Just when did you get to be nineteen? Have you been doing things behind my back again? You know, mothers are a funny lot. I am, anyway. They can't wait for their children to grow up, and when they do, they want them to stop growing, freezeframe them at whatever age or phase of life that suits them. Like a bonsai plant.
When you were born, I was deliriously happy to have another girl so that I could dress you up in those cute frilly frocks. But like your sister, you were born, bald. So, no pretty ribbons, no colourful hairbands. And it seems that skirts and gowns and frilly things are not something you’d have in your wardrobe of tattered, faded jeans and cropped tops.
I remember Tok sending a bagful of floral skirts with frills that she made for her granddaughters. Ah, that look on your face! You could at least wore it once for me to take a photogragh to send home. Oh well, I don’t know what to buy you anymore. Two days ago, I was walking up and down Oxford Street, venturing into stores, displaying what they term clothes, but nothing that would wrap you up sufficiently against the cold. It was easier when I could get all that you need from Mothercare.
When I was your age (here we go again, I hear you groan), flares were in fashion. Yes, I heard your brother’s remarks about how that would help break my fall should I jump off a tall building! Ha! Ha! Very funny. But at least, I was all covered up. Nice floral materials much in trend for those flower power days. And hey, those bandanas that you wear? Been there and done that lah, sayang!
I must admit you are very creative. Last week, my prayers accompanied you to that interview when you carried your huge portfolio of excellent stuff. You have always been creative – those self taught animations, radio and tv interviews that you bullied your younger brother into doing. You play the drums and guitar. And remember how you pulled quite a crowd in Hyde Park when you did about 100 kick-ups with the ball, without once dropping it.
But you surprised me. I have always thought you’d be a scientist – perhaps a microbiologist. I’d be so proud of you. What gave me this idea? Well, on my weekly rounds searching for missing mugs, I’d always find some under your bed. And I looked at the curious blend of fungi like things at different stages of fermentation in those mugs and I thought: Aaaah, my daughter, the microbiologist!
I wasn’t very much into science in my school days, the only excitement I remember being the arrival of the first male teacher - our science master who taught us the subject of reproduction. Can you imagine, a bunch of giggly Convent girls?
And that of course brings us to the subject of the other, er opposite sex.. err, I mean gender.
Of late I see some strange nicks popping up on your Hotmail account. Does this explain your sudden interest in make-up? I supposed its good that you are taking an interest in your looks ... at least there’s some colour in your face. When I see some models on the catwalk nowadays, I can’t help thinking you’d do well marching straight from the bed onto the catwalk. You’re tall, skinny and all bones and that hairstyle is so the in thing on catwalks…no brush, no comb!
At your age, I too experimented with my hair. No more ponytails and plaits. I used to have the fringe too that covered my eyes cos I was so shy. But yours is more like a curtain that makes our communication even more difficult. However, I never touched colour (at your age). I remember your experiment with that. It was at night and you went against my advise. Suddenly there was a scream from the bathroom. What I saw made me laugh and cry at the same time. I do apologise. It was a horrible colour!! Even daddy chuckled.
Now I see that you are into Bo Derek plaits. What can I say?
And another thing, purple lenses do not suit you.
In those days, of course, we wore goggles. And it went well with those Dusty Springfield or Lulu look. The bigger the better. The same goes for earrings. Big round ones. But my dear, we wore both….not just a single dangling earring. Tok would have fainted seeing you with one earring, and one on your nose. I am glad you saw some sense and grew out of that one.
Well, penning all these down makes me feel quite old. It was a mixture of pride and sadness too when I saw you wearing one of my kebayas last Raya. People commented that you look just like me when I was your age. I am proud to have my two girls wearing the kebayas. People in Malaysia think the kebaya is making a comeback. For me it never went away. I was the kebaya girl in campus. I kept all those kebayas so that my girls can wear them. Sad? well, its just me lamenting my lost waisline.
You are one adventurous lass. I know that I am a pain to be with especially on trips to funfairs. I remember you commenting that a funfair would be a bore fair if I am around. No slides, no watershutes, no ferries wheels. Yes, a ride in the whirling tea-cup can also give as much excitement and what's wrong with that? My heart dropped when I saw you hanging upside down on that Aladin's carpet. Do you do these things to annoy me?
I cried buckets when you were away in Spain and now I see that you are researching materials on studies in Japan. When you received an offer from Nottingham university, I sobbed into the pillow. I imagined you surviving on maggie mee. Yes, granted, at your age I too couldn't cook. The kitchen was a no go area cos Tok Wan would rather see us studying than help in the kitchen. But your diet of nasi goreng and mayonaise and strange combinations like that worries me.
And if you are away, who'd be around to scratch your back? And Daddy won't be there to bring your bowl of cornflakes and milk to your room.
By the way, I just got you a birthday card and I hope you find those pieces with the picture of the Queen useful.
With lots of love,
STOP PRESS! STOP PRESS! STOP PRESS! STOP PRESS! STOP PRESS!
NONA got the bestest birthday present of all - she got accepted by the Chelsea College of Arts! All that heavy portfolio and the taxi fare that I paid is worth it!One happy MAMA!!