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When My Love Swears That …..


This post is the sequel following the thread from 2b. Coup de Foudre.

So we were in the semester break.  We had not seen each other for perhaps 2 months.  Then we went for a leisure trip to an off-shore island with a group of her friends.  We had a wonderful time and that was about the last of the happy days.

It came slowly and subtly.  I kept writing daily letters to her but she never replied. Calling out-of-state was expensive and I could not get her too. Her place was very far from mine and it took me 2 days to travel there to meet her.  She refused to come out and warned me not to go to her residence.

When semester re-opened again, I met her for the last time. We sat on a bench and she told me that “I have never known that our love would bring me so much trouble.  I want a respite to think things over.  So see me no more.”

There was no Dear John letter, she just said good-by and no more, kind of neat, straight forward, no regret nor tears, a cool nonchalant indifference and a clean surgical cut at the jugular and heart all in one mastery stroke and without much fanfare.

I knew that it would serve no purpose to prolong the matter.  Her body language told me all that I needed to know.  I put up my hand in a hand-shake gesture of offering the olive branch that peace be upon us and if I had hurt her I was sorry.  Or perhaps said some sentimental foolish things like “You take care” or “We part ways and still be friends.” I waited in silence with my proffered hand for perhaps an eternity.  She refused to shake my hand.

Then she walked away.

Sure, I was over-the-hill for a long period of time when she dropped the curtain on me, but I never hit the bottle or take any substance abuse nor think of jumping off a cliff.  That was kinda stupid. And I began to reflect clinically on the happenings of the past 9 months.

The opening sentence of Sonnet 138 by William Shakespeare had a ring of profound truth in it. “When my love swears that she is made of truth, I believe her though I know she lies.”  The small lies, the little inconsistencies, the one plus one equaled something else and maybe some other trivialities she said in the past had all come back to me in a flash that when you added up all these little parts it was greater than the whole.  I was just bedazzled by her presence when I was with her and I would not like to be suspicious.  To be fair, she was as much in love with me as I was in love with her in the past.

I knew the answers already as a do-gooder little bird had told me to be prepared for a break-up immediately after the off-shore island holiday.  But I was not prepared for a cruel number she did on me.  And the story went like this …….

Eer…..better keep a little secret here.

From that time, I began to read poetry and wrote a few sad ones too.  And they said that to be a poet you had to be wholly in love or out of love, never in between.

When you were in love the world was at your feet, you walked high o’er clouds, you would stand in awe basking in the glory of the morning sun, you saw the handicraft of God in the sunset glow, the flowers suddenly took on a colorful perspective and all your sensory perceptions were so awakened that you were keenly aware of the beauty that surrounded you. That was when your creativity would be at its peak and you could perhaps fly without wings.

When one fell hard on love, there would be a void, the emptiness caused by the sudden elapse of love.  The heart might be filled with pent-up emotions, enraged feelings, irrational and conflicting thoughts, perhaps hatred or perhaps forgiveness and when one was at its lowest ebb, there might be a burst of creative energy.

In both extreme circumstances, awareness created memory.  Years later, I could still recall those moments.

In the midst of it, I found that part of a poetry by Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem in Memoriam: 27, 1850 that may give some consolation to the aching heart.

So much for coup de foudre…… .

Next Episode : 2d. A Blind Lady Showed The Way …….,

Coup De Foudre!


Following my post of “2a. I Will Soar Again…”, which I had uploaded some time back, a number of my readers wrote some nice emails and were waiting for my next sequel. My sincere apology for writing late, but here it is, and there will be another 3 episodes before I am done with.

This little mundane love affair may have happened perhaps a hundred years ago. I am dredging it up to remind myself that in life duality always co-exists together, where beauty and ugliness, happiness and sadness, togetherness and loneliness, triumph and tribulation can and will exist and happen on the same plane and at the same time continuum too.   And in its brevity period of less than a year, she had perhaps transported me on an orgasmic journey to the moon just by whispering sweet nothings in my ears or spinning me down to the darkness of the abyss when she was crossed with me.  Such was the power of First Love.

As I recalled, I was stoned in love with her.

There is no fool like a sentimental old fool.  I am not sure about what is ‘old’ in age, but I am sure that I am not trying to sentimentalize that part of my life where I had gone through the ordeal of unrequited love. It was a sweet bitter lesson, no doubt, and I write not to reconcile my old feelings or to exorcise the ghost from within.  There are none anymore.   It is to give thanks to the Divine for the little mercy shown to me that I had subsequently learnt the greatest lesson in Life: The Grace of Forgiveness.

Here goes…..

Those were the halcyon days of youthful enthusiasm where every first year University student had starry-eyed notions of a good career ahead upon graduation. This was the honeymoon year, those care-free days when term examination was far away.  This was also a time where boy-meet-girl or girl-meet-boy, whichever was the situation did not matter, and a number of them became partners in life.

Only after about 2 months, I espied her, out of the 200 over ladies staying in the same hostel.  One evening I was having dinner at the canteen and was chatting with my roommate whom I usually had meals together.  I had a strange sensation that someone was staring at me, and lo and behold, when I looked up, this lady who was sitting two benches away was smiling coyly at me.  In all my stupidity I looked behind just to make sure that she was smiling at me.  I didn’t even know her name and this was the first time I ever noticed her.

I turned back and quickly reciprocated her smile. Our eyes locked. It was one of those cosmic moments where time stopped and when it began again, nothing was ever the same.

The French had a beautiful expression, coup de foudre.  I was struck by a thunderbolt of love at first sight.

One month later, we were holding hands, stealing kisses behind some old gnarled trees and exchanging vows of eternal love.  We could sit by the campus lake late into the night, her head resting on my shoulder with nothing said, the silence that enveloped us was as intoxicating as we had drunk a whole bottle of wine.  And when a zephyr breezed by, we cuddled closer to each other, feeling the warmth and hearing each other’s heart beat.

She was no great beauty nor any fatale femme but to my eyes she was the most beautiful woman God had ever created.  Her intellect intrigued me, her charm fascinated me, her whispers excited me, her kisses were warm and inviting, her touch sent tremors to my whole being and when she said nothing, I heard her love songs too. I clung onto her every word and every word she said mesmerized me.  If she told me that the moon was made of Blue Cheese, I would believe her and would dream of getting a slice of it.

We went to the movies.  And the most memorable movies that she introduced to me was “Summer of ‘42”.  It was an unforgettable movies and was a great classic.

Watch the clip at this link is better: Watch

At that time, the song “Miracle’ by The Stylistics came to be one of the top hits in the US and in UK.  We memorized the lyrics of the song and we sang together in perfect harmony.

The sun belongs to the sky

The leaf belongs to the tree

The grape belongs to the vine

And you, you belong to me

Isn’t it a miracle, is another miracle

Thank God for the miracle, you belong to me….

Time flew by.  Our final exams were over and the long vacation beckoned.  She went back to her hometown in upstate.  And she demanded that I wrote her a love letter each day and a love poem each week, to be posted to her address.

Oh, at that time I was so inspired that perhaps I may have wrote some great masterpiece.

Next Episode : 2c When My Love Swears That She Is Made of the Truth,…..

The Lucky Black Cat


Oops, I have been neglecting my website of late due to travel to some God-forsaken places and there are numerous comments and emails outstanding.  To many people God-forsaken places are not anymore the off-the-beaten track places where few tourists ventured or any nooks and corners of the world where there are inaccessible by air, where you cannot have a warm bath, a nice bed with no mosquitoes bussing your ears and some decent food.

Probably in these places one can really survive on fresh air and sunshine and perhaps fried eggs, cup noodles and a slice of stale bread.  Remember if you are in such places fried eggs are the best choice of food as there are not easily contaminated.  Nah! The salmonella found on eggs by the Health Minister of the Conservative Government of UK, Edwina Curry in the mid 90s was a stupid over-reaction.

God-forsaken place is now meant to be a place where there are no internet connections!

Anyway, I have many loose ends to write up.

Today, I witnessed an extraordinary miracle of staying alive by a black cat.

I was driving along a road in town.  Traffic was quite slow and there was a small divider in the middle.  On the opposite traffic about 100 yards ahead I saw a small car driving along at around 50kph or so.  A few cars were tailing behind.  I suddenly spotted a little black cat running under the carriage of the car. I slowed my car and was sure that the cat would be run over.

But the cat kept on running, its little legs galloping hard as fast as it could.  The black cat was running just to stay in the same place relative to the speed of the moving car.  Think about what the Queen of Hearts telling Alice in Wonderland, “Here, you got to run like mad just to stay in the same place.”

All of a sudden the black cat veered off in between the front and the rear tires, jumped on the divider and crossed the road right in front of my car, swift as a flat-footed deer being chased by a hungry lion.  I braked softly to let it passed. The black cat landed safely on the road shoulder.  And then it took a leisurely walk with its tail high behind its back.

Sure, a cat always lands on its feet and has nine lives.

Guess is my lucky day too as a black cat crossed my path and I did not run it over.

Pic :

I Used To Do That Too…


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It made me sad to read about the senior monk freeing some sparrows on the local tabloid.  (Refer here Freeing The Encaged Sparrows, Part 1 – FES).

Being a senior monk and the Chief Abbot of a renowned monastery, he should have more insight and understanding on the precepts of Buddhism.  By his gesture, many of his followers may deem that this was indeed a good way of showing kindness and compassion to these caged little sparrows by releasing them and giving them back their lives.  Did he think deeper that he was also one of those responsible for spawning a trade that would have killed many more sparrows when they were first being trapped, than the mere outward display of releasing some lives?  Perhaps this was a misplaced and somewhat self-gratification notion, as perpetuated by many religious men and women, that when a good deed was done such as to release a life from suffering, one would be able to accumulate good Metta credit and would be rewarded later.  Some good men might do ‘bad things’ unintentionally or because of a lack of understanding but for a monk of high standing, this was not an act of benevolence but an act of moral malfeasance and hypocrisy.

I used to do that too.  It happened many years ago.

Vesak Day was three days away.  Veask was a day celebrated by most Buddhists to commemorate the enlightenment of Buddha.  It always fell on the 15th day in the month of May according to the Chinese lunar calendar.  This was also a day when Buddhists would go to temples to pray, give alms to beggars and the homeless, ‘release lives’ of living beings (mostly fish or birds) to give them a new lease in life and other charitable acts.  This was also a time when one would plead in supplication for the compassionate mercy of Buddha to regain one’s health or to pray for the well being of our loved ones.

At one time, my daughter was quite sickly.  She had lost weight and my wife and I had consulted a number of pediatric doctors.  There were varying opinions but we knew that something was wrong.  A soothsayer told us before that if we do a kindly deed in her name on the auspicious Vesak Day this might help her recover faster. And one of the kindly deeds would be to ‘release’ some living beings.

Three days before Vesak I went to buy 15 small sparrows that came together in a rattan cage.  There were two small bowls wired up, one with water and the other with some small seeds. The price was much cheaper and I just had to keep them for three days.  The price would escalate on Vesak Day itself, however, the price would drop drastically after Vesak.  The vendor was doing a rather brisk trade.

On Vesak Day, the weather was fine and sunny.  My daughter loaded the cage onto our small car and we drove to a nearby bridge.  We did not go to any Buddhist temples as there would be thronged with too many people.

We were standing by the railing of the small bridge.  The brownish muddy water beneath the bridge flowed sluggishly as the river meandered lazily through a somewhat flat terrain littered with polluted debris of plastic bags, drift wood, dead small animals and all kinds of rubbish.

I told my daughter to say a prayer for her good health.  As I held onto the cage, the sparrows were quite agitated as they fluttered against the rattan cage and tweeted restlessly as if some animal instinct told them that they were about to be set free.

My daughter was quite excited as she lifted the trap door to release the small sparrows.

A few sparrows flew upwards towards the clear blue sky in free flight.  Three of them tried in vain to flap at their small wings and fell in a parabolic curve to the river below to be swept away by the slow current.  Three sparrows were struggling to fly upwards but their wings were so weak from incarceration that they spiralled downwards but still managed to exert their last of their sapped strength to steer clear of the river stream, flew sideways and rested onto some tree branches beside the river bank.  Two of the sparrows were still inside the cage, standing stationary with their heads bowed low and their wings drooped down.  One of the sparrows was standing like a small crane on one feet.

By now my daughter were in tears.  She just said, “Pa, we are not releasing them.  We are killing them.”

I stood there, crushing emotions welling up in my heart with a profound grief and guilt and I closed my eyes momentarily. I understood something she said.

I took the two birds out of the cage and placed them slowly and gently beside a bush on the bridge. I doubted these two sparrows would ever see another sun rise again.

I stomped hard on the rattan cage, crushed it and took it to a rubbish dump nearby.

“We are not going to do this, ever again.  Let us go home, girl,” I said sotto voce to my daughter.

My Excellency’s Birthday


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My Excellency & my eldest daughter

My Excellency was going to turn 40.  She and the 3 children had just flown in to Cambodia for a 3 week vacation and we were going to celebrate her birthday in Phnom Penh, the place where I was working for the past two years.

It was high time that she had to find some relief, after all the two years of parenting the 3 children, looking after my parents and carrying on the burdens of a family alone.  She was as tough as nail and she could organize things orderly, though often times amidst some screaming and a strict code of orders-to-march for the children in terms of school work, extra-mural activities, going out on late nights and the allocation of leisure time.  Behind her back they would call her Tiger Mom but it was just a childish label with no malice.

Anyway this would be a great treat for the whole family.

So I asked my secretary to arrange a birthday cake for her with 4 candles.  My secretary was to bring the cake to the villa where I lived and we would sing her a Happy Birthday song and she could then preen her plumage of feathers like a peacock fanning out her beautiful iridescent green and blue colored tail fins with a hundred eyes, basking in full glory in front of her husband and the 3 children.

After a hearty sumptuous dinner at the 5-star Cambodiana Hotel near the Tonle Sap lake, we went back to our villa on the occasion for her to declare that she had grown older and (hopefully) wiser by another year.  Lo and behold and to my horror, there were 4 candles but they were each 10 inches long, not the usual 2 inches one that I had expected for a round birthday cake of only 9 inches in diameter.

I was usually very cautious living my days in Phnom Penh, a country that had just seen a free election by the UNTAC, a country that had just emerged from many depleting civil wars of many decades, a country strewn with land mines and a country where guns were everywhere.  I always checked for small details and was always on high alert though I was not highly strung on unnecessary worries or tension.  I seldom assumed, as some hot-shot management gurus had said that to ASSUME was to make an ASS of U & ME.  But I missed on this one.

Then on second thought, I could not lay blame on my secretary.  She had not been to anywhere outside of Phnom Penh perhaps and celebrating a birthday with a cake was alien to most Khmers at that time.  Since coming to Phnom Penh, I too had learned that it was not wise to “Think out of the box”, as some management gurus had propounded in the courses I had attended.  Think and think inside the box would have served me better.

With mouth agape, I showed the 4 big candles to My Excellency and the children and held up the big sticks in my fingers as if I was going to grace the momentous event of lighting the torch on the fire cauldron of the Great Stadium at the commencement of an Olympic Game.

As I placed the candles on the cake and lit it, they laughed and laughed and laughed.

And as we sang her the birthday song, the Heavens above opened up, angels sang in sweet mellifluous chorus accompanied by the soft twang of a lone Harp and the cymbals in unison and the enchanting melody was carried in undulating tunes far above the heavenly skies and far below the motherly earth.

When the whole family laughed together, the heavenly angels would smile and laugh too.

My Excellency’s Fore-Sight


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I was minding our jade shop one day when a good looking young man walked in, grasping for breadth and looking harassed.  He addressed me by my name.  He explained that he just came in from the airport and his wallet was picked.  Now he owed the taxi driver $80.  He had contacted his brother and he would be coming in an hour’s time.   Could I lend him the money first to pay his cab fare and he would pay me back later?

Sure, No Problem.

The problem was he never turn up but My Excellency came in.

She poured forth her great wisdom of hind-sight and droned at my eardrums until it almost fell off.

Score 1: “I am not against charity but it is stupid to be conned.”

Score 2: “You should go down and pay the cab fare yourself to see whether he is genuine.”

Score 3: “Think! Why doesn’t he take the taxi home directly instead of coming here to wait for his brother.”

Score 4: “He addressed you by your name and you think he is genuine.  Everybody around here knows you.”

Score 5: “Why don’t you ask him to leave his bag behind?” (Eerr..  Such wisdom, if his bag contained No 4 White I would be dead, No 4 being pure uncut heroin from the Golden Triangle).

Score 6: “If he wants money then at least you should sight his identification.”

And so on and so forth………

I just shrugged my shoulders, clasped my thumb in between the palm of my right hand, stuck out my 4 fingers and raised it to my fore-head.  This was my own way of telling her that she had indeed great Fore-Sight or Four-Fingers on the Fore-head when she came out with such flash-in-the-pan wisdom.

Now sometimes I rather erred and be conned of some money (which amount is within my means) than to leave this poor man strangled.

By the way, My Excellency is my wife of over 30 years.  When she is angry I would address her as My Excellency, when she is very angry I will bow to her at almost right angle like some rogue Sir Walter Raleigh, the El Dorado Knight of QE 1, and intone the salutation of Her Royal Highness and when she is very very angry I will pinch my trousers at my thigh level with my two hands, cross my legs, bow with exaggerated fanfare, do a Nancy-boy curtsy and ………..….

…and is time to do a David Copperfield and disappear.

(Note: this is a revision on one of my previous post and it comes under the appropriate category)


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