So many times so many different people have asked me how I met my husband. My son says that we are as alike as chalk and cheese. Let me start with the day before I met him. '
A cousin of my aunt invited me to her house for dinner. After giving it much thought I decided to attend the dinner. One of my university friends, Uma Pannicker gave me a lift to Saras Sathiah's house. She lived somehwere between Subang and Klang in a grand house belonging to her father-in-law the late Tan Sri Dr Sathiah. Saras was a final year student when I was a freshie in the university.
I was in awe of so many things that evening:
The house along the main road to Klang which had once been a planter's bungalow.
The artifacts in the house.
Saras' husband Dr Sathiah was a lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine in the same university.
Their sports car.
His Cambridge accent.
And there I was an almost thouroughbred country bumpkin come to town. Thanks to the Nuns and my English teachers at the Convent who had spent hours training us to speak and read correctly, not many suspected the bumpkin in me. Other than Saras and Uma, I did not know anyone and moved around as Saras introduced me to the others as her cousin from JB.
As I said I was in awe and never had I seen so much of food on the table or the sheer variety - and it was that party that has guided me whenever I host a dinner in my house - it was sheer food art! The paintings on the walls, the carpets on the floor, the selection of music, the lights, the electrifying atmosphere - I was introduced to how a certain society of Indians actually lived.
It took me a while to notice that there was a certain Indian man hovering around me. He told me that he had met me in JB in my grandfather's house, when he had gone there to renew his passport. I told him I had never seen him anywhere in my life before. He told me that he had spoken to me during orientation week in the Arts Concourse. I shook my head. I am not sure what he said but I told him, "Look here I have a boyfriend and he is Chinese," before I walked away. Then Saras told me that he really liked me. It was then that it dawned on me, why she had invited me. I told her that he was wasting his time and to me he looked like an ikan bilis. I was not good with my words. The arrogance and folly of youth.
Saras' husband dropped me home. The drive in his new car more than made up for the dubious reasons why I had been invited to attend that party. When I reached home, my landlady and daughter wanted to know about the evening. I told what I had seen and eaten. I did not tell them why I was the only one of the first year students that Saras had invited. Then I remembered that two men were coming to meet me in Selva's house the following morning. I had no intention of meeting any more Indian men. I went to sleep telling myself that they may come and go.
The next morning, a bit of conscience hit me. Selva might get into trouble with her sister if two strange men came to the house to meet me. I put on a dress and walked to the Chinese coffee shop to make a telephone call to Selva. The shop is two doors away from present day Kavita, an Indian restaurant. I took with me 20 cents. The man would not let me use his phone. I decided to walk. Her house was on a road off Jalan Gasing. A bus came and I hopped into the bus. The conductor took my 20 cents. Well I would walk back, I told myself.
I reached Selva's house. I told her that I was going back and to tell them that I could not meet them. As I left her gate and walked back, a car came behind and hooted. I turned around and I recognized only Rajan. There was the Indian driver and another passenger.
I announced that I could not meet them. I was going back. They said they would give me a lift. I declined but they insisted.
On the first day of my second week in University I met with an accident. I was crossing the road in front of the Science Faculty, at the zebra crossing. A motorbike hit me. That story is for another day. I suffered two fractures of the skull and bruises and was hospitalized. I was on ten weeks medical leave. It was during my medical leave that I attended Saras' party. That accident left me with agonizing headaches for many years.
My head was hurting and the thought of walking back to Petaling Gardens was daunting. I entered the car and met Chandra, the driver and his other friend George Thomas.
to be continued.