Tribolum.com Making Light of Things

Recently in For Her Category

13

We managed to sneak in a quiet dinner, before coming home to what was now THREE sick kids (up from one in the morning).

Happy anniversary, sweetest wife. There’s no one I’d rather have on the team. For better, for worse, till death.

Sand

My dearest Faith,

It has been some time since I’ve written to you here.

It continues to amaze me - how beautiful you are - when I look at you. Where we once beamed with the vitality of youth, there are now faint wrinkles and lines that chart the passing of time; and where I once marveled at how God could craft your face in such a manner that it attracted my heart so much, I now look upon his handiwork through the additional lens of experiences shared. I remember, you and I, such naive youths who had chosen to spend our lives together.

And by the grace of God here we are. We’ve braved so many sleepless nights together, cleaning soiled bed covers, sponging down fevers, or just being there because of our children’s need to snuggle. We often talk about how we await the day when we would have time together, like we once did when we were dating, and how we’d spend that time wishing we had our babies with us.

Time is flitting by so quickly, and the shadow of the inevitable makes us treasure the moments even more. I am so thankful to have known you, loved you and be loved by you. There’s this sense of helplessness as time slips out of our hands. I write on this blog to slow its passing, but there is little any of us can do, except to be thankful for the moment.

I thank God so much for you and how your presence in my life speaks of His goodness to me. I’m blessed to have shared this small finite slice of time in the sunshine with you.

12

I haven’t been very good at celebrating milestones. Today is our 12th wedding anniversary.

Last year, after making reservations at a couple of restaurants, Faith and I decided to eat at our nearby hawker centre, much to the consternation of my sisters, who thought I should be putting in more effort.

The year before that, on our 10th anniversary, we skipped celebrating altogether because we were taking care of Joshie who was one week old at the time.

This year, I saw a promotion for lobster at $1 at The Boiler and thought I should do something nice for once. Not being able to keep secrets from Faith, I told her where we were going and what food to expect.

“Looking at the pictures on the website, there’s going to be crab, lobster, corn on the cob…”, I said to her as I checked out the menu online.

“Corn on the cob! Yum!”, came her response.

I don’t know if you guys have ever experienced it: the moment you know that you married the right person. This was one such moment for me.

12 year anniversary

Dearest Faith,

Our 23 years together have been marked by so many of these moments where I sit back and marvel at the beautiful person you are. The time you showed such grit when you shared a tandem bike with me and we made it up that steep hill; or when you understood and didn’t judge me for the frustrations I felt when my parenting skills didn’t cut it. You have filled our 12 years of marriage with so many of these amazing moments where I thank God profusely for joining our lives together as one.

As our children grow and slowly become more independent of us, I am thankful that I have you by my side as we walk this next stage of our family-life, taking a more active role in serving the young people in church whom God has blessed us with.

You remind me constantly of how good life is; and how Christ longs to come into fullness of this - this life together which fills our cup to overflowing - with His bride the Church.

May our lives and our service reflect the spiritual and heavenly reality. May He have the pre-eminence.

Love Language

My younger colleagues asked me over lunch, if I still knew how to 谈恋爱 (fall in love, or romance), being married and all. It’s such an innocent question, and probably one that we ought to ask ourselves more often.

“Of course,” I reply almost instinctively.

“Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?”

“Erm…no. It’s the most expensive day of the year.”

They summed up that I probably didn’t know what it meant to 谈恋爱.

My reply was glaringly pragmatic and held a grain of truth, but was incomplete.

In our 23 years together, we never felt the need to celebrate Valentine’s because there is so much joy in every single moment we have had together. While we do from time to time feel slight pangs of not receiving gifts from each other on special occasions, we have come to realise that it is time together that we treasure the most.

Time where we put aside everything else, and just lose ourselves in each other’s company, talking about small funny moments, or the beautiful span of years that have passed and the children that God has blessed us with. Our best moments are spent in gratitude for the gifts that God Himself has given, that money cannot buy.

Timelines

Dearest Faith,

Where have the years gone? The last decade has been a blur of diaper changing and washing milk bottles. It is easy to forget that we started out on this adventure together, you and I, and in all the hustle and bustle of activity, that we were called to remember that “in all things, He might have the preeminence” (Col 1:18).

It was so good to hold your hand tonight and recount the years in prayer and thanksgiving as we walked up and across Benjamin Sheares.

Do you know that I’ve had the privilege of being in love with you almost three quarters of my life? Blessed man that I am! There are times when I hold your hand and know there will come a day when one of our hands will be cold and vacated of the person that dwelt within. A wistful pang fills my heart at the thought, but even now I have received far more blessing than I deserve. We need so much to share this abundance with everyone around in the same manner Christ gave Himself for us; that our children might see His handiwork in us and know Him to be true.

I’m blessed to have walked so much of this journey with you by my side. The years are evident in the lines on our faces. Lines etched by countless moments of divine joy.

Every Chinese New Year I am most thankful for how much you love my family and how much they love you. I’ve never brought home any grades worth bragging, but you are the best thing I have ever brought home to my parents. No husband could be prouder.

I love you, wife of my youth. You are a living parable of Christ and His bride to me.

20150220-1.jpg

Help Meet

And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:18

As Faith cleared out the old mail, she looked at her old tax receipts, and a certain sadness came upon her. It has been almost a year since she stopped work to be with the children.

“Are you sad that you’re not working?” I asked.

“You know, if we had my old income, we wouldn’t have to worry so much about our finances, or we could feel less reluctant to go on overseas holidays, that sorta thing. And I feel bad that you have to work hard to support us all.”

We talk, and we both agree that the additional income would have come at great cost: the time spent with the children in their formative years and the opportunities to build lifelong bonds with them. We thank God that we have enough. Not so little that we live in constant frustration that we might murmur against Him, or so much that we would lose sight of the Giver.

My dearest Faith, I do not mind working hard for you or for the family. Not one bit. As I remember how it was when we first started out: how you married me, broke and unemployed; how you supported us while I tried to build — and failed — my little web design studio; how you came home from work each day, encouraged me, and believed in me, that I was working my tail off even though our bank account had nothing to show for it.

It is for these, and a million other reasons — each one a beautiful fragment of our lives as together — that make me want to work hard for you. It is because of how you love me that I choose to jump out of bed to tend to all our children, if only to buy you a good night’s sleep. I am reminded that I am truly blessed, that I may devote this earthly life to come into full realisation of the love of Christ for His church in our union.

It is my blessing to serve God alongside you.

11

My dearest Faith, my best friend, my beautiful wife.

Thank you so much for the past 11 years of marriage. It still feels like we’re still in our teens, holding hands and figuring God’s will for our lives together.

I don’t ever want to grow up. Let’s stay right here. Always.

The Better Part of Me

It is one of those seasons — where there is so much to do my head is spinning and the daily grind threatens, at any moment, to pull me under a current filled with fear, self-doubt and flat-out exhaustion. Yet here I am, 4 in the morning, unable to sleep as a thousand thoughts run like a sped-up loop in my head.

I get out of my futile attempt to sleep, because there is something deep inside that needs to be written; a thanksgiving that needs to be shared.

My workday — and I suspect many of yours out there — goes something like this: the first part of the day is spent laying tasks out, and then you get about your work, crushing the to-do list. You start to feel the immense weight of your in-tray at around 4pm, where your plan to “go home on time” faces inevitable vapourisation when pressed against the reality of deadlines. It is that moment where you take a deep breath and dig in, and if the road has been inordinately long, you find nothing. You’ve been running on fumes so long that there’s really nothing left but a dark and empty void at the pit of your stomach.

But this isn’t what I want to share. It is about the measure of grace — the light that Tolkien wrote about.

“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tower high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

My wife has been the bringer of God’s grace for me during this time. Just when things threaten to overwhelm me, my phone buzzes with a message from her. A short video of Joshi trying to haul his humongous behind in an attempt to stand; Caleb doing a hilarious interpretation of his sister’s Chinese Wushu sequence; Anne’s voice in the background, excited at whatever activity they were embarking on.

Faith, like many other homemakers, sometimes feels that she isn’t contributing as much as she could because she isn’t out there “earning money”. Those are such foolish thoughts, implanted into minds by an irrational and (dare I say it) demonic drive towards materialism. We have devalued the invaluable and traded in the priceless for the worthless. The little moments that Faith sends me — these moments of my children’s lives, can never be bought, redeemed or clawed back once they are gone.

I am so blessed that she is there for these moments, and that my children have their mother with them. She is the better extension of myself, the best part of me, and there is nothing greater I can provide for my children whom I love more than life itself.

Recollection

Dearest Faith,

It’s Valentine’s Day, and it has been our yearly tradition to ignore it. Flowers are waaaay overpriced, eating places are packed to the max and there’s this tinge of capitalism in every street corner. There are two things that we always have at home: love and chocolate. And both don’t need a special day on the calendar to be shared and enjoyed.

But I promised the bunch of Dads that I’d contribute to this synchronised expression of appreciation to our wives.

We have spent almost two thirds of our lives together. I need only close my eyes and remember the things God has brought us through, and I’m thankful that you have been a constant encouragement all these years.

You were there when I:

I thank God for you, my sweetest companion as we continually learn how to place Christ at the centre of all of life’s seasons and events. These days we remind each other that even if all this ended here and now, we have been recipients of a gift so infinitely more than we deserved.

My prayer for us both is that we be faithful to that which has been entrusted to us. For everyone who has been given much, much will be required. We have been given plenty, that we might serve all the more joyfully. I am truly blessed to have you by my side.

Bearing Fruit

“I want to do work!”

It was Caleb’s bedtime and I was pooped after a day’s work. Trying to get him to bed, but failing miserably. Anne was still up finishing her homework, and Caleb insisted on doing work as well.

Half suspecting that it was a ploy of his to get out of his room to play but too tired to outlast his persistence (he rolled around in bed three times before sitting up and protesting that he wanted to be doing work as well), I let the little boy out of bed.

I pulled myself up, went out and saw the two older kids sitting at the dining table beside Faith, both hard at work; Anne finishing her Chinese and Caleb starting on maths. Having shied away from homework pretty much all my life, this scene was mind-boggling.

I stood there amazed at the work of my amazing wife who put aside her career because we thought it was more important to properly invest in the intangibles of our children. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful partner in parenting: someone to pray with and depend on.

There is so much to thank God for.

A Decade of Empty Passports

My dearest Faith,

Our tenth wedding anniversary passed more than four months ago, quietly and without much fanfare. It wasn’t how I had planned it in my head. It is a milestone worthy of champagne and chandeliers, ballroom dresses and fireworks, but reality reminds me that we do not live in the movie-set past of Hemingway and Fitzgerald.

You sent me a text message this morning telling me of the notification we received that my passport was nearing its expiration date. I dug out our passports, chuckled at the children’s baby ID photos, but noticed how new and empty our passports were. We haven’t been anywhere.

I begin to wonder if I have treated you well in the ten years we’ve been married. Sunrise on the Eiffel Tower or sunset at the pyramids; or the smell of grass on Bali’s rice terraces…all these remain figments of our imagination yet to materialise in reality. Truth be told, I can’t promise you that they will.

But this is a time for thanksgiving, not envy-induced melancholy.

I am thankful to God for the journey; and the journey was made wonderful because I had you by my side.

Our three kids

Through the sleep-deprived nights, the wonder of their first uttered words, the excitement and trepidation as they took their first steps, you were there with me. Every experience and moment was new and fraught with uncertainty, but you were there alongside me to pray, to hope and to persevere.

I would wish you all the happiness in the world, or for every imagined moment of globe-trotting to come true, but I wish most of all that I have given to you what you have given to me: a lifetime filled with divine joy, godsent contentment and blessed fellowship.

The best part in these ten years of marriage is never having to say goodbye at the end of a date.

You’re my home.

Infinity in a Moment

“You, my dear, have brought up two amazing children,” I say to her as I hug her close.

“For the moment.”

“Then it is a good moment.”

Balancing Act

My dearest wife,

Thought it would be important to write this memory down — it is one that has helped define our two decades together.

I don’t remember the exact date of that church outing to Pulau Ubin, but it was very early in our relationship. We couldn’t have been older than seventeen.

We had rented tandem bicycles to ride around Pulau Ubin. In those days, the bicycles were nowhere as fancy as the ones today. The bikes were a little rusty, the tires a little misaligned, and you could count on them squeaking to their own rhythm as the group of us rode down the path from the bike shop near the jetty. We didn’t obsess so much about equipment in those days. The tandem we rode on did not have any functioning gears, and the two black gear levers on the handlebars were perpetually stuck.

I couldn’t care less. The fact that we were on the same bicycle in front of God and everyone at church left me a little giddy with exhilaration. Boy-girl relationships, between teenagers no less, were still sort of taboo during those times. There were a number of us on bicycles, many exploring Ubin for the first time.

We came to the foot of a very steep slope and the bunch of us were either too lazy or too stupid to get off our bikes, opting instead to power these rusty frames we were sitting on up that slope through sheer obstinacy. And so we huffed and we puffed, and what seemed like a small slope grew into a mental Mount Everest. Our little group starting falling out en masse, and with more than halfway to go, only two tandems were still battling it out with Father Gravity.

I turned my head back to find out if you wanted to stop, and you managed to huff an “I’m ok, keep going”. We put every last ounce of willpower into the singular goal of keeping our feet off the ground, one downward stroke of the pedal at a time. I stood on the pedals, leaned forward and pushed on with all my body weight.

The girl on the other tandem tapped out, and the couple hit their brakes and got off. We were now the only bike still trying, with a third left to go.

We kept our eyes down, focused on the road and kept pushing on until we made the top.

I was so very, very proud of you; proud that I had in you a partner who didn’t hold anything back, and put in everything so that we’d overcome as a team. I felt no feeling of personal accomplishment whatsoever: it had been overshadowed by the euphoria that came with the confirmation in my heart that I had chosen someone as special as you to be my partner for life.

And in the last 20 years I have had that privilege to experience it over and over again. Whether in housework or taking care of the children, it is a blessing to know that if I go all out, you’d do the same. There is no need to calculate who’s doing more, or who’s holding back. It is a most precious assurance to have.

Caleb said the other day, “The two of you are always fighting!” We were a little shocked and wondered if the children saw something we didn’t. “You’re always fighting over who picks Anne up from school.” Anne chimed in, “You always fight to make sure the other person gets to rest”. We laughed. It was true.

My sweetest wife, I hope these will be the fights we have for the rest of our lives together. To be able to protect and care for you has been the greatest honour of my life, and God willing, I intend to always do my best. I’m able to go way out on a limb, only because I know that you’d do the same.

Joined as One

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
Proverbs 31:1-2

My dearest Faith,

It’s nothing short of amazing to think that it’s been twenty years since we first held hands, and in some jejune manner, made a choice to commit ourselves to each other. It’s easy to think as adults do and deride childish notions of romance, but when I look at it closely, love is something intrinsically understood, and the young probably have a better grasp of what it is, untainted by the constraints of pragmatism. As we grow older we believe that our choices are shaped by circumstance, and even in design the better designers view and accept constraints as guiding principles rather than restrictions, but things of God — the eternal things, the ones that really matter — exist outside of these constraints. These are the things that overcome.

In our journey together we faced our fair share of obstacles. As I sit back and recall how we dealt with the difficulty of growing up and staying together, as we both sought our individual identities, I remember how it tore at our very hearts that things didn’t seem to just stay “in a good place”. As we graduated from school to school, environments changed, and my sense of security was shaken when you wondered aloud back then if you had foregone many opportunities by being with me.

You definitely have.

You waited for me through National Service. You shaved my head, and thanks to my brilliant advice to use the electric shaver without its plastic guard, gave me the shortest and most uneven haircut of my life. You waited while I queued up for 3 minute phone calls on the public telephone at nights just to hear your voice. It was hard to put on a nonchalant face, but there were 30 to 40 topless men waiting behind me to use the phone. For two and a half years you waited.

You waited for me through college. In a time before Skype and Facetime, we chatted daily on IRC. It was 5 in the morning in Arizona, and the end of the day for you here in Singapore. There were days when you were so tired but still hung on to find out how my previous day went.

There were many opportunities, many nice prospective men, and somehow you hung on to this shimmer of a relationship so far away. It’s been one of God’s greatest blessings in my life that you did.

The second decade (9 years now) spent as man and wife have been the sweetest years of my life. Even now, the thought that I no longer need to bid you goodbye, and that we’re on an ongoing date thrills me to no end. The nights spent beside each other fills us both with the excitement of a sleepover, and I instinctively stick my toes out of our blanket, wiggle them and squeal at how blessed we are to be right here, right now.

Having you by my side as we admire the spectacular sunrise of our children’s lives can only be described as having the joy in our cup overflowing past its brim. Even now Anne reads over my shoulder, asking why I’m writing you a letter when you’re sleeping right in the next room. I tell her that like the storybooks she writes and illustrates, I write because I want to remember, and read this many years from now.

I thank God for you.

Wife of My Youth

Sometimes as I sift through the thousands of photos I’ve taken over the years, a sort of hazy third person perspective comes over me, like an out of body experience as I look at the visual evidence of what seems like someone else’s life.

There’s a chronology of sorts: the photos of the carefree student at the turn of the millennium; the portfolio work of a starting professional photographer; photos of our new home, then unfurnished and unrenovated; the births of our two children; and the many, many weddings of friends over the years.

Youth doesn’t seem that long ago, but my Sunday School students remind me that time has flown silently past. They joke about how old I am. They’ve grown up in a world that always had mobile phones, while I reminisce about pagers and the alpha-numeric acrobatics we had to perform to send messages. 07734…stuff like that.

During my carefree student days when I first got serious about photography, I chased after every storm because I was madly in love with the dramatic contrast they provided. Tucson skies were mostly clear and cloudless, so storm clouds added much needed texture to the wide open sky.

tucson_clouds3

Now more than a decade removed, I found myself sitting in my study this afternoon, finally getting some alone time after having spent the earlier part of the day taking care of the kids. The thunderstorm outside was just subsiding and the evening sun shone bright - perfect conditions for a rainbow.

Sure enough, my Facebook feed started filling up with rainbow sightings (quite a number of double rainbow photos too). The photographer in me stirred, so I did my duty and looked outside the various windows in the house and realised our house was facing the wrong direction. So I headed back to my study to chill. I left those days of chasing storms and sunsets behind me.


I feel old.

Faith comes into the study all excited about the possibility of seeing the same rainbow, and to be honest, her suggestion that I go downstairs to take a photo of it felt a lot like an extra chore, but I grabbed my camera and put on my sandals. Then I held her hand and we stepped outside.

It felt like an adventure.

When we ran to the bend in the road and spotted the rainbow we literally squealed with delight. She whipped out her phone, but I kept running to the vantage point I knew I’d get more sky. And as I ran, those steps felt so familiar, and a decade melted away. The golden setting sun, the dark clouds, the slight drizzle, and the beautiful arc of a rainbow that hung so gloriously in the sky.

Rainbow, Singapore, 21st January 2012

I stood there, young and carefree again.

The rainbow eventually lost its glow and faded, and I crossed the street back to my wife who was waiting for me. As I crossed the street the years came back: the whole stream of photographs of all the memories we’ve collected along the way. I held her hand, so very thankful that she shook me out of lethargy for a trip back in time.

It was nice to know that Faith brings out the original person in me. The person I was when we first got together two decades ago. The writer, the photographer, the dreamer.

My best partner, my friend and my love. I could ask for no better companion. I could not have asked for a better journey thus far.

Eight

My dearest wife,

I wish I weren’t trying hard to shake off this dastardly flu bug on the day of our eighth wedding anniversary. Much as I wish we were sitting in a cafe in Paris overlooking a pink sunset, we are not. This night, like many others before it, was spent seated at the foot of our bed, me with a bowl of cornflakes in my hand. The only difference is that tonight I refrain from sharing the bowl with you for fear you catch the flu too.

The Parisian sunset, though a clichéd romantic notion, wouldn’t have added very much to that which we already have been blessed with. I have had eight of the most amazing years of my life being married to you. Sharing a life with you and not having to bid you goodbye while I head home ala courtship days is such a wonderful privilege.

I would love to explore the beauty of the world with you, but I know in my heart of hearts, the most beautiful parts are found in the little things, the moments that truly matter.

Happy anniversary. Even if the world stopped here, I would have had more joy than I ever deserved.

Pause

My sweetest Faith,

It’s been a while since I wrote you because it is easier to just hold you tight and tell you, but I often fear that these moments, gone unrecorded, will be swept away by time’s torrid tide. It’s probably fool’s gold to think that the ephemeral nature of the internet would provide a refuge where we can store our memories so that we can one day recollect them.

It’s almost ironic that the act of chronicling these moments means I miss the moments that pass while I write. Granted that I often pen these in the dead of night, but even the thought of not lying beside you and watching you sleep feels like such a waste of a good thing.

We only have so many of these in our lives, and however long God has planned for us to have with each other, it never seems enough. Again, we could spend it in futile fear that this heaven be taken away from us or choose to spend our moments wisely, deeply in love and in service of others.

The last few months of continually serving the youth has been tiring, but it is a good tiredness, like it is life well spent; and how sweet it is to have you as my helpmate and my companion. So very close that you are not just a part of who I am, but I am truly one with you, unable to differentiate where I end and you begin…

I am so blessed that the memories I write are a reflection of the greater relationship between our Christ and His bride, and I get to write them with you.

Sleep tight.

How Can I Remember

My dearest Faith,

It is hard to imagine that we’ve been married for 7 years now. It is easy these days to be consumed by the presence of our two young ones and forget that while they will some day leave the nest, we are bound together as one for life. We have spent more than half our lives side by side - a state so wondrous I oftentimes keep secret to myself for fear of offending people undergoing more difficult periods in their lives.

But today I’d like to tell you that these years been nothing short of amazing. In the early, early years before love was requited I hung on to the song “How can I remember?” by Michael Dees.

Thanks for eventually choosing me.

so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Pablo Neruda

At Arm's Length

Having to stay away from family due to my irradiated state has been a surreal experience. It feels like I’m away in a foreign land, but the surroundings look so famliar. I’ve spent the last three nights wandering Singapore by myself, the first two nights with camera in hand; tonight with bicycle in tow.

I still get to go home, but only after the children are fast asleep, so as to prevent any contact should they decide to rush at me like a couple of zerglings. I leave before they wake, and our only contact has been by telephone. They’ve had a whale of a time - Faith has done a grand job filling their holidays with activities. I get to hear all about it when they speak to me on the phone: Anne would excitedly regale me with the day’s events while in the background, Caleb repeats what his sister says with varying degrees of success. It’s hilarious.

The most serendipitous thing thus far has been last night’s conversation with Faith. We sat on the floor across from each other and chatted for a good hour. Much as I wanted to I had to refrain from holding her in my arms. We didn’t want to risk anything, especially as she would be in such close proximity with the kids.

All we had was eye contact, and yet that felt oddly sufficient to communicate the deepest of emotions. What Faith probably didn’t know was that that hour reminded me of the afternoons we shared more than 20 years ago in Desaru picking up seashells and sorting them; it was exactly then I knew I had to marry the girl. It felt so comfortable being with her, laughing with her and sharing stolen moments when our eyes would meet.

Now married and two children later, it feels exactly the same. We are the same two kids decades ago, madly in love with each other.

Blink

Dearest Faith,

I opened my eyes, escaping slumber for that brief moment, comforted by the fact I lay beside you, a place better than any in my dreams.

I love you.

The Path Taken

Dearest Faith,

It’s been 6 years since you walked down the aisle; 6 years since we exchanged our vows and chose to live the rest of our lives together.

I know that deep inside, you live with the guilt of “making” me marry you so early in my career. I had barely stepped off the plane, and the ink on my bachelor’s degree was still wet. I know that you feel bad that I had given up dreams of working abroad and the chance that my work would have made a difference in some global product of some sort. I know this because whenever I tell you of the wonderful people I’ve met in the States and the amazing work they’re doing, there’s the split second of a pained smile.

I do not mean for you to live with this guilt. It is unfair to compare the concreteness of reality to the fluffiness of dream scenarios where every little detail falls in place.

It is unfair because the last 6 years of being married to you has been an experience I can only describe as perfect, and all the other paths combined pale to a single moment shared with you. To have you beside me for the moments of laughter, tears, awe, uncertainty, good times and bad, and sharing the trenches of parenthood is the greatest blessing of my life.

Thank you for choosing to marry me.

By My Side

20090109-016Dearest Faith,

Life has an unfortunate way of sucking us in and spiraling us about. It seems only a wink of an eye when we went from teenagers madly infatuated with each other to parents of two children. Ok, I was the one madly infatuated; but two children, can you imagine?

Sometimes we sit there, transfixed and watching our two kids transform before our eyes. It is literally a matter of days that they learn to turn, sit, crawl, stand, talk, walk, and before we know it, they have become their own persons.

But I’d like to take this short moment to turn away from the spectacle of kids and tell you how beautiful you look tonight. It’s been a while since I’ve written to you. It’s much more expedient to express my appreciation during our nightly regrouping - you from having to put Caleb to bed and I from having to answer the new and novel questions Anne comes up with before setting her head down. I’d like to write all this down as it has more permanence. That maybe when all the hustle and bustle of child-rearing is done with, we can sit down and reminisce this period of our lives.

Thanks for being by my side. Thanks for being my comrade through the nights that seem endlessly saturated with crying children, agitated fevers and dastardly coughs. Thanks for being by my side when we wake in the morning to discover God’s provision of a good 4 hour stretch of sleep. Those moments are every bit as awe-inspiring as a surreal sunrise and snow-capped mountains. In Singapore. Yes they are that rare.

You know what I’m most thankful for? More than your companionship, I feel most blessed to be a witness to your life - your journey from daughter, wife and mother.

You are beautiful.

Reality

Dearest Faith,

The dreams of the young are not tainted with the bittersweet compromise of the real and tangible. Yet you’ve far surpassed the dreams, hopes and expectations of the 11 year old boy who fell in love with you on that Desaru beach so many moons ago.

The reality of being married to you could not possibly be any sweeter. Every day and every moment so rich, living the dreams of my youth.

Thank you so much for marrying me.

Asleep

Coming home after you two are already asleep, I wonder if you shared laughter tonight. Even asleep you bring me so much joy.

Ooops

To the two sweetest girls in my life, sleep tight. When you wake up, I’ll be home. It’ll be a surprise - for me too. I had miscalculated the date.

It feels like I found a million dollars in my pocket.

Pining

Sitting here in an empty room a million miles away from you, I realise that I like time alone, but I do not like to be alone. I do not like to be away from you.

I miss you.

Moved

Dearest Faith,

it has dawned on me that you are not the same woman I married almost 4 years ago, or the same girl I fell in love with when I was 11. Things have changed since then.

We have changed.

We’re the parents of a precocious 2 year old girl whom we both love dearly. We have our own home, do our own laundry, pay our own bills, establish our own routines. You always beam the most wondrous smile whenever I come home - whether from work or a ball game. Over the last few years you’ve patiently loved me while I dealt with my hyper-thyroidism; you supported me while I tried my hand at starting and growing my own business and guided me gently as I took up the responsibilities of being a new father.

You’re not the girl I fell in love with - you’ve far exceeded every romantic notion I’ve ever conjured of what married life with you would be like. You’ve blossomed into such a beautiful soul I often find myself overwhelmed by the privilege of being your husband and sharing your life.

Thank you for loving me.

Miss the Girls

Over the weekend, Faith and I talked quite a bit about how Roger Federer kicked ass. It dawned on me that I’ve married the girl of every boy’s dreams - a wife who’d talk sports and hold her own admirably.

It dawns on me every moment.

I’ll be heading to the army camp for my reservist in a few hours. I already miss Faith and Anne so much it hurts.

Fast Asleep

Dearest Faith,

I’ve been enamoured with you more than half my life. I spent the other half on the pursuit of chocolate, twirling the hair on my forehead into a curl, tying my blanket around my neck and jumping off elevated surfaces in hopes that I’d fly. Preferably to more chocolate.

I’m in love with everything about you. Your laughter at a joke I made. How your dimples appear when Anne does something utterly adorable. The way my heart feels when you come in the door; sharing space with you in the same room is oddly exciting and fuzzily heartwarming all at once. When I see you walk towards me from a distance, there’s this strange magnetic pull that devours the physical space between us; and when I finally put my arm around you, I can almost hear a “gloop” - more a feeling than a sound. The feeling you get when two drops of mercury finally combine.

I love you so, so much, that I feel the very fabric of my being reach out and wrap around you such that we are inextricably bound - untouched by the passing of time and the world around us.

I don’t write about these feelings as much as I used to because these days I have the luxury of walking over and telling you everything. Then there are times like these, when you are fast asleep, and Anne the subconscious motion detector lies beside you on our bed.

Our 3rd Year

Dearest Faith,

it was exactly three years ago I saw you walk down the aisle to the loud squeals of your primary 6 class. Some of them were given the task of blowing bubbles from the balcony when you walked under them, but many started bubbling prematurely because they thought Ai was you. Three years ago we said “I do”, but it was so much earlier in our youths when we committed our hearts to each other.

14 years ago we went out on our first date. It was to Buona Vista train station to get your concession pass replaced. Now that I work at Buona Vista, I alight at that station every day, reminded at how I saw a pelican (or what I thought was a pelican) along the giant canal. I saw a giant monitor lizard there the other day. My colleague Selwyn who lives in the area has named it Frank.

It was 18 years ago in June when we walked by the beach in Desaru. We picked seashells together. It was then I fell madly in love with you.

Throughout the years there have been so many memories which I never ever want to forget. The years we spent on the phone. The sound of you breathing on the other end of the line, and how close you felt. Even the silence was special, because it was your silence. I wanted to be near everything about you.

How I brought the same cookies to choir practice every Friday because you ate them and said you liked them. You stopped eating them after you found out that I was the one who brought them. And I brought them anyway hoping you’d give the cookies a chance, and that in some vicarious manner you’d give me a chance.

To be near you is a privilege I don’t want to take for granted. I want the electricity of hearing your voice on the phone to last forever. I want to reflect at how blessed I am to wake up each morning to the smell of your hair.

It is easy to let reality kill the fantasy - that what is real does not compare with what was dreamt. But after 3 years of marriage, 14 years of courtship and 18 years of infatuation I discover daily that being with you is everything I thought it’d ever be.

Happy anniversary dear.

Closer

I looked at my gmail and saw

From: Faith

I smile for no reason. It just feels good to be on the same island as my beloved.

Alone Time

Dearest Faith and Anne,

during this time I have come to learn some things about myself.

Somewhere, somehow I have come to envy the glamourous jet-setting, high-flying executive lifestyle promoted by the world around us. And tonight, sitting here miles and miles away I realise that I do not seem to fit the mould I admire.

I had initially planned to visit Yosemite National Park with Serene and Min tomorrow, but we’re not going due to unforseen circumstances. Maybe it is because it might have snowed at Yosemite today and we are unaccustomed to driving in those conditions. Or that the time we have here in California is too short to give Yosemite the kind of attention she deserves. But to be perfectly honest, my enthusiasm wanes because the two of you are not with me. It is impossible for me to fathom seeing something beautiful and not being able to turn around to share it with you guys.

But I now know that there is nothing in nature more comforting and right than the simple act of smelling my daughter’s hair or putting my arm around my wife. No gradeur of the mountains or the lure of creating the most beautiful photographs can compare to the pure joy being with family brings. It is a feeling I can scarcely describe, and one I definitely cannot capture in the limited vocabulary of a single photograph.

Beloved Faith, thank you for giving me space to be by myself and mull things over. After the mulling I have discovered that I want no space to exist between the three of us; that if it were at all possible I’d hug us so tight we’d all become one. I cannot wait to come home to you both.

May God watch over you till we meet.

your husband, and your father.

My Reminder

“will love you, cherish you, keep you honour you, obey you…obey you?”

This part of the traditional Christian wedding vow never fails to elicit little semi-silent squeals of protests among the female portion of the congregation. It makes women feel “second class”, or lower than their male counterparts.

Faith spoke those words. Rather than feeling a self-satisfying lordship over her, like most female protestants (not speaking of the denomination here) among the congregation would imagine, at that point I felt the greatest responsibility placed upon my shoulders to protect the woman before me; my wife, the most beautiful and fragile of flowers, yet in whose heart held the most resilient sincerity.

Continue reading My Reminder »

To My Wife,

My friend, my soulmate, my confidante, my partner.

The dawn of the last day of the year approaches. A few hours ago I walked home from a basketball game. I made a list of things that you’d done over the year that I was thankful for. I never quite finished the list, but I’m going to tell you the most important bits.

Thank you for supporting me, even when some of my ideas stunk. You always took time to listen to what I had to say, and went the extra mile with me, honestly sharing my misplaced hope that things would pan out. When they didn’t, you never once did an “I told you so”, but you gave me strength to pick myself up and try again.

Thank you for letting me do my own thing every now and then. Tonight when I played ball, you singlehandedly watched over Anne, put her to bed, did the laundry and even hung the clothes out to dry. The laundry was my job, but I came home, saw it done and felt lousy about myself.

I went to the bedroom where you were sleeping and kissed your forehead. You opened your eyes, smiled and told me that you love me. You didn’t do the laundry to make me feel bad or ashamed, you did it out of love for me. I’m still amazed and very, very touched by that gesture.

You amaze me every moment of every day.

I love you.

Sixpence

Thanks, all of you who dropped an SMS or a note to wish me a happy birthday. The first two SMSes I received were from people in the States. Amazing to know that I’m still remembered despite being so far away. I’m truly touched.

Faith hugs me and wishes me happy birthday with a sad smile. (Wishes, because she’s been doing this the whole evening). She’s sad that she didn’t buy me anything, or in her words “made the day special”.

Silly girl.

To the love of my youth, my companion in life and my partner in building this home. You have made my life special. I do not claim to know what I’d have been if I never knew you, but I know that a large part of my life is made wonderful because I do.

The glory that was Greece, the grandeur that was Rome

Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicèan barks of yore
That gently, o’er a perfumed sea,
The weary way-worn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.

- “To Helen”, by Edgar Allan Poe

There’s a certain magic to found only in college campuses. Maybe it’s the abundance of grass, or the expanse of sky unhindered by towering office blocks. Or maybe it is how the vibrance of youth, found so concentrated there, makes everything seem more alive. Idealism thrives, untainted by reality.

I went to NUS after work today in hopes of finding a Mecca of basketball to pay homage to. There was the most beautiful golden sunset. It made me miss my days at the University of Arizona.

But a greater longing pulled at me the entire evening. There I was, on the other side of the island while Faith and Anne were at home. It just felt so wrong. Not wrong as in the guilty sense of the word, but wrong - like something didn’t fit. I took the first cab I saw home.

The sight of Anne smiling upon seeing me made the earth spin under my feet. I run the risk of coming across as clichéd, but the smile of a child makes everything right as rain. I felt so blessed to come home to Faith and Anne; an undeserving recipient of the most beautiful gift. And at that moment I knew that my home is right here in the present and not in a picturesque rose-tinted memory of the past. It is here beside Faith, whose eyes sparkle when she smiles, and Anne, who periodically chokes on her saliva when she laughs too hard.

God, thanks. Help me be faithful in loving them as you’d want me to.

More Missing

Dearest Faith and Anne,

the sun sets on another day, and it is oddly painful to know that we share the same golden sunset, but apart. I’m listening to Tanya Chua’s “I’ll Remember You” on whatever juice I have left on the iPod. I use to reminisce over this song while I was in the US.

Everyone tells me how great it is that we made it through the long distance relationship, but I never felt distant even back then. Being with you, however long or brief a time has filled my days and nights with enough laughter and happy memories to sustain me till we meet again, be it weeks or years.

Thank you for making my life so, for lack of a better word, melodious.

By the Temptations

Dearest Faith and Anne,

it is the nights I miss you both the most.

It might have been stupid of me to have forgotten to bring my mobile phone, but somehow the inavailability of instant communication has made clearer to me the things I take for granted daily.

It has been a long time since I’ve had an entire night of uninterrupted sleep, but I know that my place is with the both of you.

My girls. The girls of my life. God has really blessed me with a life of protecting, caring, loving and being loved.

I miss you all. The YF comm especially. I’m reminding myself to cherish serving God alongside such beautiful people, each and every one.

I don’t know if I have the heart to leave Singapore anymore.

Blackmail Material

Before Faith’s parents’ place was undergoing renovations, there was a pretty thorough cleaning effort, and things that should have been forgotten weren’t (insert Lord of the Rings theme song here).

Over the last few nights Faith has been studiously reading through a set of diaries I wrote a lifetime ago. In an attempt to marry her I pulled all the stops: I gave her my past. All the deepest thoughts (you begin to realise how shallow your teenage psyche was), a collage of activities. All encapsulated in two books. The fact that she’s poring through them like she was taking the bar kinda scares me. I can’t for the life of me remember what I wrote then.

I named my diary Faith. I named her Faith because at that time I tknew there was a snowball’s chance in hell that I’d ever get the chance to confide in her, and her in me. I read the first entry of my second diary. I gave away my very first to my best man Eric when we were childhood buddies.

The first entry was spent explaining why I continued to name my diary Faith, and the deep yearning in my heart for us to even be normal friends. I had given up holding the torch for her. At that point in time, it seemed like I had been holding on for three years too many.

I wanted her to just be a friend, but from a quick browsing of the diary it looked like I couldn’t describe her without the word “lovely” being used alongside at least four other adjectives.

Turning myself to face the inside of our bed I see her sleeping. It has been a heck of a ride, and God had really been kind to us both.

Tryst

I fell in love with a surfer-girl over the weekend. Long brown hair tied in a ponytail; loose strands that were tossed by the ocean’s salty breeze and kissed by the sun when they flailed upward. She came across as exciting and dangerous, and was an absolute adventure to be with.

I married a schoolteacher. Faith isn’t the most adrenaline-inducing girl; not the kind who’d throw caution to the wind. I tried to get her to surf on the first day, but after two tumbles she decided to pass on it.

She must have been taking some of the ecstasy those touts were trying to sell us, because on day two she was riding the waves like a speed junkie. It was exhilarating seeing her little head of brown hair swvoosh away, barely visible above the wave she was riding.

She never ceases to amaze me.

Mourning Into Dancing

I remember almost being made a prefect in primary school. I wasn’t the model student, never ever doing my homework, but somehow landed the nomination of the head prefect. I remember that a prerequisite to being made a prefect was a short “talk” with the vice-principal, a thinly-haired softspoken man who I presumed knew nothing of me.

I remember staying in the classroom when my time came. I was uncharacteristically quiet, and whispered to the head prefect that I didn’t want to go. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be a prefect. God knows that to have the red armband was one of my greatest wishes then. But I couldn’t do it. I guess I thought I didn’t fit the mold of what a prefect should be.

I was afraid to fail. I was afraid that the thinly-haired softspoken vice-principal would find out that I never did any homework.

Continue reading Mourning Into Dancing »

In the Beginning

Exactly 28 years ago, on a day not unlike today, an expectant mother lay on a bed in the maternity ward at Mount Alvernia hospital. Cries were heard and a baby was born.

Slightly more than a year later, another baby too was born at the same hospital.

Many things would transpire before the two babies met again many years later. They would fall in love and marry. I do not know what happens later because those chapters have yet to be written.

Happy birthday dear. It’s amazing how God brought you into this world and into my life.

As Fair as the Dawn

We watched Ryan and Trista’s wedding tonight. It was like roadkill: we never meant to watch it, but were glued to the screen, endlessly repeating our amazement at how so low a show made it to primetime television.

As I watched Ryan standing there waiting for Trista, I was reminded of our wedding day. How I stood there for you. I didn’t feel lonely, even though I stood there alone. I was captivated by the moment, like everyone else in the hall.

It was like watching a sunrise. I knew you would eventually appear, but what I had no clue about was how wondrously radiant you would be. And then you came, lighting up the hallway and warming up my heart. I would have run to you but I stood there paralysed. Maybe it was the clapping or the squeals of your school-children, or the music that drifted in and out of my consciousness. I was utterly spellbound.

It wasn’t until you held my hand and stood beside me that I realised where I was. I awoke to a reality that mirrored the wonder and beauty of the fairytale I had witnessed when you walked down that aisle.

Lord of the Rings

Faith and I wear double rings on our ring finger. One of which is our wedding ring and the other the ring we gave each other while we were courting. I think I lost my pair.

The thing about playing basketball is that you have to remove all unnecessary accessories. My pre-balling routine consists of taking off my watch and my rings, lest I gouge someone’s eyes out while going up for a rebound. I usually thread my lanyard through the two rings and my watch.

They weren’t there when I returned. Honestly, I don’t know if I even brought them to the court in my bag. I started searching frantically in drawers and any horizontal surface I might have placed them on. Didn’t find them.

I braced myself for a tongue-lashing and told Faith that I had lost them, hoping she had kept them. I was half-freaking out at this point. She helped me look for them for a bit. When it was more or less clear that they couldn’t be found, she looked at me, held my shoulders and said “it’s ok”. It wasn’t said in a sarcastic or hurtful manner. She really wanted me to know that it was ok. That it wasn’t my fault.

Continue reading Lord of the Rings »

Collectively Individualistic

I found myself wandering in town yesterday. Faith had gone to attend the wedding dinner of a colleague. Somehow I felt so lost without her on a rainy night. I took a bus to nowhere in particular, to see nothing in particular. I landed in Funan Center in an attempt to relive the life of a schoolboy fascinated by the latest computer games. But this time the enthusiasm seemed dimmed.

It made me think about where the line ended for two who had become one. Was I socially inept now that I have come to depend on her constant companionship?

Maybe it was the heavy rain that made me feel out of sorts, or the fact that I was suffering the effects of a lingering flu. On any normal day, I would be hitting the basketball courts whenever Faith wasn’t free to hear me crack lame jokes or expound my theories on why every year feels shorter when we get older.

The rain prevented me from heading to the usual hideout and I found myself so utterly inadequate, so incomplete. There is always the fear that I am a reduced version of who I used to be, but I know that it is because I have tasted life with her, and settling for anything else would be a compromise I couldn’t live with.

You could call me handicapped. Or it could be I’m still madly in love with the girl I married.

Living with My Childhood Sweetheart

She’s sitting beside me ripping her CDs into mp3s. Being a music teacher, she has lots of kiddie songs which she sings along to while iTunes does its work in the background. She adds her own molotov cocktail of a Russian accent into old Singaporean community-building (brainwashing) songs.

We laugh and I tell her I love her. The words seem so inadequate for so wonderously childlike a moment.

One To One

One of the most common questions I get here on Tribolum is: How did you know she was the one?

I hesitated replying this question because it opens a can of worms. Is there only one “the one”? What if you already blew your chances with “the one”? Will another “the one” be provided for you?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. I’ve ventured through the philosophical possibilities thoroughly enough to know that no one, not even “the one” has the answers to how many “the one”s one gets in his or her lifetime.

Another reason why I had originally refrained from writing in response to those questions was that my personal experience is not a secular experience. It was a time when I wanted to be as politically correct, but now I know that sharing my life with you means sharing my spiritual experiences as well as my intellectual adventures.

So back to the question, “how do you know if he / she is the one?” As human beings we fall in love a lot. A lot of us get hurt, some feel used, while even more hold on to pieces of unrequited love, hoping to piece them together into some semblance of a relationship. Even an imaginary relationship seems better that what real life offers us at times. The months become years and we give up looking for “the one” and conclude that his or her existence is an adolescent fable. A Santa Clause for young adults.

So instead of looking for Mr. or Ms. Right, some of you settle for Mr. or Ms. Right-here. Others pack their hearts in little styrofoam-padded boxes and keep them in their storerooms, never to risk being broken again. Once in a while someone intriguing comes by and the question arises once more.

Is he / she the one?

You reckon you’re too old to fall for this anymore. You’re too jaded to ask. You don’t need to ask, you tell yourself.

I’m telling you that you need to know.

Continue reading One To One »

Against Time

Every night when I climb into bed and stretch out under my blanket (we each have our own) there is an inaudible (sometimes audible) squeal in the back of my throat. It always feels like the first night of a sleepover - an odd mixture of excitement and soothing comfort. Always the one who comes in much later while you are sleeping (work at the computer demands much of my nights), I always spend my last moments awake looking at you.

It’s only been a little less than a couple of months, but I often pray that I’ll look upon you this way every night for the rest of our lives. My heart alternates between an indomitable hope and a quivering fear. We’ve seen too many relationships go sour due to the degenerative properties of time. It becomes even more important to realise that we ought to spend our days wisely, building upon what we now have. Merely holding the fort will only leave us dwelling on better and sweeter days gone by.

I cannot make you promises of forever, but I’ve set my heart to training: to go the extra mile everyday, that we may have the endurance to finish the race together.

Dreamcatching

It’s amazing how you seem to remember all your dreams. This morning you dreamt of how we forgot Cheryl’s birthday because we were busy preparing for her wedding, and in the background a cat that had eyes set too close together (one of them fell out and got stuck near the other eye, you said) turned into a primary one student you teach.

I told you how I had to do a short takeoff on a 747 that had controls like an automatic car (the gears at least), and that I had to veer into a field in the middle of a running track.

It’s heavenly watching you sleep. I wake up each morning with a tingling anticipation of the new adventures you had while your eyes were shut.

Getting Used to It

I remember how much I loved watching you from a distance. When I was thirteen and feeling empowered with a newfound sense of independence, I took one weekend off Red Cross drill practice and sat below a block of flats beside yours. I wasn’t expecting you to say “hi” to me or even catch a glimpse of you. In some odd fashion, it was comforting to know that you were physically close. It didn’t matter whether or not you knew of my existence or my pining. It even excited me wildly to look upon the pavement that you trod on daily.

It was on that day I caught a glimpse of you. You walked from the elevator to the car. It couldn’t have taken more than 20 seconds, but I replayed the scene over and over again in my mind for the entire week. I went for the Red Cross meeting the next Saturday, where I was handed a small trophy for being the best new recruit that year.

The discovery that you went for piano lessons every Saturday morning occupied my mind. I never went back to Red Cross meetings, choosing instead the 20 seconds of feeling closer to you. Maybe I should have left the trophy for some less enamoured 13-year old.

Now as your husband the same tingles of warmth run through my being when I see you ironing your clothes or reading the paper. I feel truly blessed to be in your presence, where the 20 seconds of ecstasy is so readily available to me.

I told you today that things may change once I start work. I said this in a spirit of caution because we all know how a job seems to consume our waking hours. You comforted me, saying that you’ll learn to live with it.

I guess I’ll have to be realistic and admit that things will change when I get a proper job. I’ll have less time to spend with you and there’ll be fewer lazy mornings, I suppose. But I don’t ever want you to learn to live with having me around less, or getting used to me choosing time at work over time at home.

The term “learning to live with” or “getting used to” comes with such a deadening feeling. I want every moment to be as fresh as the first, and every sight of you as thrilling as when I was thirteen.

And I want to make it a point to give up my Red Cross meetings just to catch a glimpse of you.

Moving Out and In

I stood outside the door as Faith hugged her Dad goodbye. Though my home (where we’ll be putting up for a while) is only five minutes away, it felt different walking down the stairs this time. A deep sadness hung in the air and we both felt like we hurt the people we loved. It was almost as if our union tore the family apart. The house would now be so much emptier; and her smile would no longer light its halls.

I felt selfish for having taken her away for myself.

It feels strange not having to pick up the phone to talk to her. We’ve grown so accustomed to the nightly (and often morningly and afternoonly) ritual of dialing each other’s phone number and listening to each other’s voice through a handset.

I just discovered that I can no longer sleep with the fan blowing in my face. She doesn’t like the direct blast of air, prefering instead to bounce it off a nearby wall. Even after twelve years, she still fascinates me to no end.

She sleeps behind me while I put one of those D.I.Y. wardrobes together. I hang up her clothes one by one and am amazed at how small they are. They seem almost like doll’s clothes. I feel so blessed for having been chosen to love and protect her as long as we both live.

Being married is a surreal feeling. It feels like we went to someone elses’ wedding, and the reality of being married to each other hasn’t seem to have set in yet. Or maybe it had twelve years ago.

Chosen

You said tonight that you were thankful that I didn’t view the marriage to come as something that would shackle me. I just wanted to tell you how blessed I feel that you have chosen me.

Being wed to you is a privilege that you have bestowed upon me. I am honoured to be chosen, by you, to love and protect you, and to spend all of my life learning about you.

I don’t want to miss you anymore.

A Photographer's Vow

Inscribed upon my heart while watching you during our indoor photoshoot.

I can’t even begin to describe how thankful I am that you’ve chosen me to be the photographer of your life; to capture every moment of your life on the canvas of my life. Though the photographer fires away, his flash illuminating the room at intervals, it is I who snaps away without ceasing. Every second every microsecond every nanosecond is captured, each one a still every one as vibrant as the last because you were born to live a life filled with endless colour. And I was born to chronicle it. I would marry you a thousand times, no, a million times over if it meant that I could run the replays of your life over and over; to feel your life rewriting mine.

Time and Space

Faith’s gonna be at a school camp for the next three days. Three days or nine months, one day away is one day too many. Come home soon dear.

Ring True

Just for kicks, I slid my ring on the ring finger of my left hand.

I smiled. In the middle of a sermon. Bad boy.

Acronyms

Looking back, I’m amazed at how much independence my parents gave me. When faced with the huge decisions in my life, Mum always sat down with me and asked, “So what do you want to do?”. And she wasn’t like some parents who asked their children’s opinion and then turned a deaf ear. Mum really listened. The decisions were made as I wanted them. Wow.

I was eleven, going on twelve. It was one of those major turning points in a Singaporean child’s life - the whole PSLE(Primary School Leaving Examination) exam, and the choosing of a secondary school to attend. For those of you not familiar with the education process in Singapore and a few other Asian countries, just remember this: The child’s entire future is pretty much dependent upon which school he or she gets into.

So when Mum asked me which school I wanted to apply to, I took some time to do some research. You might want to believe that I actually looked up statistics or asked friends who were in the prospective schools. I didn’t. All I wanted to know was which school Faith was in. She, being a year older, was already in secondary school. I just needed to align my choices appropriately.

As we were only acquaintances (much to my dismay) and add to that the fact that I was pretty much yellow-livered, I scoured around for clues much like a scavenger. The opportunity came when she brought a donation card to choir practice one night. It bore her school crest on it.

With a daily allowance of fifty cents, I couldn’t even fake an interest in donating money. I did, however catch a glimpse of the crest. The school name underneath the crest was written in an old cursive font that wasn’t quite readable in the dim lighting.

As we packed up and got ready to go home, I finally summoned the couraged to ask her.

“Which school are you in?”

“T.K.,” she replied.

Not wanting to look stupid in front of the girl I was very much infatuated with, I smiled and nodded.

Back home (that very night, mind you), I pulled out my Panini sticker book that contained within it all the school crests of Singapore. Like most other children, my short attention span meant that I did not finish collecting all the stickers, and many school crests were only empty squares. I went straight to secondary schools that began with the letter “T”.

Telok Kurau! Of course! How could I not have known?

Telok Kurau Secondary School was this rather dilapidated neighbourhood school near the place I lived. It was far from being elite. Their students were often seen at the bus stop in front of my house, smoking cigarettes, their crumpled white shirts untucked. From what I knew, not a very respectable school to attend.

But Faith was there. And I had to be there too.

A little concerned with laying down my entire future in order to win the heart of a girl who barely spoke two words to me, I asked Auntie Soo Eng where Faith went to school.

“T.K.”

Good. I hadn’t heard wrongly.

A few weeks later Faith wore her school uniform to church. Wait a minute. It’s not the white blouse - white skirt combination I remember T.K. students wearing. Hers was a weird green pinifore which she wore over a white t-shirt.

You could literally hear my brain scramble as its entire database was scanned for memories that would allow me to pinpoint which school the uniform belonged to.

Like her sister who unintentionally sabotaged my love-letter-writing, Faith had left out crucial information that made all the difference. TKGS(Tanjong Katong Girls’ School) was the full acronym of her school.

Tanjong Katong Girls’ School. There were many things I was willing to give up to be with her, but a sex-change wasn’t one of them. The dream of spending four years of secondary school with her thwarted, my one-track mind moved on to the next optimistic thought:

Junior Colleges were all co-ed.

Mislike Me Not for My Complexion

Due to the closure of all schools in Singapore due to the SARS outbreak, Faith is relieved of her teaching duties for a week and a half. We spent this afternoon (Singapore time) talking on the phone, about what married life would be like, how we’d do up our small apartment and so on.

“I’ll have to warn you first, I’ll grow very wrinkled after marrying you”, I told her.

“Why?”

“Because you make me smile all the time.”

Nearer Still Nearer

I called Faith a few moments ago - a surprise because it wasn't our usual phone-time. Hearing her smiles of pure joy had me grinning from ear to ear.

"I love you", I muttered. "Marry me?"

The question that I'd asked a million times has long become a statement of love - a reaction to love's sheer abundance rather than the question it once was.

"Of course I will", she replied. "Silly question".

Field of Dreams

A field of flowers for Faith

Some years ago I gave her a rose for Valentine’s. Being the romantic she was, she hung it to dry so that the keepsake would last longer than the few days flowers afford. An unfortunate gust of wind blew through her 22nd storey apartment and the rose was swept out of the window and unto the speeding cars that traversed the highway below.

I still tease her about the incident and she always responds with an apologetic smile that still lights up my heart.

So my dearest, thank you handling my heart with hands much more careful and tender than those. I pray that our lives together be like a field where flowers bloom after every rainfall; every blossom holding within itself a testimony of God’s grace, and our lives dewdrops reflecting His radiance.

A Point in Time

We often fall in love with the moment. A glimpse is all it takes for our hearts to pulsate erratically. A friend who dresses up for her prom may stir the currents of the heart in newfound ways. Or a stranger comforting you from your latest break up may end up being the Dennis Rodman of your heart. In the moment we make promises spanning lifetimes and eternities - it would seem that the overflowing richness of the moment were sufficient for as far as the mind can fathom.

The moment drags on and becomes a minute. The minutes grow into hours and we find the strength of our words disappearing into the silent vacuum of time. Questions arise as emotions fade. We no longer know what we knew but a moment ago.

Thanks for loving me. Every moment with you is a new moment filled with the super-abundance of the last. The moments have built upon each other the past fifteen years I’ve loved you.

May God grant us the love to last a lifetime.

Time Warp

It was nine in the morning. On the other side of the telephone conversation it was midnight. We couldn’t agree: whether or not to get our own place and all that it entailed. It was getting really late for her and she still had work to do. There are times I wish the pulse of the city would seize from a heart attack. It is such a ridiculous notion that life be so hectic that we have no time to talk about life. We have no time to solve our differences; no time to explore the perspectives of the other; no time to love or to live. We just keep moving, like one suffering from Parkinson’s. We move until we are dead. Only then do we stop. And many of us hope - at best - that some meaning will be found at the end of it.

So it is in this incessant need for activity that we ended our phone conversation unresolved: me in my uncertainty and she in her despair. Not only do we live in different time zones, we stand in different places of our lives. She’s been a member of the working class for three years, and I a student barely finishing my education.

It hurt especially when she said we were in very different places in our lives. I felt so inept; so unable to fulfill her dreams simply because of the place I was at. While my contemporaries talk about seeing the world, landing the big job or just partying like there’s no tomorrow, my future seems so fixed and static. Am I tempted by such allusions of grandeur? Of course I am. But I would so gladly give it all up for a quiet life with her. Because she’s home to me.

You are home to me. I want so much to start a life with you. Decorating our own little place, having dinner with you every night and watching you wake every morning. I want so much to make you happy, and it hurts that my intent is so feeble in the harsh, stark light of reality.

I cannot buy you a home. I cannot graduate any sooner. I don’t know if I’ll get a job fast enough upon my return. It hurts that I have to make you wait for the life we both want so much. I know that you’d never blame me, but it hurts that it is my fault - that I am the one holding the both of us back, and there is nothing I can do about it.

I have nothing but the intangibility of love. And it is all I have to offer you.

I love you.

Wedding Bells from Afar

I know this seems so utterly premature, but after reading this forum thread over at the Ricebowl Journals about the perfect wedding I couldn’t help but let my imagination fly once again.

Being the least musical of my friends doesn’t in any way impede my dreams that run wild and border on incredulity. I listen to my small collection of classical music mp3s and close my eyes.

I see myself playing Jules Massenet’s Meditation on the violin as I watch you walk slowly down the aisle. I smile, and it hurts because I’ve to concentrate on keeping the violin propped up against my neck. You look so wonderfully ravishing. My heart flutters as it does everytime I see you from a distance. Caught up in the moment I realise that there is silence in the hall - I’ve stopped playing.

I don’t know how to play the violin. I wish I did, because my skill with the classical guitar simply won’t allow me to play anything nice and have my head up to look upon you at the same time. Maybe we’ll just stick to CDs yah?

Why am I allowing myself to be so tied up in the details? All that matters is that you’re here. Now. Always. There’s music wherever you are, and your music has so utterly and completely capitivated me. I just want to be where you are.

Close and Yet Far

To my belovéd,

thanks for sharing about your experiences in China. Though it pains me to be so far away, I now know that our fates are not uncertain, but held very carefully and very dearly by His loving hand. It’s something I’m slowly learning I guess.

I used to think that I was relatively fearless, but now I see how wrong I’ve been. I fear losing you. I fear not loving you as much as I’d like. I fear not being the man I want you to marry and love.

I will continue to strive for all these things, not out of fear but out of diligence. Your strength and beauty envelopes me and it leaves me in awe, yet your gentleness and love soothes away whatever feelings of inadequacy I have within myself. It is such a marvelous feeling to know that your love for God is the manifestation of everything I’ve ever wanted; and that you watch over me, gently leading me back should I stray and loving me should I fall.

So in His wondrous way, God transcends all physical distances. I see His likeness in you, and I feel so close to you in Him.

Take care sweetie. I can’t wait to hold you again.

Owl Bee Bahk

Click here to popup card. Wait for the animated gif to cycle.

It was so very very good to hear your voice again. Halfway through the one week of silence while you were working in Australia I thought I would have gone mad.

I don’t remember what it is like to be alone anymore, but I know that I want you in my life. Every moment of it.

Longer Distance Relationship

A lot of people have asked how I deal with the agony of a long-distance relationship. Truth is, I don’t know. I don’t even know if I’ve “dealt” with it. There are often times I pine till it hurts, and I have to remind myself to stay busy just for the sake of sanity. There are other times my heart yearns for the warmth of another - any other - in the vague and futile hope that I may find you somewhere within.

Some people say it takes some getting used to, but I can never get used to not being close to you. In fact, it has gotten harder everytime I left you after the summer vacations are over.

Just when I thought that Arizona and Singapore couldn’t get any further you’re now in Australia. Even though the change in physical distance makes no tangible difference, the very thought pains my heart. Come back soon, I can’t wait for your week there to be over.

I don’t know how to survive the next seven months of not holding you.

Derelict Lyric

Heard Rod Stewart singing “Sometimes When We Touch” on radio tonight and it reminded me of you back in the days when we were really young. I overheard that you were singing this song with a few other people as a presentation to the student body in your school. I can’t remember the occasion or whom you sang it with anymore, these details have since deserted my memory.

I do remember sitting in the solitude of my tiny bedroom with the song running in my mind what must have been a thousand times over. I memorised the song and its lyrics simply because you did. It was some obscure form of comfort knowing that there was some chance that we might have been quieting singing the same song at the same time. I just wanted so much to be close to you in any way.

Sometimes when we touch the honesty’s too much and I have to close my eyes and hide I want to hold you till I die till we both break down and cry I want to hold you till the fear in me subsides.

It summed up the muddle-headedness I was feeling. The overwhelming desire to connect and its inherent fear all rolled into a single moment.

Now, miles and miles away from you. I sing the song in my head one more time, and I want so much to just hold you.

Marry Me

Just caught an old episode of The Practice on telly. It was the episode where Bobby asked Lindsay to marry him, with Helen eavesdropping in the background. Lindsay was in hospital, having just recoved from a stabbing.

There are times it takes the very real prospect of losing something to realise its true value, and a conversation I had with Faith this morning revolved around whether or not getting married was the right thing to do.

I know it sounds silly to many of you. We’ve the date set, we’ve booked the dinner place and we’ve even designed the invitation. I’ve never done this whole wedding thing before, but I think I can safely say that the doubts Faith and I discussed are not unique to the both of us. After all, marriage is a huge change from the status quo, and human beings as a species have never been very good at dealing with change.

My sister asked me a week ago why people bothered to get married. With the divorce rate and the pain that can be found in so many long-term relationships, why would anyone go through all the trouble? Being and older brother, I didn’t want to feed the sceptic in her. But more importantly, being a man on the verge of stepping over the threshold into a new life with Faith, I wanted to know for sure.

And these are the things I know.

I am thankful for every single moment spent with you. Every single moment. The times we laughed, cried, quarelled, prayed, talked, kept silent…the times we just were. I would be lying if I said I’ve never felt the temptation to “do my own thing”, but as I examine my own heart I know that I wouldn’t want to do my own thing without you by my side.

I’m aware of the transience of human life - its fleeting nature, and how soon all this will be over. But I want to capture the spark of the moment, and with you everything seems to move in slow-motion and in double-time…all at once. And in that moment, despite our weaknesses and failings we will find something beautiful that exists solely in the fact that God is who He is.

I want to marvel at the moment with you, holding your hand in mine.

I want you to be my wife…so very, very much.

God loves you. And I can see exactly why.

Flawed Design

Didn’t want to tell you guys that I designed my wedding invitation some weeks ago. Somehow I got caught up in the designing part, and forgot that dark grey (close to black) is hardly the colour for the ocassion.

Oh well, here it is. Or was.

Initial Wedding Invitation Design

Sunshine in Rain

This entry is for her.

Watched part of Les Misérables on DVD for the umpteenth time tonight. The part where Eponine sings “On my Own” till she dies singing “Little Fall of Rain”, but of course.

I am reminded of the time when you came over and we went through my wardrobe in an attempt to clear away the clothes that I never wore. I picked up this oversized long sleeved brown checkered shirt and pulled a piece of underwear over my head. I then clasped my hands together like the Von Trapp singers at a recital and started singing the first few lines of “On my Own”. I was trying hard to do my best rendition of Lea Salonga as Eponine.

We then laughed our heads off for the longest time.

I can’t begin to describe how much I missed you at that very moment of reminiscing. There is so much comfort in knowing that I can be totally silly around you and it brings me such great joy to watch you laugh. Yet at the same time the realisation of how far I am away from you is almost too painful to bear.

It’s another nine months before I come back home for good. I shudder at the thought.

In the meantime, my heart pines with ‘Ponine, and we remain companions on the road of life and love until she finds her love requited, and I find mine fulfilled in your arms.

How Sweet the Sound

There are times when I miss your scent, or the way your hand feels in mine. This morning I miss the sound of your voice. If I stay quiet and concentrate hard enough, I can actually hear you singing the loobylu song you taught me in the car, accompanied by yours smile and laughter.

Now we dance loobylu Now we dance loobylai Now we dance loobylu All on a Saturday night.

I only knew loobylu to be Claire till then.

Looking back at the moment it seemed so…complete. It felt perfect because you sang the most nonsensical lyric and yet through your effervescent joy made the most beautiful sense.

Our life together, even the times physically apart. The laughter and tears over the years all made sense, and everything falls into place.

Thoughts at a Wedding

I realised today at your former classmate’s wedding that part of me doesn’t want to marry you, because if I did I wouldn’t be able to take photographs of you and me for our wedding album. There is so much beauty when two people come together that I feel my heart pulsate thinking about how to fully capture the moment. Though images are formed and words flow fast, they are scarce able to describe the vast intricacies of the moment. Its many facets shine brightly, revealing beauty upon beauty, and loveliness trickles tangibly like dew on a blade of grass. I want to chronicle all this on the day of your wedding.

Yet another part of me wants to be the one standing next to you, holding your hand as you nervously grasp mine. I feel the heat of your hand through the lattice of your gloves. I want to look into your eyes and speak the vows uttered so many times in the solace of my heart. I want to start a home and family with you, not by the strength of my own character or arm, which are both fallible, but by God’s strength. Strength that endures, and love that never fails. I half fear that my own weakness and shortcomings will rob you of the happy life I wish for you, but I want it to be me. I want you to be with me. At your wedding.

At our wedding.

First Date

I remember our first “date” well though it was almost a decade ago. I asked if I could go with you to make the bus-pass you lost. We had to travel to Buona Vista MRT Station, and it was a long way from the East where we stayed. Not long enough. I can’t remember what we spoke about, or if I was funny and made you laugh. We saw a pelican that day, and you seemed impressed that I could recognise it. I remember it being brown and large. Frankly, pelicans are hardly native to Singapore and I hope I didn’t make a mistake. You were beautiful that day, though you might argue that green wasn’t exactly your colour.

I’m glad you lost your bus-pass. I had waited four years for that day.

Hand Delievered Breakfasts

Campbell's Mushroom SoupThere’s something magical about early mornings. Back when you were in Junior College, I woke up at four-thirty in the morning and made you the best breakfast I knew how. Mushrooms, cheese and spices between two slices of toast. I spread a thin layer of Campbell’s mushroom soup to give it a little saltiness. The fifteen minute walk was fueled by the anticipation of your smile upon receiving my little gift to you. And smile you did. I never guessed that having the same sandwich every morning for a month or two might be tedious because you always smiled. Back home, people were wondering why open cans of mushroom soup were always found in the refrigerator.

I've Got Time

You asked me the time very many years ago. I went home smiling: “you asked me the time”. I might have misinterpreted it - “you, me, for all time”. I was twelve and my heart heard things my ears didn’t. That same night you gave me a piece of candy as well. I still have it somewhere in a shoebox where I’ve kept all these things all these years. I’m not about to commit suicide by eating it anytime soon, but I look at it and it brings a smile to my face. Those were the small things that kept me going.

First Movie

Fern Gully - The Movie The first movie I watched with you was Fantasia. Well ok, we weren’t exactly alone in a group of about ten friends but it felt special. The very first one we watched alone was Fern Gully at the old Cathay cinema. We walked past the Orange Julius downstairs and you stopped me from buying you an orange juice there because you thought it was too expensive. I would have paid almost any price for your company, but it was your simple down-to-earth nature that made me marvel at you all the more.

In Hope

There’ll come a day when things will be different. There’ll be fewer phone calls from me. I won’t chat with you over the Internet as much, or send you as many emails.

I’ll no longer be on the other side of the phone because I’ll be on the same side you are. I won’t be typing instant messages to you because I’ll be hugging you from behind as you type. I’ll be there, as your husband.

There won’t be any more need for goodbyes or see-you-laters. But there are some things which I don’t want to give you less of. I still want to write you letters with my own hand, or ask you how you are when I see you. I don’t ever want to stop telling you how much I thank God for you.

Marriage Plans

We’ve waited a long, long time to get married. Ten years. The past month or so our dreams came closer to their realisation, with us discussing the possibility of getting married over the summer when I got home. My heart thumped with anticipation. Sure, I was a little frightened, but the thought of me starting a new life with you was nothing short of exhilarating. We’d get the paperwork done, and hold the church wedding when I could afford it. Maybe a year later. I’d legally be your husband, and you’d be my wife. I’ve waited so long for this. I could almost taste it.

After praying about it we came to the conclusion this morning that having the church wedding and legal paperwork together would somehow be more pleasing to God. There was a greater sense of peace that came with this decision, and at the same time it was a source of pain. It would mean that we’d have to wait at least another year. At least.

Even though the dashing of the hopes we held these few weeks proved painful, it feels good that we are willing to do what is right in His eyes above our own wants. Your willingness to submit to God only reaffirms my determination to marry you some day. Thank you for not being bitter about having to wait, even though I know that it’s as hard on you as it is on me. On so many levels, I know what the Lord must feel like waiting for His bride to be ready for His reappearing.

I want our marriage to be perfect - a small reflection of how Christ loves His church.

A Small Companion

I remember the time you went to New Zealand. I was twelve then. I remember it well because you didn’t come to church those two Sundays. Till then, it never occurred to me how much seeing you meant to me. I know that you didn’t have feelings for me, or even give me a second glance, but it was such a joy to be able to see you, even if it was for those few precious seconds. Though it sounds almost heretical, seeing you sort of gave me strength to last through the week ahead. I would endure the next six days, till I saw you again.

So it was no wonder those two weeks seemed the longest of my life. The initial shock of your disappearance was slowly overcome by a dull ache and a feeling of loss. I didn’t know how to handle not being able to sneak in my weekly furtive glances. Then came the knowledge that my agony would last not one week but two. TWO WHOLE weeks. That almost killed me. The pain was almost too much for my twelve year old heart to take.

Years later, after we got together, your family embarked on another vacation. You gave me the house keys so that I could feed Hammy (the house hamster) every day. It had been a long time, but the same feelings came back, this time stronger. I stayed over at your house some nights, looking at the sea. We had so many night time chats at that window, often gazing at the stars and watching the ocassional plane glide by. Hammy was the recipient of my nighttime rants of how I missed having you around. He would have made a pretty good therapist where he still around today. He listened.

Thank you for calling a few moments ago. Not talking to you last night made me miss you. You should have seen the smile I had on my face when my sister said the call was for me. Hearing your voice I pressed my ear closer to the earpiece, and I was almost sure I was close enough to smell your hair. I’ll be back for summer. I can hardly wait.

So Far Yet So Near

No one said it would be easy. The physical distance. The new environment I would be in. Unable to see your face or hear your voice half as much as I would have wanted. We both thought it would get easier with time, but frankly, we both agreed that it has gotten harder. I miss you so much that it hurts. Were the choice mine, I’d fly back and forget the whole quest for education that I had come here to pursue.

I feel terrible for making you wait so long, and I hope you know that I want to marry you so much. I thank God continually that you’re in my life, and I don’t ever want to have to be away from you. It is still not easy, and we can only rely on God’s grace to see us through the remaining year ahead.

I love you. Can’t wait for you to get home so I can call you.

Phone Habits

It’s amazing isn’t it? We’ve spoken to each other on the phone for every night the last almost ten years now. Well, except for times when it was impossible to, or when we were out together. I can’t imagine talking to anyone that much, but somehow we always have things to talk about. We’ve grown a lot over these years, and I guess we have to continually make sure we grow in the same direction. A decade worth of phone calls - that’s a lot of ten cent coins. Even now my heart still jumps with anticipation at your call.

The time you fell asleep on the other side of the line was hilarious. You zonked out on me and woke up only three hours later. I didn’t want to be rude and hang up on you - something which I never ever want to do. You mumbled things ocassionally during the three hours and I’d tell you to put the phone down, only to be met with some irrelevant answer that must have originated from the depths of your beautiful dreams.

I don’t ever want to hang up. Well, except for when I need a loo break.

Ring the Wrong Number

Getting you a ring was hardly a surprise gift - I’m pretty sure back then you knew it was coming, but not when. The less than subtle hints were picked up of course, and being your wonderful boyfriend, I had to pretend that it didn’t penetrate my thick skull, and at the same time make plans to get the ring, and fast.

I finally saved up enough for a simple ring and headed down to Parkway Parade. After some deliberation, I got you the platinum ring you now wear on your finger. I wanted our relationship to be Christ and God-centered and had picked the Bible verse to engrave upon it. Thanks to my apparent lack of Bible knowledge, I headed to Scripture Union bookstore (which is no longer there) to borrow the concordance. The verse I had intially wanted was

“Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind” - Luke 10:27

I just wanted to engrave Lk 10:27 on the inside of the ring, but I thought Lk didn’t look very nice. Searching the concordance and hoping to find the same thing in another gospel, I found Matthew 12:37. Now Mt 12:37 looked better than Lk on any good day. I went up to the jeweller and had it done. My love for you, and the direction I had wanted for the both of us was now set in stone.

When I gave you the gift you wondered about the verse and decided to check the Bible to see what it meant. I wanted you to realise that no matter how close we became, God always had to have the first place in our lives and our hearts. You then had a puzzled look on your face and read the verse

“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” - Matthew 12:37

I sat there stunned, checked it out for myself….the reference is correct. Apparently the concordance had tons of data in little tiny fonts and I had hit the wrong line. And it was set in stone. You looked at my dismay and smiled. You then said, “well, it’s a good reminder anyway”.

My heart pumped with warm blood. You didn’t blame me or ridicule me then. In that moment my heart lay bare and upon it was engraved “God loves me” and its evidence was to be found in your eyes. Eyes that held no bitterness or loss, and in the silent solitude of my heart I hugged you.

Thank you for loving me so much dearest. I love you too, even if I mess up every now and then.

Missing You Here and Now

Listening to Air Supply isn’t exactly the smartest thing to do but I do it anyway. I miss you, right now, right here. I know these pages are meant to be ones of memories and times past but I just want to thank you for everything that you’ve been to me all this time.

Seashells on the Seashore

We picked shells along the beach back in 1989. We watched the sunrise almost everyday for a week. I don’t remember us talking much, but I remember you - how close you were. I fell in love with you back then. That was the definitive moment it happened. Immediately after the Church camp you acted like it all never happened. I didn’t know what to think, or what to believe. The two bags of seashells I had in my cupboard were proof, and your imprint upon my heart smelt of the seaside breeze blowing through your hair. It seemed almost a different place and time. Almost a different person.

I made a small necklace out of those seashells some years later. I remember threading them together and hoping that it’d stir up some memories within you. Now when I walk along the beach with you and smell the breeze through your hair I remember those days. I remember the girl I fell in love with so long ago. And I reach down and hold her hand. I could do this everyday, for the rest of my life.

First Gift

The first gift that I successfully gave you (not counting all those I unwittingly gave to your neighbour downstairs) was the little cross-stich with your name on it. One of those cheap wooden circular frames. It was meant to say “My Room” but I changed the words, keeping the little rainbow by the side, and the small blue waves that rolled under. Min was about six or seven years old back then. She went through my drawer, pulled out the cross-stich and brought it to my mother, complaining loudly that I had deviated from the printed instructions. I was highly embarassed but was glad that my mom decided to laugh it off. She thought it was funny, her son having his first crush. Puppy love or something. He’s only eleven. She never saw this coming.

I did.

A Little Poultry

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz, or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off. I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul. I love you as the plant that never blooms but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers; thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance, risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body. I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride. So I love you because I know no other way than this : where I does not exist, nor you, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, that when you fall asleep, I close my eyes. Pablo Neruda

Furtive Glances

It was funny how oblivious you were of your effect on me. I looked forward to seeing you every weekend at church, not that it was my only motivation to be there, but it was definitely some sort of a huge bonus. In fact, it was something that kept me going through the week, knowing that at the end of those six long days, I’d get to see you again, even if it was from a distance. There were times when you didn’t come. You have no idea the sort of misery it was knowing that it was going to be another six days. Even now, I don’t know what it is about looking at you from a distance, but the warm feeling it brings is has not gone away. I still glance at you from time to time, only this time you look up, meet me eye to eye, and smile. In those very moments, I know without a doubt that my life is indeed blessed.

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

One of the stupidest things I’ve done in my entire life probably stemmed from the mistake of misreading your address.

I was 13 at that time and after a lot of deliberation, managed to ask your sister for your home address. I don’t think I did too good a job of disguising my feelings for you. She laughed me in the face back then but wrote it down anyway. She came back to me a few minutes later to correct the address, for she had forgotten to add in the # sign that comes in front of most housing block addresses. In her attempts to squeeze in that # sign, she wrote over the first digit of your house number.

Overcome with the sense of euphoria that I now had your address, I proceeded to send letters and cards for every and any occasion I could think of. Christmas, birthdays, hanukkah (I would if I knew when that was). I stood on the ground floor many a time and looked at the window of your house. I had so painstaking counted them one by one to make sure I had the right window frame. Two years went by and it seemed as if there was no response whatsoever to my letters and cards.

I was thankful though, for at least that meant that I was not humiliated or rejected. For two whole years I sent letters and cards, not by post, but by hand. Waiting carefully for the right moment till the shadows passed away from the main door and I’d rush up and stuff whatever cargo I carried under the sliver under the door. Then I’d run away, half afraid someone would open the door and ask me what I was doing. For two whole years I laboured over what words to pen, that the messages might be as eloquent as they possibly could. For two whole years I expressed my love to the wrong audience, running away from ghosts that never existed, when the angel I had wanted to gaze upon lived twenty floors above.

Thanks For The Memories

It has been almost ten weeks since I’ve been back, and four days before I head back to Arizona. It gets increasingly hard knowing that I won’t be able to hold Faith’s hand or have breakfast with her after next week. Thank you for the wonderful time, and the beautiful memories. I want so much to marry you. If only weddings didn’t cost that much…

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