Monday, July 20, 2009


I have a big weakness. I take people for granted, especially those who are closest to me. Take my princess for example. I never told her what I should’ve always told her, treated her the way I always should’ve treated her, and that night when she walked out on me, I succumbed into the depressed state of guilt and remorse.

And I told myself, I need a chance. Just one more time, to let her know what I should’ve told her much earlier.

The first thing she should know was how I fell in love with her. Truth be said, she demonstrated what love at first sight really was about. Her hair wasn’t combed straight, swaying and dancing to the rhythm of her steps; her face wasn’t glowing with cherry blossom make-up or radiance powder; her dress was a plain blouse and a simple skirt. She was in a rush, preparing to worship lead that morning in church.

Then she smiled. And it was her smile – that smile – that captivated me, and will continue to captivate me down the years. I actually believed that her massive ball of hair, her simple dress and her plain face, like jigsaws to a big picture, completed her smile, immediately making her arguably the sweetest living being in this world. She wasn’t smiling at me, but I guess she saw me staring from a distance – probably jaw ajar – and she smiled back.

Her voice was one of an angel. Even if not for the smile, I knew I would be the happiest blind man around to fall in love with her. Church suddenly took on a whole different meaning. One that wouldn’t glorify God for sure, but one that made my life never the same again from that day onwards. That whole morning I knew I wasn’t concentrating. Her voice was ringing in my head as much as her smile kept replaying in the not-so-distance memory, much more attention given than what the morning’s sermon called for.

The secret here was that had she not tugged me by my hand after church as I walked in directions avoiding her, had she not run up to me to ask for my name – and still with that sweet smile carved across her face – I would’ve never have had the guts to get her number, invite her for lunch, pursue a friendship and eventually a relationship, with her. While it was her smile that captivated me and her voice that took my breath away, it was her - simply her - that unreservedly and uncontrollably attracted me.

I should’ve told her too, that the best food she ever introduced to me was nothing but the butter sugar sandwich. That fateful night I messed up while preparing a supper. She graciously took the loaf of bread from the table, helped herself to the fridge and shelf, and came back with a butter knife in one hand, sugar and butter in the other. What followed were her gentle strokes of the knife swelling with butter and sugar on the bread before wide-opened eyes across the table. And again, she smiled as she passed the bread to me.

“Try this! It’s my mother’s war-time recipe.” War-time? Sweet smile again. “I’m serious! She ate this during the war era.”

Even though I later found out that there simply was no butter during Japanese era – come think about it, how could you keep butter without electricity or a fridge? – but I still remember her preparing the bread, and on the many nights of studying alone late into the night, that simple sandwich reminded me of a girl waiting for me, anxiously yet patiently, for me to come back to her after saving the world.

If she ever returns and walks through the doors again, I swear I’ll tell her, that to call her a good wife is pure understatement. She’s the reason why I go home, she’s the only person I’d stop doing absolutely anything for – once I left a fully bloated blood pressure cuff on my patient’s hand, completely forgetting about it as I was busy replying her text – and she is the girl I fall in love with, over and over again.

That, I owe it to my morning experiences with her. She wakes me up with a peck on the forehead. I’d open my eyes to meet the most beautiful girl in my life, lying on top of me, just enough for me to see her face. Messy hair swirled and draped over her left shoulder, the gentle rays that sneaked through the curtains brightening her face, and her warm palms stroking my cheeks.

“How could I not fall in love with the way you look at me, little boy?”

In her eyes, I am forever her heart’s little boy. One morning I woke up with a terrible sinus problem that got me all restless and edgy. Shortly after lunch I was starting to throw a tantrum when she gently led me by the hand, walked to the bedroom and plopped me on the bed. The next thing I knew, she was already sitting with legs crossed, and rested my head in her lap.

“Why so restless little boy?” The gentle touch of her fingers, her angelic voice, that heart-stopping smile, the messy-lovely hair of hers flowing over both sides of her neck, those round sparkling eyes that I’d never take mine away at.

So how exactly would you tell her the many sights of children dying from diarrhea, or women dying from massive uterine bleeding due to rape, or soldiers dying from medical negligence? How could I tell her that after coming home and going back to work in hospital, every patient somehow reminded me of the victims of tyrannies and terrorism? How do I even tell her that every shrill and scream simply sounds no different from those in war zones?

But I should, at the very least, tell her that she’s my last comfort, rest and recluse. That while the many hours of prayer seemed to pull me further away from a faith I once believed in, while reality has left me delusioned with the promises of God and somehow succumbed to the fact that I simply wasn’t as strong as what I thought I was; all I had left, amid my defeat and struggles, was a girl that still could, and would, accept me for all that I was and wasn’t. All I wanted her to know, was only that I needed her to run away from the realities I couldn’t run away from.

When she broke the news to me about leaving and working in Price Waterhouse, I knew I blundered. I apologized. For all the promises I should’ve kept, for all that I promised her I’d be, for failing to be there for her the many times she needed me badly. She took my hand from across the table – the very same spot she buttered the bread years back – and with a painful smile, forgave me,

“It’s alright dear. You never made me many promises.”

So I sleep on the couch every night, just in case my princess comes home, I’d be ready to receive and welcome her. Something tells me that she’d be back. That faith and belief once again put me back to my knees. For a long time I’ve not begged God for another chance, and for an even longer time I’ve not asked for grace. Her absence torments me, but as some of her clothes still remain in my wardrobe, it is a gentle reminder that she’s still there. It gives me enough time to keep the house in order, and to put my life back in place, just so that she’ll know that I have been, and still am, waiting for her, the very girl who lovingly forgives me for most of promises broken, and graciously forgets the rest.


Michelle Lim Wen Ling said...

Hey Joash,love your story.Its worth reading.Very well written:-)

yiphing said...

thumbs up~
i love ure stories, always looking forward to u writing and posting. try posting more often! hehe.

Anonymous said...

Hi...did you actually make up these stories ?

Because it sounds quite convincing that you're currently experiencing it...

HeartzOfGold said...

it's all fiction. no worries. =D

61 said...

boss, r u sure it's fiction? =P

Born Of Grace said...

Each time you write of love, i think it's really sweet; bittersweet perhaps would be a better word. But it makes one just that little bit more appreciative about what makes life easier to live out; hope, love, faith. mm yup.

Alice said...

good post jo.. haha very nice story :)

Melody said...

man when i saw mian li, i got shocked... nothing to do with her right??

i dunno y but ur writing style reminds me a bit of elsha's