slow stream of tears are falling while i am lying on the carpet playing Azee online. im not sad.
felt like listening to Mata Jaya Om Lalitambikaye. the song had popped into my head, so went to youtube and downloaded it. it’s been a long time since i heard that song.
last week while i was running, i thought i heard 3 guys speaking in tamil. having not heard tamil here at all, i doubted myself, but was also running fast enough to reach them before i could figure out what language they were talking. i stared at them, they looked at me. and i said, “tamila” in tamil. they said yes. i stopped running. i started chatting with 3 male strangers. there were 3 of them, all from chennai, i shared my parents origin, we talked about jobs, families, etc, half a loop later, i asked for one of their numbers and we got connected. yesterday i went to 1 of the guys house for dinner. he had worked in malaysia, while his wife was a staff nurse at Lion’s aged home, and later at Mount Elizabeth day care centre for the aged. she almost got her singapore PR, but they decided to go back to India cos it wasnt good raising a child with 1 in Singapore and 1 in Malaysia. we chatted for as long as we could, cos curfew here was 8pm, meaning i had to be in the car by 740, so make sure no mishaps happened. they said there are alot of tamils here. i had told my mom that i had met these 3 strangers and she mentioned that there is some joy in meeting ppl of your ethnicity in some far away land. i agreed. this family is moving next week to a place closer to me. and the lady is going to teach me south indian dishes so that when my mom comes, she’ll be impressed with what i can cook! (except all the podi and stuff here are more north indian style, so it wont really be as authentic)
Mata Jaya Om is still playing.
my neighbour, who is actually our agent, moved into the granny flat next to ours. She is separated from her husband. when she first came to ask us whether it was ok that she move in, we were a bit hesitant. we were enjoying our privacy sitting out at the front. but we thought we should be nice. she’s been such a blessing that i feel guilty for even having had doubts abt having her share our front space. she’s an angel i tell you. she is living in a cramped place, and she still has the heart to share her food with me. it brings me to tears that a person who is sad abt her own life wants to share.
i want to give her stuff too, but im not confident with indian food. maybe this weekend i’ll make her banana bread, she can freeze it. she’s a good soul.
an acquaintance in singapore running a sustainable seafood/farm has been giving healthcare workers care package. he’s not always bubbling with money. most of the time, he seems to be making ends meet. he misses his kid. he’s got his own issues. yet he cares for others enough to bother thinking of those who have less than him. humans like this put me to shame. he walks the talk. [Shannon, if for some reason you are alerted to this link, please dont share this post]
i feel so selfish, why am i not doing more? i have money. i have money aside for my parents for when they grow old and need treatment, but why is saving money so important to me? it’s probably because i know the shits my parents came from. i know how they struggled to put me through school. my mom gave even when she didnt have much. she gave to family, she gave to friends. she gave to strangers, she even gave to people who hurt her. she gave her gold necklaces to the Aussies at our wedding so they can look good. who is as selfless as her? she makes me cry when i think of how much she gives. sure people step on her, but she’s been true to herself. she gives. she is a giver. if i can be half as good as her giving myself to the service of others, id have done her some justice.
anyway, this wasnt meant to be a sad post.
Mata Jaya Om still running on auto play… it might be the 15th round. I grew up in a Hindu household, even though my dad is an atheist. some of these childhood songs remind me of the Tues and fridays at home. those days i went with mom to potong pasir temple during the 3-430 (or was it sometime else?) to light lime vilaku. or the days i went to Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple after tamil lesson at Ummar pulavar tamil language center. or that time during nus when i became someone else, going thru a breakup i didnt manage too well. whether or not praying as an effect on future events, praying does calm me, and makes me reflect. i havent prayed in a long time.
i just want to say, i am surrounded by people, good people. sometimes that is more than what anyone can ask for. it’s ok to give. give willingly. give what you can. give to people who have less than you. make someone’s day.
“To experience kindness is to be touched by an angel – to show it, is to be one.” Thank you to all the angels, for being angels.
3 thursdays ago on the 19th of Mar 2020, Fiji recorded its first Covid-19 case. suddenly there was a buzz of activity. forget the panic buying at the shops. this was the longest day yet so far. for the brain, it was working on pure adrenaline.
Just that monday, i got news that my work permit cos approved. it was a four month wait, from when i was offered the job in nov.
meanwhile, my man had got his biopsy results back saying one of his sunspots was a BCC. he was advised to remove it within 2 months.
the Aussies in Fiji were told to leave within the next 2 weeks. suddenly, they were going to leave next weekend. and then suddenly the story changed again and they were going to leave THAT weekend. that day and the days that passed, we lived from hour to hour. amidst the buzz of our friends leaving within 2 days, and flights potentially being stopped and borders closed, my man and i decided it was best that he left for Aus. Thurs late night, he bought his tickets from Suva to Nadi to Bne. We also wanted to say bye to friends. We had dinner at M’s house, and took their food products. Then drove to J’s house to say bye to J and D. they had their own issues, cos D was going back to the US, and J didnt want to leave D without making sure D was on the plane to the US. We took their plants (i’ve already killed the lemon basil and thai basil, btw). then we went to F’s house to say bye to C who was leaving the next day cos she promised her mom that as soon as a case turned up in Fiji, she’d leave.
the same night, we contacted 3 airbnbs in brisbane to see if they would house a person who needed to quarantine for 2 weeks. of course our easter dive trip to Taveuni had to be cancelled. we went to bed, unsure of what the near future would look like. it was a very very very long day.
the next morning (fri), we got positive news from the airbnb ppl in Aus. no one felt like working on the friday after the news of Fiji having the virus. we spent the time at home. dropped off some bottles for recycling. bought from dried food for him to take to aus for isolation, bought some for home here. the school called and asked me if i could come in to get some admin done. i said monday. suddenly, news came out that fijiairways had cancelled some flights. my man went to their website to find out that his nadi-bne flight was changed to nadi-syd. but there was nothing on the website to click to say acknowledged and accepted. once again, we went to bed apprehensive. he woke up in the middle of the night to call fijiair – no response.
the next morn (sat), we drove down to fiji air office, queued for 2 hrs just to confirm that he was indeed on the nadi-syd flight. he was. then got home to book syd-bne flight. informed airbnb that he’d be at their place late. all good, spent the day with each other. suddenly he got news that his syd-bne flight was pushed to a later syd-bne flight. all in all, he was going to be travelling 20hrs, on a trip that should have taken 5 hrs.
the next morn (sun), we woke up at 330am. drove to the airport. he checked in. we said our byes. he left. i drove back to Suva. entered a quiet house. looked around for a few seconds. i cant remember what else i did that day. probably just lazed. i was strong. i knew we didnt know when my man and i would meet again. we’d gone thru long distance before. we know what it is. we have confidence in our relationship. that wasn’t an issue. for him, the issue was that he was leaving me behind. for me, the issue was that i got to make sure i dont get the virus cos im here on my own.
the next morn (mon), was my first day at school. it was a buzz of confusion. i took in as much as i could. i saw some students from some classes.
tues onwards, it was e-learning. wasn’t the best of conditions to start teaching, but what the hell… i have a job.
as of today, it’s been 3 weeks since my man left. in the meantime, our car battery died one evening. thankfully F stayed with me so i wasnt alone. Cyclone Harold paid us a visit from afar. the house is fine. but the car battery died again. you know what, i am strong. but it will still be nice to have someone to hug on difficult days. and with the virus, i cant even hug friends. the Singapore MFA called last week, asking about recovery flights. that didnt happen cos Suva was on lock down.
the count as of today is 16. but they’ve only tested close contacts. some of the people have loitered shops before going to clinic. the virus is out there, for sure, there are more cases. a curfew has been imposed. 8pm onwards. no gatherings, even of 2 people. no visiting friends. mix only with people in your household – in this case, it’s me myself and i. hence the isolation.
i am very grateful for alot of things. having a nice house, nice enough view, a good neighbour, contact with fellow singaporeans. i have a job, my man has a job. we are better off than many other people in the world. I’ve tried to ease the worry of my parents, telling them that it is fairly safe here. thats true. but i also have the responsibility to stay safe, cos i cannot afford my parents worrying. im generally holding it together, but some days are a bit tough.
i must say, what an experience Fiji has been so far. i still feel unsettled. as im sure many people are.
that’s a first, for the both of us.
not the nicest of things to hear.
but got to let it go….
so, i’ve been watching youtube and streaming series pretty much the most part of the day. my dependence on external factors for some form of structure gets quite prevalent in such days. also, my lack of self control and discipline to do something worthwhile is quite strong, though not surprising.
i’ve started art. so i’m doing that now and then. but that gets done in the morning. other than that, thankfully i have internet, and im on the laptop most of the time. sure i need to do some weeding, and sure i need to do some house chores, but i can also do them later, or tomorrow.
without ‘work’ to organise your day, it’s really just a blank canvas isnt it.
whatever that work is.
the move has finally been made. i arrived in Fiji 3 weeks ago. everyone’s thinking im living the dream. i mean, “Fiji Yo!!!”
the reality is, it’s not a dream, at least not yet. there’s no beach where we live, so it’s not all coconut trees, hammocks and sun sand and sea. instead, it’s wake up in the morning, think about what to do for the day. it usually consists of laundry, cooking, cleaning, gardening…
i came here knowing i needed to fill my days. i bought paints, boards, clay and moulds… yet i haven’t had the inspiration to start anything crafty. they all seem more like time fillers than actual objectives. especially since i’m not that crafty to be able to make it into a venture.
i know what it is that bothers me. it didn’t take 3 weeks for me to figure that out. it took the 2nd weekday. im not doing anything that’s challenging me, im not having any intellectual conversation that stimulates my brain, nothing really is getting my excited, and basically im not productive. and i really have no excuse to be a stay-at-home person. im not a mother, and im not looking after anything. so everyday, im not achieving anything, really. time-filler duties aside. im just at home. at the end of the day, i would not have achieved anything that improves me, let alone improves the world.
so yes, i’m struggling. especially thinking of all the effort my parents had gone through to put me through school. they are both still working, and yet both their kids arent. it might be acceptable in the western world, but it’s not ok for this first generation singaporean. it’s not something people understand unless they’ve been in that situation, seeing their parents count 10 cents to buy a loaf of bread, scrimp on their own expenses so that their daughter can get a nice smile, have ambition to earn more so that their children don’t have to work as hard to earn the kind of money they used to earn.
yup, struggling being aimless. for a person who doesn’t deal well with uncertainty, this is the harshest test.
i know every phase of my life is meant to teach me something. i also firmly believe that things happen when they are meant to happen. so i’ll wait it out.
while my husband is happy and excited travelling to places in the name of work, all paid for. meanwhile i am degenerating at home, not saving any money for retirement, and not spending any money for my own happiness. happy for him, very unhappy for me. have i given up too much?
started googling about expat wives being jobless, and saw a bunch of posts.
2 weeks of my job left. also means 2 weeks to becoming ‘the expat wife’. my anxiety is still there, but im trying to sweep it under the carpet. whenever i feel something brewing, i just keep quiet and not respond. i am a work in progress, i suppose this is the next stage i need to navigate. reading and talking to people who went through this is helping me a little.
one person wrote, “When your husband just goes off to work and the reality of his days hasn’t changed much, and you are left to navigate a new place, with no mates, whilst coming to terms with the numbing realisation that you are no long sitting in board meetings, you are sitting on the sofa feeling bored at the prospect of yet more laundry…”
i can’t imagine what my days will be like when I dont have work to occupy me. suddenly it’s like “what do i do with my whole day?”
which leads to stagnating. not growing. one person wrote, “My husband is doing incredibly well at work and of course I am proud of him and know that by making this move I have supported him as best I could. But what about me? While he learns new skills, receives praise from senior figures and climbs the career ladder, I stagnate, wondering what I could have achieved if I had only been given the opportunity.”
then you start losing yourself. when you meet people, they ask, “so what do you do?” now it’s almost shameful to say, “i’m not doing anything”, no matter how sugar coated it is. in saying, “i’m not doing anything”, it voices in you that you’re not significant, you’re not contributing to society, let alone to personal growth. you are exist, as someone’s wife. you exist as a person who doesnt have the right to stay in that country if not for the husband. you exist because your husband exists. this post about being an independent dependent is a reminder to keep fighting to be independent, in whatever way you can.
i remember the days when i was still independent in the relationship, perhaps too independent (when we were going through the long distance phase for 4 years). so now it’s time to find something for myself again.
leaving singapore, I already had identity issues. in singapore, i was volunteering, weekends were busy doing something with nature, good group of friends. moving to yangon, i lost my volunteer opportunities, and most people just got drunk most of the time on weekends.
now it’s a new chapter. So it’s time for a mindset review. all the blogs i read talk abt using this free time to find something meaningful. i’ve spent all my days working, such that travelling was my meaningful thing to do when i had time. not that i’m not earning, travelling is not in the equation. i need to find something for myself once again, to not lose myself and to remember that i can get through this.
when we were still doing long distance, in my highly paid job in Singapore, i had asked my colleague if it’s wise that I leave it all to pursue my relationship. she said, you can’t have the pie and eat it too. something’s got to give. i decided to leave my job and pursue the relationship, and im very very very glad i made that step, because we wouldn’t have gotten to where we are today, if i hadn’t taken the plunge.
still questioning where my self worth comes from if i’m not earning money. i know money is not everything. but i am not of the personality to live day to day. i need to know that im saving for retirement, saving for holidays, saving for my parents when they need it.
can i be happy without earning money? it’ll take a whole lot of convincing to make me say yes. coincidentally, i was talking to a student who said, “she just wants to be happy, she’s not career minded, she just wants to live a happy life”. i am actually stuck. what does that mean? i’m really not sure.
living on an island is very different from holidaying at one. so i have new lessons to learn. it’s time for me to find out what happiness is, when im not earning, when i won’t have money to dive as and when i want, when im limited to the opportunities the island can provide, while learning to be a dependent, while learning to be positive, as i figure how to be productive everyday.
i guess i’ll be writing more once again.
i hadn’t done a year end post in 2017. alot had happened then and alot has happened in 2018. how time flies this fast, i dont know. so here’s my 2 yrs in summary
moved into my own flat
resigned from school in Singapore
started working overseas
climbed rinjani (almost)
dived deeper (43m)
saw my first manta
finally saw a whale shark
today, i chatted with a ex colleague who dropped me off at the MRT station. He asked how my parents were doing. I said they are getting old. it’s easy enough to keep parents off your mind when you’re away from them but the reality is, and deep inside you know, they are getting old and less able. i remember a few years ago when my dad came down to help me replace a flat tyre. he was huffing and puffing. the once strong man was getting weak. he is even weaker now. he’s rested for a few months, started swimming, walking alot more, even climbed bukit timah hill. good on him.
my mom is getting more and more forgetful. she’s held on to this life of hers for a long time, kept going. and must still keep going. it’s a case of i want to do more, but it’s also the case of everything else that makes you say “tomorrow”.
meanwhile, i’m still facing uncertainties, but i’m a bit less uncomfortable, cos we know roughly what will happen. at least there’s a plan. there was a question i frequently ask myself. where would my self worth come from if i wasn’t earning. it’s a discussion i’ve had with a few people. some said self-worth comes from knowing you’ve accomplished something. now accomplishing something means different things to different people. to an employee, it’s completing the job for the day. what if i wasn’t working. to a mother, it’s making sure her child gets her best. what if i wasn’t a mother. is it really that much of an accomplishment to stay at home and keep the house clean and cook food for the day? i suppose at the end of the day, it’s our own mindset. and the mindset of our partner. being financially independent is what ive been taught, grown up with. what more with a mortgage loan to pay. it’s important to me that im financially independent, that much i know. so all in good time, i’ll figure something out. you know why? COS I STILL WANNA DIVE AND CLIMB AND KAYAK AND DO FUN STUFF! #igotmyprioritiesright 😀
in all, 2017/2018 has been an eventful year.
what adventures 2019 will bring is still up for grabs!