Saturday, February 28, 2009

Birthday dedication

Picture08 008

This is my god-sister, or translate from Chinese "dry"-sister. I haven't seen her for more than two years, coz she's in Singapore while I'm stuck Down Under. It is her birthday today, and since she loves Mahjong so much, I baked her the one and only virtual Mahjong cake in this world. Sorry can't bake you a real one, it's too fattening. I don't want to be a killer. =P


Happy Birthday and best wishes in all your Mahjong games this year. ^^

Thursday, February 26, 2009

LEAVING - Finale


Why is there no news from you after that?”

“I wanted to forget about you,” he admits.


“Because if we had continued, I don’t think it will work out in the end. We are from two different worlds, have different cultures and stayed in two different places. It is better to leave with unadulterated memories of innocence and fun before it was soured with fights and squabbles later on.”

“Do you understand the anguish I felt waiting for a reply that never came? Every time the phone rings, I rushed to pick it up, hoping it was you. Every morning I checked my inbox, hoping there’s mail from you.”

He remains silent, his head bowed.

“So you don’t have faith in us?”

“I just don’t want you to get hurt.”

“How do you know I will get hurt? I think you are afraid you will get hurt. You know, you are a coward.”

“Maybe I am.”

She bursts into tears.

“You didn’t even try,” she says between sobs.

“I’m sorry I am selfish and insensitive. I didn’t know how to deal with it. It was the first time I have feelings for someone.”

He allows her some time to recompose herself.

“You know, deep down I also realized that it is quite hard for things to work between us. But at least you should try.”

He studies her while contemplating his next move. She is still as he had remembered her to be. Her hair is back to its original wavy cascade. She still smells of pink rose. Like a bottle of good wine, she has aged well with time. The only subtle difference is that she now looks like an adorable young woman rather than an adorable little girl.

“Come on, let’s make use of the time we have and forget about everything else.”

“What about your fiancée?”

“I’m sure she will understand.”

He offers her his hand, and she accepts it.

They stroll along the perimeter of the river, gazing at the pair of ducks swimming gracefully in it.

He races off and gathers a bunch of lilies by the pond, tying them up with a piece of weed and gives the bouquet to her.

They walk across a lush green field, and lie amongst the mishmash of cow grass, tall weeds and traces of small flowery plants, admiring the big blue sky unblemished by any sign of clouds.

She races off and makes a face at him, enticing him to run and chase her. They run through dense green foliage and thick brown trunks, playing an impromptu game of hide-and-seek.

As the sun sets over the hill, he is holding her tightly in front of him, his arms encircling her diminutive waist. His fantasy turns true under a golden bath.

And he plants a lingering kiss on her mouth.

As darkness descends onto the clear November sky, he drives her to the brightly lit airport. On the way, he stops at a florist and buys her a bouquet of pink roses.

This time, it is she who is leaving.

“Thank you very much. I have a lot of fun today. I am glad we bring this to a closure. Now I can at least move on the next phase of my life.”

They embrace each other again before she walks toward the departure gate.

“You know,” she says, turning back to face him right at the gate. “You will forever command a special place in my memory as my first love.”


Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Coincidence is, when one day your friend asked you: so, what are  you doing in Malaysia these days? and you replied: growing mushrooms. The very next day, there it is, an advertisement in the newspapers about a workshop on, literally, growing mushrooms.

I would have joined if I will be in Kuching during the time of the workshop. Pity.


Coincidence is, when you went for a pharmacy interview with the Malaysian government, the only pharmacy related question they ask you was the only one you can answer with your eyes closed, because you were asked the same question in two consecutive pharmacy placements. Heck, I even put it as my favourite drug in my Yearbook. The question? What's the antidote for paracetamol overdose?


I was at The Spring last week, looking on amusedly as my sis chooses some executive wears. For those of you in the dark, The Spring is the biggest and most 'uptown' shopping complex in Sarawak. I found the different types of people milling around there interesting, and hatched an idea for the setting of a story.

The very next day, I picked up a book on Chinese poems on a whim. I settled on a poem by the famous 李白 (white lee?) entitled 《渡荆门送别》(saying goodbye in some China place). I was intrigued by the words 海楼, which is the shortened version of 海市蜃楼. In English? Mirage. Nice word I thought. Eureka! Suddenly I linked two ideas together and wrote a story. What a coincidence!


What am I babbling about coincidence you might ask? Fair question. Well, the answer is within the ramblings itself. I was trying to tell you that:

1. I'm now at home everyday, growing mushroom (meaning doing nothing). Actually not that true. I am writing short stories. I had finished three.

2. I was called up for an interview at last! It will be just be another 2 months before I start working as a Pharmacist Trainee. Shortage of pharmacist we have? What shortage?

3. I had just finished a short-story called Mirage, where the story revolved around unsuspecting characters in The Spring. I will post them up after I am finished with Leaving. Oh about Leaving, the next post will be the final chapter. It should be up tomorrow. I'm still making minor adjustments. Actually I am quite sad about finishing off the story. So let me have my way.

4. Oh yeah, I am relearning Chinese. Here's a short para I wrote:

最近读了李白的诗《渡荆门送别》, 诗中有一句:云生结海楼。后来才发现海楼是指海市蜃楼,英语翻译为mirage. 多有深藏意义的一个字!以纪念我发现这个中文词/英文字,我把mirage 成了我最新短文的主题,希望大家会喜欢。

That's all the updates about me for now!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009



“I was in a daze all the way home. I had spent an entire hour earlier that day standing in front of the mirror, making sure I looked perfect. I thought maybe, just maybe you will ask me to be your girlfriend that day.”

She looks straight into his eyes.

“But you never did. Instead you delivered a bombshell.”

She shifts her eyes to gaze at her glass of orange juice momentarily, before continue to look into his eyes.

“I can’t comprehend why you never did that. I really thought you liked me, but after that I’m not sure. You treated me like a princess, entertained each and every of my whim and fancies, but there is this piece of ground between us that you never thread across.”

“That’s why I went to the airport. I needed an answer.”


He was surprised to see her at the airport.

He had just paid the fare to the taxi driver and was halfway transferring his suitcase onto a trolley when he saw her. She was standing in front of the revolving door into the airport, observing him silently.

He thought he had said the final goodbye with her, and this meeting somehow unbalanced him a little bit. He was totally unprepared.

They just stood there, looking at each other without a word.

Hi. You came.” he said, at last.

“Yes. I don’t think it was a proper goodbye last time.”

They lined in the check-in queue together. She was quiet, and her expression had a lost puppy look. She seemed to be waiting for him to do something.

He tried lifting the somber mood with light questions about her daily life. She only nodded or shook her head in reply.

‘”You really don’t want to come back?” she asked finally, after he had checked in his luggage. They were standing a few metres in front of the International check-in door.

“Well, I don’t think I can.”

“When can I see you again?”

“Maybe sometime in the future if fate has it,” he said.

She rummaged through her bag and produced an envelope, which she gave to him.

“You can only open it in the plane.”

“Okay. I have to go.”

She took a step towards him. He knew the sign and yearned to embrace her. But he feigned indifference and turned to go.

He walked swiftly through the door.

“Take care,” he heard her cried out.

He didn’t look back.

He was 23,000 feet above the ground when he peeled the envelope open. He caught a whiff of pink rose, and images of her swirled in his mind. He retrieved the single piece of paper inside the envelope.

He stared at the paper long and hard.

It was blank. There was no writing on it.

What was she trying to say?

He turned the paper around.

In her neat handwriting was printed the note “I love you”.

“I love you too”, he whispered, trying desperately to hold back his tears.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire


Slumdog Millionaire had just been voted as Best picture in the Oscars. I didn't watch the other movies on the shortlist to be able to say Slumdog is the undisputed best, but I do think that it is good enough to deserve it.


The story line was impressive, the story-telling sublime. It was ingenious using the popular "Who wants to be a millionaire" as the scene to flashback on the whole life of the protagonist. The storyline was based on a novel. If only I can write such a story, I would be rich and famous... 

Besides, it was certainly a feel good movie released at a time where everyone needs a dose of good cheer. What's more it's an underdog film, and it felt doubly good when these kind of films came from nowhere and knocked out an expensive blockbuster.   Perhaps I was already infected by the Australian "tall-poppy syndrome". I always love to support underdogs.

A lament is that free Malaysian channels doesn't telecast live stuffs anymore. I used to remember watching the Oscars live on TV while I'm studying in the afternoon session a decade ago. Now I can only follow it through the website online.

Anyway, congratulations to those people who did the movie. I loved it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009



“That was fun. I never did this kind of thing in my life.”

“I do really want to be famous,” she let out a giggle. “I got it all in my head. You are in it too. I envisaged that both of us will be famous one day, travelling in a motorcade with frenzied crowd cheering on both sides. I was living in such a lovely bubble until you said you are leaving…” her voice falters.


They met at Melbourne Central train station, under the big timepiece hanging from the ceiling directly opposite the shot tower, a five story high ancient brick building cloistered within the huge shopping complex cum train station. The circular seats around the clock proved to be a favorite waiting and meeting place. Today, a drove of schoolgirls in their red sweaters, blue and white chequered skirt and black shoes were milling around one corner. A trio of boys with spiky hair and T-shirts hanging out from their trousers was standing next to them. There were a few young female executives sitting by themselves, fiddling with their mobile phones, waiting for their beau to call. A couple of gentlemen in suits were also there, reading the day’s edition of world happenings.

He spotted her ascending the escalator next to the shot tower. She had straightened her hair, he noticed with some surprise. She had also cut a straight fringe, and fastened a beautiful pink blossom pin on the left side of her hair. She was wearing a pink dress with a white cardigan over it. There was no sign of the blue scarf. A faint trace of pink blusher accentuated her cheeks, giving her a doll-like look. In fact, he suddenly realized, she resembled the kimmie-doll he gave her as a present that day.

Her face broke into a radiant smile when she saw him waving at her.

Where do you want to go today?” he asked.

They ended up sitting on a bench by the roadside in busy Swanston Street, watching the fluid mosaic of a crowd in front of them while enjoying Gelati in cones.

He was enchanted by the diverse cultures of Melbourne. He noticed a golden blonde haired girl with skin as white as snow strolling past, chatting with an African with striking ribbon-pleated hair and coal-black complexion. The dizzying array of colours was a feast to his eyes. So beautiful, he mused.

They did this for half an hour without speaking with each other. He felt relaxed, comfortable. Not a bit awkward by the silence encircling them.

He had fantasized them spending the day at the beach, which him holding her tightly in front of him, his arms encircling her diminutive waist as they watch the golden sun slowing setting behind the calm ocean, the spring zephyr softly caressing their hair.

But he knew he can’t have that happen. It’s time to tell her the truth.

“I’m leaving next week,” he blurted.

“Oh, you mean leaving the country for a holiday?” she enquired, her eyes trained inquisitively on him.

“I am leaving the country, yes, but not on a holiday. I’m leaving it for good.”


“My parents expect me to go home and run the family business after I graduate.”

“So you are not coming back forever?”

“I don’t know. Maybe not.”

“Surely you will miss it here?”

He didn’t answer her.

“Wait here for a moment.”

He scurried to the stationery shop across the street and came back with a drawing pad and a pencil.

“Let me sketch a picture of you so that I will not forget you.”

He was a picture of concentration as he proceeded to sketch her profile onto the drawing pad. The scribbling of the pencil was the only sound he heard for the next fifteen minutes. Mixed emotions surfaced and drown in his mind as he transferred memories of her from his brain into the paper with each stroke of his pencil.

He showed her the final product.

“It is beautiful,” was all she said.

He accompanied her back to the train station.

“So this is it.”

“Yes. It had been nice knowing you. Do remember to keep in touch.”

His eyes lingered on her as she passed the ticket barrier and walked towards the escalator that will bring her to the underground platform. She glanced back at him and waved before disappearing from his sight.

He suddenly felt very hollow. But it is all for the best, he tried to reason with his emotion. There is no way he can continue with this. He clutched the drawing pad possessively close to his chest all the way home.

Saturday, February 21, 2009



“Sorry for taking you for a ride. I didn’t know you will put that much effort in it,” tears start to form from her eyes again.

He offers her a piece of tissue paper. “That’s okay. It was fun. And you did treat me a big meal.”


They sat down across each other on big sturdy straight-backed chairs in the restaurant. Hidden behind pillars and plants, the discreet lightings exuded warmth, bathing the whole environment in a soft yellowish glow. A slow velvety song crooned by an unknown Korean singer gave the place a soothing, comfortable feel.

She put the pint sized kimmie-doll he had just given to her for scoring a distinction in the middle of the table.

“Do you mind if I do the ordering?” she asked across the table.

He gave a shake of his head. He entertained himself by examining the long thin silver spoon and chopsticks on the table as she babbled away with the waitress in Korean.

Before long, the waitress dressed in traditional Korean hanbok placed an earthen bowl of steam rice with vegetables of various kinds such as bean sprouts, spinach and shitake mushroom arrange neatly in piles on top on the table. There was a beautiful egg with yolk intact right in the centre too.

“This is Bimbibap”, she said, as she poured a hot pepper soybean paste on top of the egg. He looked on as she proceeded to mix them all together before spooning a couple of mouthfuls onto his bowl.

He took a tentative bite while she looked on.

“It’s delicious!”

She beamed at him.

A sizzling plate of wafer thin beef marinated with soy sauce and sesame oil served generous helpings of onions and ginger followed, as well as a plate of fried chicken bathed in a sweet chilli sauce. The tantalizing aroma of both made his mouth water.

An array of six side dishes, flamboyant in colour and taste, accompanied the food.

This should be Kimchi,” he said, pointing to a plate that contained cabbage fermented with red pepper.

“Yes. It is the most famous Korean food. Here, eat as much as you want,” she said while pushing the dishes nearer to him. “I will order more later if this is not enough.”

They discovered a lot more about each other during the meal, with both sharing information about their parents and siblings as well as anecdotal childhood experiences.

“Let’s go for a walk.” She said after both of them were too bloated to eat anymore.

They passed through a narrow alley where boldly coloured cafes spilled into the stone-paved pathway. The midday crowd added vibrant texture to the place. Coffee aficionados sipped their midday cuppa with their eyes closed, letting the beautiful aroma of the black bean momentarily take their stress away. Male executives with ties loosen at the next sit on crates serving as ersatz stools, attacking their paninis and barguettes with zest. Their smartly dressed female counterparts tucked in bowls of hearty soup and nibbled at fresh green lettuces. A lively beat of jazz and soul drowned out the unsynchronized chatter, greatly contrasting the mellow mood of the restaurant.

They travelled through the brightly lit and heavily scented Myers departmental store, where she seemed intent to introduce him to every perfume on the floor.

“Had you smelt a pink rose before?” she asked.


She picked up a bottle shaped like a curvaceous lady and sprayed a bit of the perfume on a stick of paper.

“This is what it smelt like,” she said, pushing the paper to his nose.

He took a whiff.

“Hmm, this fragrance is quite familiar.”

She hit him playfully on the shoulder.

“Babo! Idiot! This is how I smell like every day. It’s my signature perfume. Didn’t you realize?”

They were on the second floor walkway linking the two wings of the sprawling shopping complex when she spotted the aggregated crowd below through the floor length glass windows.

“Look, there’s a street demonstration below! Let’s go!”

“Wait! It might be dangerous!”

“I don’t care!” she retorted, happily rushing down the stairs and into the streets, freely mixing with the people holding placards and shouting rhetoric. He followed her behind, keeping a wary eye on the demonstrators, expecting them to start rioting and destroying the cars parked on the streets anytime. His other eye was focused on the cops, anticipating them to let loose their stinging tear gases soon.

He can’t comprehend why she was so excited about a street demonstration until he heard a delighted squeal from her. He followed the direction her finger was pointing. Two television crews were attentively filming the whole event. She snaked her way through and started to jump and wave in front of the camera.

“Come on, do this together with me,” she said when he finally managed to make his way through the crowd. She pulled his hand up and forced him to wave. It felt soft and delicate and warm.

Thursday, February 19, 2009



“E D C D E E E D D D E E E E D C D E E E E D D E D C,” she hums, her fingers moving to play an imaginary piano. “As a matter of fact, I did write out my grades based on Mary has a Little Lamb. It is my favorite childhood song. I didn’t realize you are good in music”

“No, that’s the only song I can play on the piano.”

“Anyway, to tell you the truth, I have a distinction average.”

“That probably explains why you can’t concentrate during the tutorials.”


He was in a trance, seeing her furrowed brows, the slight frown and the pencil sticking behind her ears as she attempted to grasp the essence of the latest lecture notes he had prepared for her. It was a perfect picture of intense concentration.

“If only she was like this all the time,” he thought ruefully. He quickly found her a far from ardent student, with a concentration span shorter than the time needed for Michael Johnson to run 400m.

“Can we take a break?” her face was of an innocent angel this time.

“After you had finished this page. Then I will play cards with you okay?” he cajoled. He was sometimes amazed by his own ingenuity and inventiveness in coming out with ways to dangle carrots on a stick in front of her. 10 minutes in front of the computer. A game of cards. Sweets. Promises of small gifts.

She made an okay sign with her fingers and flashed him a toothy smile. She returned to her notes, and he fell back happily under her spell.

They met twice per week in the university library. He found himself thoroughly absorbed in his quest to help her excel in her studies. He poured into the textbooks with previously unfounded vigour every night, and developed ways to make his notes easy for her to remember until the wee hours of the morning.

“Okay, let’s play cards. This time I will beat you for sure!”

He produced the stack of cards from his pockets. Grudgingly, he shuffled the pack and began to deal. For the next hour, they played cards. Her constant giggles and shouts attracted the disapproving frown of the librarian more than once. They had such a happy time that he felt guilty.

“I think I can pass the exam this time,” she declared as they were walking out of the library together.

“How will you reward me if you passed?”

“I will treat you a big meal!”

P/s: For those who asked, this is really a work of FICTION. Meaning it is NOT a true story. But part of some scenes were adopted from my various experiences in Uni. the rest are product of my imagination. By the way, LEAVING may not be published tomorrow as I am rewriting the ending of the story.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009



“I was actually clenching my fists as I walked away. I was trying to keep myself from trembling too obviously.”

They share a laugh while picturing that scene in their mind.

“You were very brave.”

“Thank you.”

“You know this is the first time I realized that there are so many magpies in Kuching.”

She looks at the direction his finger is pointing . True enough, nearly a dozen of them are lining up on the tree branch above them.

“Since the tutoring incident was staged, were you really bad at studies?”


He had been pacing nervously in circles around the front door of the library for a good five minutes when he saw her head peeking out from inside the library door.

“I’m already here,” she said.

He was taken aback. He expected her to be late, so accustomed he was to the unwritten Malaysian law that the actual time of meeting is always half an hour later than the time agreed. He followed her to a white square table at the very end of the library, where she pulled a chair for him and invited him to sit.

“Thank you again for agreeing to teach me. Gamsa-hanmida.”

He nodded.

She remained quiet, which just a hint of a faint smile on her lips. She was waiting for him to make the next move. He squirmed in his seat.

“What’s your results like?” he blurted, trying to break the uncomfortable silence.

“Here, I had prepared it for you,” she said, opening her pink file and handing a sheet of paper to him with both hands.

He read the paper. Her results were a mixture of Cs and Ds and Es, which with a little stretch of imagination, can be the C major piano score for the song “Mary have a little lamb”. His did a quick mental graph of her exams marks; it looked like a descending slope of Mount Kinabalu. This is going to be hard work, he realized. What’s more, it can adversely affect his own results if he didn’t juggle his time properly.

“I tried my best, but the exams got harder and harder,” she said matter-of-factly, looking at him with the almond shaped hopeful eyes of hers. He noticed that she only had single eyelids, and pimples dotted the edges of her forehead. She was not perfect, but yet, there was this indescribable allure emanating from her. He got a sudden impulse to hug her and assure her everything is not her fault. Not a single iota of it.

“What score did you expect to get for Chemistry this semester?”

“I just want to pass!”

He wondered what would happen to him if he said that to his mum. Even though she never voiced it, it was expected for every one of her child to get at least half a dozen As in the exams every semester. A picture of his mum, rotan in one hand and the offending test paper in the other, chasing him round and round around the circular kitchen table immediately sprang to his mind. He tried to stifle a smile.

“I will make sure you get a B, or you have no need to pay me,” he regretted the very moment the words leaped out from his mouth. He blamed it on her magic.

But the resulting radiant smile on her lips more than compensate for it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009



“I was also thinking about how to talk to you that time,” she reminisces, the scene bringing a smile to her face amidst the lingering tears. Like a rainbow after the rain, he realizes.

“You looked funny standing there, the befuddled look on your face, standing in a crooked way with green smudges on your pants. Even your specs were slanted to the left. ”

“Do I look that comical?”

“No, no. Adorable will be a better word. Anyway I knew from your looks that you wanted to talk to me. I didn’t know when you will gather enough courage to do it again, so I took the initiative.”


“Will you tutor me in Chemistry?”

He heard the request amidst the pandemonium in the cafeteria, a product of gregarious girls and boisterous guys letting their hair down after a particularly hard morning lecture. He was sitting at his usual corner by himself, staring at the ant exploring every nook and cranny of his half-eaten sandwich while trying to overcome his earlier disappointment and hatching another plan to speak to the girl.

He looked up and pushed his thick spectacles back onto the bridge of his nose.

He couldn’t believe his eyes.

Standing right in front of him was that Korean. The one in grey dress, pink cardigan and royal blue scarf. Was he dreaming? Was that just an apparition?

No it seemed, as she spoke again.

“Kyle told me you are the best student in the whole year level. I think I will be failing Chemistry this year unless you help me.”

He was still too stunned to form words in his mind. It felt like a miracle. Her voice was music to his ear, coruscating to fill every crevasse and crevice in his body.

“I will pay you twenty dollars per hour.”

He just managed to sum up enough energy to nod his head.

“Your name is Ken right? I’m Sarah-Jane.” She said, extending her delicate right hand, proffering to shake his.

He shook her hand mechanically. It felt cold, yet it still managed to send an electric shock that warmed his heart. He could see her smiling.

“Can we start the lesson tomorrow? At the library? What about 2 o’clock?”

He nodded to all three questions. To curious onlookers, he looked mechanical, very much like a robot.

“All right. See you then.” She said, giving him a polite bow, before turning and strolling out of the cafeteria. He never left his sight wonder away from her. Warning signs were flashing in his head. His had a feeling his obsession was getting worse instead of better.

A reminiscence of years gone by…

February was always a month of excitement and trepidation. For the end of February signifies the commencement of the new University year, where I would take two different planes for an arduous twelve hours journey to Melbourne from my hometown.

For the three years before last, the month was spent frantically buying new clothing and stationeries, as well as saying goodbyes to friends and family.

Melbourne always received me with warmth, the simmering heat not unlike those in my hometown. I always went to Uni the day after I touched down at Tullamarine.

It was indeed the feeling of returning to a second home when I spotted the huge familiar blue signboard proudly announcing the faculty. I had seen it grow and its name changed, and took photos with it every year.

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Then and now (the first picture taken in 2005, the second 2008). Compare the size of the signboard!

It was always pleasant to go through the whole campus on my first day back, smelling the colorful flowers at the foyer just outside the Sissons building; casting an incredulous look at the dry unkempt looking grass at the sidewalk (why on earth it’s still there!!); prancing through corridors peppered with colourful notice boards; scrambling up the flight of stairs to the lecture theatres. There were always small surprises. During my second year, snakes and fishes appeared in the cafeteria. During my third, the library shifted to a small alcove and the lecture theatres got a makeover. During my fourth, Sigma Room became a virtual pharmacy, and we got a fourth building!


This colourful flower bed used to be in front of the Sissons building.

Then in the lecture theatre, there would be the reacquainting part, hearing friends taking about their holidays, spotting those who had new haircuts or wardrobe makeovers. Without fail, there will always be at least one new pharmacy couple. When the lecturer entered, I would be trying my hardest to concentrate in lectures, trying to make my long dormant brain to work again, hoping to extend the duration I adhere to my new year resolutions by one more day. Later we will spill out to the cafeteria, where we congregate at the round table exchanging gossips and checking out the newbies.


The lecture theatre after refurbishment.

But unfortunately, this year, there’s no more going back to look forward to. For time had caught up with me and I had graduated. This February, I sit wistfully at home, half a world away, looking with envy as friends in Facebook heralded the oncoming University year.

Oh, how I wish I can re-live it all over again! Now what were left are a few photos, but alas, even though they tell a thousand words each, they can’t capture the whole essence of my University experience. They were nothing, but fragments of memories.

And to all my friends, enjoy your new year in Parkville! Hope the new year will be good fun and a source of good memories that will accompany you throughout your life.

Monday, February 16, 2009



A peal of laughter from her stops him in his track. He can see tears running down her cheeks like a pair of meandering streams.

“I can’t resist. I didn’t know I left such a big impression on you.”

“Well, you are beautiful.”

“Thank you. But you should’ve noticed me long ago. I always made a point to be within your range of vision since that debate. I was intrigued to see what kind of guy you are. You have a mysterious air around you.”

“Maybe I was too engrossed with my books.”

“I think it is true when they said that you only see what you wanted to see.

He clears his throat.

“Anyway, sorry about the interruption. Carry on.”


Typical of an academically excellent student like he is, he scoured the Internet for information on how to approach girls that night. It was a very foreign and difficult topic for a guy whose best friends are academic books and drawings. He was the type of guy which in a party is likely to be found in the corner of the room, pretending to be invisible. That was if he turned up at all.

The next day, he reached the campus one hour early, ready and armed with a few conversation openers. He sat down on the grass in the front lawn of the campus, where he can have a good sight of the approaching students. Remnants of the morning dew still linger on the grass, making them a little damp, but he was too worked up to notice. He picked out three books from his knapsack, putting two of them on the grass next to him and used the third one, opened in the middle, to hide his head behind.

The first tram clunked to a halt just as he opened the book. He felt a chilling sensation of anticipation running down his spine as he nervously peered beyond the browned pages of the book.

He could feel his heart beating faster as the tram door swung open and the first student alighted from the train. She was fair, tall and blonde. The second one was a guy. Enough said. So was the third and fourth and fifth. Then the door swung close and the tram groaned and bemoaned before continuing its journey, despite its load been lessened by a considerable amount. He felt his shoulders hunched down in disappointment.

He experienced the oscillating cycle of high anticipation and low disappointment a further five times, with the difference in magnitude of both sensations getting bigger each time. If she didn’t arrive in the seventh tram, he had a feeling he will die of a heart attack first.

She did arrive on the seventh tram. She was wearing a one piece grey dress that hung above her knees, with a pink cardigan on top and her signature royal blue scarf. He waited until she was just twenty paces away. He quickly shut the book and placed it on top of the other two lying of the grass before picking them up.

She was fifteen paces away.

He unwound his leg and attempted to stand up. “Damn!” He muttered to himself as he wobbled up. His left leg had developed pin and needles for sitting too long on the grass. He tried to steady himself on the right leg.

She was ten paces away.

He breathed in deeply a couple of times, trying desperately to slow down his heartbeat and ensure that the butterflies in his stomach are flying in formation. He quickly ran his free right hand up his hair to make sure there are no stray strands.

Five paces away.

He looked up just in time to see a guy running up behind her and tapping her shoulder.

Annyeong-haseyo!” he heard the guy called out, before launching into an animated exchange of phrases with the girl in Korean. He saw the girl glanced up at him for a fleeting moment as she passed by him. She must be surprised by the sight of a guy who looked like he had just received a crushing blow to the ribs from some invisible opponents.

Sunday, February 15, 2009



“You know, I thought you noticed me long before that,” she interjects, as he takes a breather and drinks another gulp of the ice lemon tea.

The muscles in his lower jaw slacken and loosen, his mouth forming an O.

“You were magnificent in the inter-year debate competition last year. Your eyes bore into mine so intensely that I absorbed every word and emotion from you. I felt something connected between us that time. ”

“Oh my God, that was you?” his mouth is now hanging so wide that a bird could easily fly in and nested comfortably.


Heads” He mumbled as the coin was executing its majestic spin in the air. He watched intently as the coin did its routine inverted U-shaped trajectory and fell into the cupped hand of the emcee.

“Heads it is” announced the emcee while letting the head of Queen Elizabeth being observed by both participants. “So you will go first, Ken. All the best.”

He stepped onto the podium tentatively. He had practiced the speech in front of the cupboard mirror 28 times the previous day until every word was etched in his subconscious mind. He knew all the theories on what it takes to draw the crowd in. He read about all the do and don’t of public speaking. “This should go well,” he assured himself, “As long as I can get the first word off my mouth.”

His eyes wondered to the various cliques caught in their own world. A few curious glances, a split second attention shrugged off as nonchalantly as it was picked up. No one was paying attention, he realized, starting to feel the first prang of panic building in his heart. His mind was suddenly a jumbled mess till it drew a blank slate. His first instinct was to hide and run away.

“Find a focus point” he suddenly remembered one of the advices he read. Desperately, he threw another look at the sea of spectators and zeroed in on a girl who seemed to be looking at him. He clenched his fist into tight balls, took a deep breath and uttered the first syllable. And off he went, maintaining his gaze on the forehead of the girl throughout his speech.

He couldn’t believe that he managed to finish his speech without much hiccup and even received claps of a quite respectable decibel at the end of it. His palms were now sweaty, aftermath of the coldness he felt just now. He walked back to his seat, where his friends gave him words of encouragements and pats of well done. He mumbled thanks and the offered smiles. In reality, he could really feel nothing, his mind glazed over, exhausted after the Herculean efforts, relieved that it was all over.


“Gosh, so you are saying you only gaze at my forehead the whole time?”

“I afraid so,” he replies, smiling rather sheepishly.

“I thought you were attracted to me, and was trying to send signals to me. How embarrassing!” she covers her whole face with her hands like a child.

“I don’t think it is as embarrassing as what I am going to tell you.”


He would have forgotten about her just like most of the girls he sketched if she didn’t keep on appearing within his range of vision. If she was transparent for the first seven semesters of his University life, she seemed wanting to compensate for that now.

He saw her again that day between lectures in the cafeteria, he sitting in the corner by himself reading the next lecture’s notes, she sitting facing him two tables right in front of him, eating an apple while chatting with a couple of girls.

He saw her again in the library, he searching for passages to augment the day’s lectures, she rushing in to drop a book into the return bin and rushes out, leaving the tail of her royal blue scarf gasping the air, desperately trying to catch up.

The next day, he saw her alighting from the tram across the street, nodding her head left and right to the song emanating from the earphone partly hidden by her scarf as she make her way to the campus.

If was as if she was waving a red flag above the crowd, or emitting an unique sound that was attracting him to her, or radiating light of a distinct color differentiating her from the sea of people in the campus.

He noticed her so much that he got a cornucopia of terms to describe her. Refined, like how she daintily cuts her sandwiches up into little pieces before eating them. Graceful, like how she swirls around the grass, exposing the pale skin of her calves. Cute, like how she poses as sailor-moon while she fooled around with her friends.

To his horror, he realized that he had become obsessed with her, but he could not control it. He drew sketch after sketch of her, capturing every sighting of her on paper. Late at night, he kept marveling at those sketches, spending hours making minute modifications before he was satisfied. After a couple of weeks, the green file became so thick that he had to acquire a new one.

He stared at the big red C on his Statistics assignment paper for a long, long time. He can’t recall the last time he didn’t see an A on his paper. He had always been a consistent over-achiever since his primary school days. It doesn’t require the mental prowess Sherlock Holmes to deduct the cause on this sudden drop in form.

The pin had dropped.

“It had to stop,” he muttered to himself. He was determined to put a stop on this spreading cancer before it totally consumed him. He needed to talk to the girl. To demystifying her, to assure himself that she is just a plain and unworthy girl….

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A story about love stories

Once upon a time long long ago, a slightly plumb boy decided to write a collection of short stories about love. Sad love. Happy love. Crazy love. It was to be the first ever book of its kind, with enough variety of love to suit everyone. And he was sure it will be a bestseller.

Love was perhaps the main agenda on the mind of a boy just fresh from finishing his SPM who had nothing much else to think about.

Five years down the road, not a single short story was written, never mind the whole compilation. The boy had grown up, still writing stories about a variety of things, albeit ultra-short less than a thousand words one.

But he believes love should always be a centre theme, because it is love that provides the lighter colours on a palette of a person called life.

In conjunction with this year’s Valentine’s Day, he finished his first ever more than 5000 words story. About love of course. He doesn’t know how people will react to it, but either way, it can’t rub off the shine on his face for fulfilling a childhood dream.

This story is dedicated to everyone, with the hope that they cherish the loves they have.

This story is called LEAVING. It will be posted in parts over a span of days (so that he can revise it here and there). Gosh he had even drawn a book cover for it using Paint. Scroll down to the next post for Part 1.


Happy reading!

P/s: There’s some spoiler below, please don’t read until the end of the story if you can resist.

The writer said that this story was inspired by memories of a beautiful city called Melbourne, and his fetish with everything Korean(blame it on Autumn in My Heart and Vincent). It had a somewhat happy ending, which is a first for a write who thrives on writing sad endings.



The gentle breeze rouses the trees to sing a homely whistle, sending dancing leaves fluttering like confetti downwards to where both of them are sitting.

He takes a big gulp of his ice lemon tea, hoping it can untangle the knot in his throat.

“You never thought you would see me again, do you?” there are tears in her eyes. Those same black watery pearls he first fell in love with, and never thought will set sight on again.

He shakes his head.

The waterfront is deserted; they are the sole occupants of the riverside drinking hole. Her eyes shift momentarily to gaze at the serene gush of the water a few steps from their table, before focusing on him again.

“Do you remember the first time you saw me?”

He nods his head.

“Tell me about it.”

The wind shudders to a silent halt. A pair of magpies retracts their wings gracefully and settles on a tree branch right above them. A stray dog wonders near and lies down at the foot of the adjacent table. They are all waiting for his story.


If the lecturer didn’t call her out that day, he would never have noticed her. Seen yes, but not noticed. This is despite the fact that it was the eighth semester that they are studying together in the same course.

She didn’t blush, no, or bowed her head low, the way usually students do when being caught red-handed chatting in class and put up on a flagpole to dry. She just gave the lecturer an incredulous look, her dew-glazed eyes tinged with underlying hues of hurt, as if saying “Who? Me? You must have picked the wrong person…”

Two hundred pairs of eyes were now trained on the girl. The lecture hall was now a deadly silence, the lion now circling and eying his prey. The students were waiting for right time to cringe, waiting for the lion to unleash his roaring wrath on that unfortunate girl. But throughout an entire minute, she didn’t finch a single bit, maintaining the same facial expression as if her face was a painted canvas.

He found himself subconsciously sketching the side profile of the girl on the margins of his notes. Black silk hair like undulating waves cascading down from the top of her head before resting on both sides of her shoulders. Wide forehead, button nose, thick lips on an apple shaped face. Definitely won’t win a beauty contest if he is the judge.

But he was compelled to believe her, even though he was equally convinced that the lecture picked the right culprit. Perhaps it was her small diminutive frame or the frilly princess looking dress she was wearing. She exuded an aura of innocence, an air of vulnerability that automatically makes a guy desire to protect her. And girls to loathe her, he suspected.

“Just don’t let it happen again,” the bespectacled giant of a lecturer softened his stance. Usually, the same misdemeanor warrants an immediate expulsion from that class.

Like his lecturer, he had low tolerance for people impeding his quest for total concentration in lectures. He was slightly annoyed by the concession, for there existed a cruel part of him who loved seeing fellow students trudging down the alley of shame, receiving just desserts for their inconsiderate behavior. Besides, it will be a good chance to scrutinize her.

“An interesting character” he annotated next to her sketch. He tore it out before transferring the piece of paper into his green file.

Friday, February 13, 2009


To my upmost horror, it had dawned to me in a flash of lighting that I had been neglecting my blog for quite a while. Gosh, it is already February 13, and only my second post of the month!

Chinese New Year came and went in a flash; it was the usual routine of making cookies and cakes beforehand,  meeting up with friends and family during the first few days, spiced up by the occasional mahjong playing and drinking binge, and trying to finish the cookies afterwards.

February is always a slow month for writing, most probably because nothing ever happened in February for me. Usually it coincide with the University holidays, which means I am stuck at home. The weather like always, had been atrocious; either it was raining too heavily or shining too bright. But in the occasional good days, a jog around the city had been refreshing.

My current occupation is waiting. Not as a waiter, but the actual process of waiting for the Malaysian government to give me a job. Hopefully it will be soon before my brain became too rusted to be of any use. I do endeavor to spare some time refreshing myself on topics in Pharmacy, but it was too sporadic to be called time well spent.

With nothing much to do, I decided to spend the time writing short stories, fully aware that it might be the last long holiday I have for the next few decades. Incidentally, MPH-AllianceBank is having this fantastic short story writing competition, and I had been spending the last fortnight writing leads for a good story. I had zeroed in one to be followed on, but I guess it will take another fortnight or so for it to be completed. I am aiming for 6000 words.

I fancy that’s all for this post. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I popped in to write another post.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Lucky Guy 10

image This will be the first time I wrote Lucky Guy in the comfort of my home in Kuching rather than in Melbourne. Can’t believe it had been a one and a half month hiatus since I wrote the last post on this subject.

This chapter was supposed to be on recollections of my third year second semester in the Parkville campus. And then I recalled that all the highlights had already been documented in past-posts. So instead of rewriting it, I just put the relevant links on the post and do a quick recap.

The most memorable part of that particular semester was my involvement in the organization of a charity concert. I never did this kind of thing before. When we first hatched the idea in the library, it sounded so exciting, but gradually, the idea grew into such a huge monster that it was scary. Our organizing naiveté was exposed time after time, but we did get through it in the end and came out with a wealth of experience.

I also commenced my first pharmacy placement during the semester. We were to complete four different 3-week placements as part of the course, and for the first one, I got to do it in a rural community pharmacy in Bairnsdale. It was my first exposure to real life pharmacy and I found the placement quite interesting. 

At the end of the year, I applied and was accepted into another Summer Vacation Project. This time I was attached to the Royal Melbourne Hospital doing a project examining the outcome of patients using high cost medications. The project lasted six weeks and I got to present it in front of personnel from the pharmacy department in the hospital as well as the pharmacy practice department in Uni, which was an unforgettable experience.

Academically, it was not too bad as we have only nine weeks worth of material to study instead of the usual 12. We also have only 5 subjects compared to 6 in the first semester.

I continued to be involved in the Global Friendship Series and the Student Ambassador Program, which taught me a lot of things and enable me to have fun in Uni while making friends outside my usual circle. I also commenced work as a Disability Liaison Unit notes-taker, spending two hours a week on the job.

Overall, it was a very eventful semester, and the need to juggle my time certainly made me feel more like a pharmacy student. Or else most probably I will be bored to death. Studying pharmacy by itself doesn’t really need 24 hours per week.