Saturday, May 05, 2007

My Love Story: Part 1 of 2

"I swear that I will chase her till she’s mine – or die chasing."

Me, to a good friend of mine in 2002


This story is dedicated to all English Teachers In Retirement,
and Boys Who Never Know When To Quit Trying.




There is this eccentric old lady that lives in my neighbourhood, just five houses away from mine which all us kids referred to as ‘Auntie June’. I didn’t know much about her except that she’s stays indoors most of the day and only emerge for brief episodes in the evening to get her daily dose of gossip from Khim Hai’s Mom, who lives next door to her. And about 7.30 pm everyday excepting Sundays, the narrow road in front of our terrace row would be transformed into a minor auto-mosh-pit as cars and family minivans of all descriptions would pile in to drop teenagers in front of Auntie June’s house.

I always wondered why. And it puzzled me especially when those that arrived as early as 7.00 pm would muck-about outside for about half an hour before Auntie June would unlock her gate to let them in. Of course, being a kid of twelve at that time, I imagined that there must be something extraordinarily attractive or extremely fun inside that drew these crowds of big kids in daily.

I found out that Auntie June is an English tutor when I was in the Fourth Form, precisely at the moment when Khim Hai invited me to go along with him to sign up for her Monday classes – and he did so a quarter of an hour before the first Monday class of the year started1. Surprising even myself, I agreed to go and attend just one class to see what it was like – in spite of the fact that my aptitude in English *cough* was in no urgent need of remedial efforts.

This and other similar moments in life when I make decisions that do not make a single iota of sense even to me; I call them Fate.

The class, as I came to discover, was very literally filled to bursting with chairs2 so cramped up against one another that sitting down required a certain degree of acrobatic skill to accomplish3. Packed so tightly in the back that I couldn’t even scratch my balls reach my knees once I was in place, I thought that this was definitely the only class I’d be attending.

Then she walked in.

I met her once a year ago and worked with her on a joint project between the Red Crescent Societies of our schools. I saw her then – but I only noticed her for the first time that evening in that tight, suffocating room in Auntie June’s house. She came in like a breath of fresh air, and sat right at the front row. That was Scene One – though I did not know it yet.

When Auntie June came in later a drilled us with some routine grammar exercises, I kept stealing furtive glances at Sue4 whenever I was sure no one was looking. I was in a queer mood that day, and a bit of that queerness crept into the essay assignment Auntie June gave at the last hour of the class. I was supposed to write a piece on “My Mother” but I penned an awful lot of mush about my Dad’s courtship of my Mom instead of the usual “My mom is great. She can knit. She can cook 97 different kinds of dishes. I love my Mom” clichés. You know there’s something gravely paranormal about a guy’s brain’s machinery when writing romantic treacle (especially about one’s parents) feels alright.

At the end of the class, Auntie June asked me whether I would like to continue coming to her classes or not - and since she knew me, she told me that I did not need to pay her for that one lesson I took.

I told her to book me in for the full two-year-regime.

1 That’s Khim Hai for you. You’d be very extremely god-thank-you lucky if he arrives an hour late to any meeting you might have planned with him.
2 Those with a small board attached to them which you can fold away when you’re not writing or sleeping.
3 No shit. I had to hop from one chair to another just to get there. There’s practically no floor left to walk on.
4 As far as this tale is concerned, that’s her name.


***

The week after, in the first quarter hour of the lesson, Auntie June cited my essay as an exemplary bit of work, and read it to the entire class (I felt my face caught fire as she did). I took a peek at Sue wondering if she was awed or impressed, but all I could see was the beautiful back of her head - her sleek ponytail flecked with bronze and the milky curve of her neck.

When she was waiting for her parents outside of Auntie June’s house after that day’s class, I milked my fluttery heart for whatever courage it can surrender and approached her with a “Hi, remember me?” that probably sounded much more fluent than how it felt like.

“Hey yeah, James5,” said Sue, half teasingly. “You write really well, by the way.”

I don’t remember much after that. When I finally managed to wrestle back the higher functions of my mind from floating straight through of the atmosphere, I was already in bed, smiling till my cheeks cramped up.

5 Auntie June christened me that in the first class because she thought Kok was vulgar. She wanted to call me Harry at first but I pointed out to her that it sort of defeats the purpose of giving me a new name. Hairy cock, WTF.

***

Very soon, every non-Monday days of my weeks became fillers between Mondays in the same way advertisements are stuffed between your favourite TV shows. In every class, I would always be the last to leave – sometimes as late as half an hour after everyone else have gone home – as I diligently hurled my heart and soul into my writing. My essays have to be the best, the wittiest, the most lovingly crafted ones compared to all others so Auntie June would read them to Sue, who sat right under her nose on every class. Such was my deathly hunger for her attention and (I did not dare to hope) admiration.

There came a time when I became good enough for Auntie June to read my essays every single week. There came a time when I became good enough for her to start reading my essays to her Tuesday batch of students6. Heck, there even came a time when people I never talked to before would come to me to borrow my tattered essay book to read before their English Exams. My love for writing and my dream for authoring a novel someday; it all began here.

Once, Auntie June waylaid me in her living room right before a class and told me this;

“James, I think that you don’t need to attend this tuition class anymore. You are more than competent in your writing – so why don’t you just quit and let some poor student take your place from my waiting list-lah, bugger7?

“But I like your classes, teacher.”

“Cock and bull. You like Sue,” she said with a sly grin. “I caught you looking at her many times.”

“Tripe,” I countered tritely.

Oh really? If you say so, James,” she waved it off nonchalantly while giving me a cheeky wink.

To own the truth, the woman knew how I really felt even before I did – and after that particular encounter, she always winked at me in class without even breaking the stride of her speech whenever she saw me stealing eyefuls of Sue, or when she thought a certain character in my essays were modelled after Sue. I bet all the other students thought Auntie June was suffering from some rather serious form of facial tic.

Another thing that the other kids in the Monday class didn’t know was that ol’ June gave me a price-cut off her monthly fees – because, I wasn’t there to learn anything anyway.

Bless her. I hope her arthritis isn’t hurting her too much these days.

6 Tuesday class consisted of students who were in the same form as the Monday kids, and so, were concurrently given the same topics in their writing assignments.
7 This is her favourite noun. She refers to me as James half the time – while the other half, I’m bugger. She had also shown her middle finger in class before. Twice.


***

Given time, even Sue started to borrow my essay book on a regular basis. And we started chatting on the phone – nightly, sometime to 3 or 4 hours at a stretch (we boast a record of 7 straight hours). Of course, then there was that big row with my Mom about the telephone bill, but that’s okay; my stubborn rationale being “It’s Sue.”

Right before SPM, her schoolteacher highlighted several possible themes that would appear in the essay section of the question paper. She told those themes to me, and I wrote model essays of them overnight for her. I didn’t mind because; “It’s for Sue.”

There was once, I spontaneously composed 7 poems, one after another in the span of half an hour over a chat session through ICQ (yes, there was a time when ICQ was the most popular instant messenger program). That sparked off my poetry obsession that lasted between 2002 till 2004 when I filled a green folder with cheesy, amorous verses about stuff like our first evening bicycle ride, my lilting walk to her house in the rain, and the insurmountable weight of love unanswered.

I wish I know where that folder is now.


When I found out that she wasn’t planning to go on to the Sixth Form (which I wanted to initially), I asked her which college she planned to attend instead.

She said, “Taylor’s College.”

I said, “What a coincidence. Me too.”

End of Part 1 of 2


P.S. I'll let you know about the butterflies next time, okay?


The boy that would not give up,
k0k s3n w4i

29 comments:

yuwei said...

Awww...so touching.Can't wait for Part 2.. It's much more romantic and sweeter than any Korean Love Dramas. :)
ps: When will the boy be ready to let go of the attachments?

Zzzyun said...

sigh... why oh why do guys never know that it's alwiz better to confess and a) get the girl or b) give up and start over?

it always breaks my heart to read abt such stories.

michelleg said...

OMG!!!!!! *speechless* i mean well, i do know sue. this is really a shocking, revealing story, but well written as always..

oh, aunty/auntie june has arthritis now? that's sad to hear.. i dint attend her tuition tho. haha.. but she was famous enough.

michelleg said...

btw, nice pics!! all from india? COOL..

mrbherng said...

Should had been reading my "solution theory" but ended up at k0k's blog reading his love story =/ Definitely much more interesting in what ever theory was that.

P.S: wanyean will love your hairy kok part for sure =P

pinksterz said...

awwwwwwwwww!

kokky boy's love story!

*pats pats kok*

faster write second part!

*alamak! did i just revealed i am a sucker to sweet love story*

Innocent^^Guy said...

Auntie June...the name continues to haunt me...she was the only one who manage to get a peek behind my iron mask right before I even attended first day of her tuition classes! Yes, she's that scary to me....

She's nice, but I've never met her again after I left her tuitions although I did try very hard. The only successful times was running straight into the house while my brother was coming right out of it.

And I do notice you have a nuffnang add already! Lucky bas3rd...I think I'm just going to discard mine :P

k0k s3n w4i said...

@Gaikhueyyuwei

I'm sure everyone else's love story is equally sweet, if they would but tell it.

P.S. when he's ready

@zzzyun

Never giving up matters a lot. Trust me. This story has a happy ending.

@michelleg

What so shocking or revealing about this?

She had arthritis since even before I went to her tuition class.

P.S. India only got flies - where can find buttterfly 1? Pics I take will have my URL hidden sumwhere la.

@mrbherng

P.S: wanyean will love your hairy kok part for sure =P

This sounds wrong.

Solution theory? What course are you doing anyway? Chemical engineering?

@pinksterz

It might take awhile. I have to edit lots of unnecessary things out - because there's just so much to tell. Waiting for your next post too, girl.

@innocent^^guy

June's usually hiding inside and shut all her windows and curtains to make it look as if she isn't. the woman loves her privacy. I see her going on her evening walks sometimes.

I saw this ad in a dental student's blog too. guess they just wan to advertise in bloggers in the healthcare line. U'll get lucky soon, dun worry.

michelleg said...

i figured out the meaning of butterflies in this post, 'sue' likes butterfly a lot.

it's not true that they advertise only in bloggers in the healthcare line, me n zzzyun (i think) still waiting. i think the visits per day need to hit a minumun target like may be 50 a day.

oh, and nice new header!

Mischique said...

I have to say, the amazing colours of the butterflies distracted me from your story of Auntie June. Did you take those shots?

michellesy the emo-head said...

Sen Wai (or Kok or James), I really have to stop reading your blog - because what you write somtimes makes me want to weep. Like now, for example.

And tears will only detract from my gung-ho image, so this won't do at all.

Plus my friends have been making startled comments about my emo-ness of late; things are truly getting dire.

So dammit, stop writing beautiful lyrical emotive stuff like this. And dammit, why didn't I have a tuition teacher like Auntie June back in my day. I want a Dead Poet's Society-esque mentor too *sobs*

Bless her indeed - not contented with being a sculptor of young minds and English tutor extraodinaire, she had to be a matchmaker too.

Sue was lucky that you loved her the way you did.

Some of us live out our entire existence, ignorant of what being the recipient of unconditional love entails.

Now I see what drives your writing - nothing fuels creativity like pain and longing.

ps: Harry Kok hey? OMFG - combine that with your Chinese name and you have a very, very, very unfortunate moniker there my friend.

pps: She showed what to the entire class twice? Feisty, me likes =)

ppps: Nothing wrong with spouting soppy poetry, we all have to go through that phase once. Given a choice between that and headbanging emo shit, I'd take poetry any day.

Rabbit said...

So sweet. YOu are one romantic bugger!

I am going to keep refreshing and refreshing this page until i see your part 2!

Kit said...

this IS a true story rite?

k0k s3n w4i said...

@michelleg

I thought the min hit was 20 unique visits per day?

Anyway, looks like you dun understand the bit about the butterflies after all... I'm komplikated XD

@mischique

All stolen artwork from deviantart. if i can take pics like that, i wun be writing anything d. post pictures enough.

@michelle-emo-sy

DO cheer up and pull yourself out of that emo rut. and dun stop reading... this blog wun be quite the same without your comments. You're a blogger's dream reader, LoL. Not to mention i'm learning tons of new words from you.

And I wrote this post with a smile on my face. this is a happy post. one of my few happy ones in a very long time.

p.s. unfortunate moniker? well, that depends. maybe there are some Kathleens out there crazy for furry schlongs.

@rabbit

No need refresh. Got rss feed mar. ;)

@kit

Every bit of it.

Lala said...

Excellent writer, kudos.. maybe being stuck in Manipal is the only way God could make you write like you do now..

hehe *wicked grin*

michelleg said...

oh.. hmm well, i know she likes them alot. maybe u have a deeper meaning to it..

they said 20 hits but i think must be more than that. *i think*

mrbherng said...

What course am I doing? I don't feel comfortable spurting it out wide openly on the WWW. Just contact me personally to find out.

P.S. There was a BM teacher in my school who freely use phrases like "I will dig your bloody eyes out" and she taught us the word "kelepir". And there was another teacher who was transfered to my school before we leave who curse freely like nobody's business. There are everywhere!

bubbly soda said...

that is very sweet of you. btw, hope your dream to write will come true!

i've met a really nice b.m. teacher. he is so awesome! he teaches sastera with so much fun.

k0k s3n w4i said...

@lala

Hi! Do I know you? And did I detect more than a bit of sarcasm in your wicked outburst of mirth? :)

@michelleg

I think the advertisers choose the blogs - nuffnang only show some list to them i think with the stats. i thing the blogs with more hits need more fees.

@mrbherng

Our Dr. Yoga who teaches forensics, absolutely love the phrase 'bloody b*stard'.. I'll PM u the next time I drop by ur blog.

@bubblysoda

Thanks. But that was long ago (not referring to my publishing dream of course)

Zzzyun said...

oh its 20 hits per day for even a chance that someone will consider to even put up an ad.

and i think it depends on whether there are any advertiser that loves ur blog and wanna advertise there... nothing to do with hits.. yeah.

i think my blog is too personal like to get ads. although hits are soaring high for now. aikz..

k0k s3n w4i said...

@zzzyun

Y are you worrying la? Kennysia got crazy amount of hits everyday also haven't got nuffnang ad yet ;p

Zzzyun said...

haha im not worrying lah...

just telling u and michelle abt my theory how one get ads..

for me, get or dont get its ok wan...hehe

sXydeViL said...

why sue? and why jimmy? *kay poh face*

k0k s3n w4i's said...

@susu
Jim is short for James. Sue... well... cos I've always liked the name Susan.
P.S. nothing to do with you and jimmybear, k. haha. dun perasan. we used the names waaay earlier than you guys got together.

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