This is a significant date.
It has been 13 years since I shed my uniform, the last I wore was my camo and my blue beret. I still miss that life; it was much simpler, life was always on the edge, and it was always about enjoying fear.
Returning to base after forward deployment, circa 1991
The first half of last year was spent trying to keep my family together. When that failed, it was all about the children then. I had to play both roles to keep them happy and minimise the damage done so they would not suffer as much. Then, of course, I spent the last quarter nursing a broken heart. Seriously, I almost lost faith in many things, including the meaning of life, until someone came along unexpectedly this year.
Playing both father and mother – with my daughter, Nisaa, at the old Rasta’s
The first two months of this year saw us divers being very much in the doldrums because of the north-east monsoon that was hitting the east coast islands. So, we divers went paintballing. We had good bonding sessions each time we went to play and of course, the bruises were there to remind me of how good the shots were too!
Me, taking flanking position
However, as the monsoon reached its end, my friends and I went to quench our thirst for sea water in Tioman. The waves were still big, the surge was still there – but those never stopped us from enjoying what we love most – being underwater and one with nature:
Nice textures of a starfish, off Soyak Island, Tioman, February 2008
March 8th of 2008 was a strange day. Not because the rakyat gave BN-chauvinists a big slap on the face, but because somehow, something triggered Wifey to contact me after some months of near-total silence. It rekindled the affections we have had for each other all the while.
The candidates that did not get enough AFUNDI, had to go AFKELUAR – 8th March 2008
4 days later was THE moment. Wifey had organised a Burger Night that someone claimed to have orchestrated (whatever or however it was, it worked to my favour…lucky me!). I’ve had pestered her so many times prior to that to get myself invited to one of her makan-dos. In the end, she did, and invited me over for a burger dinner. I was more happy to see her, although the burger was excellent and truly delicious.
Me, and the Chef who cooked up romance on Burger Night – 12th March 2008
Two days later, she proposed to me. I honestly thought she was joking with me. All the suitors she had had were driving Beemers and would literally wine and dine her, whereas, I drove the cheapest possible MPV of some level of public-acceptance (not Juara Squarepanties), and would only eat the cheapest steak (Roadside Grill…literally). The very next evening, we went out on our first ever date. And I drove around for more than an hour trying to figure out where to take her without insulting her, and without making this the first and last ever date. In the end, I crossed my fingers and toes, and took her to this old hotel with a poolside F&B that is so reminiscent of some colour-worn malay movie of the 1980s. Thank God, she liked it, and it was the first time she went out on a date without having to drag her posse with her to the venue. And ever since then, we were together virtually every day, until I had to go to work again.
My final underwater job was to train divers from several government agencies in areas that, among others include underwater communications, navigation, search and recovery, full-face mask diving in deep waters. It was a tough and regimented training, and several candidates gave up. But, I had to be the good guy once in a while and spent more time underwater with them to make sure they learnt everything well.
Doing a decompression stop – the last man to surface
Wifey with friends on a shopping trip in Bandung
I was away for about 8 days, while she left for Bandung 4 days into my absence. I remember waiting for the phone to ring to know if she had touched down safely in Jakarta. And since it was a rainy night there, I monitored her journey to Bandung from CGK, and slept only after she was safe in the hotel room.
Ever since then, she has been my anchor, my emotional rampart – my bestest best friend, and my loving wife.
And we got to spend the happiest hari raya we have ever known since childhood, together.
And this has been a great year, emotionally, and that has led to a better life. Through Wifey, I have met old friends, and have made great new friends, whom I now call my family. It has been a great year for me, as I have gained more siblings than I have lost.
My new extended family
And 2009 can only be better…