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A year later….

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Pussy on the first day in our house…

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Big and strong a year later!

 

One day in November last year, as I was putting away my prayer beads after a chanting and meditation session with my husband, I told him how wonderful it would be to have some animals sitting along side with us to listen to dharma which is Buddha’s teaching. Marcus didn’t say anything, he just smiled.

A day later, a stray dog got into our house. It appeared from nowhere. We gave it a bath and some food. My children were so happy to have it and they played with it for some time. The next day, it rained. Fearing that it might get wet sitting outside the house, Nicholas took it in. After the rain had stopped, he took it outside again. The next day, it got inside the house again although it did not rain that day. I told my son to take it outside. The next morning, when I opened the door, it was missing from the veranda. It had run away. We looked everywhere but could not find it again.

Two days later, as I was ironing Nicholas’ uniform, a stray kitten barged into our house, also from nowhere. It mewed loudly and pitifully. It then quickly ran into my neighbor’s house. She was not an animal lover and chased it out with a broom. The frightened animal ran back into our house again. This time, it looked very scared. Out of pity for such a small and lost animal, we decided to foster it. Marcus gave it a bath and then walked to the nearest supermarket to buy a can of cat food for the little feline. I gave it a name, a very simple one – Pussy.

Pussy is our first adopted cat and today, he has grown into a big and heavy cat. Occasionally it would sit contentedly beside me while I was chanting and meditating, absorbing the beautiful mantra vibrating in the air. Sometimes it would drink Chinese tea or even eat durian.

Pussy has brought us more joy and laughter than we can ever imagined. Happy first anniversary, Pussy!

Life’s simple joy

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Fostering nine abandoned and orphaned cats can be a daunting task, especially when some turned up at our doorstep in pretty bad shape. But with love, care, food, and a few visits to the vet, these feline friends thrived in our home. We were richly rewarded with moments like these…. and they are priceless! This is what I called life’s simple joy….

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Miss Jee from Badan Warisan Malaysia (The Heritage of Malaysia Trust) informed me yesterday that there was a gentleman in town who was interested to buy my book and told me to contact him. I did and we made an appointment to meet this morning at Traders Hotel where I could pass the book to him personally.

This gentleman turned out to be Mr. Firoz (Junior), the owner of 188 Hugh Low Street! His father Mr. Firoz (Senior) was the first owner who leased out the shoplot to my father back in those days and today, Mr. Firoz (Junior) is the current owner. Never in my wildest dream did I expect to hear from the owner of my childhood home and it happened this morning. Mr. Firoz (Junior) is interested to find out how it was like to grow up at 188 Hugh Low Street.

His lovely wife Margaret came along too and we chatted and have coffee. The couple will be returning back to England tonight where they resides.

Ah Moi – woman of grit

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Each time when I go back to Ipoh, I would make it a point to drop by at Gopeng, a small town in Perak, to visit my cousin sister, Ah Moi.

A few years older than me, Ah Moi lost her mother at a tender age and being the only girl in her family, she had to cook for and take care of her diabetic father and two younger brothers who are slow learners. Ah Moi dropped out from school after Primary Six and got married at twenty to a young man from her village. They have three children. He worked as a logger in the jungle nearby.

Life is not kind to my cousin sister. Not long after their marriage, her husband was killed in a freak accident, leaving her a young widow with three children, a sick father, and two brothers to take care. But Ah Moi refused to ask for help from anyone. No loan from the banks, no welfare benefit, nothing came her way.

Determined to feed the family, she operates a stall in the Gopeng Market selling noodles and yong tau foo which she made herself. The name of her noodle stall is Tong Kee. It was named after Ah Tong, one of her brothers. They also helps her out. It was a brothers and sister’s business.

Years later, their father passed away and her children graduated from college. But Ah Moi refused to stop. She wanted to feel useful and to be financially independent. Ah Moi’s motto is “Moe Kung But Sau Luk.” A young widow feeding six people – that is an incredible feat which can even reduced some men to tears but today, Ah Moi could hold her head high. She had weathered the storm marvellously.

In this picture taken last month (Sept 14th) on my visit to the Gopeng Market, my cousin sister could be seen standing inside her stall while her one of her brothers was seen sitting at the table waiting for customers. Ah Moi serves delicious soup noodles, curry noodles, assam laksa, and her signature yong tau foo.

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At today’s book reading event at d6 The Refinery. There were six writers reading their books and poems. They were Sukhbir Cheema (The Lost Pilgrim),Tehsin Begum Mukhtar Ahmad (unpublished poems), Aaron Ong (New Town Life – Ipoh My Hometown), Lily Forbes (Growing Up Under A Mango Tree), Tina Isaaccs (Darkness Falls) and Frances Yip Ipohgal (The Scissor Sharpener’s Daughter). We had a lovely evening of sharing and learning. The moderator was Alexandra Liew. The event was hosted by Ben Toh and Frances Yip Ipohgal. This is just the beginning of more reading sessions to be held for the coming months.

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My book sale at Inspiration @ D6, Sentul East on 10th October 2014.

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The Storm Will Pass

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Four years ago, my husband, the sole breadwinner, came home and told me, a full-time housewife since the year 2000, that he has lost his job. Tried as he did for the next half year, he could not get another job that could give us back the kind of decent lifestyle we were so used to. On top of this, we have two young children to feed and endless bills to pay.

Friends deserted us. Relatives distanced themselves. In-laws began to interfere and provoke. Tempers flared. Tears flowed. Quarrels ensued. Our once tranquil home became hell on earth. Can you imagine how awful life was from then on? If I had wanted to, I could even write a book on all the miseries and indignities we have endured since that fateful day in December 2010.

Depression set in. Suicide did crossed my mind more than once. There were times when I wished I do not have to wake up to face another day. I knew I had lost my sanity one evening when I saw visions of a girl laughing at me from the wall of the toilet.

But I did not go to seek the help of a psychiatrist or a counselor. I knew no one could help me except myself. I think those who know me would now find it hard to believe the kind of hell my family have been through the last four years. After all, we managed to put up a brave front and smiled through the tears and pain.

Then one day, I came across a quote that would changed my life forever – “Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.” It was by Siddhartha Gautama. So, husband and I decided to find the blessings behind the pain and humiliations we were going through.

He searched high and low, and finally found a book that could help me. It was not an ordinary self-help book written by some millionaire businessman or a motivational speaker. It was written by a respected monk from Tibet called Pabongka Rinpoche and the book was passed on to another monk called Trijang Rinpoche who later became the personal tutor to the 14th Dalai Lama. It was said that Trijang Rinpoche brought the book along with his young student when they both fled to India after China invaded Tibet. This book has served the 14th Dalai Lama so well and also, millions of other human beings suffering from some kind of emotional upheaval.

The name of this book is “Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand.” From this book, I learned that no one could help me out from my miseries except myself. I learned not to rely on others but myself for salvation. I learned to take charge of my own life. I learned to depend on myself for true happiness.

Slowly, bit by bit, I began to remove layers of anger that had built up over the years. I have also learned not to hate my life anymore, or the people who have been so unkind and hostile to me in my darkest hours. Now, I see them as my teachers or gurus – they taught me not to be like them. I learned not to be greedy for things which were not meant for me. This in turn, teaches me to be contented, to be satisfied with the little things I still have with me, and they are things money cannot buy. The book taught me not to be egoistic. Instead, I learned humility. Anyway, how proud can one be when life is impermanent?

You are not suppose to read this book in a jiffy. You won’t learn anything that way. You should read it very slowly, contemplate on Pabongka’s lessons, and practice what you have understood from him. That way, you will become a better human being, and a more peaceful individual. I have found peace at last, and I felt I have grown up too. I have found the blessings behind all the tears we have shed and the pain we have gone through.

For years, I was called degrading names like potato, stupid, lazy or useless. In-laws said I only know how to eat but do not know how to earn money. I wanted to prove them wrong. Today, I am no longer just a housewife and a mother. I have become a writer too. I have written a book, and another one is coming up soon, after I have finished putting in some final touches to the contents and am satisfied with the cover design.

Am I ashamed of having gone through all these “lows” in life? Not at all. Now, I am comfortable enough to share my pain without a tinge of self-pity or resentment.

We have been knocked down very badly, but we have learned to stand up again, and continues with the journey called “life.” My husband is building up a new career again and we are beginning to see the fruits of his labor.

If anything, I am grateful for having gone through such a huge storm and came out from it unharmed. I have no regrets. I would not have it any other way.

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