The Night We Eloped

Sometimes, you can be so stupid as to tempt the universe. As I lazily woke up on Friday, I thought, my life had been very quiet as of late. And then as I got ready, I thought to myself, ‘Gee, life has been very quiet lately. If only it were a bit more exciting.’

The Universe heard me and declared, ‘Challenge accepted’.

Which explains why, on Friday night, in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, the husband and I were stuck by the side of the highway, me in our pretty baju kurung and Eizwan in his baju Melayu complete with his sampin, waiting for Eizwan’s cousin to rescue us. The rain was getting heavier, and I was trying very hard not to feel low.

‘This is my fault, you know,’ I say to Eizwan. ‘I tempted the universe.’

‘You did what?’

‘I said my life was unnaturally quiet the past two weeks. The universe responded.’

‘You what? No-lah! These things happen. It’s not your fault.’

I pause, and thought about what he said.

‘You’re right, I said to Eizwan. It’s your cousin’s fault.’

‘Syeda? Syeda’s fault?’

Yes, the last time she got engaged, we got locked out of our house. Twice. Now, on the day she’s getting married, our car broke down in the middle of the highway, and we’re standing here with no way out.’

‘Hey, that’s not true. I mean, this is just a coincidence right?’


‘…Or maybe she secretly does not like me very much. Maybe I’ve wronged her somehow and this is punishment.’ Eizwan replied miserably.

‘You know what this means, right? This means that the next time a major event happens in her life, like if she has her first baby or something we’re staying far, far away.’


Our car died the way the universe would, not with a bang but with a whimper. Well, actually, it died in a spectacularly creepy way – the lights started to flicker, the radio came on and off before it all started to dim down and faded away. Despite Eizwan’s insistence that he could coax the car forward and that we CAN get to the wedding on time, 100 metres before the toll on the AKLEH, it quietly said good night.

We handled the situation fairly well, you know, like motherfucking adults. We called the insurance company which then called up the tow truck company. And then we called Eizwan’s parents to come rescue us. The tow truck came after half an hour, and the super nice tow truck driver gave us a lift to the waiting area on the other side of the toll where it would be safer to wait. Eizwan’s parents said that his cousin was on the way, and that he would get there in about 20 minutes.

Of course, as everyone knows, the best-laid plans are always obstructed certain Mr. Murphy. We might be only 20 minutes away from Syeda’s home, but Eizwan’s cousin decided to play it safe and take a route that he was familiar with to where we were. Unfortunately for both him and us, that route was Jalan Ampang. On a Friday night.

He was joined by about a million other people on that 1km stretch.

But despite Eizwan and I being stranded by the roadside, Eizwan and I were in surprisingly good mood. I was determined not to feel low, a car breaking down was already stressful for Eizwan – no one wants to spend any more money on a car, and we were bound to miss Eizwan’s cousin’s solemnization – so I did not want to upset him any further.

We kept ourselves amused by identifying cars, talking about everything and nothing and taking random pictures with the camera.

‘I don’t get why people are staring at us,’ Eizwan said. ‘You see that guy there? And that other guy there? They’re all staring at us.’

‘Maybe they’re not used to someone as hot as me being stranded,’ I said, flicking my hair to the back.

‘Modest…. Hey, stop staring at my wife!’ Eizwan shouted.

I shrug. I really did not care if people were staring. But it really bothered Eizwan that everyone was staring. And it was kind of funny that they were. We were not the only ones stranded by the side of the road – but the ones gathering the most attention was us.

‘I suppose it’s because we’re dressed the way we are. You know, we look nice, we look like we’re going to a dinner or something.’

‘Yeah, I suppose.’

But after a while, even I could not keep my spirits high. I was starting to get hungry, the fumes from the cars whizzing by were horrible and my throat was starting to dry out. Eizwan noticed my shivering. It was getting cold from the rain and he pulled me closer. He pulled out my t-shirt from the rucksack that he was holding. And I covered myself in efforts to cover myself from the rain.

People finally stopped staring. I think they were starting to think we’re kinda creepy.

Eizwan and I finally got to the wedding 3 hours after the wedding was supposed to start. By the time we were picked up,  Syeda and her boy, were now man and wife.

Of course, nothing was more comforting than arriving at a wedding 3 hours late, looking like the cat dragged in than your relatives cracking up at you the moment you walk in. And Eizwan finally got his answer as to why people kept staring at the two of us.

‘Oh my God. Did you really stand by the roadside dressed up like that?’ Abang Khalid sputtered in between giggles.

Apparently, as Eizwan’s cousin pointed out, the two of us, in our themed baju kurung and baju Melayu, me in my pretty make up, Eizwan with his rucksack on his back and standing by the side of the road looked like we were about to run away and elope.



How Food Poisonings Happen

So over the weekend, I was in my baju kurung, which thankfully was not one of the more beautiful ones that I own, seated on the grass outside my aunt’s house, by the drain with a sponge on one hand, a dirty plate on the other. It was the hot afternoon, my hair was sticking to the side of my face from sweat. The skirt of my baju kurung was hiked up to my knees, looking very unladylike but I did not care.

My brother was on hose duty and he sprayed the plastic plates that were handed his way by the way of a plastic tub filled with soapy water.

‘This is not hygienic,’ he moaned to my aunt. ‘We should have hot water.’

‘The sun is above you. The water below you. The water will get hot….eventually,’ my aunt smirked.

This was my weekend. In the morning I was attending my cousin’s engagement. By the afternoon a bunch of us were relegated to dishwashing duty because the original caterer that my cousin’s family had hired bailed out on them. In the end, they hired a caterer at the last minute who could only give food but no service.

Usually the caterers would take the dirty plates and wash them for the next batch of guests. Well, without a caterer, the alternative would be paper plates. Which all things considered, is not that bad an idea looking back.

As I scrapped off rice of the dish, trying not to gag, I say a silent prayer and focused all my energy to hoping horrible things will happen to the first caterer. I do this often, especially when a jackass cuts in front of me when I drive without signalling. I usually pray for his penis to fall off, or his kids to fail SPM.

So should you know anyone whose penis fell off, it’s probably he was a rude bastard on the road. Or he bailed out on someone’s wedding.

To be honest though, despite my moaning, and despite how dry my hands will be from using dish detergent on my bare hands, I was enjoying this. I love the camaraderie shared between me and my cousins, I loved that this harked back to the good old days where people used to gotong-royong (worked together) for weddings, where everyone had a part to play, be it cooking, decorating, cleaning up. It felt good to be working with your hands, and that in this assembly line of dish washing, we were all equals. And there is something very calming about working with your hands, the repetitive action of scrubbing and then rinsing and then drying.

‘Ooops!’ said my cousin as she dropped a plastic glass into the drain. We exchanged glances with each other. I think about the number of weddings I’ve attended, with the same plastic plates, a no-show caterer and road-side washing of the plates.

‘I suppose if you scrub it extra hard…’ I begin to say.

‘I’m never eating at weddings again,’ my brother moaned. ‘This is exactly how food poisonings happen.’