First posted on Facebook Note on March 18, 2012 – a year to this date.
The transition from herding kids under the watchful eye of a school matriarch to becoming (or rather) regressing to a sloth-like carefree creature I once was hadn’t been easy. In my eagerness to lose that teacher-monster facade I had adopted during my teaching stint, I had slipped into an abyss of doldrums that made me as grouchy as Oscar from Sesame Street, sniping and snapping at everyone. In that period, I made home my refuge and my prison. And we all know a prison can take a psychological toll on its occupants.
It was a time of self-confinement. The number of times I set foot on public grounds can be counted with two hands. I celebrated my freedom of time and space, once taken from me by my former employment, by being wilfully sequestered. I had in fact turned into a recluse. Despite my parents best efforts to cajole, entice, force and shame me out of the house, I was a set boulder. My house had become an extension of me.
It came as whim that I decided to tag along with the sister when her doctor requires her to visit a KL hospital across the sea for a CAT scan. I probably had enough of the house and wanted a change of air. The booking of the flight was made circa two months before the trip, so I reckoned I had the time to shake myself off this housebound disposition I got myself into, and get my legs ready for the trip.
But God, or Kismet, or whatever higher force you may call it, had other plans. Before that particular trip was to take place, my sister was sponsored to go to Singapore by her generous boss. A Chinese Catholic who loves his money, Mr. Lee owns a large portion of the billboard business in Sabah. The paid trip was a sham. He merely wanted to give my sister a week of vacation for a three hour doctor visit. Even the taxi driver advised that a weeklong stay in Singapore was pointless.
“Too longlah. Go to Universal Studios. Hop on Singapore Flyer. Then fly to Indonesia and swim in their beaches,” said the cabbie on our first day in Singapore. “Three days enough. So, where are you from?”
“We’re from Sabah,” my sister’s collegue said. “Then no need to Indonesialah. You go home. Your beach is beautiful.” The Singh cabbie laughed. In the cab, I who had been reluctant to participate on this trip, was horrified.
But anyway, I digress.
So it was by my sister’s charity (and her boss’s, who by the way, sponsors all the Catholic Church signboards in Sabah) that I had that chance to leave the country (though technically, Singapore is closer to Sabah than KL is). And it was by this chance, that God’s cunning plan unfolded.
The weeklong trip, packed with painful walking trips can be summed up to this – eye pleasing but aggravating. Eye pleasing in the places we visited, aggravating, in which I was still that crank trying to forget I was a private school teacher who just wanted to be left alone. I was a fish out of water in public.
Psychologically, I was still attached to the house, and the sudden departure from home sent me agitated at every turn, at every one particularly the sibling. Yes, she’d attest to my sulkiness. It was all good when my bum was planted on the hotel bed at the end of the day, but when the walking starts, the temperament pitched to the negative. I wasn’t ready for the sojourn. My fuming silence would send chills even to myself. God, from what I learned after reacquanting myself with Him in Shah Alam many years back, always has funny ways of remedying the sick, particularly when that person doesn’t want to admit she’s sick.
The painful trip in Singapore had roused me from my lethargy, jolting me awake from the debilitating slumber that had beset me. Never once I failed to realize how my mood was ruining the trip for my sister. Battling an emotional transformation, I was a cold company. It was hard for me to conceal, and the sister caught snatches of it. It was like me turning into a hulk, wrecking silent havoc, before turning back into human form again. It was my transition back to sanity. And I guess, I have the Lord, and yes, the sister to thank for it.
When I landed home, away from the bustling city of Singapore, my legs were eager to keep moving despite having bodily pains begging for easement. The next day, after coming home, after – many months of self-exile from even my own city state, I took the bus to KK, and had a bit of walking on my own, to feel life as I did when I just graduated from university. Also, it was a trip to retrieve my phone number from the DigiCentre when I lost my cellphone in one of those wretched Universal Studios thrill rides.
I guess that was God’s way of shaking me off my gloom. It was like “Get off it! This is with strangers. And your closest kin. She got to feel the heat. Now I made you move, another one’s coming. And your friends will be there.”
So, in four days, I’ll be in KL. But In three days, I’ll be kneeling in front of a Father for the mass confession in church. Here’s my admission to you.