web counter The Madness of MokcikNab: Leaps and Bounds
The Madness of MokcikNab
Motives, movements and melodrama in the life of a thirty something mum.

Monday, September 27, 2004
Leaps and Bounds

(Paul Kelly)

I'm high on the hill
Looking over the bridge
To the M.C.G.
And way up on high
The clock on the silo
Says eleven degrees I remember I remember
I'm breathing today
The month of May
All the burning leaves
I'm not hearing a sound
My feet don't even
Touch the ground I remember I remember
I go leaps and bounds
Down past the river
And across the playing fields
The fields all empty
Only for the burning leaves I remember I remember
I go leaps and bounds

You know how music brings you to a certain time, a certain place? This song delivers a specific memory because the words are so exact.

And the memory is this : it is late on a mid- winter afternoon in Melbourne and I am nineteen again, trying to keep warm in a cheap peacoat and in Saiffuddin's yellow Honda Scamp, nicknamed "The Lemon". We are driving along Punt Road, where the road crawls up a hill, past a building with a huge silo on which a digital clock stood, alternately telling the time and temperature. To my right is the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and beyond that the Yarra, snaking through vast parklands.

I remember Melbourne not as a physical entity, but as a landscape of emotions. The truth is I find it hard to recall the names of places and streets and where they would be charted on the Melway. But I remembered the first time I saw my husband like you would an epiphany : Malaysia Hall, end of March, the way the light streamed in at an angle through the glass doors, the jacket that he wore, the sure gait with which he bundled upstairs.

"That's Tengku Saiffuddin", someone announced, a hint of amusement and warning. "Lots of girlfriends. And very bad temper".

Melbourne was a watershed, I grew by leaps and bounds. During my last year as a teenager, I made one decision with amazing clarity : to marry this man, the one with the many girlfriends and the very bad temper. It turned out that he wasn't a lothario after all, but the part about the hot-headedness, unfortunately, was all true.

So I gave up, gave in, left my studies halfway to follow him home. He never asked me to, because it wasn't the right thing to do, but he hoped that I would and I never regretted not being sensible about it. Not a minute of it. For the last 17 years, we have been each other's echo and shadow.

We're older now, and the city must have changed, too. After years of promising, Saiffuddin and I will finally return to Melbourne next Tuesday. Once there, we'll retrace our steps, and see how far we've come.


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