Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Hand of Fate

She (right), with her baby (on her aunt's lap in a London hotel)


THE year was 1976 and she was a young mother of 21, with an adorable baby boy born just a few months before. Home was a cosy bedsit along Priory Road in West Hampstead, a few miles north of London.

The man of the house wrote for a newspaper, a job that took him all over the British Isles and the Continent. The young mother, his wife of two years, worked in a publishing house at St Cross Street in the heart of the city, not far from his own office.

Life was comfortable, idyllic even, for the young family. Weekends were spent traipsing around London and the suburbs, checking out the movies at Leicester Square, visiting museums, galleries, and the many bookstores.

Occasionally they would hire a car, bundle up their child in warm clothing and drive into the countryside, checking out ancient castles and historical sites, or just visiting friends who lived out of town.

Sometimes they would spend weekends at the seaside town of Brighton, a place chockful of Malaysian students that it earned the moniker "Kampung Melayu".

Almost always, the young wife would compare the pebbly Brighton beach to the white, sandy beaches of her hometown: "Nothing like Dungun, not even close," she would say ruefully, a faraway look in her eyes.

But she wasn't melancholic for long, for she was young and full of life and love. The road ahead seemed endless and there was so much to do.

Once they went strawberry-picking with a group of friends, and had a whale of a good time - too good a time in fact, eating strawberries off the stalks - that all of them went down with a stomach upset.

Another time they trooped off to Stratford-upon-Avon to check out Shakespeare's birthplace. They spent the entire day wandering around, poking their heads into every nook and cranny of that quaint little place, and buying souvenirs by the armload.

They boated down the River Avon, taking in the stunning pastoral sight of cows grazing in the meadows, of cottages and farmhouses and barns. Life was incredibly sweet.

Some weekends she would visit Malaysia Hall to have her meals at the cafeteria or just to meet up with friends, her little boy safely and comfortably tucked in his pushchair (she never did learn to call it 'strollers'; it sounded too much like a band of troubadours to her).

On many occasions she spied Malaysian students playing table tennis at the Hall, but there was one young man who particularly stood out. He caught her attention simply because he was the scruffiest of an already scruffy lot.

Her recollection: "He was darkish, his hair was long and unruly. He wore glasses a la John Lennon, and was always in such disagreeable-looking torn jeans. He looked terribly nerdy and unkempt. As you know, I was (and still am) such a neat freak; that was why his image stuck in my mind."

His recollection: "She was young and pretty, rather tall and fair and leggy too, with big glasses, and always with a baby in a pushchair. I often wondered who she was. Even long after I came home, the thought of her occasionally crossed my mind. I was just curious ...."

They met again by chance in March 2001, under vastly different circumstances of course, and married three months later.


28 comments:

MrsNordin said...

Is this your story, Puteri??

Kak Teh said...

Really??? I didnt know - but adoiiii itulah dinamakan jodoh!

bangkai said...

Aw, that's so sweet.

How come I never saw anyone pretty enough to draw my attention when I was playing table tennis at that very same table?

Belum sampai seru kot

But this was really sweet...

talqin said...

Abang lap)))) Leeennnn)))) dia mula dah... adddoiiiiii nak kawennnnnnnnn gak la gini!!!!. How i wish mOOn read this piece..

Ma & pa.. i tell u what.. u both mesti ada keep those photos masa zaman dulu2 kan.. give those pics to me.. meh i sup-impose kan, make it like storyboard, mana la tau kot bole jadi iklan.. very touching and sweet :D

puteri kamaliah at-tarawis said...

indeed it was, Mrs N : -)
:-) Kak teh
:-) Mat B
:-) talq

bergen said...

...and the band played a happy tune. And I met them both... he he.

Kak Teh said...

and puteri, for a while, we were sort of related, kan? But we can still be related, if you dont mind.

puteri kamaliah at-tarawis said...

Kak Teh, we still are..I have 4 kids to prove it..LOL

puteri kamaliah at-tarawis said...

Bergen.. by some twist of fate, we got to know you and later met you in person not long after we got married. and guess what? I nearly fell of my chair meeting you again in here.. after such a long silence.... the world is shrinking soo fast!

Anonymous said...

can't wait to hear the rest of the story.

Zawi said...

Puteri Kama,
Is this the beginning of a long story?

puteri kamaliah at-tarawis said...

Not at all Pak Zawi..the story ends there..And they live happily ever after (I hope!)

The Plagiarist said...

i think i know the baby in the pushchair.

:D

puteri kamaliah at-tarawis said...

Aaah plagiarist.. how nice if you indeed do know him!

Typhoon Sue said...

what a shweeeet shweeet shtory.
like they say, klu dah jodoh, tak kemana

puteri kamaliah at-tarawis said...

Sue, the best thing was..and I kept telling him this time and again...I was so put off by his appearance those days..he he he..

Thank God when we met again 25 years later, he was no longer scruffy (err.. I had to contend with a slight potbelly and a shock of silver hair instead..hahahah.. what a trade-off!)

Anonymous said...

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww......

Puteri,

That's jodoh for u. Does not mean when u first saw him tue jodoh u. According to an Uztaz jodoh has its own timing and place. Its like the allignment of the universe sort of thing.

Then in 1976 u had your then jodoh and then in 2001, came another.

Allah is great and we are blessed.

Aida

AuntieYan @ Makcik Blogger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AuntieYan @ Makcik Blogger said...

Salam Tuan Puteri.

I am your silent reader. Admire your writting very much.

....but why the story ends so fast... :-(

Anyway I am happy for you...May Allah bless you & family & Selamat Hari Raya.

puteri kamaliah at-tarawis said...

hehehe yan, nanti i tuleh ceritera lain. this topic no more modal..:-)

MrsNordin said...

Wow... I think this will make a great story! Cerita lah lagi!! I think you and Pak Abu are a cool couple!

puteri kamaliah at-tarawis said...

Mrs N..Pak Abu ketawa baca my writing. and then he asked.. you nak sambung the cerita ka? I said takmoh lah..segan..

puteri kamaliah at-tarawis said...

betul tu aida, i never thought it would turn out this way. when my earlier marriage unravelled, i vowed never to marry again..and i remained a very happy single parent for 14 years. like you said lah, kita boleh rancang aja, jodoh ditangan Dia..

MrsNordin said...

Nak segan apa... I think Pak Abu wants you to tell the story! Come on lah!

MrsNordin said...

And I LIKE THE PHOTO!! Awesome!

drbubbles said...

Puan Puteri,

Tolonglah sambung cerita ini..please...please...hehe

puteri kamaliah at-tarawis said...

err.. satna lemme pikiaq 10x ...

talqin said...

Hahahahaha Ma u better do.. theres a lot of request.. if not i will..(ewah mcm berani)..LOL.. :D