1 Oct 2004
Life's been moving on and lately, the weather's rainy at night. I live near the forest research (heck when I open the back door I'm in the woods) and after it rains, I always go to my gate and look down the straight road. The yellow street lights shining on the heavy mists and the cold, wet air...it gives a feeling of sentimentality and sadness and ...some mystical, fantasy-land-ish atmosphere.
At night(s) like this, I remember a girl, whom I once knew...more than 10 years ago. I will not give you her name, but I will call her Sandy. When I was 7, my family moved to a condominium unit in Ampang. There, kids my age mixed around and yelled and played, the hooligans we were. Sandy was kind of a ringleader for us girls, because she's so much older. 4 or 5 years older than me, if I recall correctly. We set out secret all-girls' club, in the attic of the apartments and when our hideout was busted, she moved us to a space next to someone's penthouse. But she rarely came out to play. Her...dad's mistress prefer only 2 or 3 of us to play in her room.
Sandy was the object of our envy. She's pretty, she seemed to always have cash handy, she wears her green private school uniform, her English was impecabble, she swims well, she had many many Barbie dolls and a colourful radio sitting on top of her dresser...the list goes on. She seemed so worldly, so sophisticated and so knowledgable then.
And then I remember a night when it was raining heavily with thunderstorm and she asked me to keep her company; she's alone at night, not that it wasn't a usual occurance. I got scared of the thunder, and she said in a soothing voice "Are you scared? Don't worry, me too. But I teach you something...next time, when you got scared, turn on your radio...I'm always lonely. When you turn on your radio, with the noise, you're not lonely anymore." She turned on her cute, colourful radio.
A girl in her early teens taught me that.
And then it all came back to me. Sandy's life wasn't dandy. She saw her parents' divorce and her separation with her sister. Her mother lives in East Malaysia with her sister, she lives in KL with her father and her father's mistress (Aunty Jenny), who's a pub's GRO. Her father's infamous in our apartments for his late nights. She had photos of her mom and sister in her room. She kisses her sister's photos sometimes. She eats pizza for lunch and dinner many days a week. She is largely ignored by her father and Aunty Jenny, yet she is afraid of Aunty Jenny's loud and sharp tongue. Many fights ensue in the house she call home. I've seen myself how she crouched at the foyer of the apartments, sobbing her heart out. But I was just a kid. I didn't understand. My mom told me Aunty Jenny didn't like us mixing with Sandy. Aunty Jenny didn't like Sandy playing with us. We're too noisy.
But now I know, or at least, partly understand the bitterness, the anger, the unfairness and the lonliness of her life. How truly terrible she must've felt going through all that. At the apex of her drama, Aunty Jenny told Sandy's father to make a choice: Whom will you have in this house? Me or your daughter?
He chose Aunty Jenny.
Sandy was sent packing and to her mother in East Malaysia. All in the middle of the school year, through her sobbing and her saying nobody wanted her. Witnessing how Aunty Jenny flings out all her Barbie dolls collection like garbage. How her departure was so abrupt we didn't even say goodbye.
I've seen her only once after that. She's a changed girl.
Sandy is no angel. She's only an ordinary girl with flaws. But when people tell me I'm resillient, I sometimes remember Sandy and shake my head. No. You're wrong. Sandy is the strong one. Life is so messed up for her, but she's have her wisdom even in her early teens.
Now she must be a young woman in her early 20s. Sandy, I dunno if you remember me...but I wish you well. Life had given hardships to you and I pray, now that you're able to make your own life decisions, you can have the life of your choosing, not tossed around by adults just because they fancy so. Now that I'm old enough to understand...I respect you, Sandy.