around the room jockeying to help me with wedding duties!
So I had 1 week of fun-filled Chinese New Year in Penang with good food and family and friends. It was not as hot as normal and even the traffic jams were not as bad – this harkens back to the old days of Penang as I remember from when I was 8 years old. Near my alma mater, Convent Green Lane, there was a large monsoon drain between the school field and the main road; and around the monsoon drain, there grew these giant trees. They would drop their pretty yellow and red flowers down on us and we used to make little crowns and bracelets with the blooms while waiting for our school bus.
We would also dare each other to cross the monsoon drain by walking over the slim bars of concrete, placed across the drain for heaven knows what. That was quite dangerous, that, since the drain was deep and wide but then we were fool-hardy, fun-loving children who thought we were invincible – well, no actually, I was quite afraid of feeling pain! This is quite weird seeing as I am morbidly fascinated by road kill and gore and violence but the imagined pain of any suffering affects me deeply. I think it’s because I can visualize and internalize the (assumption of) pain, therefore, I can feel my hair curl. The worst thing I have ever seen must be via ‘Faces of Death’ or ‘Shocking Asia’ or some video of that ilk, where a young African boy is caught shoplifting. He gets stretched out with a man each holding his hands and feet and another comes along with a small, yet wicked looking, knife. He proceeds to slowly saw off the boy’s right hand as a deterring punishment and a warning to others. The boy shows not a glimmer of pain nor utters a moan of despair. However, the silent look of hopelessness in his eyes speaks volumes. Such is the life of the hard core poor where they expect and accept whatever punishment society inflicts on them because they think they deserve no better.
Another horrid incident I have watched on the same video is where a physically challenged man is trying to cross a rather wide city road. He hobbles across as fast as he can when there is a lull in traffic. You see him, halfway across, holding up 1 hand as a gesture to ask the oncoming vehicle to slow down. No sirree, the big bus does nothing of that sort and proceeds only to slam on his screeching brakes AFTER you hear and SEE the thump of the poor man against the front grille of the behemoth.
These two scenarios never fail to leave a bitter taste in my mouth as they demonstrate the (possible) cruelty of the human kind and the utter bleakness you can fall to in life.
As such, appreciate your life – good or bad, there is always someone worse off than you out there. If you think about the tragedy of millions dying of AIDS, the unreasonable deaths of babies and children due to starvation and poor hygiene, and the unimaginable horror of (the raison d'être and method of) ethnic cleansing; just a few of the heartrending milieu that has visited Earth and Man; who cares if your daddy didn’t give you more money to buy those Aldo shoes, or you don’t get to buy that Roadster you had your heart set on!
This New Year I am making a promise to myself to be happy with my life because it’s all UP TO ME! If I give myself lemons, I’m making lemonade with a cheerful umbrella and funky straw. Buddhism says that there should be no ‘I’! It’s true, I have to learn to stop thinking of me and my pride and more of how I can make it better for someone else!
I’m growing up!
So for all my friends out there, I am thinking how to make the wedding more fun for you! I shall give everyone duties where I can be sure they will excel in so they can make the more efficient, effective use of their god-given talents and hard-won expertise!