Author Archives: Sandra Foo

The fear of God

The fear of God

My family has never been a religious one. For as long as I can remember, my family has never celebrated anything religion-oriented, not even Christmas (their annual business-gathering-disguised-as-a-Christmas-party notwithstanding). Maybe that was why, at the age of twelve, I decided to become a Roman Catholic, so that I would have some form of belief system. For the first five years after being Confirmed, I attended Mass every single Sunday, took Communion, went for probably more Confessions than were appropriate for someone my age, and read the Bible in both English and Latin. Then when I was 17, my father opened his first restaurant (perfectly timed, no doubt, to begin right after I was done with high school), and I was enslaved to the business, which marked the end of Mass and my days as a good Catholic.

I’ve never really considered myself a ‘religious’ person, but I’ve always harbored the childish notion that God really is watching and listening to everyone, whether they deserve it or not. It is perhaps this notion that lies behind the meaning of ‘the fear of God’. We may want something, but if we want it for the wrong reasons, God would choose not to give it to us. If we get what we want by the wrong means, God would let us have it for a while, and then take it away from us the same way we took it for ourselves. And if we’re waiting for something, but decide to give up waiting because we think we’ve waited long enough, God might decide that we don’t deserve it because we simply lacked the patience and faith.

What is it that keeps us hanging on and holding out for something? Is it our absolute determination to have it, and our unswerving faith that if we are patient enough, it will come to us? Even when we know it’s a lost cause, do we hold on for dear life in the hope that it will all eventually work out for us? Or are we just afraid that God will observe how we handle ourselves during these hard times, and then make the final decision as to who deserves what?

A decade ago, my very first tattoo artist told me, “I’ve learned in my old age that if something doesn’t happen now, it just means that there’s something greater out there waiting to happen soon.” If that were true, then would we still be hanging around to see if what we’ve been waiting for all these months would ever happen to us, or would we just let it go in pursuit of that ‘something greater’? Wouldn’t God then decide that we are undeserving of either one and in the end leave us with nothing? Do we continue, then, to float along in this limbo that we’ve created for ourselves, too afraid to go back, and yet too uncertain to move forward?

An unending high

An unending high

The one constant about Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week is its enduring tardiness. Every single show starts at least an hour late, with a lot of waiting in between, and a general air of disinterest because almost every show features a few designers whom nobody has ever heard of. As a result, the only good thing about the shows running late is that you get to catch up with people you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while, and — if you’re lucky enough to be seated at the top row — judge everyone you see together.

Yesterday, I ran into a friend who was attending some of the same shows as I was, and it was then that I learned she had just started seeing someone new, and because he was so new, they were still in what people like to call the ‘honeymoon phase’ of their relationship. As a self-professed relationship addict who has been in long-term relationships her entire adult life, this friend told me that she is constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, indicating that the honeymoon phase would be over and she would start seeing the bad parts of the relationship. And at one point she said, “You’ve been with Dani a long time. When does the honeymoon phase end?”

“Tell me your definition of the honeymoon phase,” I hedged.

She said, “To me, the honeymoon phase is like this period where nothing goes wrong, we’re always happy and I can’t wait to see him every day.”

Whether or not that was really just her concept of the honeymoon phase, or if she was projecting off a statistically-proven phenomenon, it made one thing very clear to me, which I said aloud to her: “Then there is no such thing as a honeymoon phase.”

She goggled at me, so I quickly followed up with “If that is what you think the honeymoon phase is, then whether or not it ends is up to you, and the one you’re with. I don’t think there was ever a honeymoon phase for me, because after three and a half years, I still can’t wait to see him every day.”

The cheesiness of that statement was not lost on me, even as I said it. Because it took me 15 years and far too many men to realize that, as important as trust and honesty are in a relationship, what matters more than anything else is compatibility, because with that compatibility comes the emotional support that no on else, not even friends and family, can give.

“At the end of the day, if he can give you that emotional support you seek, there is no reason that after three months or three years, you can’t still be happy. Of course men are annoying, and of course things will go wrong, but if he works with you to make them right, then it’s not even so much that the honeymoon phase doesn’t end, but more that there was never a need for one, because what you are to each other will always stay the same.”

Cleaning out my life

Cleaning out my life

Some things (and people) just need taking down a peg or four

Two weeks ago, I officially moved back into my own house. By ‘officially’ I mean I went back to living in my house full-time, as opposed to living in Dani’s apartment while still maintaining my own residence. And after three and a half years of shuttling back and forth between two houses, it was quite the task consolidating my entire life back under just one roof.

One problem was the matter of stuff. I hadn’t realized just how many things, especially clothes, I had acquired in three and a half years, and just kept in my closet in Dani’s apartment because that was where I was most of the time. So when it came time to move all of it back to my own house, I realized I was going to have to do some serious spring-cleaning in order to fit all of it in.

So in my first week of living in my house again, I finally found it in myself to get rid of the clothes I wore when I held a corporate job, clothes I’ve had since I was 18, clothes that I had been holding onto for no other reason I can think of than that I was thinking I might one day have to wear them again. Everything went into the big blue Ikea bags, to be given away to my maid and to my mother’s nurses, and the more I cleared out, the more I wanted to get rid of.

One week later, I had given away everything I knew I would never wear again. I then moved on to putting in storage the clothes I knew I wouldn’t need anytime soon: all my evening gowns and heavy winter coats went into vacuum-seal bags. And by the end of it, I had my whole life back in one place.

Today, I put all my handbags back into their respective dustbags, set aside the ones I would give away, as well as the ‘serious adult’ bags that will go to my mother because I will probably not need them in the near future. When I was finished, the feeling of seeing my closet emptier and more organized now was one of liberation. I had literally removed my baggage.

It’s something I’ve been struggling with ever since the year began. In the last quarter of 2016, I had come to terms with the drastic, but inevitable, shift in my life that would lead to my isolation. I knew, perhaps all along, that there would always be one part of my life that was not meant to last, mainly because I had entered it much too late in life, and it was not something that I had ever really gotten used to. I had spent the formative years of my adolescence moving from one country to another, staying in each one long enough to make friends, but not long enough to learn how to keep them. So it was that I entered adulthood never having learnt to form any kind of emotional attachment to people, hence the one hand-full of people whom I can still call my friends today.

This change has become easier to deal with over the past three or four months, especially with the impending prospect of finally leaving this country. It may have something to do with my growing intolerance for so many things that are wrong with this country and its society, or it may just be that I realized that life — the life filled with events and parties and fashion shows and group photos taken for the sake of showing off on Instagram — may not really be for me. Whatever the reason, I’ve retreated back into my shell ever since Dani left to begin building our new life, and I’ve never been more content to sit in my own bubble until it comes time for me to join him.

Tomorrow I will start on the shoes. For someone who’s always loved her shoes, that’s just one more step towards my freedom.