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travel diary © 2000 JSL

january blah


I owe much of my writing interest at a very tender age. It wasn't call writing then, just incomprehensible English-sounding phrases that nobody can decipher. I was five I think. Started a "precious moment" diary then till it was being discovered by my sister and I had to hide it at some obscure places like: shoe boxes, huge cookie tins and even my father's expensive, four-feet tall Japanese china vase down the reception area of the living room in our bungalow.

Then, writing takes shape as I grow older. I'm sure everyone recalls at some point of their lives making pen-pals. So it was called in the olden days. My first pen pal was my cousin, S. She is wonderful and live a richful and active life. 'Richful' because she was in one of those boarding school type of grooming classes, from table manners to home economics - the making of a lady. She lamented about her stay at the 'jail-house' and described her life as 'bitter'. It's a wonder how cousins like us grew up writing and pouring our little hearts out. Jealousy tore us apart for a while as we marched into our teens. Then writing died of a natural death. While she was actively pursuing what a teenager girl's life should be, I steered just in the opposite direction as a lone reed.

Along the way, I acquired another pen-friend at the age of 11, A, who lives thousands of miles away from me. To think that she truly flew all the way from where she was to see me and share part of my life. It was something that you cannot find at this present day. It's more than a cultural exchange, she became part of my life. Till this day, we are still corresponding like the good old fashion way - stamps, papers and envelopes, not the new world tool - electronic mails. The thing about the conventional way of keeping in touch is that you never know when you will be receiving a card or a letter. The three-step dance as I call it - the anticipation that is killing, the anxiety of opening the letter, the satisfaction fulfilled after reading.

My mother, the one other person that influenced me greatly. I never write to my mother, I call mostly. I wonder why. The only time that I had written, was an article I've submitted to a local Chinese daily newspaper competition for mother's day at age 13. It got printed and I won a minuscule sum of money. It wasn't the money that made her happy. As I recalled my sister faithfully dictating that article to my mother in the dining table where she sat pointedly. Tear glands swelled up behind her pair of tired eyes. Tired through the years of taking care of her two children, patiently tuitoring us on the ancient art of calligraphy. That impacted me never to stop writing, not in the essence of making her cry, but to make her laugh. I never quite succeeded. My writing always makes her cry while my sister's flattering wits always makes her laugh.

When I left her for Shanghai, I wrote my first letter and solemnly regret after which. I should have called, but in the light of saving the few cents on international call, I wrote instead. Perhaps in writing, it unveiled too much of a person's inner fear, deepest emotion that came straight from the heart, nakedly. That letter almost kill her and tore my old man apart too. I regretted till this day to think that I had stylishly depicted the truth about a hard life lived in Shanghai.

Years later, I decided to pick up my pen and paper, started my journal recording only happy memoirs. Still, I log my unaccomplished goals, unfulfilled dreams, foolish thoughts and failures too with a mixed-bag of emotions. As I re-read all those journals which I have started from city to city, one country to another, I cannot regret for all the bad writings I had logged, those nonsensical letters that I corresponded with my dear friends, because for all that is in it, it's straight from my heart, bad writing or good, it meant dearly to me and those friends and moments that are part of my life.