It’s been almost 2 months since Typhoon Diana arrived around the end of August. And this morning we saw her off at the airport for a long journey home to Vancouver, Canada. Lots of tears in the dying minutes over breakfast at the airport; and sad to say that those were not happy tears—quite on the contrary, very, very sad tears.
Regular readers of this blog will remember, of course, that mom has a curious tendency to leave a trail of destruction each time she leaves after her visit; hence “Typhoon Diana”. During mom’s last visit, the drama centred around Dennis. I was secretly hoping for this visit to be different for a change, but of course that’s just too much to hope for.
Unfortunately, what seemed to be a promising start for a happy ending, had all the ingredients of a disaster-waiting-to-happen. The clashes of personalities and events unfolding in a dramatic fashion which completely obliterated any hope of a happy ending.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. To really understand the characters in this real life drama, it is necessary for us to travel back in time to a good 35 years ago. That is the proper beginning of this journey of how destiny had taken a cruel turn in one of those saddest tragedies of this world.
On the one hand, we have a divorcee who had to support 3 of her 6 children with her job as a maid. At times, her brother helped her financially, but because both siblings were not highly educated, there was only so much they could earn from their respective jobs. Needless to say, there were times when it became quite a challenge even to put three square meals on the table.
It soon became clear that she could not possibly afford to support all her children, so she had to make the painful decision to give away the youngest child, who was then only 3 years old, to a distant relative. It was a decision that kept haunting her for the rest of her life; and over the years she attempted to win back custody of that child to no avail. The feeling of guilt and sadness of that decision would never free her completely to redeem total happiness in her life.
On the other hand, we have a child who, at the age of 3, was suddenly thrown into the home of strangers. I would imagine it must have been very traumatic for the child during the first few weeks, months, or even years. And then what happened to her after that was unclear to the rest of the family, as her foster parents were extremely careful to prevent any contact between her and her biological family. Words had it that she was the black sheep of the family; she always got into trouble in school. In fact, she grew up to be a problematic kid. She was never any good in school, thus failing her SPM. But her foster parents took the trouble to forge the results somehow in order to help her secure a job.
She then married a man in a foreign country and had 2 children of her own. But by then, her relationship with her foster parent had become so bad that they were no longer on talking terms.
Somehow, her husband got into trouble with the long arm of the law and ended up in jail. She doesn’t get along very well with her in-laws. And of course before long, another man came along to fill in the shoes of her husband. Her life was obviously in a mess, although apparently, she did not realise it herself.
From far across the ocean, in Vancouver, Canada, mom heard about what happened between Flora and her foster mother. For 35 years, she’s been harbouring hope against all odds that she’d once again see the day when her long-lost child of 35 years ago would find her way home. Last year mom cheated death when doctors found and then removed a tumour from her uterus. Perhaps this is karma—perhaps her second chance to redeem herself has finally come after a 35-year wait? And hard upon that, when news of Flora’s husband got to mom, her motherly instinct suddenly took the driver’s seat. In the subsequent weeks and months, contacts were made with Flora, culminating in her visit to KK to meet us siblings for the first time in decades.
I don’t know if it was instinct, or because of something in her behaviour, but from the very first time I laid eyes on Flora, I did not buy her sob stories; far from it! There was an air of—how do you say it—artificialness in her; I just couldn’t tell exactly what, if you know what I mean. Perhaps it’s paranoia; maybe it’s all just my imagination, but I told my sisters to be careful not to believe her 100%.
Well, anyway, soon it was time for mom’s arrival, and the scene was set for a dramatic reunion. For the first time in 35 years we achieved the impossible feat—we managed to assemble all of us siblings together to celebrate mom’s birthday. We decided to have it at my place.
As we were about to start, mom pulled me aside and said she’d like to make a speech. Caught me by surprise it did. Clearing my throat, I called for everyone’s attention, announcing that mom would like to deliver a speech. Bear in mind that none of us saw this coming. So everyone gathered obediently around mom. There was dead silence—you could hear a pin drop—as mom produced a piece of paper she’d prepared from her pocket with an air of nail-biting suspense. Unfolding the paper, she started reading.
I cringed at the sight of mom reading, especially when she’s doing it without her glasses. Elsewhere in this blog, I’ve described how mom is never a very detailed person. She is one of those creatures who’d describe herself as a “homo”, when trying to tell others that she’s reached menopause; or say a foreign-sounding word, “calleb”, which means “collapse”. She wouldn’t even realise it if she’d read “circumstances” as “circumcisions”. But in the end, I’m pleased to say that she did a good job. The essence of her speech was of course centred around her elation of finally finding her long-lost child again after 35 years. And I have to admit that it brought a lump to my throat too. I think Audrey was complaining that mom’s speech messed up her mascara. Well, at the end of the speech, mom was accorded with a big round of applause. It was clear that everyone shared her joy that night.
Well, I'd say that it was a successful birthday party. But little did we know the storm that's brewing on the horizon...