Nothing more to give

I was halfway through my walk when it started raining. Mid-spring, the wind was still freezing cold for me, a creature from the Equator. I got back before you did and was all bundled up, drying my hair in front of the tv when you returned.

“Give me that.” A soft shove and I was on the floor, somewhat shocked. But you just went ahead and sat down, the damp towel back on my head with your hands on it.

I don’t remember the last time anyone had dried my hair like you did. Not even my parents. I made a half-hearted attempt to stop you but it felt good to just sit back and enjoy the treatment. Never have I thought of having a guy dry my hair being one of the reasons to keep it long.

“I bet you do this to all the girls who came here.”


That’s how we’ve always been, dancing on the edges of emotional entanglement and yet keeping a safe distance. Being in different time zones was another reason I tell myself why it wouldn’t work, despite the attraction and affection I feel for him.

“All done, princess,” his words brought me back to the apartment.

“I’m hungry, what’s for dinner?” was all I could reply without making a fool of myself.

Another evening walk, my last before I leave for home the next day. I kept thinking of the letter I’ve been carrying in my bag the whole time I’ve been here, never having the courage to hand it over to the intended receiver. The pessimist in me believes that I will not have my some kind of wonderful with you. That has always been my ending. Friendzoned is a term I have come to accept when it comes to the guys in my life, no matter how genuine the connection I thought we had.

Despite all my misgivings, I felt that I had to take the risk of losing you entirely. It might have been the Irises I found at the market on the corner near your place. In another country, quite a while back, I got to know the spring flower and came to love it. In Greek mythology, Iris is said to be the goddess of the rainbow, who acted as a messenger of the gods. Yeah, it was probably the flowers that made me do it.

You brought work home, a rare occasion for Mr. Efficient. I didn’t want to interrupt, I finished packing and was staring at the letter for a good while before I made my decision.

“This is for you. I’m going for a walk,” I said quickly before turning to leave. You were much quicker, taking my right wrist as I turned. “Shit.” That was my brain. My heart went on a roller coaster and I just froze.

“Sit with me, please,” the soft request sounded like a booming thunder. Freaking out was an option I didn’t want to choose so I just sat.

You kept my right hand in yours and I focussed on them while you read, a kaleidoscope of my week with you going through my mind. The walks, the conversations, you with a 24-hour bug making me breakfast when I wanted to do it for you and then insisting I keep my appointments while you sleep for the rest of the day. Our flea market Sunday, when the sun was out and the park was beautiful instead of gloomy and grey.

A tug on my right hand but I still couldn’t look up.

“Thank you for this,” those four words and the hint of a smile gave me a bit of courage, although I was still dreading what to come after.

“You are a great friend and I do care for you. But friendship is all I have to give.”

I might have nodded or responded in some other way, I don’t remember. I was suddenly enveloped in a warm hug and I wished I could stay wrapped in that warmth forever. Because I finally understood the meaning of your words.

Good goes the bye

If it was a blind date, it was a very nice one. Haha. The conversation flowed without awkwardness, and there was a level of comfort I normally would not feel when among strangers. It was a little overwhelming, though, the amount of information I needed to process.

– – –

The events unfolded over the weekend had me thinking (more) about mortality, about old age and about being able to leave this world without giving the ones left behind too much trouble. Planning is not something I am very good at but I guess now is a good time to start rather than later.

– – –

This year’s Raja Muda is something to look forward to.


Ever since Eddy got back from Cape Town, she and I have been getting regular sailing time with a boat – the Blue Angel. The owner and his wife are lovely people with really interesting back stories.

Apart from that, we managed to get a short refresher course in PD with another cool couple and I really feel lucky to meet all these people who took the time to teach as well as giving us the opportunity to race on a regular basis. To-date, we have raced five times on board Blue Angel and I think we have a good chance of crewing for her in the Raja Muda.

A few days ago, someone asked what my dream was and I said to sail around the world. The latest Clipper Race had just ended and the VOR will start again next year.

Crowdfund my way to the Clipper Race? I don’t know. There is no harm in trying but I feel that using people’s money for my own pursuit of adventure is very wrong. Unless I am getting paid to write or do stuff for it, like my old column in 2010.

Doing an RTW is something I don’t mind repeating. Maybe not so much of getting lost anymore, you would not want to get lost in the Southern Ocean, no. I don’t know if I’d be able to do even a leg of the Clipper anytime soon but I think maybe rounding the Malaysian peninsula is a more doable venture.

A blue moon in your eyes

Already a week into Syawal. I almost did not get to celebrate, money-wise, if not for a new tutoring gig, Uber and payment for a job I did in 2008.

The first is a short-term, intensive preparation for TOEIC which I think should not be a problem for the test taker since he only needs another 70 points to achieve his target score. Hopefully.

I have been contemplating driving for a ride sharing service for a while, but the decision was made after my sister signed up and I tagged along. It’s only been a week and there are still things I need to get used to, but it isn’t so bad. Have been sticking mostly close to home and areas I am familiar with, although I have ventured into the city a few times. My first payment was duit raya for the nephews and niece, and I managed to settle some overdue bills. It helps that it’s a weekly payment system so it supplements my tutoring jobs for some extra cash in hand.

When I started to work on my own, I realised that there are many risks I have to face in order to stay solvent. Having a bad paymaster is one and a dry spell after one assignment ends is another. While tutoring has been an unexpected source of steady income in the past five years, writing and media jobs are the high paying ones which contribute towards more than day-to-day subsistence. Income from such jobs can be used for investments, retirement savings (yes, I have that) and also to fund activities for myself and others.

Living in a city means there are more opportunities to earn money. Kena rajin saja.

Do you laugh at those who cry?

Coming to the middle of the third month of my latest navy assignment. The work itself is good, with the usual challenges which is to be expected when the unit deals directly with the Chief.

On the admin side, I have not received my allowance since I started and things are slowly getting stressful. With the regatta job now put on hold, this is now one of my better (by not much) paying gigs but a prompt and regular payment is something I have never experienced, even during last year’s book project.

I have been told of the process of application for allowance, the back and forth with Armed Forces payroll unit and everything, but I still can’t accept how sloooow things move when it comes to payment.

Yes, I am a reservist who still works outside the military but that’s not the point. It is about taking care of one of your own, even if she is a reservist. While she may have joined the ranks due to pure interest and passion, when half of her working hours are spent on navy assignments, it does have an economic impact.

I value the respect awarded to me by my superiors and colleagues. I just wish it could come with toll and petrol money, at least. Those stuff are killing me. It’s like I’m paying for the opportunity to work there with no monetary compensation and I’m expected to say thank you.