Pengantin baru - Azril dan Kamelia
The newly-weds, Azril and Kamelia. Pix by Izham Khalid of Noorizeyes.blogspot.com
More pix here
The article below appeared in the NST here
Letter to Kamelia
LAST week, we welcomed you into our family when you married my nephew Azril. And in a few weeks time, you newly-weds will fly off to Geneva.
But for you, it will be a totally new experience; starting a new chapter in your life as a married woman, thousands of kilometres away in a totally different environment and culture, away from the extended family. (Actually, on reflection, not unlike my own experience exactly 30 years ago).
So, Kamelia, if there are butterflies in the tummy at the very thought of flying the coop and sharing life with someone who is now your husband, let me tell you that it is all quite natural.
Being married is a huge hurdle but being married and then within a space of two weeks leave everything and everyone that is familiar to you is a different ball game altogether.
It was around this time in December 30 years ago that I started life as a newly-wed away from home, seriously lacking in skills especially those in the kitchen department.
Looking back, and with some wisdom of hindsight, I think starting married life away from home is the best thing to do.
London was gloomy and dark when the plane landed at Heathrow that winter morning and that cold morning sort of defined my expectations of what my life in London would be like in the coming years.
But Geneva has that added attractions of beautiful snowcapped mountains, enough to keep you mesmerised for some time.
But the beautiful snowcapped mountains will soon lose its attractions once the husband goes to work and leaves you with what will feel like more than 24 hours in a day.
When mine went to work, I looked out of my window into a very busy concrete jungle that was and is London. It was busy and crowded and yet I felt alone and lonely.
In those days, phone calls cost a fortune, phone cards were unheard of, and Skype and video calls were still blueprints in some geniuses’ minds. And, of course, no Facebook.
In this respect, you are luckier and can easily email home to ask for that sambal tumis recipe.
I remember now the preparation for my first dinner guests. After quite a lengthy phone call to my mother, every ingredient for chicken curry was minced, pounded, chopped and blended ready in small bowls on the kitchen table by eight in the morning for dinner at eight at night.
Rice was usually cooked by the husband. Kitchen disasters included very soggy fried noodles, exploding keropoks in the pan because I had washed them prior to frying and a first near marital disaster when I threw away tempeh which I thought had gone bad.
Thinking I needed time on my hands, he ordered “Learn to Sew and Knit” which I duly gave up after knitting two sleeves on one side.
But Kamelia, we live and learn. And the exciting bit is living and learning together. Because there’s just the two of you, learn to accept each other’s idiosyncracies, warts and all. Sharing credit cards is a bonus.
It is just too easy to keep within our own comfort zone and forgetting that there are so many exciting new things to learn outside our own Malaysian community.
I have met many wonderful ladies in the expat world, who learnt the art of Chinese painting while in China, porcelain making while in Europe; and quilting while in Washington.
Youth is on your side and while you enjoy life together, enjoy too acquiring these knowledge and skills that the outside world can offer.
So, while I look forward to my next 30 years and beyond together, I wish the both of you every happiness and success starting your new life together abroad.
With lots of love, Mak Teh