the backstage epiphany

where reality is so subjective it's entirely optional

Category Archives: Special Times

For Aiden

My beautiful godson turns 3 today. He is probably the closest I will ever get to having my own children, and therefore is a testament to how unforgivably quickly time passes, and how we must remember each and every moment that makes that time worth living.

Happy Birthday Aiden! Auntie Sandra loves you!


Surprise, surprise, Afhamio!

After a month of planning, Facebook invitations and messages (one of the few things Facebook is actually good for), endless BBMs (“Who is BBMing you at 3AM?”) and calls (“Why is Angah suddenly calling you?”), Afham’s 27th birthday surprise finally happened.

The good thing is that he was born on Christmas Eve, so all the restaurants are just raring to help with the planning of a big private party. The bad thing is that he was born on Christmas Eve, so all the restaurants are also raring to make sure that they don’t lose out on any business by calling and prompting you for a deposit and confirmation on the number of guests as early as two weeks in advance.

After deliberating over which restaurant to hold this do, I went with Eza’s suggestion of doing it at Top Hat. This worked out very well because the restaurant is a converted bungalow on Persiaran Stonor, away from the Christmas barbarism that is Bukit Bintang (which still couldn’t diminish the problem of finding a parking spot because I was made to park on the street). And despite being persistent and annoying with the reminders, the staff were very helpful in putting together a buffet dinner in a private room to accommodate our number (final tally: 21).

And to top it all off, Afham got a Nike Air Force 1 DJ Clark Kent cake specially made by Raindough Desserts. It was a sign of how much he loved it that we were only allowed to eat the box it sat on (made to look like the Nike Air Jordan Retro Silver 25th Anniversary packaging), and to this day it sits in our refrigerator intact, save for the heel that I made him part with in order to give Eza and Aziah their share.

Looking back now, and even when I was looking at Afham with all his friends that night, at Top Hat and later Phuture, I remember wanting to do this forĀ  him not only because he had a comparatively quiet birthday last year, but because with age comes life, and with life comes the difficulty of gettingĀ  together as often as we would like to. And so this birthday was my gift to him, a way for him to be with all his friends and just forget the trifles and burdens of life for one night.

And indeed, forget pretty much everything…

Happy Birthday baby!

Humbled this Thanksgiving

“The theme is the theme of humiliation, which is the square root of sin, as opposed to the freedom from humiliation, and love, which is the square root of wonderful.” – Carson McCullers

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I am reminded once again that nothing is ever about me, that I am what I am today because of a series of people and events that have cropped up in my life. I am reminded that, for good or bad, I should be thankful for all of them, for it is because, and in spite, of them that I am still standing, still alive, still hopeful. And of all the things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, I am most thankful for You.

I know that everything that has transpired this year, especially over the past month, has been Your way of teaching me a lesson. But in that lesson, I have been given a glimpse of Your infinite mercy, because You have finally accepted that I am not perfect — that I am, in fact, severely, unforgivably flawed — and You chose to take this mess away from me, rather than watch me try and subsequently fail to dig myself out of it.

And so I thank You, for saving me from making this mistake over and over again, for reminding me that I must always put others’ happiness before my own, and for giving me another chance this time around to do the right thing.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Homestyle Eid

This year is the first time that I’ve ever been such an active participant in Eid, not only because of Afham but because, for some strange reason, I actually genuinely felt like it. The first day was a flurry of activity, running from one friend’s house to another and making sure to eat small amounts at each house so that it wouldn’t snowball to alarming proportions. Fortunately, the first day was the only day that we did this, because I realized I couldn’t justify eating every two hours to raise my metabolism when it involved rendang, laksa or soto.

Despite the mass transit and onslaught of food, I did have a rather good time and didn’t get as cranky as I normally would have if traffic hadn’t been so smooth and if it hadn’t finally rained in the late afternoon. Also, as last year’s Eid was a very quiet one, this year’s made it Afham’s first real effort at celebrating it. It was, as usual, like standing outside a window looking in, and seeing all these boys coming together in this capacity and house-hopping (and actually behaving very well) was an extremely refreshing sight for me.

Happy Eid!

Jeff, Afham, Rus, Angah, Abby, Elfi. Yes, this was, indeed, taken in a 7-Eleven. But it's Jeff's 7-Eleven so all is forgiven!

My unconventional mother

And the top 10 things she taught me

1. It’s perfectly acceptable not to be married. It’s just one less wedding people have to attend.

2. Always be a lady (at least in public).

3. Always put others first (unless it’s in front of a speeding train/bus/plane or similar).

4. Learn as many languages as possible, but know what ‘revert’ and ‘usurp’ really mean. In English.

5. The difference between a cold and the ‘flu (if it’s just a runny nose, then it’s the cold. If there’s a fever and sore throat as well, then it’s the ‘flu).

6. It’s your first day at school, your first piano lesson, your first day at a summer etiquette school in a completely foreign country, and your first time going abroad for college. If you don’t know how to handle all this on your own, now is the time to learn.

7. Keeping the house perpetually stocked with sewing thread, Panadol, Sharpie pens and power adapters will save your life.

8. Attend every wedding, birthday, housewarming, wake and impromptu call with a gift in tow.

9. It’s easier to reverse into a parking spot than to enter headfirst.

10. Unless the deathbed beckons, there’s no reason not to go to school or work, especially not when Panadol, Augmentin and Clarinase exist.

Happy Mother’s Day!

A different tradition

Chinese New Year has come and gone (well, not quite, but the eve of and first day are over, which is good enough for me). Any liking I may have had for Chinese New Year fizzled out when I was old enough to realize that Chinese New Year wasn’t always the happy occasion my young eyes had seen it to be, and I was extremely upset that my one legitimate excuse for not being around for Chinese New Year became invalid as soon as I set foot back in this country.

But this year, I was able to stomach it a little better. It wasn’t only because Afham was with me for the reunion dinner and throughout the first-day obligations of being at home with my family, but also because my parents themselves asked for him to be there. It was the first time that someone not from our family was part of the celebrations, and it made me appreciate my parents for feeling that Chinese New Year didn’t always have to be about family, but more of having the important people around us to celebrate it with.

And, as if he knew how I was feeling as we were making our way back to my parents’ house in the morning, Afham made my day by saying, “Happy Valentine’s, baby. We’ll do dinner next week, OK?”

Enter the Terrible Twos

Happy Birthday Aiden! Auntie Sandra loves you and will see you very soon!

Rangin’ in 2010

Yes, rangin’, because I’ve been watching too many ghetto stand-up comedy shows

Uncharacteristically decent traffic in downtown Kuala Lumpur.

A respectable amount of alcohol, not copious as in previous years.

Lousy club, terrible music, and good company.

No roadblocks on the way home, although several multiple-vehicle crashes.

All in all, at least a bearable, if not quiet, New Year’s Eve.