Friday, May 26, 2006

Leaving Home

Mum decides not to come. I hug her goodbye. She doesn't get up and I feel the tears sting.

I blink them back.

Tomorrow I will be in KL - a new life, new place to stay, new people. Ripped from my old life. I still can't quite get my head around it. Who are these people I am supposed to be living with? It all happened so quickly. Yesterday I was sitting in this tiny little Chinaman office pretending to be a clerk and today, I am off to the capital to train as a journalist.

An essay, a test, an interview, a phone call:

"We are offering you a place in our cub reporter programme. Yes? No?"

Another phone call, an accommodation secured.

Who are these people I am supposed to be living with anyway? I don't know. Except that they're from our church. They're Malayalee. They're supposed to be "nice". Nice as they are, they will still be strangers. Surrounded by strangers. No familiar faces.

What if the newspaper discovers it made a mistake and I'm actually not good enough? Will think about that later. Will worry about everything later.

I get into the long white Toyota Crown. It will get us to KL. Barely. It shoots red sparks from the exhaust. Frequently, Dad will pull over. Then he will start the car, coax it gently along. It takes 11 hours to make the four-hour journey. Ivan takes over the wheel for the last stretch. He nods off and the car swings across the road.

We nearly die but not quite.

Tomorrow, we find the house I am supposed to stay in. It's massive and the old python of a patriarch regards me with malevolent pleasure.

"You have to be home by 10."

"We won't be giving you a key."

"You can't use our telephone."

"And no boyfriends."

He leaves and I turn to say goodbye to my family. Julie throws herself at me and bursts into tears: "I thought they would be nice Jenn-fer..."

I thought so too.

10 comments:

Andy said...

Remember that this, too, is merely a stop on the journey that is your life. And this, too, shall pass. Best of luck in your new career! You're a brilliant writer. I expect to see many bylines from you in the near future!

part-time buddha said...

The good traveller casts aside his map and is not intent upon her destination.
-Lao Tzu

I've noticed that church-people are the nicest people in the world - as long as you play by their rules.
-part-time buddha

Jenn said...

Andy: This happened fifteen years ago. It did pass, like almost at once because an aunt showed up and took me away from that frightening family (actually only the patriarch was frightening) the other members were simply silent, cowed into subjection. Thank you sweetie. I love you too.

PTB: Until today, if I meet one of these people I freeze up and feel my heart pounding furiously. I need to get out of breathing distance. Nice is as nice does. Christ hung out with prostitutes and publicans and so shall I.

A thinker said...

eek. sounds like a nightmare.

followup story coming? about how you got rescued by aunt?

I shall read.

Jenn said...

A thinker: OK one follow-up story coming up. The rescue.....hmmmmmm.

David Cho said...

Any pictures from that house?

goldennib said...

I am so glad you got rescued.

Righteous people scare me.

Jenn said...

David: I was not there long enough. And even if I was, do you think I would want visual reminders of my misery?

Nessa: Me too. Hope I don't grow up to be one of them.

that girl in pink said...

thank god that phase is over. it sounded most depressinf. felt so bad towards the end of the story...

Jenn said...

Thanks. But you know, in a way, I'm glad it happened. Helped me appreciate everything that much more after.