I thought that my life in Penang was monotonous. I did not realise that it can be even more ho-hum in KL. Wuan wakes up at 5:45am to cook my lunch and goes off to work while I am still in bed. I do not get to see her until around 8:00pm when she gets back from work with our dinner. I am home alone throughout the day, surfing intermittently and enjoying the sight of the little patch of unkempt greenery Wuan calls her garden. Since moving to an apartment, which incidentally is close to the hills, it is not often that I am in such close proximity to so many different types of plants.
Outside the compound, beside the road, the frangipani tree shows off her unmistakable maroon blooms. Heliconias, lilies, cannas and a magnolia tree straddle the fence. The pomegranate tree stands tall with its solitary fruit hanging ponderously by the tiny twig holding it. Several bamboo shoots peer out from behind. Birdnest and staghorn ferns look out of place in their pots and hanging on the wall. There are yam plants, ginger shrubs, cekur and pots of adeniums.
Adeniums – two of those I brought for Wuan when I came to see her for the first time five years ago; another two when Mum and I visited Wuan a couple of years later. Mum had a garden full of these adeniums, also known as Desert Rose or fu gui hua in Chinese. These are the only remaining four that Mum had cultivated from seedlings. The rest she gave away when we moved, including six lorry-loads of other garden plants.
This solitude has given me an opportunity to reflect on things away from the familiar confines of my apartment. There are just too many distractions at home, too many memories and too much lingering grief to keep a calm mind. There are memories here too, like the adeniums and the crystal tree Wuan displays prominently on top of her television. Mum had helped me choose that clear quartz tree. It reminds me very much of Mum and brought back beautiful memories, precious and most cherished.
Wuan had been trying to get me to come for a long time. Somehow, I always had something to do. I am glad I made this trip finally. Being away from the comforts of home has posed some challenges. It has also opened my eyes to the kind-heartedness of strangers. Their sincere smiling faces while assisting me along the way from Penang to KL tells that there is hope yet, especially after the indescribably sad catastrophe in the region. The monotony here is just a little price to pay for regaining some clarity of mind and to be reminded of the beauty of humanity.
Anxiety always precedes when I have to travel alone. One thousand and one things can happen that will render me helpless in an unfamiliar surrounding – Murphy?s Law. The last time I did that was almost six years ago when I went to meet Wuan and my IRC buddies for the first time. Nothing untoward happened. MAS have well-trained staff and facilities to handle people with disabilities like me who are travelling unaccompanied. Taxi drivers are no less helpful when I needed to get around. Generally, people are kind to me and offer to help but the fear still lingers.
I guess I have mollycoddled myself too much by only doing things within my own sphere of comfort. Can I survive outside that zone? I believe I can. I will just have to brace my nerves and do it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. That said, I have confirmed my trip to Kuala Lumpur on January 8. Wuan will be picking me up from Sentral Station. I will be there for a couple of weeks. First in the agenda is of course to spend some quality time with Wuan and then to meet Marita and Grace the following weekend. I would love to meet other bloggers too. Date, time and venue are still tentative. I will update again when everything is confirmed. Suggestions are welcomed.
Here I am, all confused and fidgety. A load of disjointed thoughts are swirling in my mind right now. Trying to unravel them is too colossal a task at this instance. The year is coming to an end soon. As I look back, a sense of loss hangs over me. The defining moment for this year was my baptism, perhaps the most significant point in my life too. On the other hand, I am disappointed that I have achieved little with my own hands. My heart cries out for an accomplishment that I can be proud of. There is none.
When I moved here, I had to discard a lot of keepsakes. There is only so much an apartment can accommodate. Those bit and pieces of my childhood memories went out with the trash. The little that I could afford to take with me are the most precious. Among them is a clear folder that held all my certificates. There are the SRP and SPM results, many from my Scouting days and a few music examination certificates.
One of those stood out prominently from the rest. It is the Grade 3 ABRSM Pianoforte Examination Certificate where I passed with a distinction. I never really liked playing the piano then. I was compelled to take lessons by my parents. But I worked really hard that particular year. Miss Lee, my former piano tutor, made certain her students were thoroughly prepped prior to each exam. I was the lazy one and got ticked off many times for playing the exam pieces badly. I am glad she did what she did. At the very least I have something that I can be proud of, something to pull me through days like today. Gosh, I miss playing the piano.