Life with him in it | Birthday Edition

First of all, I would like to say Happiest Birthday to Victor Voon, the very reason why this blog post is written. I, however, at the time of this writing have yet to decide how to celebrate this special day. What I do have in mind though is to put meaning towards this celebration by sharing some of my journey with you, which will not be at all cheesy. I promise. #siscoba 🤣

Now, where shall I begin?

Well, before there is life with him in it, there was a life once upon a time, without him. For a little girl from Ulu Katibas, Song, a remote village in Sarawak, tucked in the rainforest of Borneo Island, life was once pretty routine and beautifully ordinary. I woke up everyday in my favourite cotton pyjama and of course, all my siblings had to have one too which was a wise decision to prevent world war III. If you come from this part of the world, you know exactly that it was a luxury occurence -I mean the pyjama, not the war🙈. With my dishelved hair, unwashed face and muddled steps, the first thing I did was pacing my way to the barn underneath our wooden house to check on every chicks, birds, foxes, cats and dogs we had. It was our own little sanctuary 🐤🐥🦆🐞🐝🐔🐸🐓🐁🕸and I was the happiest in it. If you would have told me that I will one day celebrate Christmas under a mistletoe with snow on my feet, I would think that it is rather peculiar to have a bedtime story in the middle of the day. Things like that do not happen here, unless you are Enid Blyton and ready for yet another adventure with The Famous Five.

As you know it, the rest was history. More than 20 years later and 11,000km away from the familiar smell of home, I was launched into adulthood and barely keeping up with this thing called ‘responsibilities’.

Until one day, I heard a knock.

I peeked through the kitchen’s door as my housemate casually opened the main door across the hallway. A familiar face showed itself and I can’t help myself but to give a little squel, ‘Hey Victor, long time no see!’ He looked surprised, either at my gesture or just at the sheer magnitude of my voice😅 but there was something different about him that day. He went on asking me how my days were and I told him I was flying back to Malaysia that evening for a two weeks summer holiday. We said our goodbyes and exchanged our well wishes. But there was something different about him that day, alright. He was bright☀️. And I have never seen him in that light before.

Me and my dearest Victor have known each other for at least five years before he knocked on our door that summer. But after medical school, being two years my senior, he graduated earlier and we have since parted ways. All I have seen of Victor therafter was his cold greetings and tired shoulders. Much before that however, we were friends in Trinity College Dublin and have attended many events together as medical students. He even choreographed our oriental dance for one of the eloquent Malaysian nights, which he has no shame of reminding me all through our marriage life😑. Some nights, we watched movies from my worn out hand-down VCR and on others, he played the guitar while I sang God’s praises with my pitchy tunes. When I asked him what was his first impression of me (in 2003), he proudly said, ‘Comfortable. You make me feel very comfortable’. I rolled my eyes 🙄🙄🙄WRONG ANSWER. No girls wanted to make you feel ‘comfortable’. They wanted to make you feel upside down. Pfft!!😡

After I returned from my two weeks holiday in Malaysia that summer, my bags were still unpacked when Victor texted me for a dinner. We soon found out that we both had just ended our previous long-term relationships and we quickly found our common grounds as friends who cheered for one another. I learned that Victor has changed quite a bit himself, too. He opened the car’s door for me (although with regret, I had to inform you that this has ceased to happen🤣), he always pay for the dinner’s bill, he walked me home, he laughed at my jokes as if he just heard it for the first time and when he knocked on my doors, he brought me food. I like this Victor person, I thought to myself. He is pretty unassuming, humble, mature, kind and most importantly, he is everything else I am not. 😆😆😆

It was like a roller-coster ride thereafter. We started dating a month after our too many friendly catch-up sessions, engaged two months after that and tied the knot within six months. Eight years and a bit later on, here we are -me writing this blog and him; happily stuffing his face with the dinner I just served 🙈

Life with him in it, though, was not all rosy.

Me and Victor come from a very different family background. My family is undoubtedly loud, speaks our mind unfiltered,  shamelessly good in self-entertainment and major in eating out. Victor’s family, on the other hand is heavily mannered, more culturally minded, pleasantly considerate and indulged in more elaborious decision making process (which I am still getting used to😬). Undeniably, this made us two very different human beings who suddenly found ourselves trapped under the same roof. Being stucked with one another 24/7 really enhances the fact of how our values and personality differs. Here, to name a few (without really saying who it is): ambivert (vs) introvert, on time (vs) unnecessarily wayyyy too early, sceptical (vs) assuming everybody is innocent and pure, direct communicator (vs) answers given sort of makes you forget what was the initial question, expressive (vs) mind-reading expected, short-lived few hours of Hiroshima-bombing-temper (vs) cold war for two weeks, fashion enthusiast (vs) fashion what, a poet (vs) a scientist, etc. I am pretty sure you could guess who is who, but let’s just stay anonymous to protect one’s dignity 😅😆

I usually heard people say that there will be hail and storm in any marriages. And it certainly did, though a tad bit early for us. As per usual, I started off my rant with highly expressive languange scrutinising his every moves that hurt me. In greed for response, I used words which I know will hurt him even more -namely ‘never’ and ‘always’. At times, he gave me silent treatment which commonly associated with zero hugs and kisses for a week (ugghhhhhh 😞). But on other times, he chewed the bait and bite back right at me. Nevertheless, it was a very long and tiring (first) six months. Throughout this ordeal, I did consider that perhaps, it was not meant for me -this marriage thing. It was difficult and love, as I understood it, should not be.

No marriage counselling can prepare you for the real thing. It is like given a manual handbook for driving but one needs to actually drive to get good at it. In marriage, this is equivalent to, should I say, moulding a clay. The only way it gets stronger is by patching it up piece by piece, keeping at it despite the fire, slowly transforming it into a resilient sculpture. This of course, is easier said than done. Don’t we all know that too well 🤧🤧🤧

Having mentor, friends or family members at the time of difficulty is important. It helps you to see things from different perspectives but the journey is yours and yours alone. And the most unlikely thing I learned was that, marriage revealed more about yourself than it is about your partner. I discovered my insecurities, my dark pasts, my resentment, my fear and also, my substantial desire not to re-live the marriage my parents once had. Victor never told me what he wants me to be or what he does not. He just wants me to be HAPPY which I think is a decent proposition. But more than half of the times, he expects me to read his mind and for the marriage to work like a passive income. And for a long year, we were just two separate humans who just happened to be married. We are ‘united’ in the name of law but we were still making decisions individually (not as a family), planning different social events, believing in different values and having different life goals. What we do know though is that we want it to work out. So whatever disagreements we had, we make time to talk it out -no matter how long and how hard. It needs to come from a place with utmost transparency, honesty, vulnerability and humility. And so we began -our long nights dragged by fights, tears driven by fears, uproars followed sometimes by regrets and much later -sorrys, hugs and kisses.

Love is a daily choice. And mariage is like having a savings account. You want to keep growing your capital and invest in it more than you take out. Some examples on how to keep a positive balance: to be kind when he is not, to be patient when he is not, to love him even when he does not deserve it, to forgive before he forgives himself and to say sorry even when you are not wrong. That one day, you’ll be surprise to learn that on circumstances when your hormonal unflattering words escaped your big mouth, guess who would run to give you hugs and kisses your forehead? Yup, you guessed it right. (Disclaimer: this does not apply if your partner is an asshole in general and cheat/abuse you despite your best effort. In that case, get yourself a brand new handbag and head up to the divorce office -although yes, I understand that life is not so simple. B’cuz you know, handbags can be expensive 😬).

Me and Victor have come a long way. Now we make fun of each other, have our own lame jokes that nobody else gets, rejoice in saving 50cents from grocery shopping, disagree about washing dishes or how he folds the blanket, understand fully each other’s words either spoken or unspoken and compete on who gave the wisest quote of the day. Our expression of love in marriage has also differs significantly than what it once was. Now, I feel very loved when he asked me if he could help in the kitchen, throwing out the rubbish, carrying all the grocery shopping, surprised me with a fresh brewed tea, just listening to my problems without trying to fix it, takes charge in our weekly spring cleaning and never judges me when I do online shopping. And of course it doesn’t hurt that he gives me at least a dozen of kisses a day and holds my hands to sleep 😅❤️🙈 So on the days when either of us are not in the best humor, the other always choose to be slower -at anger.

Life with him in it-is simple. And it’s the only life I could imagine myself living in😍

P/s: Happy birthday my love. People always say I am so lucky to have you in my life. But c’mon, we both know that you’re the luckier one 🤣🤣🤣

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