Good News.. for me

When I decided to migrate to Canada, I was hoping for a better life for my children.
I can still remember the anxious wait for the postman after I submitted all the paperwork, who was to deliver the official letter from the embassy.
Counting down the days..
Rechecking my copy of the application forms over and over to see if I made any mistake..
And finally receiving the letter from the embassy, telling me that I got the PR..
I felt I was walking on cloud..that I managed to get the coveted PR status..

I had everything planned..
Sell the Condo, keep half the money as FD and use the other half for the initial expenses, till I find a job.
Then I made the biggest mistake. When I was asked by the real estate agent why I wanted to sell the condo, I told him the truth..that I was going to Canada.
Suddenly my condo lost its value from $350/sq feet to $200/sq feet.
I should have known that  such a drastic drop was bound to happen. The same thing happened to my grand aunt and her family when they migrated to Australia in the 80’s. They were desperate to sell and every buyer in Kuantan ( her home town) knew that. My grand aunt lost almost 100K.

I couldn’t bring myself to sell at a loss, even if it meant that I was going to struggle.

Struggle I did, with three kids, no job and living in a basement suite, and earning money from catering.. all the while owning a beautiful condo in the middle of golden triangle.
I couldn’t even rent the place, because I needed someone to help me to deal with the rental agencies in my absence and none of my sisters or cousins were willing to waste their precious time. After  arriving in Canada and not getting any job, I was desperate to sell the apt and placed ads in the Malaysian paper. A prospective buyer wanted to see the unit and I asked my cousin if she would help me. ( she had my house key). The buyer was 30 minutes late and she wrote a 10 page email telling my why she wouldn’t be able to show the unit to any other prospective buyers, She made it sound that somehow it was my fault that the buyer was late !! In all fairness I do understand she is busy and has her own life to live and I was imposing on her. But it still felt horrible..the fact that I really have only me to deal with all the ups and downs in my life..
There were so many times I wanted to pack up my bags and go back to Malaysia.
There were so many times I regretted not selling the Condo even if I lost some money. Some money was better than no money..

Last trip to Malaysia, I found an agent who is willing to do all the works involved in renting the place in my absence. He charges me $ 120/month as his service charge and deducts it from the rent.
Yesterday I got a mail from him telling me that a someone  is very much interested in buying my unit and asked me if I would like to sell the unit ( $450/sq feet) !!

Suddenly it felt so good that I didn’t give up when I had to face all those struggles..
All those days, I had to stand in the rain, shivering in the cold, holding three kids and a heavy bag ( three skates and three helmets) and waiting for the bus.
All those days, my children had to wait for the movie to come to our local “cheap” theater because I didn’t have money to take them to IMAX

And no, I am not selling..


For most,Motherhood is a race..”my child vs your child”
Every time I write about my children, I think twice..I don’t want to be in a race.

For me, motherhood is a journey. My children have their strength and their weakness’s. I do not consider their achievements in their life is because of me, nor their failures.
They are who they are.

When I was little, every time I visited my maternal grandparents home, the one thing I loved to do when no one was looking for me was to climb up the thattumpuram ( attic). The process was a bit dicey. You climb up the wooden ladder when  no one is looking and open the wooden slat that covers the entrace without making any sound while holding your breath because dust makes me sneeze and Amma will know where I am by hearing the constant sneezing. Once you reach the attic, then you have to close the cover or else anyone walking through the room will know that someone is up at the attic by seeing the sunlight streaming through the absent slat. I hate confined places, yet the attic held a lot of treasures. I was willing to endure absolute panic , just to go through all the stuff that has been kept in the attic.
There was a wooden easy chair..beautifully carved, along with e three legged round table ( 4 th leg missing) again intricately carved. The table was kept leaning on the chair and still had a table cloth covering. My mother had embroidered that cover in her teens. It was not the usual chain stitch embroidery. The stitches were big and how do I say, lifted from the fabric and when you run your fingers over the stitch, you can actually feel the bumpiness..
Each time I went to the attic, I regretted not bringing  some old clothes to dust the chair so I could sit on it. ( the chair was banished to the attic because one of the wooden pieces at the back broke, but you could still sit on it.)
There were so many boxes of books, all eaten by termites. If you open the book, pieces of paper used to fall out like confetti..
And in one corner of the attic was the boxes that I loved the most.
You can’t really call them boxes..because the box that held them were in the process of total disintegration, thanks to the termites..
In it were my mother’s trophies..100’s and 100’s of trophies..all various sizes..those trophies at one time were shiny..and my mother often talked about owning her own home one day, so she would have a place to keep all her trophies..and I dreamt of polishing those trophies with valanpuli (tamarind).
My mother was well known athlete..She won all those trophies during her student days.

When I was in the 8th standard, my mother send me for badminton training at the YMCA..If you represented the state in any sports event, then you get bonus mark ( I think it was 50 marks) for SSLC. One of My mother’s desperate plans to get me pass the SSLC exams, the other was making me join girl guides.  Her plan didn’t go well.. Let us just say that Amma’s sports ‘genes’ skipped me completely..Everyone loved playing against me..sure victory for them without any running!

The only game I know is cricket. But I never even held a bat in my hand. I watched the game on telly..
Unlike me, my sisters were all in to sports. We had a lot of famous sports personalities visiting our house over the years because my sisters were famous in their chosen sports field. It felt odd, when I had to tell all these people that, I, the daughter of famous so and so and a sister of famous so and so doesn’t like sports. It felt I was betraying my mother.

When I had children, All I wanted them to do was to be able to Cycle, swim and skate. I think every child should learn those three.. all three skills once you learn you will never forget. Knowing how to swim well saves your life , Cycling gets you somewhere and skating gives you a ‘cool’ teen years. ( I am weird, I know!!)

When I registered my children for swimming and skating, Yaya and Toothless were in the same group.
My son was flat on the ice most of the first few weeks, while Yaya was already skating. It used to break my heart each time he came out holding the arena ledge, his cheeks flushed and tears running down his cheeks, his hands encased in ice covered gloves and his pants soaked to the bone  while Yaya skated as though she was born skating. Even at the end of that skating term, my son could hardly stand on the ice. When Yaya finished all the 10 levels, my son was still struggling in level 5.
But he did complete the full skates Canada program eventually..

I remember attending the cross country race at his school when he was in grade 5. children from each grade run 3 km around the school. My son still didn’t reach the finishing point even after the fastest kids in grade 3 reached there. My darling son didn’t run. He walked !!! He grinned and told me later “Slow and steady wins the race” when Yaya was screaming how embarrassing it was for her, when her brother walked to the finishing line!!

In between he was in to BMX riding. He used to go to the tracks nearby for a few months. Then he gave up. His free time was spend reading, doing maths puzzles, writing computer programs or making a super computer..
The only reason he joined basketball this year was because Yaya joined ( and he heard one of the cute girl he has a crush on is also playing basket ball in the same club!)
Until yesterday, he has played 4 actual games!
My son has been selected to play in the district team.. His coach tells me that he is an exceptionally good basket ball player..
May be it is my mother’s genes..
May be it is a fluke of luck.
I have no explanation..
My point is, I did nothing to get him to play basket ball. Absolutely Nothing.
I think, children will find their way..eventually..and that is the journey, I would like to be part of..


My cousin’s FB profile photo is him standing next to Shahrukh Khan..Knowing him, chances are that he has the same photo enlarged and framed and it is kept in the living room, perhaps all the rooms in his house!!

I was once send a youtube clip ( I am a Malayalee song) and was told to watch for the guy in the back ground..because he is a friend!!!
The logic being,I know him, he is in the famous clip, he is a hero,therefor I know a hero and I am famous!! ( convoluted, I know !!)
And if you really dig will probably know that he knows him, because he is a friend of a friend of friend…you got the drift..

Years ago, I knew this Mallu dude. He was working at the Banana Leaf shop. My friends ( including some Aussie expats) and I met at the restaurant every Sunday morning for Dosai. Because the dude and I spoke Malayalam and Aussie accent is very hard to understand, it was me who ordered the food..all worked well..till the mallu dude decided to be more friendly..
One day, he asked the Aussie expats, “which company do you work for ?”
“John Holland” They replied
“Oh really? Only last week I had beer with John Holland at his house” replied the mallu dude..

There was a moment of silence,then all eyes were on me..
Once the shock settled, the fair dinkum Aussies, took the guy for a jolly good ride..encouraging him by pretending to believe him and making him spin more and more tall tales about meeting John Holland.
The mallu dude really didn’t know that the Aussies were having a good time at his expense..
I was so miserable, On one hand there was a need to protect this innocent dude, who has been taken for a jolly good ride by my friends..on the other hand, the knowledge that our dude got himself in the bind..( I did have a strong urge to beat the mallu guy in to a pulp for lying and getting in to such unnecessary mess!)

I still meet some of the expats from that time once in a while..and none of them have forgotten my ‘close’ friendship with someone who had beer with John Holland.

Why this fascination of knowing famous people? Are we so insecure that we need to hold on to ‘famous’ people to be someone??

there it is..

I turned silences and nights into words. What was unutterable, I wrote down. I made the whirling world stand still.”   

I am hoping that unlike yesterday, I will be able to write what I was hoping to write.

After I lost my baby, I didn’t really want to see anyone, let alone talk to anyone. The doctor’s wife came to my flat and told me that the tulips were in full bloom at her house..a sight not to be missed.. and asked if I would like to come over for tea..
Like me, she loved Earl grey tea..and to make the pounds stretch a bit.. would use one premium earl grey tea bag and two tetley when she made tea for two. ( the old formula when you make a pot of tea, One tea bag for the the pot and one for each person).
I still follow the formula.still make tea for two, though there is no one  to share the extra cup..somehow one earl grey and one tetley doesn’t taste the same..

One question that bothered me so much..over and over..after I lost the baby was “Why me?”
I have never harmed anyone..not even animals..and all I wanted was a own baby..someone I could love and flesh and blood..someone I could say mine..( selfish, I know..)

She told me about losing her 3rd baby..on a Christmas everyone and everything in the hospital was full of cheer.. all those decorations.. all those greetings..and laying down in the bed..trying to comprehend what is going on..wanting to go back home..not because she wanted to grieve at home..but because she was worried..what will the older two children is Christmas.. she needs to be home to celebrate Christmas..her children deserve that..
I remember her telling me.. the one thing that she hated the most was the comforting words uttered by the kind and loving nurse..” You already have two children” somehow, one must not grieve the loss of a child, if one already has other living children.. the grief is ungrateful.
and in my case I didn’t have any other children and so I asked her
“Why me?”
And she looked at me and a very calm and gentle way
“Why not you?”
My first reaction was to bop her..
How dare she? Only I know what I have gone through..I just lost my baby and she is asking me why not you?
I had a million reasons I could give that answered her question.. so I thought..
and I tried to think of the million reasons..
On the drive back to my her tiny old car..I kept thinking of a proper, correct answer to her question “why not you?”
At my flat, I carefully arranged the tulips she gave me in a glass of water..I kept it on the window sill..
I stood the side of the window.. the same window, weeks earlier I thought of jumping out..

I desperately wanted an answer to why not you?
The truth is, I didn’t have an answer then.. I don’t have now..There were so many times, I wanted to ask Why me? since then..but the voice in the head always over ride..and it has always been why not me.
I do not have everything most have, most take it for granted…..
in my silence..there are words that speak..  in my grief.. I can make the words dance..
and that is good enough..
and day I will not have to waste a cup of tea every morning.. may not happen.. but who am I to judge and grieve over a cup of tea?

Good enough

When I was studying in UK, one thing that I loved the most was our monthly gathering..It was at the house of doctor who worked in Malaysia for a while. A place to meet, talk and bitch about Malaysia and of course eat some home cooked Malaysian food.
This doctor works three to four months in developing countries each year ( pro bono). He has 6 kids..They didn’t have a TV in their house.. Each evening the family sat in the living room, talked, read books and played games..
Before I went to England, I had my own home, a car and a great life in Malaysia..from that to no car, council flat accommodation and no was a shocking change..
I never checked the price of anything when I was in Malaysia..and ended up going to the local market on Saturday at 3.45 pm..just before the market closes, farmers sell off the vegetables at throw away price, because the market is closed on Sunday and Monday morning new stock arrived.
I think the biggest shock was seeing the money in the bank account depleting drastically every time I withdrew the money..( unlike working time, where the salary was deposited in to the account each month). There was no one else to help financially. whatever money I had in the bank, once it was over..I was done..
Winter clothes was something I never had to buy in Malaysia..Marks and Spencer outlet was walking distance from my flat and I went there..came out thinking, It was now a question of eating food the next few months or keeping warm !!!
And I met this doctor, who told me without any particular reason that he buys his clothes from thrift shops. ( he probably saw that, I was only wearing a sweater and knew soon I would need a winter jacket!!)
Growing up, we sisters, wore each other’s clothes..The only thing I didn’t have to wear was my sister’s bell bottom pants, cause 7 years after she wore it, when it was time for me to wear, pedal pushers/capri pants were in fashion..Amma was not to be discouraged, she kept it for my sister younger to me..and her time, it was the colourful leggings that were in fashion..eventually bell bottoms did come back..( thankfully,after amma donated it to buy steel donate x amount of ‘good’ clothes to receive a steel plate/bowl) and amma was heart broken..nalla oru bellbottom, athum ethra meteru thuni aa upayogiche? veruthe kalanju..
But the thought of wearing second hand clothes..that too from was weird..
But I needed a winter coat..I had no choice but to buy one from the thrift shop.
Before buying it, I smelled it, checked the pockets etc to ensure that it was clean..
then I bought a bottle of dettol..
Then I soaked the jacket in dettol solution.. ( didn’t have money to do laundry)..and had fun, trying to rinse a jacket that suddenly weighed a ton ( after soaking all the water!).. But the trouble didn’t end there. I now had to find a place to hang a jacket that weighed a the water will drain..I did attempt to hang it on the shower curtain..which started to bow in an unholy way..
and I stood in the washroom..for a very long time..holding a very heavy jacket..cursing at my own stupidity..
I was actually going to write about something else..and ended up with this post..
Will do that tomorrow.
Have a great day.

Yours and Yours

The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours
The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours
A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours
And yours
Leo Marks..

I read the poem in Courier mail yesterday..and remembered you reciting this over a cup of the red and white decor cafe on MG road. I don’t remember the name of the cafe.. It was close to GK vale studio.. We had gone to buy books from the second hand book shop wala..

My mistake is to try and fill the void you left behind..
Just to experience that sheer joy of being loved for who you are..
just to hear the words spoken in silence..
just to have someone to lean on..for the sake of togetherness..

People tell you time heals..But time doesn’t heal..It can’t heal something that is not broken..

At work, this dude has been hitting on me for a while now..
He is in a position that can create a lot of unnecessary hassle for me, so I tolerated his innuendos..

Yesterday he asked me how many children I have? ( I am fiercely protective of my children and don’t think people I work with need to know about my family)
I said three.
Boys or girls? He asked.
One boy and two girls I replied.
He then asked me
“are the girls as prettier as their mother?”
What the @#^$ was he expecting me to say?