Ya Rabbi! Besarnya kasut, macam sampan!
Good Lord! Such big shoes, they look like sampan*!
(*Sampan - traditional Malay boat)
So exclaimed my normally unflappable mother-in-law to-be upon seeing the pair of champagne-hued, four-inch heels her son brought home that long-ago day in 1974.
The shoes were part of the groom's wedding hantaran (gifts) for the bride and we scoured half of Kuala Lumpur looking for a suitable pair for the approaching nuptials.
We found that glittering pair in Ampang Park; it was absolutely so "not me' but I didn't have a choice. Either that painful-to-the-eye pair, or no shoes to go with the equally glitzy clutchbag.
I found out later that the good 'isteri polis' (police wives) ladies of the groom's retinue had a rib-tickling time trying to be artful with flowers and fronds to camouflage the glaring inner sole span.
Neither shoes nor marriage lasted. The former cracked up after five years, the latter collapsed after 13. But my feet remain hideously big, wide and flat.
If at all there is anything that can put me in a despondent mood, it would be shopping for shoes. As if on cue, the moment my foot crosses the treshold of a shoe store, my question would inevitably be: "What is the biggest size you carry?"
If the answer is in the single digit, rest assured I would be off and away before the salesperson could draw her next breath. It would be a sheer waste of my time, and hers, to linger.
On the average, I am a size ten (or 40 according to European measurement). Sometimes, even ten doesn't fit, especially if the front is stylishly narrow.
I can only drool at the sight of beautifully designed shoes, for I cannot fit into any of them. In Malaysia, it does seem that only dainty feet are deserving of gorgeous shoes.
'Bigfoot' like us are consigned to the heap of unflattering but sturdy models from the likes of Clarks and Scholl, to name but two.
We are the unfortunate Heidis of shoedom, hefty frauleins and fraus whose enormous feet could only be suitably shod in unfashionable, bulky yet incredibly pricey footwear.
When I was a journalist, a friend introduced me to Mr Pan who worked in our production department downstairs. Pan came from a family of shoemakers and during break time he would surface on the editorial floor with shoe catalogues in hand.
Our orders usually took two weeks to complete. You could ask for any fashion, style, design or colour and he would always oblige. The prices too were very reasonable, between RM30-RM40 per pair.
Because of this convenience, I used to own many pairs of shoes and sandals, my favourite being two-toned court shoes.
Then I left my job. Soon after Mr Pan too retired and we lost contact. I had to return to plain and predictable Clarks and Scholl (and the occasional pair from Marie Claire).
Some years ago I discovered a local brand carrying big sizes and I have been patronising that make ever since. It is called Princess and they have a big outlet in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.
As usual, the designs are limited but at least the sizes are there. Beggars, sadly enough, can't be choosers. But I am not ashamed of my feet. On the contrary, I am proud of my 'Bigfoot' status.
My late mother once said I was firmly anchored to the ground by virtue of having big feet. I would like very much to think she had her foot on it.