On family ties…

One of the more ‘useful’ customs about this time of year is the annual reunion dinner for all family members, from near or far all will make the pilgrimage home, don’t matter if you haven’t spoken to Mak Minah for ten years – attendance is compulsory. Some families have home-cooked goodness, some opt for the easy way out and dine out, while others are even lazier and serve crackers and boxed drinks as a poor excuse of a balanced meal… For my family this year, it has been a totally disjointed ‘reunion’ – once with beloved Mum, once with my siblings and some of our best friends and once again with beloved Dad and Stepmom.

First dinner with Mum – started out ordinarily enough, with an invite for dinner at her place. As it is customary, my mum insists on cooking our favourites, nevermind that sometimes it comes out completely different from what it started out as. We came home upon the usual mess – heaps of clothes all over the house, none of the windows open, and Mum cooking in a quagmire. All four of us (myself, you too baby, my sis and brother) all rolled up our sleeves and helped. Again, as usual Mum is in her usual state of controlled chaos. Dinner was fantastic – piping hot chicken curry with ‘pulut kuning’, a seafood paella and brilliant banter. Looking back, I really miss those Kodak moments, but then again, I reckon if we spend more than 12 hours in close quarters together, we’d be tearing at each others’ throats – but the illusion is a great one to keep…

The next dinner, it was my turn to host – we had our eternal favourite, barbeque! We had some of our good friends over – some we haven’t seen in almost a year. It was brilliant talking to them again. Great food, great company and a roaring time… At the end of the day, I was reminded of how much I’ve grown and learned in these recent years, and one of the more valuable lessons must be that the company we keep reflects back on what we are… Sitting under the stars with a drink in my hand – I felt a sense of accomplishment… My guests had a great time, and so did I… I really enjoyed entertaining that night, and in retrospect, it might just have amplified the sense of loneliness I usually feel when alone…

A weekend later, came Dad’s turn. In true ‘Papa’ fashion, we ate out – at the country club in fact. Stepmom as usual, was busily slurping her “mee kari” while Dad waited for his oysters. Sis and I had Japanese, Chinese, and God knows what else. Food was perfect, with no cleaning in sight, but this time the conversation was muted, almost rehearsed and edited before even it escapes the confines of my brains. As soon as Sis finished her ‘Char Kuey Tiaw’, Dad hurried off home – presumably to catch a rugby game on the telly… Nonetheless, dinner with family is always an occasion, especially since I haven’t eaten with Dad for quite a while now. Been buried in work, you see…

Tonight, sitting at home alone while I compose my thoughts for your amusement, I cannot help but feel that I miss having a proper family, a proper home and friends who I can call my own. Sure, I have my family and friends – is it not evident from the endless dinners and entertaining I’ve been doing? The thing is, for me, most of the time, I almost have no family to speak of – other than my siblings and you. Mum’s a million miles away – even when she was physically close. Now that she’s further away than ever, its so difficult for me to talk to her and listen to her wisdom, however twisted or illogical they may be. Dad’s busy, buried in work and friends and endless outings and meetings and greetings – yes, I see him daily, 8 hours a day in fact – but we rarely speak more than four sentences in a day, and usually all work related. My siblings – they only have time for me when there’s a gap in their endlessly busy busy bee schedules. I understand, they’re just beginning to live their lives, spreading their wings and meeting people, experiencing new experiences and all that, definitely got no time for boring ole Sis, right?

And our friends? They too are starting their lives – having kids, getting married, learning to cook, burning that mee maggi, washing underwear, getting laid, getting drunk moving out… But not necessarily in that order lah…

My point for today is – we all need to have ties with someone… It’s never good to be alone, no matter how much one feels that he or she is an island. We cannot be living in blissful state of unaware, all by ourselves. It is nature, the need to feel connected, to feel wanted and loved and needed. I used to feel that I will survive, even if I’m alone. I used to think that I had no one but myself, but this past week has taught me that I must rebuild my broken bridges, before they get completely swept away by my own careless ignorance…

One day you’ll know that you’re the rock that anchors me to the realm of human interaction, for without you I’d be lost and drifting in a sea of loneliness – Jasmine.

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