Monthly Archives: January 2009

The best kind of love


It seems like only yesterday when I was sitting in the maternity ward at Children’s Hospital, trying to stay calm while we waited for you to arrive. Mommy was so freaked out that day because you weren’t supposed to come for another five weeks, that she even began that whole if-anything-happens-to-me talk, which I had to put a stop to before she worked herself up too much, even though we were all worried too. But you were here. I’ll never forget the look on her face when she woke up from the anaesthetic and said, “I’m a mother now…”

When I saw you the day after you were born, the first thought that came to my mind was, He’s so small. I had never seen anything like it; you looked so small, so very, very fragile, and so vulnerable, and I knew then that I would do anything for you. But you were so strong that you didn’t even have to stay in the NICU until your due date the way most premature babies do; you were allowed to go home when you were two weeks old. I remember how secretly freaked out I was when Mommy asked me, “Will you be all right looking after him whenever I have to run errands?”, and all I could think was, This is me. What the fuck do I know about taking care of babies?!

For the first time in my life, I was responsible for another human being, and everything changed. It didn’t matter that I had been a nanny before; you were different. You were my own little godson, and all I wanted to do was to take care of you, to protect you, to teach you all about the cruel realities of life before you found them out for yourself and had your heart broken, to tell you that it’s all right to be angry, to be afraid, to be sad, — because we’re only human — and regardless of what people thought of you, to be yourself and be all the man you could be. I could laugh at myself now for feeling this when you were only two weeks old.

aiden1You were such a well-behaved baby; I was always so proud to tell Mommy that you never cried on my watch, you ate when you were supposed to and slept the rest of the time. I remember how you never liked being set down in your bassinet, and we had to pick you up and walk around the house with you. I remember all those mornings when Mommy left you with me so that she could run errands — you would wake up the minute she left and cry, until I took you out of the bassinet and put you on my chest and you would go right back to sleep with me. I remember all the little conversations we had when Mommy wasn’t around; you smiled when I laughed, and you pouted when I cried, and it was as though somehow, in your little heart of hearts, you could understand. I liked to think then that you already knew who I was, that you remembered me even though I had been away fin Boston, that you would still remember me when you came home with Mommy in December.

I used to think that I would always be around while you were growing up; to teach you to speak Chinese and French because Mommy didn’t want you to be ‘one of those American boys’, to babysit you when Mommy wanted to go on a date, to let you hide out in my house when you got into trouble with Mommy. One of the most difficult things about being back here is that helpless feeling of knowing that I can’t be around to watch you grow up, to help take care of you when Mommy was going through the most difficult time of her life, and just to be there for the two of you. My only consolation is that you have the best mother anyone could ever wish for, and people all around you who love you and would protect you.

And now here you are: a year old, and the brightest, happiest baby I know. You will never know this, but it was because of you that I grew up more quickly over the last year and a half than I ever did before, and it was because of you that I learned that it was more important than ever to take care of the people who mattered to me and not care about myself. I know we won’t be able to see each other very often, and by the time you next come back you probably would have forgotten me all over again, but I have no doubt that at some point in time, we will be a big part of each other’s lives. I love you with all my heart, and I know the day will come when I can be proud of the man you have become.


In honor of Aiden Xavier Robb.

A booklover's dream


So it’s finally here. After what must have been weeks — no, months, or maybe even years — of research and reviews, and probably frantic reading, the Great List is complete.

Behold the 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read: The Definitive List, as complied by The Guardian. It is every booklover’s dream, the one list they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives (quite literally, as reading everything off it will very realistically take that long). One thousand titles of pure fiction to take those of us with uncontrollable imaginations, and who love being swept away into that other world, away from the harsh realities and cruel awakenings of life, where nothing and no one else exists.

Be warned, though: this list has the potential to make you feel completely unread and primitive, even if you’ve been reading since you were a year old and you thought Jane Austen and Charles Dickens were enough to make you a literature buff.

The number of books I can check off this list as the ones I’ve read is disparagingly short. I feel rather benighted.

Labor relief

One of the good things — or possibly the only good thing in times like these — about this country is the vast number of public holidays it observes. They cut into the work week and make it shorter, especially during Chinese New Year and Eid, which take up two days and make going to work not even worth it. But for those who choose not to waste vacation days, here’s why it’s OK to go to work during a short week:

  1. The week goes by much faster and work doesn’t seem so excruciatingly long.
  2. Nobody can be bothered to go to work so it’s quiet all around.
  3. The traffic report on the radio announces that the roads are clear, making it the shortest report ever, as opposed to the usual, “The NKVE is backed up as usual from the Damansara toll… The Besraya Highway is currently congested due to an overturned truck in the left lane… People, please be normal, do not slow down to look because you’re holding up traffic…”
  4. Roads like the Federal Highway and Jalan Tun Razak, which are absolutely uncivilized on normal days, are clear and it takes a mere 20 minutes to get from Subang Jaya to downtown Kuala Lumpur.
  5. Nobody can blame you for not getting work done, because everyone is aware that everyone else has taken the entire week off.
  6. You have that many fewer days to deal with the stupid, lazy, irresponsible people.

Unfortunately, there won’t be many more short weeks like this for the next few months, until Eid rolls around again. So we will take comfort in the fact that most of this year’s public holidays are on Mondays and Fridays.