Sunday, 27 March 2011

May's Mom

'Mom has psychic power!’ claimed May as she chatted with me over coffee at The StarBucks’ outlet at The Mid-Valley shopping mall one afternoon. The thirty something real estate agent was adamant about her mother’s paranormal, inborn knack of seeing things that we normally do not see.

‘Tell me more, please!’ as I put down the mug on the table, with half a mouthful of cappuccino dripping from corner of my mouth. ‘Have some French toast?’ I pleaded with her with offer of some palatable temptations. ‘Oh yes, how about you?’ she then continued:

We were from a very poor family back then during the early 80s, residing in Pokok Assam, near Taiping. Father left us for Ipoh to seek employment one day and that was the last time Mom spoke to him. He disappeared without a trace and that broke our hearts. We had in the past tried in vain to reach out to him but it seemed that he just vanished from this world. Till this day we have no idea whether he is alive or has gone to another world. So Mom had to shoulder the task of bringing us up single handedly – two girls and one boy. She found employment in a textile factory in Kamunting area as a stock control clerk; with her new found job, smiles began to come back to her face as the burden of finance for our home was taken care of. The minus point was she had to do few days of night duty in a week.

One night when she was on the way back home in the factory van around mid-night when she suddenly shouted loudly to stop the vehicle as what she saw was a skinny old Malay man standing in the middle of the road, waving at them. The van screeched to a halt and everybody in the factory van was angry with Mom as she had awakened them for no apparent reason. They were dead tired after work and nobody saw what she had seen. Aru the van driver grumbled and uttered some unprintable words and they continued the journey home. As the older lady alighted she casually glanced at the back row of seats of the vehicle, her eyes caught the sight of an old man seated there next to her colleague Kak Ainon, who was then still sleeping. The van left immediately after dropping off Mom, leaving her some unanswered questions. The next day she confronted Aru who vehemently denied ferrying any old man in the company’s vehicle apart from the all women workers. She was more puzzled when Kak Ainon told her that she was there at the back row seat all by herself. She instantly knew that she had seen what other people could not see. That apparition must be that of the old man she witnessed the night before.


As days went by, she continued seeing those unknown souls on the way home that she kept a deaf ear and turned blind eyes on them. It would not be the old man alone anymore; it could be a Malay woman or a younger girl, sometimes accompanied by a little boy.  Mom decided to stay mum about it all as nobody seemed to be interested of her sightings of strange characters in the middle of the night. It was difficult for her to ignore what she saw as the front passenger seat had always been reserved for her being the supervisor for the evening shift.  She forced herself to close her eyes whenever her factory van passed by the Kampong Melayu Pokok Assam cemetery, still she could feel that some uninvited guests had come aboard the van. It had been an ongoing affair like this for about a year.

Then one night one of her colleague alighted earlier before her usual stop, for some unknown reason Mom followed suit. Aru, the van driver did not asked her why, perhaps he was too sleepy to want to know further. After sometime Mom realized that she had been walking in circles for more half an hour around the village; and worst of all not only she did not know how she got there for whatever purpose, she forgotten who she was! She would have been walking like that all night until one acquainted Malay village elder came cycling and asked her ‘Nyonya, ta’balik rumah-ka?’ She then regained her senses and headed for home quickly. Fortunately our house was just a stone’s throw away.   

No sooner her colleagues at the textile factory knew about her extraordinary encounter and plight; most of them were sympathetic and some of them claimed to have the same experience though not as lurid as Mom’s encounter. Some of them appealed her to keep them company while going to the toilets. Mom never turned them down, as she had often heard the sighing of a woman’s voice in the next cubicle when there was no one there while she relieved herself. While all factory workers wore the same colored dress of blue and white, Mom caught sight of some women with red or totally white dresses at some corners of the plant at different time, but this always happened during the mid-night shift. Mom at first was puzzled as there could not be visitors at those unholy hours, after all they were not told of any impending visits. But then the apparitions she saw did not make any attempt to communicate or interact with any of them, she then knew that she had possessed the gift of the ultimate 'Ying Yang' eyes! She quickly consulted the medium of a local temple. The Tse Por, or the old lady clairvoyant told her the evil demons were coming for her life and she got to do lots of home works to save herself for any untimely misfortune or death! She was instructed to pay the prayer house’s in-charge some money, so that he would cleanse her body and soul, so as to avert disturbance from these wondering spirits. But being poor, with young mouths to feed, she did not do as told.

Mom had been a kind hearted person all her life, she made periodical donations to few temples in the neighborhood, and attended all the mass prayer ceremonies. She also became a voluntary helper to an old folk home run by a Buddhist society since she worked at night most of the time. Mom often did the unenviable task of picking up animal carcasses from the road surface at the risk of her own life. One day she even found a new born baby girl wrapped in a piece of Malay sarong by the side of a large rubbish bin; unfortunately the baby was already lifeless. Mom chanted words of Buddhist wisdom to appease the poor soul. We were all very touched and moaned for the ill-fate of the new born.


I believe that due to Mom’s unselfish and benevolent ways, she could ward off the impending attacks of the evil spirits repeatedly. When I was in primary school, one day Mom suddenly got herself insured against any misadventure. When my aunties and uncles (her sisters and brothers) questioned the need to spend so much money on insurance; she replied that she might be dying and the policy could help to see her children completing their studies. They did not pursue the matter further but Mom fell sick soon after that. She forced herself to continue working in the daytime, but she could not sleep well at night. She developed temperature and began to lose weight. With medicine swallowed she could sleep but she was constantly haunted by ghosts from hell. What appeared in her dreams repeatedly were the two dreadful stewards of the hell emperor – the bull headed and the horse faced demons demanding her life. She pleaded for mercy, claiming that she still got children to care for. The two awful villains were relentless; they refused to listen to her plight, and kept terrorizing her with their menacing weapons. The night mares went on for weeks; Mom thought her time was up. She left words here and there, saying goodbyes to friends, colleagues and relatives, urging them to help to look after her children. Since she was losing weight and becoming thin, they thought that she was terminally ill. Still she made an effort to donate her blood to the needy and found solace and peace in her sleep after that. And guess what? She began to regain her health as the nightmares had stopped. She continued to work until her retirement at 56 some years back.

I approached the abbot of our local Buddhist temple for advice regarding Mom’s encounter with the unholy kind. I was told that those spirits or ghosts appeared to human being who were still alive were out for justice, for some debts owed to them(the apparitions) or they had some matters not solved, done or handed over(to their loved ones) before they left for another world. Some were full of grievance and harboured strong desire for vengence. ‘Yes,’ the well-respected abbot cleared my doubt as he continued; ‘usually they would make the person disoriented before appearing to him/her, like losing the way home or forgetting one’s own identity.’ ‘Your Mom had been kind to humans as well as animals; the donation of her blood gave her a chance to see her children grow to be adults. She shall enjoy longevity and good health.’


Now Mom is already in her 70s. We are now a blissful family as we shower her with our love, care and filial piety. Even though some of us are married with children, we will fight to have Mom staying with one of us at any one time. Mom keeps going her style of benevolent living for humility, remains a vegetarian since the disappearance of father, rescuing tortoises and frogs from the cooking pot, feeding the homeless cats and strayed dogs. Once a while she still   could sense the presence of uninvited companions, like one sitting on a branch of a tree, wrapped in white cloth, talking to himself inaudibly. She is already immune to these sightings as no harm is done to her so far.

Mom had never discussed openly with us her sighting of the unnatural; maybe she was worried that we could get scared. We heard her stories from our neighbours and her former colleagues. All she kept on inculcating us her advice of kind deeds to render to all living things.

‘Thank you for the stories regarding your Mom,’ as I bade farewell to May at the payment counter. 'Can I visit your Mom one fine day?’, ‘What for? You want to ask her for my hand?' We then both broke into loud laughter in sheer jest and friendly tease.

 A true story by
  Alan CY Kok


Some friends narrated this story to me years back. I managed to recollect some details and put them in my own style of writing. I sincerely hope that you folks out there will enjoy reading this short story. 

Kindly forward my link : to your mailing list so as to share this story.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The retired professor and his wife

The old couple led a placid life since the husband, the old professor retired just about 10 years ago. Most days with the weather permitted, they hiked up a little hill a short distance from their residence over a gradual slope in early mornings to stretch their old bones. In the afternoon he kept himself busy tending dozens of potted plants at their balcony where they had fine, panoramic view of the hills at the adjacent landscape. He would have enjoyed a cup of afternoon tea, whilst going through the pages of a periodical, whereas she would have left the house for a chat with her old girl friends at a cozy country coffee house nearby. Their only child, a grown up young woman was working and based in the US.

About a month ago in the early wee hours, he felt that the bed sheet was wet. “Oh, she wetted the bed again!” He grumbled softly. Nudging his life partner of 40 over years, he found that there was no response. She had gone to another dimension in her sleep.

“Condolence…please take care of yourself!” “I will come over and keep you company if you feel being lonely.”  “Life still needs to go on…….after her passing…..” Concerned relatives and folks told him with genuine empathy.  “Thanks so much!” He replied sincerely. Shaking their hands and hugging them, he maintained his scholarly mannerism and poise. It seemed that he was okay with the loss of his dear wife.  Their daughter had then left for her work place shortly after the funeral; she had life of her own. The retired professor understood fully.

Weeks followed, he planned his moves orderly and discreetly. He had given away all his plants and flowers, returned all borrowed books to the local library, donated much of the household furniture to an orphanage. He had also visited his lawyer’s office to have his will reviewed and revised. It was all done in a matter of weeks.

On a moon lit night with the silvery light faintly slipped into his bedroom, he switched on his bedside lamp and wrote his parting words on a piece of paper. With his steady hands he held the plastic sleeping pill container, and glanced at the smiling face of her picture at their bedside table. As he reached for the lid to open it for the content inside, the phone rang. He hesitated but in the end he answered the call. Came the familiar voice he had so accustomed to, “Hey, Dad, I missed you so much, I want to keep you company. I am already at the airport!It was his dearest daughter on the line.

Summing up his story, the retired learned scholar placed his cup of English tea on the coffee table and told me this: It was neither the medicine, nor the treatment and advice of a psychiatrist or the patient’s cultured inner self, nor the sudden arrival of much needed wealth that prevented a person to commit suicide. It was just a plain feeling of being loved, concerned, and wanted.

A translated effort by
Alan CY Kok

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Getting everybody accounted for on board the tour coach

                               Some members of the DID invited guests

It is of utmost importance for the tour guide to get all tourists/passengers accounted for on board the tour coach before it proceeds to the next stop. Most time the tourists would not just sit still and be counted; they would be yelping loudly about things they saw or souvenirs they had bought. Many times I had to raise my voice and told them in a very friendly but determined way requesting them to sit down and be counted. As a tour guide it is my duty to make everyone accounted for. I had always a name list with me from their tour leader who kept them company when they arrived. Once the head count was done and found to be correct, only then I would call for the coach captain (the driver) to move on.

What if due to some miscalculation, confusion and carelessness some passengers were left behind and the coach had already left the hotel, on the way to the airport for their departure? That spelt big trouble, all tour guides will tell you! The coach driver would be very unhappy and cursing relentlessly; he would be very reluctant to turn the bus back to pick up those left behind. The tour guide would get a bad name and if there were a complaint he would be blacklisted, and he would not be called for tour assignments by the tour agency anymore. One of the preventive measures is to appeal for punctuality to be observed by the tourists, with the cooperation of the tour leader.

There was a group of tourists to whom I guided for a day tour of Kuala Lumpur city. They were precious guests of Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) of the Federal Government’s Ministry of Works. It was about two years ago when they flew into Malaysia on invitation for their study tours and visit. There were 16 of them from some 3rd world countries, all engineers comprising of 15 males and one lady. They were from North Korea, Cuban, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, The Philippines, Pakistan, India, and few African nations.

After a visit to The National Monument we proceeded to the National Mosque for a photo stop via The Lake Garden amidst the tropical rain forest; with the coach passing through the picturesque jungle scene slowly before we stopped at the majestic mosque. Very quickly after they had alighted from the coach, most of the passengers made a beeline and disappeared into the mosque. Only the Vietnamese, Laotians, Philipino and North Koreans were there chatting among their own nationals around the bus. They did not seem to be comfortable to converse with visitors from other countries; maybe language was the main barrier.

After a good half an hour when time was up, all had come back and boarded the coach. I did a quick count of them and found one missing. There were two D.I.D. officers (One gentleman and one lady officer) who came along to act as tour leaders. I told them that one passenger had not boarded the bus yet, we should wait a little bit longer or should I go find this passenger? The male officer said very firmly that all had boarded the bus as he had checked the name list, and that we should send them back to their hotel as soon as possible before the notorious traffic jam began. It was then close to . I told the coach captain to start driving since the officer was the leader and the boss as he spoke like one. Half way to Hotel Vistana, the female officer noticed a trolley bag placed atop one of the passenger seats. She shouted: Isn’t the bag belongs to the Pakistani? After a few frantic phone calls a van was dispatched to The National Mosque to look for the Pakistani engineer. Eventually they found out that the missing person had left for the hotel in a taxi. He was smiling broadly to receive his travelling bag from me at the hotel lobby when we reached there. Later I was told that this Pakistani guy fell asleep at the prayer hall of the mosque after his prayer, and that resulted his missing from the group.

                     The Majestic National Mosque - Completed in 1965           
I was very upset with myself for allowing such folly to occur. I should have insisted that one was missing and we should have checked the name list once again, or go searching for him to make sure everyone was accounted for.

It was a lesson well learned for me.


Alan CY Kok

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Fo Guang Shan 佛光山 of KaohSiung, Taiwan

                 佛光山大雄寶殿The Majestic Da Xiong Bao Dian Prayer Hall

Perched on top of a small hill with gradual slope at the southern district of Kao Siung City stands the majestic and magnificent Fo Guang Shan Monastery (The Lord Buddha’s Glorious Light Monastery).   Reverend Venerable Master Hsing Yun 星雲大師 founded this huge Buddhist charitable organization in the year 1967, which now houses temples of worship, one university, monastery dwellings for the monks and nuns, a library, a museum, few conference halls, mini-theatres and administration office complex. Till this day Fo Guang Shan is still expanding.


With the untiring and unyielding effort of the founder abbot Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s and his disciples and followers’, the charitable works of Fo Guang Shan has spread all over the world with many branches overseas established. Though well into his 80s (Born in 1927) Master Hsing Yun still travels extensively. He is currently based in Los Angeles, USA. The ever smiling, mentally strong, physically agile and alert Master , still readily accepts invitation for interviews from various TV channels.


Master Hsing Yun had put down his thoughts, philosophy, teaching and his advices to his myriads of disciples, followers and believers into prints and his amazingly artistic calligraphy. His works are really enchanting and inspirational, as well as enlightening. His words are always instilling traditional Chinese cultural values like filial piety and benevolence for man kind. To all friends and folks who may not be Buddhists, I believe that wisdoms and moral values should be spread and shared disregards of religious alliance one belongs to.

                       Master Hsing Yun receiving one VIP from China

                      Rev Venerable Master at his desk for calligraphy    

Venerable Master Hsing Yun penned this few lines for humility and benevolence of mankind. I have got them translated and hope that all of us will gain one way or other from his teaching and advice. I am sure that you will find his words true, practical and sincere:

  1. Bring upon people CONFIDENCE  给人信心

  1. Bring upon people HOPE  给人希望

  1. Bring upon people JOY  给人欢喜

  1. Bring upon people CONVENIENCE  给人方便

   Alan CY Kok

Monday, 7 March 2011

French singer/dancer Alizee sings La Isla Bonita

Song to appreciate and enjoy for your listening pleasure


        Alizee as a teenager

French singer/dancer Alizee sings La Isla Bonita

The quick tempo and fast paced Latin song La Isla Bonita was made a popular number among the trendy listeners and pop culture followers in the 80s by Madonna. Though her stage antics then were considered outrageous during that time, Madonna’s fame had been surpassed by the emergence of Lady Gaga currently as the weirdest dressed performance artiste. I will not stray too far away from the topic I want to present today, viz. Alizee sings La Isla Bonita


Now let us listen to sensational French charming songster Alizee belting out this catchy Latin number in English to thrill us with her sweet voice and her sensuous body movement. Alizee was born as Alizee Jacotey on August 21st 1984. She had been known better in her early years as a dancer as she had enrolled in a renowned dance school for her training since aged 5 in Corsica, France. Her graceful and natural stance with her gyrating and swaying body movement stood the best testimony of her years of training. Crowds went wild and ecstatic just watching her dancing and singing. Her sexy sweet look and natural flair for creating a reveling ambience helped to bring this song to be a great hit. Her craze smitten fans would have cried for more of her songs before  her  encore.                                                                                                                                                   

This music video was tastefully produced at a large semi-circle performance stage with back drops of four guitarists and a bongo drummer at the rear. Two further diligent Flamenco guitarists were flanking her, strummed with their might on their instruments, thus added some impressive essence for the lively show. Alizee is married to her fellow French singer husband Jeremy Chatelain in 2003. Since then she had a daughter name Annilly.

Alan CY Kok

Alizee is just a click away:

Friday, 4 March 2011

Wisdom alone could never suffice to replace the absence of moral value

Metro Rail Service of Paris

When one travels to most part of Europe on his/her own on a tight budget, like a back-packer does, he/she will quickly realize that there isn’t anybody around to check on his/her transit or commuting tickets, either on rails, ferries, and other form of land transport. The most it is a glance from the inspector of the ticket one holds, depending on the modes of commuting services.

Now the inevitable question: How are these European nations remain strong and affluent, advanced and progressive? The answer is simple as the foundation of their nations and societies are based on a strong and united bond of upholding their moral value like honesty and trust, particularly.

This is a real story to relate regarding a streetwise young Chinese scholar whose encounter in Paris drew a blank when he sought for employment.

About 15 years ago, one brilliant young man in China was exhilarated to learn that he had been voted the best student in his university for his distinguished achievement in graduate studies of business management.
Soon he was bestowed with some scholarships to study abroad with lots of cash book prizes in tow. The young man almost lost his head as he was extolled to an unprecedented high that he became snobbish and conceited, ignorant and oblivious to envious eyes around him. After a meticulous scrutiny and search for the best education opportunity available and meeting the budget of his scholarship, he picked one renowned French university in Paris to pursue his Masters program.

Upon his arrival in Paris, he was quick to realize that he could board the underground Metro rail service without obtaining the ticket. He found out further that almost all stations of the rail service of the Metro operated on an ‘open’ system; there was no ticket inspector to examine the validity of the tickets. There were scores of security guards alright.  To his delight, there was little chance to encounter random checking too. He did a discreet calculation of probability - The chance of getting caught for boarding the train without the ticket was about 3 in 10,000 rides.  With his discovery he regularly commuted on the train service without obtaining the tickets first. He even brewed an ingenuous excuse in his mind that after all he was a poor foreign student who could not afford the fare. Further to that it was obvious a common and endemic practice among the Asian and African students in Paris at that time.

            Years of hardworks are over

Four years had lapsed and this Chinese young man completed his post graduate studies with flying colors. He had been working part time as a tutor with his alma mater for two years then. It was the right time to seek a proper job that was relevant to what he had learned and trained; he was thinking enthusiastically. 


                              Entering the job market

He began to market himself for senior position by canvassing and approaching some large corporate companies directly for employment opportunity. At the first few preliminary meetings and interviews he was always greeted with respect and warm hearted reception after they had perused his resume. Subsequently, much to his chagrin the passion to employ him cooled down rapidly and he failed to clinch any job from any of these corporate companies. He was angry and frustrated to find all doors shut on his face when he went for further round of interviews. He was curtly told that the companies would not proceed with his application any more. Disappointed and dejected, he tried to find a logical answer to his dilemma. “It must be discrimination against the Chinese! I’m a Chinese!” On one fine day, he gate crashed one corporate business empires headquarter and after some initial obstacles, he met with the human resource departmental head face to face. Here were the details of the conversation he had with the senior vice-president in charge of human resource:

Chinese man: Your company must give me a justifiable reason for not accepting me. I know it well, isn’t it the element of racial discrimination playing a part? I though France is the fore-front runner for human rights in Europe and the world?

I'm telling you: Your attitude and ethics are all very wrong!!

Vice-President: Oh no, we don’t discriminate no body. As a matter of fact, after going through your resume, we’re impressed with your excellent academic distinctions. Our corporate business entity covers broadly over the globe and currently we’re focusing on the importance of marketing our products in China. When you first came to see us, we’re very concerned with your academic background, your relevant training and the high standard you had attained in your project research papers. We found that you’re the right person we should rope in for our ambitious operation in China.

Chinese man: (seemed relaxed and heaved a sigh) Then when will the offer letter of employment be forth coming? You’re recruiting one of the best brains par excellence of China. (He spoke unabashedly with chestful of confidence).

Vice-President: Oh no, we won’t be issuing you any. We’ve checked your trustworthiness record and found out that you had on three occasions being fined for avoiding paying for your commuting fare.  

Chinese man: I don’t deny this. But for a small shortcoming you’re willing to abandon seeking the service of a distinguished scholar with many research papers posted in the forum of French universities. (Still he poised unashamedly).

Vice-President with stern and straight face: We don’t deem it a small and negligible shortcoming as it implies a person’s attitude towards honesty could be in doubt. The first time you were caught for not having a ticket at the Metro train one week after your arrival from China. The officer there accepted your explanation that you’re not familiar with the ticketing system. After you had paid the correct fare with a small fine, they let you go. But you committed the offence again two more times.

Chinese man: Oh that happened during a time I ran out of small changes.

Vice-President: No Sir, we don’t agree with your statement. You're doubting my intelligence. I believe during your stay in Paris, there were hundreds of times you managed to travel without paying for the tickets.

Chinese Man: Why so serious? Wouldn’t you consider the possibility of a changed person after this episode to become a law-abiding citizen?

Vice-President: No, I won’t. Firstly your behavior proved that you’re an incorrigible repeated offender of rules, regulations and the law. Not only that, you’re maliciously capitalizing to your advantage the loopholes of the rules. Secondly, you’re not the one to be trusted, and our operations at overseas depends on trust alone a great deal. If we were to hire you, you’ll be heading a large business operation in China, and be granted a full authority to run its day to day affair with vested power. For this, as a matter of fact a person with total integrity and unquestionable honesty is one we’re looking for. Due to cost factors, we could not have a wider and more effective surveillance and vigilante system to watch over trusted staffers, just like our transport systems.

Chinese man: For this matter your company won’t employ me. Let me tell you, you’ll be at the losing end when I find better paying company with another large corporate company in Paris. Since you don’t appreciate my capability and value my service, others will.

Vice President: I don’t think so. I don’t think you can ever find employment in Paris, or France. In fact you will not be able to find a job in the whole of Europe.

    Frustrated man couldn't believe his fate  

The young Chinese with an excellent academic record left the majestic building with his head bowed low and his two hands in the pockets a rejected man. He was contemplating to digest the meaning of the parting words the vice-president said to him while waiting for the lift: Moral value could always supplement the shortage of wisdom, but wisdom alone could never suffice to replace the absence of moral value.

Remark: A friend sent me a mail with this story in Mandarin Chinese sometimes ago. I rewrote it and translated this for all who could find time to read my blog. All comments and any similar experience of yours abroad are welcome. Thanks to all my readers.

Alan CY Kok

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Celia and Pitt-An everlasting love story

The long stretch of flat-bottom barges, laden with cargoes of rice, meandered its circuitous way along the murky Chao Praya River that cut through the two shores of bustling Bangkok city was a great sight. During the dusk hours of the day when the sun was going down, and with the solemn and majestic Wat Arun ( the holy Temple of the Dawn) in the background, the sky emitted rays of golden lit lights, thus making the view simply breath taking. With the long flowing chanting of Buddhist verses in prayer coming from the direction of the temple, no one was immune from being overwhelmed by the blessing of the chant. I was on board a double decked large cruise boat that ferried some fifty or so tourists, mainly Westerners, cruising leisurely along the river banks of this famous river and precious lifeline of the Thai capital city. We were served Western and Thai cuisines for buffet dinner, amidst Jazz music played by a Pilipino band. The aura was soft and soothing, with dimed lights aboard all over, couples, both young and old began to dance when the band singer bellowed a romantic number. Being without company and companion, I was bored shortly as I found the music had become some sort of cacophony to my ears. I climbed the short stairs to get to the open-aired top-most deck where I saw a few couples clinging close to each other.

At one end of this cruise boat, a Caucasian couple caught my attention. The man was a tall person with large body frame, standing roughly a towering 6 ft. 2 in. over his petite lady partner amidst the evening breeze. They were not young people anymore like most of the people crowding around on board the boat. The man was already in his early 70 and his madam was 10 years younger, this I discovered later when told of their story. They seemed unfazed by my sudden intrusion as I walked towards them and we chatted warmly almost immediately like old friends. Perhaps they had not met much Oriental women in their lives, so they were interested in me as much I was curious with them. We sat down to some rattan chairs around a glass-top coffee table, and with a champagne glass in each other’s hand, began our conversation for a long hour and a half.

Celia and Pitt was both Scottish by their origin. They met when Celia was hardly 15 years old back then in Aberdeen, a coastal town in Scotland, still very much a teenage girl in the secondary school. She fell head over heel with Pitt when the latter was engaged as a bricklayer to help in extension work on her family house, shortly after War World II.  Pitt had not attained much education due to his poor family background with both parents died early in his youth during the war. But his gentle and pleasant disposition caught the eyes of the blossoming Celia. Very soon they were seen talking intimately much to the chagrin of Celia’s parents. Her father, as a school principal who was a no-nonsense strict disciplinarian, of course would not have agreed to their not so discreet love affair, as he had sensed something not right.

Celia’s mother on the other did not object much their relationship so long she continued her studies. The older lady was a traditional, church going housewife who believed that their divine faith would guide them to the correct path to a happy life for the whole family, especially right after the war when every thing was scarce, and earning a living was a tough task. However she did follow whatever decision her husband made regarding all important matters. As a dotting youngest child to her family, Celia confided in her mother her liking of the stout bricklayer. Eventually she accepted the fact that her studies came first in importance and her puppy love for the contractor worker had to come to an end. Upon completing the extension project of Celia’s family home, Pitt left elsewhere to work and tried to forget the sweet, young and cherubic face of Celia. He was quite heart broken and disheartened when told by Celia’s father, the school principal that he was nothing more than a construction worker; on the other hand their family had a history of churning out  brilliant scholars and medical doctors out of their creed.

Two years later Pitt appeared at Celia’s door step and they rekindled their love without much hesitation. Now at seventeen, she looked like a full grown lady with long flowing hair and large blue eyes. Though just entering the college, her heart was set firmly on Pitt, a muscular man with soft spoken mannerism. This caused a huge uproar in her family as everyone was against her continuing her friendship with this simple looking, down to earth man, including her mother. Just then she decided to quit her studies to elope with the enchanting man she loved so dearly.

Pitt brought Celia to a county church in the suburbia of Edinburgh, trying to register their union. By then Celia’s father had already alerted the authority of his missing daughter, and Pitt’s name was given to the county police as the main suspect of the abductor. The priest of the church turned down their request to marry them as she was still underage as parental consent must be present for the supposed solemn ceremony. The kind hearted reverend father advised them to be patient as he saw true love existed in between the love-torn young couple. He was sympathetic towards them, even offered them advice where to obtain cheap accommodation in the village. By the time Celia’s parent found them, she was already pregnant with Pitt’s baby. Her father blew his top and subsequently her family disowned her.

Five years later, Pitt had become a successful small time building contractor in Edinburgh, the Capital city of Scotland. They had got their marriage registered successfully when Celia attained the adult age. Altogether they had three children borne to their small yet blissful family; the first, a girl and followed two little boys. Eventually Celia reconciled with her parents as her mother loved her too much to lose her forever. Her stubborn father who had by then retired as the school principal and with age catching up, accepted the fact that his little girl was already someone’s wife with children of her own. The making up saw them reunited as an event Celia cherished till this day. Her siblings however, kept an arm’s length from them as they became snobbish professionals; her two elder sisters were accountants, and her younger brother was on his way to become a medical doctor.

While working on a hill project Pitt discovered Roman relics in bags of ancient coins during one of his excavation works underground. Such find rendered him almost instant millionaire many times over as the authority deemed it ‘finder keeper’ at that time. With new found wealth Pitt bought a piece of land in Aberdeen and built his own mansion on it. With her sisters and brother choosing not to look after her parents when they were aging, Celia and Pitt carried out filial piety on the older couple without complaint. Pitt had wanted them to stay at his new mansion the sooner it was completed. Celia’s parents were glad finally to have a responsible, down to earth and considerate man to be their son-in-law. They stayed together happily till their last days into their 70s.

I stole a glance at the old silvery haired couple who were holding hands by the time they finished narrating their enchanting love story to me. Celia still was a noble, sweet, demure and dainty lady; and with her Scottish accent she spoke so softly that I found it hard to understand her sometimes. Wrinkles there were at corners of her eyes, and with her eyes turned smaller, being dazzled by the dusk light with the sun going down, her pale white face was lit up when she sighed in silence. It was obvious, her charm never left her after all these years, I deduced. Pitt was so concerned and cautious with Celia’s movement; every step, every turn of her body, he was there to assist her even she did not exhibit any difficulty in her mobility. Their eternal romance was such a remarkable tale to remember, I gathered. Theirs was so rare a relationship as I could not find much nowadays in real life. After decades of marriage life and living together, they still showered acts of love onto each other, keeping each company to travel round the world. With their grown up children living their own lives, Celia and Pitt, in their twilight years, were able to do anything they liked and deemed fit to do, together till death did them apart. “God Bless!”  I murmured to them before bidding them farewell with a bear hug.

This old love story was written by Alan CY Kok in the English Language, based on a storyline I read in a Chinese Daily few years back. With some remaining memory power I still possessed, I recollected the story outline and managed to put it down in my own style in writing.  I considered this piece of work a half-translated effort. As I always say, Sharing is happiness! Your comments are always welcome.