Only you will love you best.

Will Smith said a very profound thing that got me assessing my whole involuntary lifestyle change. “When Jada and I first got together, we thought we had to merge and become one. Only now I’ve realized that we aren’t supposed to be one. We are two different people with two different path”. This strongly correlates with my upbringing, all the sermons I used to hear at my weekly prayers; “in the end, we leave this world the way we came; alone” hmmm wonder if it applies to twins too.

Anyway, it took a good four decades for me to realise that in the end nothing really matters.

My involuntary lifestyle change began halfway through my mid thirties. I had slowly moved away from being surrounded by people not related to me, towards my family.

Once in my forties it came to an abrupt end. Being unemployed meant I had to put in extra effort for friendship time, or girls time or whatever it is called.

I believed I was doomed because everywhere I looked, every article I read, kept pounding the importance of ladies to stick together. About girl power and how these girlies friendship would be my saving grace when I’m old and alone. How important it is to have an outlet other than the family circle. A sisterhood group.

So I tried striking up new friendship with people like me; with young children, but that didn’t last. See people like me have a lot going on and trying to plan for child free meet up was close to impossible.

Instead of breathing hard into a paper bag at my failure living up to this ideology, I’ve grown accustomed to getting to know me better.

I’m able sit alone in a crowded restaurant. I don’t need a phone or a book to distract me from the fact I’m alone. I just sit and enjoy my time here.

At times, I’m bound to come across young girl, holding an empty seat across her for a friend that’s on her way and later pretending to be disappointed over a phone call because her mate could not join her for lunch. Why? Because this was a better than giving away the fact that she’s eating alone. I was that young girl not too long ago.

With age comes wisdom and liberation not to give shit. When I started caring less about what people thought about me, I began to love being with me more. I became my best company.

I might regret this involuntary lifestyle once my girls won’t need me anymore. But by then I’m pretty sure I’d find lonely ladies just like me to connect with. In the meantime I’ll just go with the flow and learn to love myself more so when I’m ready to allow a stranger in, I’d be able to introduce her to a loveable me.

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Always

“Mama, will you always be with us?” asked my five year old in her sleep.

Always…

I’ll be here for you as long as always is by my side.

Always…

I’ll hug you and tickle you to bed for as long as I can.

Always…

I’d kiss you and let you sleep on my extended left arm; your favourite position, for as long as it takes for you to fall asleep.

Always…

I’d get you ready for school the way you like it; whilst still in bed, under the warm cosy blanket and your arms wrapped around my neck.

Always…

I’d spoil you as much as I can but say my piece when I have to.

I promise to do it always as long as always is with us.

A beautiful encounter

My husband always puts me in charge when things go wrong with our reservation or if we needed to get a good bargain. I have a knack for finding ways to right a wrong and get a bonus out of the situation. My tag line, “it was rightfully mine.”

En route to pick my mom up, I had a beautiful encounter with a simple man, with seemingly simpler needs. Whilst trying to climb up a step, he stumbled and fell. I raced towards him to help him up. He gently refused but seeing that I wasn’t going to leave him alone, he passed his shoulder bag to me, while he tried to steady himself and slowly take that step.

“It’s not a big deal, I’ve fallen so many times that I’m used to it”, he said as we slowly walked towards the local health clinic, a pace too slow for me but I wasn’t in a hurry. As we reached another step, I extended my hands but he just smiled and began telling me about his weak legs and how no medicine can cure him. Yet, he visits  many clinic each month to find medicine that will ease his pain.

It was a slow and painful walk for him. He just endured and spoke softly about his legs. He wasn’t complaining, he was just telling me about it.

As I was wondering why he didn’t park his car inside the clinic, he began telling me how he tried to park his car at the designated handicapped parking but was denied because he didn’t have a handicapped parking person sticker on his car. He never bothered to get it because the parking attendance at his previous clinic knew him and always allowed him to park inside.

I was so ready to give the guard at my mom’s local clinic a piece of my mind and relate to him how his wrong doing had caused this man to fall but before I could speak my thoughts, he smiled and said, “it wasn’t the guard’s fault, because I am new here and I should have had an OKU sticker on my car” He even smiled at the guard as we passed him. I looked back and caught him looking at the old man with some degree of concern. Perhaps he must have been regretting his action.

It’s my right! These words came ringing in my head because if it was me in his situation, I would have bitten the guard’s head off for not letting me park at the handicap parking bay, which was empty by the way. But not this old man. He just walked past the guard and sat quietly on a bench with his hands clasped together forming a diamond. He had his eyes shut as I walked on to my mom’s waiting room.

After helping my mom collect her monthly medication, I related the story to her and she too felt the guard was wrong. But as we walked past the man, whom was still sitting in the same way he was when I last saw him, all anger we felt for the guard vanished.

This reminded me of a phrase I know too well but hardly practice; be the lotus flower growing in a muddy pond. So beautiful and pure it grows, unaffected by the mud around it.

I never let things go. I react too fast because I get affected too easily. The old man had all the right reasons to pick a fight and demand that he was allowed to park inside the clinic area, but he didn’t. He just sat there, with his hands clasped in a diamond form, silently and patiently for his turn to see the doctor.

Despite sitting right in front of the vacant handicapped parking, he didn’t show any signs of anger festering in him. He was the lotus flower at this overly crowded health clinic. He was unaffected and didn’t let the surrounding affect him. He just was being him.

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Chicknappers

After a wonderful Chinese New Year reunion dinner and the massive clean up afterwards, we rewarded ourselves with a retreat in the woods. Just an hour’s drive from home to Sungai Congkak, Kajang. I rephrase; an hour without the KL notorious traffic. It was a risk worth taking because of the bank holidays and weekend all nicely lined up, making sure many of the city dwellers would have seized this opportunity to travel outstation.

I have never seen KL roads or city this deserted. When we arrived at our destination, even that wasn’t crowded.

We found a nice snugly spot underneath some bushy trees which gave just the right amount of shade from the bright morning sun and just a couple feet away from the stream.

The stream was calm and shallow. It’s flowing water, gently smacking against big boulders in its way, emitted a nice lullaby for a power nap. Ahhh, the comfort of an uninterrupted nap for an overly worked stay-at-home-mom was just minutes away.

All I had to do was get everyone excited to jump in the stream for a splash with their godmother. For once, I was able to just shut my eyes and listen to the surrounding without anyone forcibly opening my eyelids or whispering into my ears “are you up mom?”, like an alarm clock. 

It didn’t matter I had to lay down on a thin sheet instead of my nice comfy bed. It was simply amazing soaking up the surrounding. I just let myself go, to be part of my surrounding with no fear or an iota of doubt, of my children’s safety.


I heard five different types of bird chirping, the buzzing of insects and the laughter of children, playing in the stream. But all this except for the laughter disappeared once I opened my eyes. I shut my eyes again and heard more new sound’s of nature. 

It was such an amazing experience. I did so little but that bit of doing nothing and being in a place where nothing mattered, was wonderful. There was no clock to beat or task to be achieved. It was just me learning to let go, chill and relax. 

I was in such a zen mood, even during our drive back home. There was not a single complaint heard from the back of my car. Everyone seemed contended having spent such a lovely time at the stream.

I was too mellow and all zened up to think that my kids were up to something when they were awfully quiet on my drive back from the picnic at the stream.

With kids, I have learned one thing, when they’re awfully quiet, they’re up to no good.

Everything was fine right up to the point when we arrived at my friend’s house. 

All Zen instantly flushed out of me when I saw my girls holding a chick in the back seat. They had kidnapped a chick from a free range hen at the stream. They wanted to keep it as a pet and dared not ask me because they knew I would have disapproved. 

They were damn right about that! I mean seriously, raising a chick in an urban area? Is that even possible?! My face must have been so crossed, I’ve seen me when I’m not happy and it ain’t pretty, my tween loosened her grip and the chick jumped straight into a monsoon drain. That just made matters worse. 

Luckily it was reunited with its mother, unharmed, but my girls got labelled as chicknappers. A deserving nickname after all the trouble they put their godparents through in reuniting the chick with its mother. 

Another beautiful lesson learned in my crappy parenting chronicles, don’t lose your top because nothing good comes from it. It will only make matters worse.

What I should have done was mask my face and kept it devoid of any emotions, especially signs of anger and disappointment. 

Perhaps my tween would have handed the chick over and a good discussion with them could have spared us the need to climb down to the drain and rescuing the extremely stressed chick.

After analysing my own failure, failures would be a more accurate terminology for a repeat offender, I’m worried sick because my coping mechanism aren’t working well. They definitely aren’t in sync with good parenting. I’m struggling already with the challenges these little brats bring abreast, how would I react when they screw up big time. 

Do they trust me enough to confide in me? I really do hope so and want them to come to me or my husband (whom by the way seems to be doing pretty good at this parenting stuff) if they ever get into any trouble. Would they come to me for advice? 

Would I want to speak to me? Looking in the mirror, I’m leaning towards a most probably not. So I better learn to let go and chill a little more.

How do you do it? How do you keep your calm and don’t go ballistic when they start pushing all your buttons, not one at a time, but altogether, at once?

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Ferocious

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Bahadur translates to Brave. That’s what we call our pet dog. He has been with us for over 4 years. He was just a little pup, over 3 weeks old when we rescued him.

Today, he rescued us after ferociously fighting with a cobra. For an hour he kept the snake from entering the house or leaving the car porch. Most cobras are shy and would usually run and hide when people are around but not this slithering reptile.

It just stood there, holding its ground with its expanded hood, hissing each time Bahadur got close.

It was the longest hour waiting for the animal control to arrive. We didn’t want the snake dead nor did we want it to slither away to another compound. We were lucky we had Bahadur who alerted us of its presence but not everyone in my neighbourhood have pet dogs.

Things were quite calm for the first hour because the cobra seemed quite contended with its hiding place, under my car. We managed to convince Bahadur to enter the house for some water.

As Bahadur let down his guard, the snake too relaxed and closed its extended hood. It lay flat on the ground for 10 minutes. But soon it was moving again, slithering towards to my neighbour’s compound. As soon as it moved, Bahadur jumped out of my embrace and pounced on it. That’s when things got really dramatic.

It was no longer like a territorial fight but a battle of life and death. By this time, I could no longer wait for the animal control to come and rescue it, I was worried for Bahadur’s safety. I begged him to let the snake go, because it was ready to leave but nothing I said was getting through to him.

The hissing, growling and barking kept getting louder. Soon my wailing toddler and my husband stepping out, just added more fear to my nerves. I was scared for both for my husband and Bahadur. I didn’t know why my husband went out. He was either trying to get Bahadur to come in or he was nuts trying to help Bahadur get that snake while Bahadur was trying to harm the snake and the snake (petrified I’m sure) was ready to strike anything to save its skin.

This went on for just a couple of minutes but it seemed like lifetime to me. I stepped out to do something, I was compelled to do something but I didn’t know what. “If you want to do something, you could take a video of Bahadur fighting it” my husband said to me calmly. I wasn’t calm the least bit but I did as he said.

Only after Bahadur managed to grab the cobra by its tail and flung it over my gate did I calm down. It was a sight to behold. He was like a lion, on his hind legs when he flung the cobra over. He was as quick as lightening and the cobra didn’t get a chance to sting him with its venomous bite.

“Did you see that?! Thank god you recorded it” he cheered as he grabbed his handphone from me. Little did we know then, in that moment of frantic I was too panicky and had forgotten to swipe to record mode. So it was lots of blurry pictures of Bahadur and my garden.

Now we had an injured cobra hiding in my flower pot, right outside my house. All I wanted to do was run into my house and lock all doors and windows. Instead I was put in charge of guarding it because the animal control wanted to capture it. I adhered because I knew they were just minutes way from my house and also I was worried it might return to seek vengeance on Bahadur. (do animals even do that?)

Amazingly, the cobra didn’t move much, it just kept its head under a large leaf but the rest of its black shining body sticked out like a sore thumb against my green plant. It was such a relief to see the animal control over and taking control of the situation. They were rather disappointed to see that it was just a baby cobra. I guess I might have exaggerated some details in my frantic call to them. You can’t blame me, I’m a mother and I would do anything it takes to care for my babies.

Now Bahadur has become my kids personal guard. They take him everywhere to sniff out any lurking dangers. He doesn’t looked amused at all but I know, he loves the girls and doesn’t mind it. At least he gets the bonus of watching the tele with them.

My brave Bahadur. I’m so glad we picked the right name for you. Who would have thought this little fuzzy fur ball would have one day turn into a ferocious lion.

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This post was nominated as one of the top three articles.


Knowing and doing are two different things

A boy, the age of my second daughter,

with the same sparkle in his eyes, the same laugh, the same smile,

sat next to me on the train.

He was loud and so friendly.

He wasn’t lost nor was he a beggar.

But he was alone, in the train and perhaps in this world.

Not a care in the world but with that smile and laugh.

 

My husband shared how he met a young boy, who looked and behaved exactly like my daughter, on his way to work. At a time when most children are already in school or on their way to school but this boy wasn’t going to school. He was just where he wanted to be, on a train.

We always thought, we would know how to handle such situation. How we would talk and iron things out if we ever came across a lonely child but in reality it is much harder to do.

This boy, although clearly looked and fit the profile of a homeless person was simply different. He just wanted to talk. He was heading some where. He didn’t want cash, he just wanted to talk. He was eager to talk to all the passengers on the train. He wasn’t rude, he was just excited. He wanted to share his story.

Many ignored him. Steered away from him because he smelled and he was dirty. The boy found an empty seat next to my husband and sat there, but he asked permission before sitting.

My husband described to me what happened in that 10 minutes. How the boy spoke in Hindi to my husband, thinking that he would understand, because technically my husband should have but unfortunately that’s one language he did not pick up whilst growing up. So much of what the boy said didn’t make sense to him. But he listened and from the boy’s gestures and enthusiasm, he knew the boy wasn’t talking about his troubles. He was just excited to share his story with someone. Like how my kids share their stories because every little detail in a child’s life is very important.

But he forgot to do what we always thought we would do in such situation. He forgot to ask the boy where was he going, why did he look like he hadn’t showered for a couple of days, if he needed some cash or if he needed to call someone? But all that did not cross his mind as he watched the boy talking and when his stop arrived, he just got up and left, like he has been doing for so long.

He only realised all that he had not done and should have done, only after he sat down for breakfast. Feeling so awful and playing the whole scene over and over in his head, thinking how or what he should have done differently. How he should have handed out his jacket to the boy because he looked so cold in the train, how he should have given him some cash even if the boy didn’t ask for any or how he should have hugged the boy though he did not have the guts to do it when he felt like because he looked so much like our daughter. So many regrets and an opportunity gone to show the boy and many on the train how one must treat a child, no matter how or what the child may be like.

But what was even more sad was the way, no one in the train wanted to look at him. Not wanting to make eye contact with him so that they would have had to deal with him.

That got me sad and thinking, if ever my child is lost and gets filthy or dirt on her clothes and starts smelling, no one would want to help her. No one would offer to ask her if she was alright. Everyone, even those who think they would have, might just forget to do the right thing at the right time.

Blessed are those souls who are able to respond in real time and handle such situation so accurately. They are definitely made up of something so special. Ingredients and compositions that gives them the ability to react so differently than most you and I.

I am compassionate but I am judgmental too, a little too judgmental. Sitting in the comfort of my house it was easy for me to tell my husband, I think he should have done this and that but would I have done the right thing if it was me on that train? I don’t know what is right or wrong but I do know, ignoring a child who wanted to speak is so wrong.

Hypothetically speaking I would have aced this situation but in real time, with so many others reacting in a certain way, would I have reacted differently;

Would I have had the guts to embrace him, skip work and travel with him to where he wanted to be?

Would I have actually said “sorry boss, can’t come to work today because I have a lost boy who needs me more”?

Would I have dared enter a restaurant with all eyes on us and sat there eating together?

Would I dare follow him to wherever he needed to go and see whom he was meeting?

What would you have done?

Remember, thinking that you know what to do and to actually be doing it are two different things.

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The curse of a razor

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Hair, is a natural thing. It’s visible from birth and grows as we age but somehow along the way, it became an unsightly part of a woman’s body (because hair on men is totally acceptable). We rid ourselves of it so we can fit in with what is deemed acceptable way to showcase one’s body. We keep trimming, shaving and waxing this hair over and over again, as it tirelessly keeps growing back, darker and ticker than before with no end to this vicious cycle.

Have you every noticed a child with shaved or waxed legs? I have not and society seems perfectly fine with that. So why this need to point out or react when a teenager or an adult with hair on her body comes within your visibility range? (particularly hair on underarms, legs and bikini line). Like a skilled sniper hired to take out the enemy, gross remarks are hurled at that woman to cause nothing but pain.

I was never hairy and the natural unshorn hair hardly posed any discomfort to my body or the way I dressed. Yet, I stripped myself of it because I was wooed by glossy magazines, showing off models with hairless bodies that gleamed. I was proud of the shinny coat that revealed itself after waxing. It was everything the magazine had promised. But a fool I was and my attempt at forever owning hairless and shinny legs were foiled.

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The magazines only shared half the truth (so fools like me would buy everything they sold) and decided to omit the after effects of hair removal. It didn’t say I would have to deal with the itch, barb wire like stubbles, dry skin, ingrown hair that would leave my skin all spotty and worst of all, the reemergence of darker, thicker, longer and curlier hair! (I need a paper bag, I’m hyperventilating)

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No magazine mentioned the need to keep removing hair. Or that I’d be spending tons of money, buying after hair removal products. It not once mentioned the curse of the razor; once touched, forever attached.

Heed my words and don’t fall prey to this gimmick. Nothing lasts forever, especially stuff from glossy magazines.

The other reality to this situation, if you decide to stay true and natural (with hair on you body), isn’t a pretty one either. People will mock your choice, gawk at you hairy body and some may even give you free advice on how to appropriately dress a hairy body .

It requires you to be a strong person to stay real. But over time you’ll realise, it’s just a phase; the initial shock of seeing non conformity to the general society, and it will pass. It will be forgotten once they get over the shock and get to know your beautiful persona. Some may even admire you because of your confidence. Just some. But many would keep mocking you because they know, it’s not something they could ever do, no matter how inconvenienced they are with keeping up with the Joneses. 

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The meaning of fatherhood

Yeay! Another celebration which means another day I don’t need to cook. I have been cashing out on these celebration as an excuse to not cook and eat out. Ahhh….the joys of eating out; no cleaning and washing to worry about.

It’s father’s day today, so my girlfriend and I decided to treat our big boys. We started off the day with some swim wear shopping, technically this was more for us for our upcoming beach trip but a little (2 hours long!) detour never hurts anyone, right? Bit we made sure we rewarded them well for their patience and support in picking up the right one; an early scrumptious dinner with the kids.

It was definitely a day spent well.

So what’s the big deal with this day or any day is usually the discussion on such days. We aren’t cynical. It was just a healthy debate.

So the topic ‘How fatherhood has changed you’ came up and some very interesting issues were discussed because my husband had written and shared some clever points with efy.com (an online magazine) Here are some of the points that were originally written for an  online magazine:

Q: How fatherhood has changed you as a person?

A: Well, for one, I’ve sort of become my own dad. I’ve started to be more responsible about how I handle myself as a person, no more slacking about and certainly no more taking things for granted. Why? It became naturally obvious that I’ve got to respect myself before the persons I love the most would respect me as one of the 2 adults in their lives. This was a gradual change but still a change that I can see for myself.

The second change, which was hard for me to admit, is that I’m far lesser of a misogynist than before being a father of 3 girls, or hopefully not one anymore. I’ve always thought myself to be a bit of a fair person with the fairer sex but it wasn’t fully true. I would be lying to myself if I never thought that I was better than the girls in my class or the women in my workplace. But having 3 girls as my beautiful daughters have taught me about how strong they are spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

My wife and I have made it a conscious decision to ensure that our 3 girls will never feel as if they are weaker than the boys in the lives. The fact that they play a male dominant sport like football is a testament to that.

Q: What were the most challenging times of fatherhood while your child was growing up?

A: Initially, coming from a society that celebrates the male offspring more than the females, I found it extremely irritating or even angered when reacting to consoling relatives or the odd elder at our prayer grounds. “2 girls? Oh, hopefully the next will be a better result.”
But closer to home, my biggest challenge as a parent is to check my temper when dealing with my kids’ tantrums. Patience is a virtue and you learn a lot of that being a parent.

We wanted to bring our girls up as strong willed and vocal ladies, brave and confident. But we also wanted to make sure we don’t neglect discipling them, about following through with their commitments, about being fair, about not taking things in life for granted. It’s a fine balance, and I tend to raise my voice a lot. Being a calm and respectful father can be very challenging for me.

Q: Describe the joys of fatherhood

A: The biggest joy is seeing my child realize, bit by bit, on what’s important to them, and that they need to grow up being passionate about the important things. My most vivid memory about this is seeing my eldest save her whole lunch (she didn’t touch a single bit) in a fast food restaurant so that she could share the food with some children beggars (which she’s never seen in her life) outside the restaurant. She sincerely cared for them and begged to buy more food for them.

The other joy is seeing them growing up showing the characteristics that we had wanted them to have since there were born. Brave. Opinionated. Caring. Sincere.

Happy father’s day!

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Beautiful boy – David Sheff

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This isn’t a typical self-help book for addicts and families dealing with addiction. It’s an honest account of a father’s journey through his son’s addiction to drug abuse.

You’d feel as though you are in David’s living room as he takes you through the ordeal he endured for almost a decade trying to heal his son. He expresses his emotions that would have you guessing what you’d do if this ever happened to me.

David first discovered of his son’s (Nic Sheff) addiction at the age of 12 but it was brushed off as nothing more than an innocent mistake due to his son’s curiosity. Time and time again, David is alerted of his son’s drug abuse but David was certain it was just a phase which all teenagers go through. After all, David himself had smoked a joint or two from university.

I personally had a lot of a-ha moments reading this book. Firstly it never occurred to me to see drug addiction or alcoholism as a disease mainly because it is self inflicted and self destructive.

Secondly it is a lonely battle as addicts and their family members fear of being shunned by the community for drug addiction only spells trouble and no one wants to have a troublemaker living in the same neighbourhood.
There is no support received unlike those with cancer or other terminal diseases and treatment centres are scarce. If treatment is found, it comes with a hefty price and an extremely low probability of success.

What makes this book compelling to me is that it’s real, talking about real problems and mistakes made. I would recommend this book to every parent and child. For parents to know what to expect and for children to know how powerfully destructive this drug abuse is to an addict.

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The Soundtracks to our lives

by Jagdesh

The CD amazingly didn’t look like it was stashed away for a good half a decade ago. The filament of dust was easily cast aside with a simple blow of my breadth. I smiled because I just knew there were some memories waiting to be unlocked by playing anyone of the 15 tracks on it. It was one of those compilations CD, adorned with classic soundtrack theme music from some of the movies I grew up with. Some of these movies were even before I was an appreciating movie aficionado, or so I would like to think of myself rather unashamedly.

I was a bit of a weird teenager growing up, because my taste for music was completely formed around my imaginations of being the small bit roles in the movies I devoured through countless videotapes we had in the 80s. Mind you, for the uninitiated and young, videotapes were rented from rental stores in Malaysia mushroomed in all towns across the country. It was a completely affordable pastime, especially for the middle class wage earners with families growing in small towns. And because it was so cheap, the videotapes were also very easily accessible, and easily played repeatedly at home, at your own leisure. That’s when my imaginations would leap into the world created by the movie makers, the directors, the actors, the animations, and most importantly, the soundtracks.

These soundtracks were played on my walkman (go google what this was in the 80s) as life went on, and as I grew through the throngs of puberty, puppy love, crushes and embarrassing moments of trying to be that weird sidekick of the hero of the movies that I loved. I figured I wasn’t good looking or athletic enough to be the hero, but I could be that rather intelligent shy nerdy best friend who meant the best for his hero friend and who helped him out get the girl. The one that the hero usually saves from being bullied in the beginning of the movie. It was rather awkward because these soundtracks played in my mind as I role played whatever my imagination conjured up to make up the almost multiple personalities I had as a teenager. Imagine playing the March of the Imperial in your head as you walked across the hallway passing by that girl you had a crush on to maintain that ungeeky look for her. Can’t be suave or handsome, just be normal and not disgustingly idiotic. Yes, that was the right soundtrack to cool the nerves down.

I never grew out of this habit of playing internal music in my mind while I experienced every bit that life to offer as I grew up to be the man I am today. It was my own secret, it was something that I was ashamed to share with those close to me, but it was something I was a bit proud of to call my own all by myself.

This CD that suddenly popped up back into my life had a few melodic themes that fit quite nicely into my life soundtrack about 5 years back.

My other better half and I had decided rather unsurely to become a single income family, the 2 girls were at the age that would perhaps gain some attention from their mother as they maneuver through primary school. And both the girls were also getting ready to welcome another addition to the family in just a handful of months later. It was a big decision to make and the uncertainty of how our lifestyles, individually and collectively as a family, would change was getting heavy on my shoulders. My darling wife resisted this decision sternly when it was mooted, but she never outwardly insisted that we would be doomed from the get go. She understood it, didn’t agree with it wholeheartedly, but decided give it a go, seeing that we were already struggling with the few caretakers we had to watch over the girls. She loved her teaching job and leaving it was the scariest thing she ever did. I knew this and the weight on my shoulders grew heavier just seeing her trying to dignify our decision as a partnership. No outbursts, just silent and strong willingness to make it work.

There was this wistful sad rendition on the CD, from a love story I’m sure, about torn lovers and their passion through the sands of time. It had the sort of flashback feeling whenever a movie wants to flesh out the history behind the story. And it played out rather fittingly into a scene I imagined myself, of me 10 or 15 years older, all grey and creaky, and well rather cranky. In the scene, I’m sat with my three adult daughters, they are laughing among themselves unashamedly displaying their love and affection for each other, no more squabbling young girls. I’m there rather relaxed, in a reminiscing mood, as the wife is somewhere in the background, perhaps cooking a feast or writing her novel, and I’m reminded of the decision we made for her to be a stay-at-home mother. The soundtrack weaves it’s way into this scene, and it tugs at the heart strings of a time where my shoulders don’t seem as heavy as they were. This was the soundtrack of that chapter in my life at that point. That point where life was changing rather drastically but never catching us off guard. And that’s how I remembered it when I played the CD very recently.

But, as if there was some cue in my head, a new memory came crashing in, completely overwhelming the memory of those heavy shoulders, like waves wiping out sand castles, wiping out the memory of hope that it would all turn out for the better. This newly registered memory was more precise. It was of a holiday we took, as a family with much lesser to spend from our monthly income. We could hardly afford it but we wanted to make the best of it. Borrowed apartment from a family friend, food at the stalls, the not so glamorous and not so clean beaches of Penang. And then a laughter came in, further adding another layer to the new memory. It was her laughter while doting over my two very young daughters, cleaning them and hugging them as they tried to run away from her playfully to the small waves on the beach. Mom’s voice was crystal clear as the memory took a firm grip and played itself out while I concentrated more,  while the same soundtrack weaved in and out of the imagery, the sounds, and the feeling of sand at my feet. The grip was strong, as I felt tiny droplets of warm tears at the sides of my eyes. It’s vividness was alarming for a few seconds, further making sense of the phrase ‘a blast from the past’. And so strong it was that the soundtrack that was playing now has become the soundtrack of this memory of Mom. The scene is of that holiday when she was there with us and I think it’ll be that soundtrack for a long time, for me to cherish a wonderful and pleasant time when Mom was with us all. The heavy shoulders I had then was so much more trivial than being there with her, hearing her laughter, and of her affection with my family. I can’t help but feel how apt this piece of music is to commemorate this very chapter in my life.

 

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