web counter The Madness of MokcikNab: March 2006
The Madness of MokcikNab
Motives, movements and melodrama in the life of a thirty something mum.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Rum Tobacco and Lucky Strikes

For the past few days, I've been cleaning out my house, getting ready to move on : closure in a physical sense. We've accumulated some serious junk in the past ten or eleven years living in that house, seperating the valuable from the useless is such a tedious process. It also doesn't help that so many small things remind me of some big adventure, and everytime I come across these beacons of memories, I will stop, caress them in my hands and reminisce.

I have a hard time going through drawers. I found the hideous orange watch my husband and kids gave for my birthday. I found an old to-do list, that was apparently written before a New York trip : immediately after "research bond market interest in power companies" was "buy enema", with exclamation marks and double underscore. I found lonely earrings, packets of stuff that could be mistaken for vape-mat but are not vape-mat, foreign money, heartfelt thank you notes, small envelopes of medicine, old payslips, obgyn appointment cards for each pregnancy, hastily written addresses and telephone numbers.

And then, tucked within a lace mirror case I bought in Brugges, I found this picture :

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It must have been taken in the early seventies, and I'm sad to see it marred by tear and dog-ear. That's me, the girl with the frown. The lanky man with me is my grandfather, I call him Bah, even though my father calls him that, too. I've always thought Bah had more than a passing resemblance to James Coburn.

Bah was my favourite grandparent. Alas, he was also the first one to go.

As I grow older, I search for things that remind me of Bah. For example, Old Malay songs, because he used to play them on his violin. A vivid memory was a melayu asli jamming session at our house, Bah played the violin, accompanied by some members of Kombo RTM Pantai Timur, while Pok Itam, the guy who owned a stall nearby, crooned old favourites. We didn't have to attend PPAG concerts to learn about traditional music -- we get to hear them, live, weekened evenings in our living room.

I also remembered the first time I ate chili corn carne -- cowboy food, he told me. It was late in the evening and Bah roused a friend in Batu Rakit to fire up his restaurant kitchen to make him some. Because my grandmother (the eponymous Mokciknab) absolutely did not eat meat, I remembered eating it surreptitiously, and my grandfather had a grin and glint in his eyes as he ladled each spoon. My grandmother's nagging about him was always about food. Once a fisherman friend gave him a large ikan parang as a gift, and ikan parang were his favourite, but it was then dusk, and my grandmother had already prepared dinner. I remember having to be the one meekly handing over the fish to my grandmother, who immediately launched into a tirade. My grandfather, he would never complain -- he only had that grin and that glint in his eye.

He had a gold tooth. He had a glint in his smile, too. Oh, he was always smiling. And his extraordinary grey eyes would be smiling, too.

I always hoped one of my children would inherit his grey eyes, but no one did. I hoped they would inherit his musical gift, or his fine penmanship, or his skills with the rifle, or his talents at bandminton, but none has displayed any such hint. Exasperated, I made my husband smoke a pipe, so that I could smell the same rum tobacco on his shirt.

But I found, no one could replace Bah. Gentlemen just aren't bred that way anymore.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006
By Gum!

Tons of apologies for those in tears over all these mommy blogs -- what to do? Mommies need an outlet to neutralize all the crap they have to undergo daily. (Sometimes the crap is like, real crap)

Unlike successful businessmen, or high flying corporate types who can pop into Bar Savanh for a de-stressing drink and some eyeful; or mosey on to whatever secret lair successful people go to nowadays to get their daily rub, society has yet to create similar facilities for mommies. But here, in cyberspace, there is blogging, a sort of communal therapy with other mommies, with no cover charge, no watered down alcohol and thankfully, no poledancing. Okay, maybe we get a visit by the occassional unfortunate bloghopping non-mommy, (oh, you poor dear) but you know, we always make sure no one gets hurt.

So, until The Partriarchs devise a way for mommies to get off work at 6 pm so that they can go somewhere to see a Patrick Dempsey lookalike gyrate in jeans, we will continue blogging. And talk endlessly about our children, whine about our husbands and enquire about our gynaecological problems. So sorry.

Well, anyway, moving on : I wasn't going to say anything about this piece of news, because you know my blog is a mommy blog and all, but I had those bad urges, the ones you get from working in a newsroom, and no, I'm not talking about holding in your pee because of a looming deadline. My raison d'etre for putting up this little snippet is to make you, dear reader, attain clarity. Understanding. Submission to the truth. The same purpose in life that imbues all good news editors in the country.

And just like any good news editor, I'm going to stick to my plan of not saying anything meaningful, and just let you read the story yourself, which I have kindly reproduced here, just in case you used that particular page to wrap used diapers, ie the aforementioned crap :

(from The Star, 28 March 2006)
Suhakam never meant to have teeth

THE Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) was never meant to have any “teeth”, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz told the Dewan Rakyat.

Its role, he said, was to promote human rights in the country and not to enforce such rights.

“The Government has never suggested that Suhakam be given any teeth,” he said in reply to Teresa Kok (DAP – Seputeh).

Kok had asked if the commission should get more power and role so that it would not be a powerless government agency.

Nazri said it would be up to the relevant authority to take action on any of Suhakam’s recommendations on human rights infringements.

So we're clear about that, ya? All those in disagreement, direct your petitions to, to, to


Oh what the hell, this is worth a shot :

Please now send all your petitions, habeas corpus applications, pleas for equitable and constitutional relief, or any other matter relating to fundamental liberties; to the Lancre Witches, in um, Lancre. They're the original mommies and don't even take Commission.


Thursday, March 23, 2006
I'll Never Win Mother of the Year

My sister wrote a nice piece about the effects of television, or cartoons, to be specific, on her children. Folks, what she has done with Ilham, Ihsan and Anis is the right thing to do. I'm afraid I hadn't had the same kind of luck with my kids. I confess, when they talk about overweight children getting their brains fried on TV and having eyes like they're on a nicotine fix : they were talking about my kids.

My kids are definitely learning the wrong things, or the right things, if you consider being a funny voice-over artist an illustrious career. For example, they are absolutely nuts about Camp Lazlo : which features the adventures of beanscouts Lazlo, a free-spirited but misguided monkey, Raj, a neurotic elephant, and Clam, a quirky, albino, pygmy rhino (who knew these animals existed?) Over and over again, I'll get to hear my kids enact a scene from Camp Lazlo, the one used as a promo for the series. I can't really remember much of it, but in the end it goes :

"Wata-wata-wata-wata, do you have any waaaaataaa?"
"Sparkling or Non-Carbonated?"
"Uh, sparkling would be fine."

And then all three would be all over the floor, in hysterics.

The week before it is the "I want to buy a hamburger" bit from Pink Panther -- Aiysha gets to be the English instructor, Adam is Inspector Clouseau, and Aliya the laughtrack.

It's funny how they can remember whole chunks of dialogues from cartoons or films but can't seem to recall the difference between a wakil rakyat and a penghulu in Kajian Tempatan. But who'd blame them? The subject matter is terribly boring -- and their exam paper looks like one of those tests you have to sit through if you're a government servant. Now, if only they can make an imaginary blue blob, or a smug octopus, or the Grim Reaper teach Kajian Tempatan. (If you're a parent, you'd recognize each one)

Ten or fifteen years from now, I wonder what kind of adults they would grow up to be, considering the warped sense of humour and distorted worldview they absorb from Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.

Already, Adam and Aiysha have a pronounced mistrust for grown-ups in authority, especially those who use grown-up powers in ways they perceive are oppressive towards children. It also doesn't help that their father feeds their minds with all sorts of ideals about rights and human dignity, and warnings about the wickedness of government. Adam once likened school to a kind of gulag, where students are slaves who work non-stop in a mine, where teachers are the black-masked slave drivers with whips, and where the headmistress is the supremo evil mastermind, laughing manically while everyone else does her bidding.

Sometimes, I am that evil grown-up, in which case they'd be quick to point it out, but I hardly ever back down from my decisions, and my kids would usually accept them if I have a good rationale. Or give them a good deal. The thing is, back in my time, my mother won't even bother reasoning things out or negotiating -- discipline is discipline, my word is law and that's it. Now, I have to earn that kind of respect. It usually comes from knowing the name of that blue blob, or the difference between Electronic Arts and Ubisoft, or the characters in Madonna's English Roses. Their father, on the other hand, is always treated with deference, because he can assemble mechanical things, has the ability to do Math and has a proper job. Having an abrupt temper, apparently, also helps.

The flip side to all this is my children have developed self-empowerment, although I'm not sure it is entirely the result of those brash characters they see on TV, or the fact that I'm not of drill-master quality. My children are not afraid to voice out their opinions, even when they're contrary to others, especially when they're contrary to mine. If I say something that hurts their feelings or belittles them (and I do this mostly in jest or unintentionally), they have no qualms telling me exactly how they feel. Adam has recently imposed a "no-touchy" injunction against me, because he's sick of getting his cheeks pinched and his butt slapped. (I still do as I please) On one hand, I want to nurture that kind of confidence, on the other, it makes it hard for me to reinforce my role as someone they should listen to. Maybe I should try a spot of abrupt temper.

I envy mothers who are able to shape and mould their children exactly the way they want them to be. I have no one to blame really, I know I haven't put in the requisite time and effort it takes to be a good mother, and I don't possess the iron-handed diligence to pull it off. Faced with the prospect of say, going through multiplication tables, or putting up a mock comedy night, I'd always choose the latter. What can I do? I hate multiplication tables. Discipline? It would seem that I need that medicine more desperately than my children.

And so, the idiot box has been, on many occassions, the de-facto parent. It's worse now that my husband is in Jakarta and not here to provide the balancing factor. This week Adam and Aiysha have exams, and I've limited their TV viewing time. I found that the influence of slapstick and weird humour can transcend even an empty screen.

Last night, for dinner we had steamed broccoli with macaroni, cheese and sausages (saute a little garlic and chopped onions in some butter, add sliced sausages, fry till crisp, then add to pre-cooked mac and cheese). To entertain their youngest sister, Adam and Aiysha decided to hold a farting competition. Broccoli and sausages, by the way, are perfect for the production of good quality flatulence, and the two just went on and on, while making the appropriate faces to accompany the cacophony. I pulled my nightie over my head and dialled my husband in Jakarta.

"Look, I truly think we raised them wrong", I told him. I can't remember what Saiffuddin said, maybe it was don't worry or poor Mommy or something to that effect, but I know he was laughing. No one, I tell you, no one takes me seriously as a mother.

Well, what do I expect? My plan for raising kids is to live on a wing and a prayer : make-it-up-as-we-go-along and lots of faith in doa's.

As well as Marks and Sparks tea-rose room spray.


Monday, March 20, 2006
Hit First, Ask Questions Later

Some things make you wonder why you pay income tax.

This is what happened to our friend, Ms Way-Too-Groovy-for-Her-Husband (or Ms WagBun for brevity, but let's not argue about the technicalities of abbreviation).

This morning Ms WagBun dropped off her daughter at school, one of those old ones in the middle of the city. As she was about to return to her car, she was attacked by a snatch thief, who wanted her handphone. A struggle ensued, the phone dropped to the ground, and the assailant took flight. Fortunately for Ms WagBun, other parents chased after the man, and he was finally apprehended by the school guard. Now this is where the fun starts.

If this happened to you, you'd call the police, right? Who else would you call? Surely, the good men and women who vowed to serve and protect the public from all evil. After all, you've seen them do exactly that on Gerak Khas and Maria-Mariana or whatever else that has Erra Fazira and AC Mizal in it. We're not asking for Detective Mac Taylor.

So, of course Ms WagBun called the police.

And the police told her they can't do anything.

Because they said the guy didn't actually get away with the goods. So like, no crime was committed. I'm quite willing to dispute that, but I left my Penal Code at home.

Why, people get to stay in that nifty resort in Kamunting just for thinking about another form of government. But in this incident, where the basic ingredients of culpability -- mens rea (guilty mind or intent, not male butt) and actus reus (actual wrongdoing) -- are evident in broad daylight, in front of maybe half a dozen witnesses, the police say they can't do anything? Can't do? Not willing to do? Who knows what's the difference anymore?

The police assured Ms WagBun that they will step up their rondaan's around schools, and not just LRT stations (because so far, that's where most snatch thefts occur, they said). Obviously, increased police presence will prevent known criminals from committing a felon, much better than say, locking up them scoundrels in the first place. (Insert argument about crowded jails, low pay for the Force, the politics of incarceration, rehabilitative vs punitive, Krusty Krab vs Chumbucket or whatever, here)

So anyway, here was Ms WagBun, shaken and stirred at her daughter's school so early in the morning, with one guilty snatch thief (okay, aspiring snatch thief) on her hands. What was she supposed to do with this guy, now that he's caught redhanded? She insisted on making a police report, and the police officer on the other end (if you're with me, they're talking on the phone, remember) said she can come round to the police station, with the security guard and the snatch thief. Haha. She's going to drive to a police station, in her car, with two strange men, one of whom just tried to rob her.

Well, okay, let's just play along. Her car is somewhere at the back of the school, and the security guard offered to drive it up front, so that they can all go to the police station for a nice chat and a spot of tea, perhaps. In the meantime, the thief is supposed to be in the custody of the other guards. But since all good things must come to an end, the guy managed to escape, and the other guards couldn't contain the interloper. Ms WagBun called back the police, hoping one of their Gerak Khas kereta ronda would be able to nab the man, but the good officer said :

"Kalau dah lari, tak leh nak buat apa lah"

You know, in Jakarta, if a snatch thief is caught, he will be at the mercy of the crowd, who would invariably beat him to a pulp, and the scene is then replayed on the evening news in all its graphic glory. But we think we're more civilized than that, don't we?


Saturday, March 18, 2006
Sleep is a Strange Country

It is almost four a.m in Jakarta. An hour ago I was roused by the realisation that I have been struggling, in my sleep, to recite every single Quranic ayat and doa that I know, and that's an abysmally short list.

In this dream I had, I am the subject in some kind of initiation ceremony. There were flowers of every colour, and there was an old woman, tall, dark, erect, her hair up in a chignon, her body wrapped in brown batik, shoulders bare. She's teaching me to chant things I couldn't remember, and I was trying with every shred of faith I had in me, to resist. I recalled at one point, having my arms outstretched in front of me, and the woman took my hands, willing my fingers to go this way and that, gamelan postures, and she instructed me to hold my stance because she was about to transfer to me, well, something.

Something vague, it seems the whole ritual is an ancient, incense-filled download. I was given a kain panjang sembilan, of a miring pattern, and somehow the cloth became a coil from which I was trying to escape. I'm aware of being outdoors, in fact, in some dusty street, and I didn't wait for the ceremony to end, because I was running away, flinging the kain panjang about me, and in my path was a hag, her hair unkempt and grey and she was blind, because there was a film of milk over her pupils. She was laughing at my attempts, but I gathered my strength, I turned a corner, with all of God's Words that I could muster in one breath.

At this instance, I woke up, burrowed my face into the bulwark that was my husband's back. He tells me to recite Ayat-ul Kursi, and to go back to sleep. I told him to close the windows and draw the curtains, which he did, but then he had to get up to take a leak and I hid under the covers, just in case, in the meantime, something came leaping from the corners. I recited the Kursi, the Three Quls, tried to slip into slumber with the Salawat on my lips.

But the moment I sank into the subconscious, the dream continued, the ramrod woman still waits, and she now had with her a large brown bull, and there was a pubescent girl astride the brute, dressed in an elaborate costume of blue, green and silver, and in her hair was a headress of white blossoms. Her painted face was solemn, like she was anxious that I would dissapoint. I am determined to; for I commanded my eyes to open. I stared at the ceiling, whined to my husband that I couldn't sleep, and because he loves me he didn't reproach me or anything but instead told me about his dream, which he says is a good one. I worry a little that it might involve Susanna Hoffs from The Bangles but thankfully, it did not.

"The other night", he tells me,"I dreamt the both of us performed the Hajj. Tonight, I dreamt we were going for our Umrah".

I am ashamed I couldn't dream up something as holy.

"The whole trip", Saiffuddin said cheerfully, " was organised by Papa Khalid".

I told him that it was entirely possible because I had spoken to Papa Khalid about the very same thing.

"Anyway", my husband continued, "We were all at the airport, getting ready to leave, and we had our luggage about us, but Abang Polis had to change his clothes right there at Departures because he was wearing a T-shirt and a shimmy-shimmy skirt, and it was all getting a bit kecoh because he was opening his bags to look for a jubah".

I blinked once or twice, and then asked, "Was he wearing heels from Princess?"

My husband yawned and said he didn't see. I tried to close my eyes, but the woman was still in my head and I didn't have the heart to bother Saiffuddin for the third time, as he was already gently snoring. So I got up, and decided to stay up, and blog about this, and watch the remnants of a match in which Manchester City triumphs over Aston Villa, while trying to ignore the sounds of shifting furniture from the apartment upstairs.

Who would be moving sofas and beds and sidetables so early in the morning?


Aiysha is Eight

My daughter Aiysha was the most difficult to deliver. I had resolved not to use an epidural, and I hadn't expected the pain to be so excruciating. The nurses kept shoving me an oxygen mask while the agony surged like waves; I was wishing it would end but not quite ready to let go. Then Dr Idris tells me the baby was lying the wrong way, and he had to go in and turn her right, up or down I can't remember. The corrective procedure was torturous, I thought he was twisting off the bottom half of my body. But in the end, Aiysha came safely into the world; much to the chagrin of some boys in Standard Two, who must prefer that she never came round to kick their butts or call them Squeaky Mouse.


Monday, March 13, 2006
Yaaaay! My Webmaster Sudah Beranak

Hurray! Alhamdulillah, my webmaster and Nizam has successfully comissioned little baby Alif, on the 10th of March. As usual, I was the last to know. What sms? What email? I didn't check any of those, heh.

Weird isn't it that he was born on the same day as my husband? Saiffuddin and I were married on her birthday. They must be on some kind of cosmic collission. She's his favourite anyway. (There has been occassions when he said yes to her requests, when I knew he'd say no to me)

Can't wait to see pictures!

Can't wait for the next baby!

Eh, it just occured to me that Alif also shares the same birhtday as Jeff Ament. Although not the Great Eddie, still it ought to make the mother pretty pleased.


Saturday, March 11, 2006
Mr Pro Bono

So he's been called Man of the Year for all the poverty eradicating work that he's done. And you younger kids probably think of him as some kind of bleeding heart activist who sometimes sings in a band. Oprah loves him, and with that comes the endorsement of all housewives around the world.

And then one weekend morning, you catch this on MTV, and remembered, the man used to be a rock star.

A quarter of a century ago, on weekend mornings you'd be holed up in your room, pretending to do your homework but reading your mom's Judith Krantz, and listening to this, this amazing voice : hurt, angry and pleading. After a while the fatuous novel is overtaken by his words, and you begin to believe that there ought to be a better world out there, just like the man said. His outrage is now your outrage. How can people kill other people? Why isn't there respect? Why can't two hearts beat as one? How long must we sing this song? But, if he had the face of, say, Christopher Cross, would you have listened to him as readily?

This morning, watching the black and white clip, all grainy and suggestive, I remembered how beautiful he used to be, before the wraparound glasses and the silly hats. Saiffuddin put two cushions at the sides of my face, as I watched this -- they're blinkers, he said, so that I can concentrate. Oh, he was just jealous.

This is by no means U2's best song. It's just that I thought Bono looked so good in this.


Friday, March 10, 2006

Your Birthdate: March 10

Independent and dominant, you tend to be the alpha dog in most situations.
You're very confident, and hardly anything ever shakes you.
Mundane tasks tend to drain you - you prefer to be making great plans.
You are quite original. When people don't "get" you, it bothers you a lot.

Your strength: Your ability to gain respect

Your weakness: Caring too much what others think

Your power color: Orange-red

What Does Your Birth Date Mean?

Or it could be this one :

You possess great creative potential and charisma and enhance your appearance by selecting the finest attire to make an impression on others. (Utter hogwash! Absolutely, absolutely untrue-- mokciknab) A born leader, people look up to you, but take care not to abuse the positions of respect and authority that will be invested in you (Too late!)

Who would think that you have such a deeply soul searching nature - but you do - and it is precisely that inner vision that will be the basis for some of your greatest achievements.

Health issues relating to yourself or family members may also be a catalyst for spiritual growth at different times of your life. You are highly sensitive, compassionate and love romance in all its forms.(Okaylaaah, kasi chan -- so I'd say this part is rather accurate)

Today's Highlight in History:

On March 10, 1876, the first successful voice transmission over Alexander Graham Bell's telephone took place in Boston as his assistant heard Bell say, "Mr. Watson, come here. I want you." Who knew that more than a thousand years later, phone companies are still telling you the same thing.

On the 10th of March, 1964, Saiffuddin was born.

My late mother in-law told me he was sickly, and was hospitalised several times for asthma. Once, I saw a picture of him as a baby. He was a plump child, and not at all as dark as he is now.

I can't believe I am now married to a middle-aged man.

Oh, lookee! Other people born on the 10th of March

Sharon Stone, Chuck Norris (you mean in a parallel universe my husband could be starring in an action flick slated for an AXN repeat?), James Herriot (yes, I could picture him as a country vet, or a writer of animal stories) Jeff Ament (really? Then why does he prefer Creed?) Carrie Underwood (so maybe in a parallel universe he'd be able to sing in key) Edie Brickell (Oh, I love her) and finally, Prince Edward, who is born on exactly the same day as Saiffuddin, but seems to have a worse case of male pattern baldness.

Still, I wish someone had warned me that one day, I'd wake up and realize that I just had sex with a 42 year old.

Happy Birthday, Sayang! You don't look half bad for middle aged.


Sunday, March 05, 2006
Fast Fiction : The Coffee Mate

"Do I really want to betray my husband?", was Hilda's unspoken question, for she knew it has come to the point when she must ask herself that. The man, who sat across the small table, sat with his back against the sun, and was ablaze with light : thick black hair now caught in glints of amber, eyes brown and brilliant against pale skin. Hilda found herself looking at his hands, and realized that she would only look at a man's hands when she's imagining what they might do to her.

This month, Hilda and the brilliant man have met almost daily, almost too eagerly. Today, as always, they were having coffee in one of those French style cafes that had tables and chairs set outside, even though in this city the average temperature is 34 degrees all year. But it was getting late, and the day's scorching heat had almost dissipated along with the afternoon. As people on the precipice of a deep, dark abyss, they spoke of mundane things, a pretend project that has not yet a firm deadline, an emotional alibi for Hilda. He spoke too, of his dreams, his childhood, his wife and kids. Hilda has no idea why a man proposing an affair would always speak of his family, as though it is a prior apology for what he is about to do. Hilda mentioned her husband and daughter only in passing, as if the limited divulgence might spare them pain.

"This urge to cheat on your husband", Hilda's confidante said recently, " is like a nasty itch. And the only way to get rid of an itch is to scratch and scratch until it bleeds".

"Either that", the woman pointed out, "or find a way to keep your hands awfully busy"

Should she put her nails to skin? The man with his back to the sun drank his coffee and Hilda saw a tiny drop of brown cling to the edge of his mouth. She's on a slippery slope, the slippery slope of being on the wrong side of forty five, and though people tell her she still has her youth and beauty, it does not diminish the fact that she feels old. This man, he's still in the prime of thirty, and he has told Hilda he found her utterly fascinating.

Hilda thought fleetingly of her husband. That Misha is in love with her is a given, but he loves her unflinchingly, loves her for all that she is, loves her for all her faults. For one last time, she craved a man who craved her because he knew of only her good side, the Hilda she wanted to present to the world as Hilda.

A waitress came by and asked if they wanted a refill, or perhaps some cake. The man ordered a decaf, and a brownie, which he suggested they share. When the chocolate squares arrived, he dragged his chair closer, close enough for their knees to touch, closer than they have ever been before. For the first time, Hilda could smell the coffee on his breath, the gel in his hair, the faint fragrant of a citrus aftershave beneath his neatly pressed shirt. He smells meticulously clean, like the inside of a laundry, and she had visions of him carefully folding her clothes as they slowly undressed to make love.

On Misha, there's always a whiff of sweat and cigarettes; and the railings of their brass bed are always strewn with far-flung dresses and things. It would be odd to be with such an immaculate man, when he's supposed to make you feel dirty, Hilda mused.

For a while, they ate their brownie in silence, and then suddenly, the dreaded announcement, the phrase which has since launched a thousand clandestine friendships. "My wife is away this week," he almost stammered. "Would you like to go out somewhere, tonight? I have some time. "

"Out, somewhere? That sounds pretty vague," Hilda laughed. She set down her fork and studied his unlined, well-scrubbed, back-lit face. Does he look earnest, or was there fear in what she might eventually say?

"Naim," she brought her cup to her lips, wrapping it in her fingers. "Do you really, really want me", she asked, "to go out with you?"

"Absolutely", he smiled. "Of course, " he said, for emphasis. She saw his eyelids flutter, just briefly, like the wings of a dying butterfly.

It was a strange time to think about it, but at that point Hilda understood why she no longer has a penchant for impulse buying -- the many times she saw something she liked, she ended up putting it back on the shelves and walking out of the store. "I didn't need it", she tells her perplexed friends, or "It didn't look good on me", was her excuse, or "The thing didn't like me", she finally pleaded. The curse of old age, Hilda thought, is having clarity and confidence.

And so Hilda gazed at this man, Naim, who sat next to her at the cramped table, who still looked beautiful in the setting sun, and who was wiping the rim of his glasses with a napkin. She could walk away anytime, she thought, and as it happens, Hilda felt a violent need to go shopping. Right now. At this precise moment. It cannot possibly wait.


This is really a writing exercise, and after several readings, the whole thing is starting to sound like crap. (Ha ha). This is inspired by a partly true story, though I need to emphasise that Hilda isn't at all Elida. Generally, I can't ever write fiction if it's based on me. The real Hilda is still at the same junction and unable to make a decision, poor girl. My husband thinks I ought to write a version that is closer to the truth, because the truth is really stranger than fiction, in this case. I think he's right, so if you enjoyed this (despite its wholesome crappiness), do look out for the next installment.