Monday, June 26, 2006

Extra Bowls and Cups

I went home to help my parents to move last week. I was seriously surprise at how many bowls and cups that mom had collected over the years. As I was packing at the old house and unpacking at the new house, I counted that we have got 10 brand new porcelain bowls, of fine china quality, all nicely wrapped. Then there is this big box full of mugs and glasses and flutes. There are these sets of pots and pans, all brand new, untouched. In addition, there are loads that we are currently using daily.

I decided to do something about the bowls and cups.

“Mom, there are only two of you here now and there are all these brand new bowls and glasses and what not, are you keeping them just in case we can use them when the Queen come visiting? Why don’t we give those away?”

“No way!” Mom protested.

“Why not? You certainly can’t use all of them. They just take up space and you will need time and effort cleaning them now and again.”

“I bought these bowls for your sister for her adoption ceremony. Those glasses are free gifts. Keep them, I’ll use them one day.” She insisted.

“Why don’t we get rid of those we are using now and use these brand new one instead?”

“No!” She replied, with a heavy underlying end-of-discussion tone.

“C’mon mom. I just don’t understand, why keep them if you are not using them.”

Mom just gave me her trademark sharp piercing look.

I know that any sound I make there after would lead to an argument equal the intensity and damage of the deadliest hurricane. But I was pissed off, I was fuming! What's the point of keeping these extras? No need, why keep? It was driving me nuts! The fact that these collections, not just bowls and cups, been steadily increasing at an alarming rate and turning the house into a huge thrift store does not bother her the least bit. It was not even funny anymore.

I gave mom my trademark whatever look.

So these extras continue to find permanent residence in the house.

Mom has always got a reason to keep all these extras. Her standard first line of defense: She’ll use them one day. When I press on, she says there are for my wedding! Good Lord I haven’t even got a girl friend yet! As I keep pushing on, she would say that it cost money to buy new ones and go on lecturing me that I could be a bit more cautious in my spending. She would also say that it’s her house and she lives there, not us. Her house, her rules! But her ultimate reason: “Those came with when I marry your dad.” Sentimental value, what can I say?

I know why mom does what she does and for whom. She knows one day we the kids would start our family and she would then give all these extra to us. She knows how tough and how expensive to start a family hence every penny counts, hence her every penny stretches, still, even now that we are all somewhat financially independent. She would say that we are not rich people, even if we are, we can be poor in no time if we are not wise and cautious in spending.

Suddenly the rage that consumed me turned into guilt. Damn! Don’t you just hate it when your parent is right? I just hope that she did not catch my whatever look.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Mano Y Mano, Second Half

Just like the war for football supremacy is far from over, the battle between Pak Lah and his ex-boss is raging on with almost equal intensity at our home front.

Second half saw Tun Dr M went defensive, saying that the media twisted his words when he was simply raising questions. Cunningly, like a fox, he also launched a pre-emptive strike at everyone, predicting in the coming days he would be demonized because of his outspoken nature and his quest to seek the answers to his questions.

Just like football, He shoots! He scores! Goal!

And isn’t that clever shot? Now, anyone and everyone who even hinted slightly of his scathing remarks again will be deemed vilifying him hence proving his words right.

With the ball on Pak Lah’s court, what next? He quickly moved to retaliate, rather gently and subtly though, promising the government will again answer the questions fielded by Tun Dr M, this time in writing, not to him alone but to the people, disclosing the whole truth. Once and for all to erase any tinge of doubt, by trumping the transparent government card.

In addition, there was a substitute came onto the pitch, Proton chairman, Datuk Azlan Hashim. His role? Revealing that his efforts to meet Tun Dr M to explain the Proton saga were not reciprocated. He failed to score an appointment with Tun Dr M in at least 5 occasions. What else could he do?

Wow, brilliant comeback!

This seems like a draw. No winner? Perhaps the people are the winner. At least we may finally find out what’s the rationale behind all the government’s calls, not just simply dismissing any critic with the it’s-people-wish card.

Now what?

We, the people wait…

Monday, June 12, 2006

Very Happy... Not Very Happy... Very Happy Again...

A few weeks ago, back in May, I received a care package, a birthday present from afar. I was very happy as I opened the present. I was not very happy as I read the card.

Today I received an email from afar, from someone I thought no longer dear to me.

Simple and direct, she came straight out and laid it all on the table, well in the email. Cut through the chase! No nonsense! No more beating around the bush! No hold barred!

She did it.

The question remain though: how do we deal with the 22-hour flight time, the 4 years, the 14 time zones, the Pacific ocean, the Rocky mountains, my sense of complacency, my fear of commitment, my stupid oversized ego?


But hey, we will work it out, somehow.

I was happy, very happy again.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Mano Y Mano

As the world anxiously waiting for the kick off of the World Cup head to head battle between Germany and Costa Rica in Munich, a battle of another kind had been erupted here in Malaysia. The ex PM, Tun Dr M opened fire, directly aimed at the PM, Pak Lah and Pak Lah alone. Like a machine gun, lashing of harsh words and severe language like back stabbing, second choice, ungrateful etc were continuously fired.

Such relentless attacks seemed emotional and personal, like a child throwing a tantrum, stomping on the floor and pouting his lips, for not getting his toys or candy. Perhaps it’s true, as we age, we do act and behave more and more like a child. Again, like a child, perhaps this child is simply seeking for attention, fishing for sympathy.

This tirade certainly caught the nation by surprise, unfortunately the unpleasant kind! Perplexed with questions, loads of them, we waited for the comeback from Pak Lah himself.

Well, if the provocative Tun Dr M were expecting a mano y mano duel, he would be disappointed. Of course Pak Lah is not going to say anything. Basically he can’t say anything anyway. Counter-attacking will only make him look petty, grudging, defensive and cheap. Holding his fort and keeping silence will show him as an elegant and charismatic leader. It is totally Pak Lah chance to be the bigger man here and he did just that.

And, cleverly this general let his admirals and majors and even the privates to do all the counter attacks. More harsh words and severe language like uncalled for, out of line etc!

In the calm and uneventful political scene here, this clash may be just as exciting and captivating as the World Cup battles. Let’s just hope it will end soon though so we can return our undivided focus to what is more important at the moment, the World Cup!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Viper in the Fist

I watched three movies in two days, all French, all subtitles. Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas), Vipere au Poing (Viper in the Fist) and Le Coeur des Hommes (Men’s Heart). I enjoyed Viper in the Fist the most, memoirs of a wonderful childhood came to an abrupt end and turned into a living nightmare, but at times filled with cracking funny moments.

Vipere au Poing (Viper in the Fist), based on the novel by Herve Bazin, is the memoir of Jean Rezeau. Living with his grandmother, he was enjoying his childhood with his elder brother Freddy. The grandmother passed away and their parents came back from Indochina with a new brother Marcel. They quickly found out that their mother, Paule was a cold and terrible woman who was incapable of love and compassion. She hated them and extremely abusive and cruel to them, especially to Jean.

So he rebelled against his mother. Jean led all resistance efforts among the brothers against their mother, including two attempts to murder her, which failed miserably. Later he ran away to Paris to seek refuge with his maternal grandfather, who was a senator. Jean’s short stay in Paris made him realized how lonely and love-deprived his mother’s childhood had been, resulting her being such as a mother. And realizing this he knew that his mother could no longer hurt him anymore, his anger turned into pity. Suddenly the mother was not such a villain anymore.

Perhaps it was truly bad parenting. Perhaps it was generation gap. Suddenly I remembered of how a friend said he had been away from home for so long that his values diverge so much from his parents that they will never meet, as they almost do not see anything and everything eye to eye. I think we will hardly ever see thing eye to eye with our parents. They will always be the know-it-alls to us and we will always be the know-nothings to them. Somehow both parties can never be able to see that, however old and wise we are. Perhaps the parents are blinded by love and devotion while the children are blinded by guilt and fear.

In the end, Jean left for boarding school and never again saw and spoke to his mother, until her dying moment, years later. He thought he won but why was he not happy? Maybe his mother was victorious for he bore with him the distrust, hatred and angst his whole life. He remembered he caught a viper at the courtyard when he was young and he choked it to death. In fact he was holding that viper in his fist all his life.