The other evening my daughter Ann (seen here having her 40 winks) dropped by after work to deliver a Mother's Day present, the book Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, and to indulge in a bit of whining and harmless bitching about life in general.
Ever since the kids moved out to be on their own last November, they have taken to dropping by at any odd hour, sometimes to let off steam, occasionally just to lepak and raid the fridge (well, some things don't change).
They share an apartment in Bandar Utama and Ann, I was told, has taken over my role as the resident nag. She is doing a pretty good job at it too, siblings Joe and Awwa reported ruefully, clearly piqued at her newfound fervour.
Ann is a journalist, as her eldest sibling Naj, and they write for the same daily. Both have an inclination towards the written word since childhood, so it is natural that they opted for journalism as a career.
The children long ago learned they could never go wrong with books as gifts for Mom and they have been capitalising on this ever since.
As such, my presents hardly have any element of surprise in them because the kids usually would ask me first for the titles that I want. Not that I mind because getting free books is truly a joy and they are well aware of this.
(Pak Abu, if you are reading this, please be reminded that books as presents for me do not, under any circumstances, apply to you. Try a sparkler or two from Pak Habib's rock collection).
So Ann almost had a fit when she woke up one morning to see a beautifully wrapped Crabtree & Evelyn gift set, worth the price of at least six books, sitting pretty on the dining table of their apartment.
She summoned younger sister Awwa, pointed to the offending item and blubbered: "Is this present for Mak? Sapa bagi? How to lawan this kind of present? Tak aci la, this is expensive mah, I cannot afford!"
Of course Awwa, that other regular book-giver, hadn't a clue as well. And I heard she wasn't too happy either about being woken up from deep slumber, dragged out of bed just to contemplate the origin of that mysterious gift set.
I am glad to report all's well at the Bandar Utama front. The mystery was very short-lived and I have two absolutely charming ladies to thank for. To Ozlin and Kah Wai, colleagues of my son Joe:
"Thank you girls for such a lovely gift. You know you are always welcome to karaoke with Pak Abu and I at the Club. Any old time is good time for us. We truly enjoy your company and look forward to more of the same."