Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Day Before The Day

There is a shocking pink doggie bed on the floor of my room. A recent acquisition. Today, actually. After I finished the slew of errands that I had to get through before D-hour, I went out there and bought my Arnold what in doggie-world should be the heights of luxury. A doggie bed. I didn't think he'd mind the colour. After all, it's roomy and comfortable.

But Arnold, being Arnold, and rapidly turning back into his spoilt self (the emotional effects of the shelter apparently wearing off, though not the cough or the cold) sniffed disdainfully at it. I coaxed him on by sitting on it and gathering him into my lap. Then slowly removing myself and allowing him to test it out. He rolled
over once or twice, caught up my hand and pretended to bite it (a favourite game) and after a bit, he'd had enough and picked himself and trotted off the more attractive floor. Where he's seated himself out of reach, but where he has direct sight of said hideous bed and whatever else I might be up to. Have to give him his second dose of cough mixture today and am not looking forward to it. Mostly cos he hates it and fights pretty hard. I don't seem to have the knack of giving this dog his medicine. At best, he spits it out. At worst, he throws up.

It was a busy day. After Arnold woke me up with his usual hacking cough (I thought I'd taken care of that, somewhat, but apparently it's more persistent that I thought) and I forced his antibiotic and then his cough mixture down his throat, I fell back into bed for a short nap (pretty short, I had a full day and couldn't afford to sleep as much as I wanted) and then took myself off.

First to immigration to go see about my wrecked passport which they were giving me a break on and not filing a case. When I'd told my friend Harvinder about the broken bottle of port in my bag and the drenched passport, she leaned back coolly and asked me to "be prepared" for a whole heap of shit.

Apparently when you mess with your passport in anyway, immigration comes down heavy on you. Hers had disappeared into the washing machine, courtesy of a husband who didn't like clothes strewn on the floor, post-trip, gathered them all into his not-so-scrawny arms and dumped them higgledy piggledy into the machine.

Apparently when your passport goes through the wash, it looks worse than when it is baptised by a bottle of port.

Who knew?

Anyway, an immigration officer who identified herself as Subashini called me: "Miss Jennifer, I'm the officer assigned to look into your case. Actually the damage is not too bad. You can come do the passport the normal way."

Which is why when I finally made it there at 10 in the morning (which is very late by immigration standards) and finally managed to locate her, she greeted me with a smile and said, "next time don't be so careless with your passport or we'll have to open a case." I hung my head, dug my toe into the ground, and "aw shucksed" like any errant teenager. Then she handed me over to a smiling fellow who processed everything quicksmart and asked me to stick around to pay for my passport.

"How long?"

"Not long. Maybe 15 minutes."

"Oh good. I have time to get to an ATM."

And I was out and back in the appointed time. And the cashier dudette said, "OK come back at 11.45 to collect your new passport." It was 10.45 then. I went out for an ill-conceived wander around Section 17 which is large and sprawling and where the road numbers make no sense at all. I traversed the length and breadth without finding the road I wanted. But when it got close to 11.45 and I had to head back to immigration, I saw roads that looked close to what I wanted.

So I went back (getting very familiar with this carpark now - thankfully today, no creepy dudes tailgating me) sprinted upstairs, just in time for my number to be called. Who'd have thunk?

So there I was, fresh with new passport, a good start to the day. Then it was off for my medical (starting a new job after all, and it's apparently par for the course, though I've had two jobs in between this and my first real job with no medical at all, none!).

This time, I found the road straight away. A little more difficult trying to park but eventually I did. And then I was in and out in about 20 minutes. Urine sample. Chest X-ray. Tired-looking doc taking my blood pressure, pulse, listening to my heartbeat. Aced the eye test. Simply aced it. Which was about the only thing I could know for sure.

While sitting in the doctor's office I called my credit card company and asked them why they hadn't sent me a cheque for the amount they owed me. Instead, they had credited it into a non-existent credit card. The girl goes, oh we didn't know you wanted to cancel the card. It's only blocked not cancelled.

Hmmm. My understanding is that when someone steals your card, it's cancelled.

Neways, she said, don't worry. I've just done it. The money will be credited into your savings account by Friday. Anything else?

I hung up feeling lighthearted. More and more stuff being gotten out of the way. Amazingly I'd be able to cross everything off my to-do list today. And this with practically no sleep at all.

While I was in the throes of the medical a friend texted me. "Lunch?" Well, actually she'd texted me much earlier. I only saw it when I retrieved my phone to call the bank.

I answered: "Medical now. After?"

Which she was cool with. So after reading B and P off the charts, I took myself off to the shopping centre she was in. Only, not being familiar with the roads, I found myself heading in the wrong direction.

No problem. Internal GPS recalculating. Make a U-turn here. So I did. Light traffic which made it easy. (I love easy. It sure beats hard). Got there. Found the last bit of Supernatural Season 6 (Yay!). And the full Season 4 of Big Bang Theory (Double Yay). We had a lovely quick lunch at Subway - mmmmmm....sandwiches...it amounts to an obsession, but if I were not obsessive I would not be anything. Just shadow and vapour and clothes walking around without a person inside.

Then we found a hairdresser. Yay! Hairwash. Seated next to each other, chatting away over the din of the hair dryers, there was a minor adventure. The wires caught fire. Really! One minute it was a hot afternoon in nearly June and the next minute...it was a potential disaster. My guy stamped it out, removed wires that had been burned through (extension cords, what else) and fitted his hair dryer directly to the power point. And tried to act nonchalant. It sort of worked in that we calmed down. At the same time it didn't work in that we won't be going there again anytime soon.

And then it was time to grocery shop and I bumped into a famous senior journalist who'd heard from his girlfriend that I would be joining them (his girlfriend that is, not him). He said congratulations and I didn't know you lived around here and you must come by for a drink sometime. And he gave me his address. He was looking for corn chips and pineapples and he was making dinner. Salsa, or so he told me. Yum.

And then I decided to head over the other side of the road, to see if I could get Arnold a bed. I could. Ugly colour, but it was comfortable right? Isn't that what counts? Apparently not.

Anyways, I got home, unloaded the car, shooting off instructions to my father (you see, I bought fish. I'm putting it in the fridge. Don't forget to cook it. Fish. Tenggiri. I repeated a few times in case he hadn't caught it the first few hundred times) And then I climbed onto my bed, sorted out the DVDs trying to figure out which one to watch first.

Supernatural. Definitely Supernatural.

And so saying, fell fast fast asleep, so much so that I shot out of bed, heart pounding hours later thinking, oh shit, my first day of work and I'm late.

I wasn't.

It was still the night before.

Time for bed.

Good night sweet princes/ses.

The Flaneur That Was

I wish I was writing this when I was wide awake and halfway sober. OK I am sober. The one brandy warm water didn't do much and I didn't feel like a second or third drink although Louis and then Mark urged most pressingly.

Sometimes you just don't feel like drinking. So what can you do?

I went to Backyard for the first time in weeks. So much so that Mark greeted me with:

"You haven't been here for two years? Where have you been? Down South?"

And I replied: "Two years? Now I know you're Indian. If I had doubts before."

(For those not in the know, Indians tend to exaggerate. Everything)

Mark has come up with a new song. His own. Music and lyrics. It was really catchy and he said, "This one's for Jennifer."

I listened and couldn't identify it but liked it anyway and later when he came around he told me. His own song.

All I can say is wow.

So I went there alone because none of my peeps were available and because when no one is available and I want to go, I go anyway. But the Monday night crowd is as familiar as an old blanket that kind of smells of you, you know one part perfume, two parts sweat...

Anyway, I seated myself at one of the "good command of the stage" seats and then saw Louis who was sitting in what was my favourite place in the whole of Backyard. He beckoned for me to come join him so as I said, Backyard on a Monday night. Full of familiar people. Of course some are the familiar people you don't want to see, like the skinny model who has the hots for Mark and shoots me this contemptuous look as she sails off to play pool, her hair falling in perfect waves around her perfect little skinny face.

Mark catches me glancing her way and says: "Yes, she irritates me too."

Although I'm not sure he means it. Probably trying to be nice. After all, I haven't been here for two years, so must be nice to me. Not many people scream, stomp and cheer like I do.

Fans. Can't put a value on them.

So I say, hey, guess what? My days of bumming are over.

And Mark says, really? where?

And I say, The Edge. I start Wednesday.

And he says, OK. Well congratulations. Where is it again?

And I say, opposite the Curve.

And Louis (who is drunk by now, polishing off half a bottle of Chivas Regal) tells me about various people in the bar. He asks about one. Tells me about another. Gets really agitated when some young girls and old men start dancing.

I watch the cliche playing out on Jerry's newly installed wooden dance floor and will myself to just be. Not have any judgements about it. After all, everyone is here to have fun. And people are probably having the same reaction to me sitting with Louis and chatting with him. Married man. I'm chums with his wife. I ask why he didn't bring her. He says she has to wake up early for work. That sort of thing. So we just chat. But someone from the outside looking in could have judgements about it.

And it's been a hectic week. I've had NST chasing me for two stories which sort of divided like amoeba into four. The thing was, two was impossible. Four was simple. And manageable. You know how paradoxical some of these paradoxes are.

Arnold is back with me. I took him back. He had settled in at the shelter (except for a fight which he instigated with one of the younger newcomer dogs, in which he came off worse, much worse) and kennel cough. He was mad at me at first. After all, I had abandoned him. He stayed by the gate for two days and howled. Sabrina ignored him. And then, hungry, tired and heartsick, he went up to her. And she fed him. And little Arnold transferred his affection. When I came, he saw me, jumped up to lick me once, and then went back and stuck close to her.

What did I expect?

I bundled him into the car and he climbed all over me trying to look out of the window. He hadn't wanted to leave the shelter. He didn't trust me anymore.

When we got home, he ran up and jumped on Dadda. I was surprised that the D-man got a much more enthusiastic reception than me. But, whatever. I had stopped along the way to buy him some food - rice and meat. One thing Sabrina said was that no matter what was wrong with him, his appetite was good. Very good. Arnold REALLY loved his food.

Funny how he was always so fussy with us and left half his food or turned up his nose at it, no matter how expensive. This has changed. I filled his bowl with rice and meat and Arnold went for it, with a vengeance. He left the bowl clean.


Sabrina also told me that Arnold was somewhat of a Houdini. He would jump and nudge open the bolts on the gates and let the other dogs out into an area they were not supposed to be. Then he would bark to alert her (she would be doing something inside and he wanted her to come out) and she would come out and herd the dogs back in, wondering how they got out. It happened a few times before she caught on as to who was the culprit. After which she tied him up. And the mysterious gate-openings promptly ceased.

Last night he slept in my room for the first time since he came back last Tuesday. And he coughed and hacked all night and threw up in the morning. So I took him to the vet. Who doled out cough mixture and antibiotics. I wrestled him to the ground and fed him both when we came back. He's stopped coughing so much. And the awful discharge in both his eyes (which has been there since I picked him up) seems to have lessened.

He's mad at me now as I forced some more cough mixture down his throat when I got back from Backyard. There he was tail a-wagging to greet me, and here I was, evil with the yucky syrup and the syringe. A dog's life is full of trial and tribulation.

Like cough mixture.

And horrid little pills.

And being spanked for chasing and pinning down the schnauzer and dragged home in ignominy.

And being abandoned at will.

First one. Then the other. Nothing is sacred anymore. And you can't trust anybody.

After I've clicked publish, I'm going to see if I can coax him back to my room and soothe his storm-tossed spirits.

So yeah. Arnold's back. New job. It's been a busy week.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Sometimes I feel like someone has thrown up a wall between me and the rest of the world. None of my words get through and I seem to be existing in an alternate universe. I watch others through a glass, darkly, through a mirror, but I reach out and touch the hard surface, something impenetrable between me. And them. So many thems. All singing on the other side. They do not see me. It's like in a dream. They do not know I watch.

Being Zen is easy when you're in a spa, or in your room, sitting cross-legged on a meditation mat, chanting OM over and over again and observing your breathing. It's not as easy when you've a meeting to get to, and although you've arrived at the toll plaza two hours early, you've gone straight into a road that resembles a parking lot.

From the emergence of ambulances, you know there must be an accident up ahead. But the traffic continues to arrive and it's been 10 minutes and you have barely inched forward. 20 minutes. Half an hour.

Finally, you manage to get out of there, double back, try to find another way. To no avail. You arrive at the meeting you could not miss, 40 minutes late, to face a very pissed off client.

Try to remain Zen through it. Try to do it as every car on the road misbehaves, and you nearly get into a dozen accidents as the panic level rises. When your bones feel funny and creaky and injured as if there were hairline cracks on all, and you think, no, I cannot fall apart now, I have to make this, I cannot fall asleep now, I have to make this...

Funnily enough the first part of the journey, at the later part of four in the morning was as peaceful as the night. Some fog, a few car lights, quiet, quiet, sounds only of the MP3 plug-in, and the early early morning, caressing you with its knowing, its certainty. Yes, we were early. We would be on time. No problem.

So the traffic started to pick up around Seremban. So what? We were still early. Masses of time. So there were signs that said, traffic is slow after toll. So what? Traffic is always slow(er) after the toll. Masses of time.

But there's a difference between "slow" and "not moving at all".

And when we manage to turn back and go through Kajang, getting onto the LDP, the traffic is crawling. Another accident. And guess what? It's not only the police and ambulance that's out. There are people standing outside the IOI Mall.

"Fire drill," says Chubs, who is the one late for the meeting. I am the one trying to get him there on time and getting more frantic with each passing moment. I breathe in and out. Tell myself that this panic never got anyone anywhere. And panic a little more anyway.

Then he looks more closely. There is smoke billowing out of the mall. There are firefighters shooting jets of water into it.

"No, not a drill, there's a real fire."

And the traffic continues to crawl. A road I was following which said Petaling Jaya/Kuala Lumpur suddenly says, no, I'm heading towards Cheras. Which is not where I want to be heading. And as traffic on both sides is chock a block, I cannot inch my way into the right road. But which is the right road? The signs seem to be confused. After I change roads the signs ahead tell me that I was originally on the right road after all.

Anymore of this and I am going to hit someone real hard.


We arrive at Chubs's house and he rushes to iron a shirt and perform his ablutions. I help him with the shirt. We rush out of the house post-haste and he decides to drive because my jerky emergency braking is not helping matters any.

"Wow. This is such a strange day. We seem to be blocked every step of the way," I say.

But we take only 15 minutes to get to his office. I'm tired. Real tired. But I take over the wheel and head on home. To take a nap. Before my assignment. A few minutes at least as I'm feeling quite shattered.

I wake up to find all the veins in my eyes have popped. I have seriously red eyes. And I have to go interview these women about a national form of art. I arrive too early, so go off by myself and have a very very oily bowl of aglio olio that I don't finish. Make a mental note never to eat in this place again (OK I was giving it a chance, but apparently, it didn't deserve the chance, good to know) and then, cross the road in the midst of a thunderstorm to get to the house I have to conduct the interview in.

They're lively and engaged and nice...I'm struggling to keep awake (which sometimes happens) and after...I come home, this time to sleep. For real.

It's five hours later before I emerge from the mists of Morpheus. Chubs is supposed to call me to come pick him up as I have his car. I give him a call and he says, yeah, I'm still at the office, I'll call you when I get onto the LRT.

But it's two hours later and he hasn't called and he isn't answering his phone or texts. I feel a sliver of worry, mixed with the knowledge that Chubs regularly misplaces his phone, leaves in the car, the apartment, the office. But it's late. And he is likely very very tired. And unlike me, he had to hit the ground running. No five-hour nap.

I hope he's OK.

Still not feeling very Zen.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sleep, Errands, Work, Maybe

It's 12.39 over here, noon, and surprisingly I'm up. And not only am I up, but I have managed to do a ton of stuff already. Perhaps a little unsurprising as I only came to JB this time around cos Mum was off for a reunion and she needed someone to babysit the dogs. Also, to wake up at the ungodly hour of 7 (7! I ask you!) and send her to the cathedral where she and her homegirls would be catching the bus to Malacca.

Of course my weird sleeping schedule has thrown everything a little out of whack. Yesterday at 11 when I was still deep in the throes of slumber (I had been up until about six in the morning, first, finishing Shawn Achor's The Happiness Advantage and secondly, inputting the Piper At The Gates of Dawn for my happiness blog) I got a call from Chubs. He wanted to know if I was going back. Sleepily, I murmured something like: Mmmmm, ahhh, yeah.

And he said, OK I'll follow you. I nodded into my pillow and agreed. And then fell fast asleep again after saying, OK in one hour, maybe two. I stumbled out of the room briefly to see my Dadda all dressed up. He said he needed to go get some money to pay the guys who fixed the air con. I forbade him to go walking anywhere (the moment he steps out of the house into the hot sun, he gets giddy and then laid up for like, a week) and emptied the contents of my wallet, which was just about enough to cover what he needed and went right back to bed.

To sleep, perchance to dream. And dream I did. Arnold was standing in our airwell. I stared and stared at him, rubbing my eyes. He looked younger and more well-cared for. Though how he could look so good when he must have run away from the shelter, which is far, far away, and made his way back home, I didn't know. I called my father out. "Dadda, come and see, is this really him?" and my father came out and said, yes, it is.

Deep deep sleep. The kind of sleep where you pinch yourself to see if the vision will go away and it doesn't.

So in the midst of all this sleep, I hear Ivan arriving. And he's asking Dadda, you mean she hasn't woken up yet?

And I stumble out of the room and say, no I was talking to Thomas on the phone and he was telling me his mother-in-law got robbed because they didn't have the dog at home.

And I get funny looks from both the father and the brother. Firstly, I do not speak to Thomas (a cousin). Secondly, he doesn't have a dog. Thirdly, his mother-in-law did not get robbed.

I say, I think I was dreaming.

And they say, yeah, most probably.

Dadda says, go eat, wash your face nicely and then go. So I do.

We take Chubs's car (which is, let's admit it, way more comfortable) and he drives the first half of the journey so I snuggle into my seat and fall fast fast asleep. Again.

Halfway through I notice that Chubs is popping the tic tac, a sure sign that he's falling asleep. The journey so far has been through torrential rains as Malaysia has decided it's had enough of a heatwave and the rains are making up for lost time. So I say, want me to take over?

And Chubs says, yes, we'll change at Ayer Keroh. Which is like, Malacca. So we stop at a service station over there, and make the switch.

Funnily enough, the moment I take over it's blue skies all the way. And we arrive in JB in very good time, as there is no jam past the toll (although there should be at this time, seeing as it's just after office hours) and we make it home with time to spare. The dogs go crazy and Mum stumbles out to open the gate smiling and saying, bloody fool lar, why couldn't you take a bit longer.

Because we're interrupting her Hindi soap marathon. (Chubs really interrupted it as he changed channels and watched the last part of The Last Samurai instead).I'm giddy from the drive as well as the lack of sleep and go upstairs and crash. Only to wake up and find Chubs is spritzing me with water. He wants to know what I want for dinner. And then to wake up to Mums bellowing out my name...come and eat, come and eat.

And then it's a packing extravaganza (she packs all of four outfits for one dinner because she can't decide between them) and then she switches off the light very determinedly (no Jenny, no reading, you go to sleep).

And I wake to find her puttering about until it's time to send her off. Chubs wakes up and drives. And her friends are so impressed by this minor feat of us sending my mother that they all stand around, smile and nod and tell her how lucky she is.

Unidentified friend of Mum's: Are you coming with us?

Me: No, we came from KL to feed the dogs.

Unidentified friend of Mum's: Oh yes, the dogs.

Our dogs are famous. They are the source of many excuses whenever my mother doesn't want to do something. She says, there's no one to feed the dogs. And just a few days ago, the one person she could depend on to do it when she was not here, passed away. It was all very sad.

After we sent Mums, it was still early - so off to Kerala Restaurant for appam for breakfast, then to Pasar Tani for the dog's food (and some of our food as well) and then to the post office to renew the Big M's road tax, and then back home to watch Prince of Persia (OK that was not planned, more of a coincidence really, and is Jake Gylenhaal the cutest thing since bulldog puppies or what?) and make the doggie's lunch.

They've eaten, Chubs is now out for lunch with his girlfriend (I asked him to bring me back the Mask of Zorro so I get to see Don Diego training Alejandro, sort of like Yoda training Luke, nahmean?) and I am sleepy. Wondering whether to read some and knock off or be good and transcribe the interview I did on Thursday and write the story. Or I could just watch reruns of the Good Guys.

Decisions, decisions.

Sleep, it is.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I'm curled up on my chair with a mug of hot tea in my newly cleaned room. The fact that I've finally tackled the cleaning aspect of it, is of course comforting, as it was gathering layer upon layer of dust and crap, the kind that put me straight into "cleaning avoidance". Yesterday evening I finally bit the bullet and went for it, mop and broom, Pledge and floor cleaning detergent.

The result of which, there is actually a space on my desk for my laptop and I'm sitting there writing this. If you know me well enough, you know this is rare. Usually I'm hunched over my laptop in bed, not very healthy and I'm told, not good for insomnia.

I had to be up and at 'em early today because of an early assignment, after a night of not sleeping at all, so that was interesting. I arrived early at Starbucks to wait for the guy I was going to interview and got myself a mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream and a doughnut (my very two favourite things in Starbucks) and watched the other patrons furtively to see if anyone could be the guy I was supposed to be interviewing.

At one table, there was a job interview taking place, where this guy in a shiny vest was interviewing this other guy who had been there earlier plugging away at his laptop. The vesty guy was saying: "We advertise a lot through Facebook...." and I thought wow. It took me back to the days I used to interview all these dotcommers who were young and hungry and eager to change the world.

Except that shiny vest guy looked a little too sleek and well-fed for that. He was like the cat who had been fed too much cream. Even though he was the one conducting the interview, he sat down casually and allowed the other guy to buy him a drink...just an Earl Grey old man, I've had my breakfast.

There was a very attractive girl in a sort of jumper suit (shorts, not trousers, not skirt) who set up her laptop across from me. She bought two drinks and looked like she was waiting for someone but all the time I was there, no one turned up, and at one point she came over and asked if I could watch her laptop as she needed to go to the bathroom.

But all of this is besides the fact. I glanced up once or twice to take in my surroundings but then buried myself in my new Shawn Achor book, the Happiness Advantage (which explains that you got to be happy first to be successful, and not the other way around) when I suddenly heard: "Hello Jennifer..." and looked up.

It was Ridwin, my first boyfriend, you know from back when I was a teenager? Anyway, there he was staring down at me, and then he pulled up a seat from another table sat carefully out of reach, trying not to intrude in my space, but wanting to have a conversation nevertheless.

The last time I had encountered him was on Facebook, where we ended up in a fight (but of course) and his parting words were: "You have hurt me enough." I had just quit my job and gone to England for a break, and on finding out I was there, he had asked me to bring him back a present. To which I replied in the only way possible:

"The only present you deserve is a good swift kick in the butt."

Bitter? Well, you have to remember that even if it was 20 years ago, this guy cheated on me for most of our relationship. He admitted as much later when we were both with other people and it should have mattered less. Instead there was a surge of rage and all I wanted to do was scratch his face to ribbons.

I did it with words instead.

At every available opportunity.

So it was weird seeing him today and having him sit down and talk. He is married, has been married for more than a decade and has a "pair". I said he made his kids sound like dogs. He edits academic journals for a local university and was out of the office that day because he needed to take his father in law to the national heart centre.

Anyway, he asked after me, seemed surprised that I wasn't married (I said, listen, if I were married by now, I'd be divorced by now, I just don't believe in marriage)...and he nodded seriously, not understanding but wanting to appear to anyway.

He seems to have settled into his routines. He chatted a while asking for my number:

Him: Is it the same?

Me: No, too many weirdos had that one, I changed it.

Him: Can I have the new one?

Me: (silence. gave him a look)

Him: I guess that means no, huh? I just think we should meet for a meal or something.

Me: Why?

Him: What about Facebook?

Me: I'm no longer on it. Or rather I am, but different name, everything.

Him: What's your new name? I guess you won't tell me.

Me: No. I keep it limited. Less than 10 friends. Too many Facebook fights before. You were one of them.

Him: I'm sorry.

Me: No worries. Water under the bridge.

Him: So you won't give me your number, you won't tell me what you go by on Facebook, so how do I contact you?

Me: (no answer because the whole point of this is that he doesn't contact me).

I had a discussion with Nits about whether I've become a recluse. She said no, I still have a social network. I feel I seem to have withdrawn from most of it. So who knows?

I feel like there are some big changes afoot. Like there is all this roiling going on underground. What I most felt, on meeting Ridwin was the lack of animosity. There was just a great indifference. Yes, I didn't volunteer my information, but I tend not to do that anymore. I find it easier not to give my number, than to give my number and then have to change it.

If he was my first boyfriend and some sort of resolution is possible, does it mean that it is possible with all the others as well? Is everything moving towards some sort of resolution?

If only.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A New Beginning

For a while now, things have been getting a little dark around here. It reflects my mood, but only my mood part of the time. It's like the only time I set pen to paper (metaphorically speaking, that is) is when I'm down and depressed.

So I've decided to start another blog, the kind that honours Pollyanna and Buddy the Elf and all the optimists of the world, the kind that deals only in light and happiness...

This will remain for the angst.

But as for the rest, if you ever need a little pick me up, check it out here:


What say you?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

No One Will Ever Touch Me More

I wake up. I think of you. I start scheming and planning and trying to see how I can get you back. Throughout the day, you ping in my mind constantly. Stray moments. I'm walking through a supermarket. I'm reading my grocery list.

In my mind, I'm playing with you. You're there. Wagging your little tail. Eyes hopeful. Or sad. Your eyes were always sad.

It makes me want to cry.

And I haven't seen you in four weeks. I want to visit. Desperately. But I'm afraid. Because I know if I do, you'll want me to take you home.

And I can't.

Not now.

Not yet.

Do you think I've abandoned you?

Like they did?

Do you think I don't love you anymore?

I don't know baby, I hurt everyone I love.

I let them down. In the most profound of ways. It's like my love is worth nothing. It's just a feeling in my heart and moisture in my eyes but really, when you value it, nothing.

And as much as I feel for you, you're in that place, far far from me, and things move slowly before I get you back if I ever do.

Does it make a difference that I think of you every day?

Does it make a difference that I weep for you constantly?

Does it make a difference that despite it all, I still love you?

What's that to you, anyway?

This powerlessness I feel now...this anguish...this impotence.

This is real.

Monday, May 02, 2011

When Ronnie Went Home

His name is Ronnie. An eight-year old white (with streaks of golden) Irish terrier. He is afraid of storms. So, Friday, he ran away. His owners, Mark and Angela came back from work to find him gone. They searched frantically, going from house to house, talking to some of their neighbours for the first time trying to find any clue as to what had happened to their precious pooch.

To no avail. They managed to trace his path to the drug centre. And no further.

Saturday was dismal. There was no sign of the dog. None at all. They drove around going further and further afield. But not far enough. Angela was in tears. She prayed: "Lord, please save our little Ronnie. And bring him back safely."

They left word with their favourite petrol station. "See this picture? This is our dog. He's lost. Please tell us if you hear anything."

And then Angela broke down and wept. Because that's what you do when your baby is missing. When he's wet and cold and alone and hungry somewhere and you don't know where and you can't get to him and you can only imagine. When God seems so far away, a concept, a silence at the other end of the line, and all your prayers rise up and disappear into the ether.

Please, please, please, please, please.

No answer.

Sunday evening, a customer visits the petrol station to fill 'er up, a man. He lives around there and the nice lady asks him what she's has asked a hundred others. "Have you seen a white dog around? He's lost. His owners were here looking for him. They left a number."

And Gilbert said: "Yes, I saw one just yesterday. There is this woman who lives at the bottom of the hill. And she came over yesterday with this white dog and asked if it was mine. I told her no, but I would ask around."

And the lady was silent for a few seconds.

Gilbert wrote down the address. He wrote down directions. And then he drove to the house in question. The two large dogs outside greeted him with a perfect fussilade of barks. That was their way. Guard dogs. Good guard dogs. The tv was blaring. Supernatural. B-list pseudo horror.

And I came out, wondering what it was all about. When I saw him, I knew he could only be there about the dog. The one I had just surrendered to the owner of a shelter. The little dog looked at me, heartbreak in his eyes, as Joseph had coaxed him into the cage. I was to learn later that he had never been in a cage before.

"I trusted you. Are you abandoning me too?"

And I had curled up on the sofa after Mum had gone to church and started to cry. This was the second time in two weeks. Was there truly no hope left?

He landed on our doorstep late Friday. Thinking he had come from up the hill where there were people who kept fluffy white dogs, I slipped a collar over his head with much difficulty and headed up there. But the dogs were safely inside the homes to which they belonged. And this little fellow, he seemed uninterested. He did not pull towards any of the houses. If anything, he only started to get excited when we were heading back downhill. He pulled then. All the way back to our house.

And once I slipped off the collar and released him from the lead, he headed straight for our gate to our dogs who were going crazy. He was cold, wet and hungry. I thought I'd offer him some milk. But when I got out, there he was, heading uphill again.

Oh well. That was that.

I came in, locked the doors and headed upstairs to watch the rest of a Hercule Poirot movie on youtube.

But that night Maggot barked. And continued to bark. Short sharp ones like gunshots. He rarely paused. Elliot, on the other hand, went to sleep.

And early that morning, nerves shot to hell, we discovered why. The little dog from yesterday had found his way into our compound. Later we would see that he had climbed on a ledge on the verge, and vaulted over the gate, hurting himself in the process. There was one broken pot to show the path he had traveled.

There he lay, just out of Maggot's reach, curled up. Maggot was going insane. Elliot decided to wait quietly for developments. We towelled him down. Offered him some bread. Figured that he must have been abandoned as he had no collar or identification of any sort. And yet, there was evidence of some care. He was well-fed. His fur was only newly matted with leaves he had picked up from yesterday's storm.

I convinced Mum to let us take him inside, away from the snarling Maggot. I called a cousin (the only other serious doglover in the clan) to see if she wanted a dog. She didn't. I texted an aunt who said she wanted a dog. She was asleep. Said she would text me back when she woke up. She didn't. I called Chubs who has rich friends in JB. Asked if any of them would take in the little fellow. Chubs called me back to say one of them would come to the house later to check out the doggie. He never did.

I gave him a rough and ready shower, dried him and brought him inside. He lay at my feet and went to sleep. He was a loving little dog and liked to lie with his whole body pressed against me. He needed human touch. Lots of it.

Now who did that remind me of?

That day, we fed him along with the other two. He ate with good appetite. He was obviously used to rice and chicken legs. And then, he went to sleep again. In the evening I took him for another walk up the hill. This time, it being a less ungodly hour, there were people in the garden. And I showed the dog to them and said, is he yours? Do you have any idea where he came from?

Gilbert and his mother stared at him. "Who would throw that dog away? He's so cute. But no, he's not from around here. Don't worry, we'll ask around."

And that was that. Later that night when I tried to cut the mats out of his hair, I got a taste of teeth. He snarled a little and then bit. And as I, being obtuse, continued to cut out the mats, he bit me again. Hair, as I was to later learn, was a very sensitive subject. He didn't even let Mark and Angela near him with a scissors. Only Angie's mother.

Bites notwithstanding, he continued close. And when I went up to bed, he scrambled up the stairs after me. Since the walk his limp had become more pronounced. So I slept downstairs so he could sleep close to me, keeping an eye.

And in the morning, after two nights of bad sleep I was washed out. Convinced by now that someone had abandoned him (maybe because of his little biting problem) I didn't go looking any further for an owner. I prayed real hard but without any hope. I prayed that he had not been abandoned. I prayed that his owners would show up. Failing that, that he would get a really rich new one who would love him and send him for grooming twice a week. But no one returned my calls. And I was heading back to KL tomorrow. Time was running out.

So I made the call to Joseph at the animal shelter. Have you ever left a dog at an animal shelter? Have you ever left a plaintive dog with soulful heartbroken eyes at a dog shelter? Have you ever seen the look they gave you as you walk away?

If you haven't, this is one experience you probably don't want to have. Trust me on this.

Which is why, I was curled up on the sofa, bawling my eyes out, cursing God, with Supernatural flickering on the screen as background music when Gilbert showed up. And there was a space. And despair (coupled with a few wild plans to get the dog back) receded and hope opened up.

It takes an instant. But no matter how many times it happens you forget to trust the next time around.

I called Joseph to say we had found the owners and could he bring the dog back. He said, ask the owners to call me. (I think he had already found a buyer)

Jackie called. As I was on the phone to her, a van came hurtling into the compound. A hysterical woman fell out of the car: "My dog, my dog, do you have my dog?"

I told her I had given him up to the shelter and she fell back against the van. "Oh my God!" The word shelter had conjured up her worst fears. Of dogs being mistreated and then put to sleep. But I said, the shelter guy wants you to call him.

Yes, she said frantically, yes. Call him now. I told Jackie I'd call her back. Dialled Joseph and said hold on, the owners are here and they want to speak to you.

"Hi Joseph? That's our dog and we want him back. No, no we did't abandon him. We wouldn't do something like that. He ran away. And we've been out looking for him. Please, please bring him back. What time? 9 or 10? OK. Um, we live behind Jalan Yahya Awal. You know that road in front of the Convent?"

He didn't. So I chipped in. "Why don't you just all meet here? He knows my house."

So they did. And sometime after 10, Joseph showed up. Mark and Angela had been circling the area for more than an hour, coming in and sitting down for a while. They were on tenterhooks. As was I. Until I saw that little dog in their arms I wouldn't believe in the happy ending.

After all, anything could happen.

But he arrived. And headed for his boot to take out the cage. And there was little Ronnie. Both Mark and Angela were beside themselves.

"Say thank you to Auntie. Thank you to Auntie," said Mark, the hitherto silent one.

"Thank you for taking care of my baby. Thank you. Thank you."

And little Ronnie ran madly around the car, cavorting like a puppy. Gone was his gravity of the past few days. Angela hugged him, laying her head against his furry little body. Mark carried him to the car. Ronnie scrambled to the co-driver's seat.

"What's he doing there?" I asked, as Angela paid Joseph for his trouble.

"That's his place. He likes riding up front. Best view," Mark grinned.

"Where do you sit then?" I asked Angie who had just come up.

"I sit at the back," she replied, laughing.

Truly, this was a loved doggie.

Angie handed me a pretty little pink packet.

"That's not necessary. It's really OK."

"No, please take it. You'll make us happy if you do."

So I did. And she had written a little note on it:

Dear Jennifer,

We sincerely believe that God used you in answer to our prayers.

Thank you so much for looking after Ronnie and giving him 2 days of comfort, security & happiness.

This is just a token of our appreciation. Please accept it.

Best regards
Angela & Mark
1 May 2011

And Ronnie went home.