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Archive for November, 2013

The wrath of Karma….

Do you believe in Karma? Whether you believe in it or not, like it or not, it is working all the time and no one can escape from one’s Karma, whether one is a king or a pauper.

The story I want to share here is a true one. It happened about 15 years ago to a young couple known to my family. I shall call them Mr. and Mrs. C.

Mr. C is the son of a humble grocery shop owner who use to live opposite my grandpa’s house in Batu Gajah. He was a brilliant and ambitious man. Mrs. C is the daughter of a poor family in Tasek and used to be my elder sister’s best friend. Like her husband, she was equally bright and ambitious. They made a perfect couple and was the envy of friends and relatives from both sides.

Before long, he got the top job in a very big and prestigious construction company in Kuala Lumpur. She, on the other hand, ruled high and mighty in a foreign bank in Kuala Lumpur too.

It was a coincidence that I too, work for this construction company. This company builds shopping malls, shop-lots, houses, condominiums, apartments, medium-cost flats and low-cost flats. Being in top management level, Mr. C and a few big-shots were given the privileges to choose the best units of each project before they were open to the public.

Both Mr. and Mrs. C bought the juiciest units in all the projects undertaken by the company, so can you imagine how many pieces of properties owned between the two of them? They even bought the whole block of low-cost flats, thus depriving many poor people from having a roof over their heads. Such was their greediness.

In time to come, both became instant millionaires, buying and selling properties, all located in prime areas of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. If you step into their luxury home in Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, your jaw will drop at the sheer size and amenities contained within its walls. Each have a Porsche and overseas trips for them is as common as going to Genting Highlands or Port Dickson for us lesser folks. Their two sons were educated in posh schools in Switzerland and France. Do you envy their lifestyle? I knew many did.

Then came the bomb. The company’s business is waning and retrenchment is eminent. Mr. C was given the responsibility to lay off as many as possible.  Many bread-winners lost their jobs and were not compensated. This exercise was carried out many times over a year. He gave the most lame excuse ever – we need to trim so that executives like us could still have our annual bonus! Luckily I had resigned a year before to be a full-time mother or else I will face the indignity of being laid off too. But many of my former colleagues were tearfully forced to leave. Needless to say, many were bitter and unhappy.

A few years back, I met his former secretary in the street and she told me this, “Do you know Mr.C is dying from nasal cancer? His wife had gone too, just last month, from lung cancer even though she did not smoke or drink and being so filthy rich, for years, they had been eating those organic food us poor people could hardly afford for a single day!”

I can’t imagine Mr. C, in the prime of his life, looking pink and  in good health all the time, was fighting cancer like a zombie. I was told he was bald from the chemo and could hardly get up from his bed. He was so sick that he had to give up his job for which company would hire a man so sick like him? And his wife, the one who was so articulately groomed all the time, lost all her hair too and was reduced to a pile of bones before Grim Reaper came to drag her away.

I was told too that they had sold off most of their properties to treat their cancers. Now it’s the doctors turn to laugh all the way to the bank. Life is like a dream – one minute you have so much and the next, you were left with nothing.

I have nothing against their wealth, they really have the guts to take risks and deserved to be so rich but along the way, they have trampled on other people’s rice bowls and denied the poor a roof over their heads. That, to me, is very sinful. I was not surprised they were punished in this way.

Do you agree it was their Karma?

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A talk by Audrey Lim on her father at Freebert Malacca’s Riverine. Also attending are Colin Joseph Goh, Jo Chua and many others. Tasty Nyonya kueh were serve to those attending.

Besides speaking at the event, Audrey was also selling calendars for next year which was compiled from her family vast collection of black and white vintage photos. Also on sale were books of her former school titled “Our Convent” detailing the institution’s illustrated 148 years of rich history.

Thanks to the organizing team, I was allowed to sell my book at the event. I managed to sell a few books. The talk was very interesting. We learned how life was in those days from 1923 to 1953 in Malacca. All in, it was truly a memorable night.

 

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My online bookstore

> 188 Hugh Low Street Online Bookshop (Facebook)

> 188 Hugh Low Street Online Bookshop (Blog)

Book Price (paperback) : RM 32.90 per copy (excluding postage or delivery charges)

ISBN 978-967-12269-1-9 (printed book)

Story Book_ebook_split_1  ISBN

E-Book (in e-flip version)You can view it only with PC(desktop) or laptop which is running Microsoft Windows O/S

such as Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows Xp, but NOT other than these.

This downloadable e-Book NOT supported with any iPhone, iPad or any smart phone or android tablet.

E-book price (soft copy) : RM 18.80 per copy

e – ISBN 978-967-12269-0-2 (e Book)

Ipohgal e-ISBN

Also available at the following friendly bookstores

Badan Warisan Malaysia
Outlets at:-
> No.2 Jalan Stonor, 50450 Kuala Lumpur,
> Suffolk House at No.250 Jalan Air Itam, 10460 Georgetown, Penang
> No.8 Herren Street at No.8 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, 75200 Melaka.

Silverfish Books
Address: 28 Jalan Telawi,
Bangsar Baru,
59100 Bangsar Baru,
Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur
Phone:03-2284 4837

Nutmeg Publishing
http://www.nutmegpublishing.com/books.html

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“Hey, do you want to join me for some curries and muruku at Geetha’s house tomorrow?” my eldest sister asked me one evening when she got home from work.

My eldest sister used to work in a garment factory in Tasek Industrial Estate, some distance away from Ipoh town. Geetha worked with her in the same department. They were good friends.

“Of course, tomorrow is Deepavali, isn’t it?” I answered keenly.

“Yes, it is!”

So off we went to Geetha’s house the next morning, the three of us – eldest sister, third sister and I.

We took a town bus from Medan Kidd to Buntong where her friend stayed. She waited for us at the bus-stop and led us to her house a few meters away.

Geetha’s house looked neat and clean. Obviously it was given a layer of new paint and the curtains were new too. Her family had spruce up the place to welcome the festival. Melodious Hindu songs filled the living room to add more gaiety to the occasion.

On the coffee table were plates and plates of ‘muruku’ or snacks specially prepared by her mother and they looked very appetizing. We had these with some bottled soft drinks.

When we had enough tidbits and soft drinks, Geetha beckoned us to her room.

“Come to my room. Let me show you all how to put on a sari. It is an art to wrap a sari correctly” she said enticingly.

Geetha owned more than a dozen sari. They came from India and they were made from colorful silk. A piece of sari is not cheap; in fact it can be quite expensive as some of them are hand-woven, using the best quality silk threads. There are many patterns and designs – some have floral motifs while others have stripes. Her sari came in different hues – maroon, turquoise, sapphire blue, emerald-green and even sunflower yellow.

We stood and watch as Geetha and her mom dressed my eldest sister up in a sari. Their supple hands wrapped the layers and layers of shiny cloth around her slim body. They adorned her with a golden necklace, a pair of dangling earrings and filled up her wrists with colorful bangles to match. With a red dot at the middle of her forehead, my eldest sister looked like a Bollywood film star!

“Aiyo, what a Chinese girl doing in a sari?” Geetha’s grandmother asked and laughed as she came into the room to have a look at all the excitement going on.

We all broke into a gale of laughter seeing a Chinese girl wearing a sari. She looked strange in it but stunning nevertheless. Eldest sister not only tried one but dozens of sari that day at Geetha’s house and she really had fun doing just that. And we had a good time watching her getting into one sari after another.

Third sister and I got our turns too. While both my elder sisters were dressed in colorful sari, Geetha dressed me up in a small and tight red blouse matched with a golden long flare skirt. She used to wear this when she performed the classical Indian dance called Bharata Natyam in the temple. It was a beautiful costume for young Indian girls. To complete the look, Geetha’s mom put a pair of anklets on both my ankles. I simply loved the tinkling sounds the little bells made when I broke into a few dance steps which Geetha taught me on the spot. Oh, what fun we had that morning!

After the dressing session was over, we had curries for lunch. Geetha’s mom cooked vegetarian and mutton curries and they are superb. Curries never taste as good as those home cooked ones.

On the way home that evening, I felt my tummy acting very funny.

“Eldest sister, I think I got a stomach-ache!” I was holding my tummy tightly.

“Oh no, I also felt something funny with my stomach. How about you?” she turned to third sister.

“Me too, I could feel my stomach bloated. Maybe we had too much soft drinks or curries just now!” she was laughing and wincing at the same time.

“I think we have no choice but to hold onto our stomachs until we get home, the bus will not stop for us to relieve ourselves!” eldest sister told us in a chuckle.

True enough, we held onto our poor stomachs until we got home. After getting down from the bus at Hugh Low Street near some textile shops, we almost ran the rest of the way home. As soon as our feet reached the front door, we made a mad scramble to the toilets. While my two elder sisters quickly planted themselves into a toilet each (there were only two), poor me had to make-do by squatting over a small drain just outside the bathroom near the kitchen on the ground floor.

Boom, boom, boom….it took us less than five minutes to regurgitate everything from our throats and anuses! Oh, what a relief after that!

“Serve the three of you right, I bet you girls stuffed yourselves silly with soft drinks and curries. Soft drinks and curries don’t mix!” Mom hissed sarcastically.

Then she and Dad looked at each other before breaking into laughter, seeing how we limped about with weak legs after purging with such vengeance.

Minutes later, we lay down weakly on the bed while Mom applied ‘Kwan Loong Foong Yau’ vigorously on our tummies. This is a type of medicated oil that comes in handy during stomach pain. You can find one in every home.

We girls just giggled and giggled away.

“Are you going to tell your friend about this?” I asked eldest sister playfully.

“Of course no,” she answered. “Sorry for dragging you both into this,” she said remorsefully.

“It’s alright. We also enjoyed ourselves but this is definitely something I won’t be able to forget,” I tried to comfort her.

She nodded her head, gave me a smile and a warm sisterly hug.

“It was my fault. I should have stop you from taking too much soft drinks. Next time, don’t take so much soft drinks, okay?” she stroked my hair gently.

“Okay.”

That was Deepavali day in 1978 when I was 14 and she was 26.

No, we did not go to Geetha’s house again after that. Eldest sister went to New Zealand months later to marry her fiancé and stayed there for some years.

But Deepavali continued to intrigue me with its core message – that good will surely triumph over evil, and brightness will illuminate darkness. It was a very beautiful and inspirational message and above all, universal.

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