Happy Anniversary

A year ago I married Wifey

A year ago today, I married Wifey. With that act, a marathon run that would last a lifetime begins.

For many, marriage also means the end of courtship as we know it. Both take on the role of husband and wife, stepping into the world of maturity, severing the kiddie stuff they used to indulge in together. Their courtship that used to be filled with laughter and love letters have fallen silent, and they are both now strangers sleeping in the same bed. They no longer kiss each other good night, let alone tell how much they love each other.

So, weren’t they very much in love with each other, as evident in the letters they used to write each other? Maybe they were. Maybe courtship to them equals conquest. And once the target has been conquered, they no longer feel that need to continue doing what they used to do. And soon after, they become the typical Asian husband and wife: the master and slave relationship, where the husband assumes everything is normal, and the wife shouldn’t be asking any question. Slowly, silence becomes the norm, and life becomes routine. Gone is that spark that ignited their feelings for each other; gone is the friendship.

When that friendship ends, they sleep in the same bed – as strangers.

The above are all I try to avoid in this marriage. Which is why Wifey and I never behave like the typical husband and wife. We kid around like friends would…

…because we were friends first before we married each other, therefore as friends we remain – where life is always fun, and hopefully the spark never diminishes.


From Sea To Scenery

Azizul: “Abang Rahmat submit je gambar yang abang Rahmat suka.”

Me: “Alamaaaaak…bukannya ada yang elok pun. Orang lain ambik gambar dengan strobe dua tiga. Kita ambik habis tinggi ada LED light kecik aje.”

That was part of the conversation I had with Azizul when he pestered me to submit my best photos for an event called A Day if Photographic Memory – Underwater Sceneries of Malaysia. I have never done underwater photography seriously; those photos were just aide memoire for me of my trips. Anyhow, I submitted a few.

Sometime late January, I was informed by the Program Manager, Miss Hanim Pahron, that one of the photos I had submitted, have been chosen to be displayed at the National Art Gallery. The first question that popped was: “Which one?

The day came. During the slideshow presentation, they showed this photo of mine:

Chromodoris magnifica at Kador Bay
Chromodoris magnifica at Kador Bay

But when we went up to the gallery, I was surprised to find that the photo chosen to be displayed, and later be part of the gallery’s permanent collection, is this photo:

Me with my photo of a Scorpionfish at Mabul displayed at the National Art Gallery
Me with my photo of a Scorpionfish at Mabul displayed at the National Art Gallery

And now this photo of mine has become part of the National Art Gallery’s collection, part of the nation’s heritage…now that is an ultimate DIVE SATISFACTION.


Scorpionfish beneath the Seaventures

It was the third of our five day trip to Mabul and Sipadan, and the first dive that morning was beneath the Seaventures. There were two other dive boats there, one from BDMR and the other from SMART. Therefore there was a lot of divers beneath the surface converging upon the same area. The main attraction there are the frogfishes (Angler Fish) and the Pygmy Seahorses. And they were all there snapping away.

So, I ventured alone and found this big ugly creature and approached it slowly, well aware of how painfully poisonous it is. It reared its venomous and spiky pectoral and dorsal fins…I stopped and did not look directly into its eyes, for fear that it might interpret me as a predator. I waited for it to calm down and gained its trust before moving in closer for this shot.

I didn’t give this shot much thought as not many are interested in Scorpionfishes, preferring nudibranchs and other strikingly beautiful fishes instead, but this one has made it into the archives, and has made me smile.

Living Without

My scalp feel very tight and shining, my nose is peeling. And that’s the result of being dry for 3 months and going back diving.

If you think that this is going to be one of those post-dive trip postings, you are so wrong. This is going to be about one of the dives done during the previous trip to Tioman.

Often marriage is said to be about compatibility, how similar one is to the other half, what it is about the other half that we can or cannot accept. We often try to see what it is about the other half that we think we can live with, hopefully, for the rest of our life.

But is it really that?

I often wondered what would happen to me should I lose Wifey? And this was the thought that played on my mind while I was diving, brought about by someone’s status on Facebook on the morning we departed Mersing that said something like:

Marriage is not about being with the person you can live with, but being with the person you can’t live without.”

So, that got me thinking, that if I lose Wifey, would I be able to bring myself to go diving ever again without suffering a breakdown.

As in any marriage, each of us has our pluses and minuses. Somehow, I am glad that we managed to iron most things out while we were courting each other, and really like what we saw at the end of it before deciding to live with each other for the rest of our life. There still are times that we’d get on each others’ nerves, but we never fail to kiss each other good night before we sleep, kiss each other good morning when we get up, and kiss and hug each other before we leave for work.

And I love watching her underwater, how she enjoys looking at Batfishes, Yellow Boxfishes, and Pufferfishes among others. When we started dating two years ago this month, she wouldn’t even talk about following me to an island, let alone bask under the sun. Now, she enjoys the salty seawater that would render her treated hair rough, the sun that would turn her skin dark, and she would be dreaming of going back underwater…and I had nothing to do with it. But what has it done for me? I now have a dive buddy whom I love and loves me in return. And I enjoy every dive that I’ve made with her. My whole diving world changed after she took up diving in August of 2009. Even if I had to look after newer divers and pair her off with divers I would trust her with, I would turn to look and see if she was okay.

On the last day of our previous trip, we did the ritual jetty/house reef dive, this time with the newest diver in the group, Bro Rina. After wading the shallows heading towards where the sea bottom slopes, I led the dive to the jetty. In that excellent visibility, I knelt down, folded my arms and watched as thousands of fishes in schools swam above and around us. I watched Wifey and she was all smiles.

Then we all went to the house reef, where a school of almost 30 huge Reef (Broadclub) Cuttlefishes (Sepia latimanus) were spawning, and spent a good 20 minutes watching them. I could see how Wifey enjoyed that dive.

I now have this troubling thought – what if Wifey is no longer around? Would I be able to dive without her? How am I to enjoy looking at the things she enjoys looking at if she is no longer around? How would I feel when I no longer feel that tugging on my fins, turning around to see that gleeful smile on her face everytime she spots something interesting? How would I feel making my safety stop alone without those arms around my waist and she making faces at me? I can only think that I would be very heartbroken indeed. It was when I had this thought that I had a tear or two welling in my eyes, and I held her close to me, kissing her head. Then I cleared my mask as if I had seawater inside it.

Therefore, I know I cannot live without her. Never ever.

My life buddy and I
My dive life buddy and I