14 July 2010

Where are you from, darling?

"Where are you from, darling?"


"Singapore... Malaya? You know Malaya?"

"Yes of course."

"I was there from '52 to '54. Youngest soldier. I was 16 when I was recruited."

"Oh my, 16."

"Oh, Malaya was a wonderful place. It was very humid, but the people are so friendly. I had a wonderful time, when I was not on duty. There was a General Hospital in Kuala Lumpur. You know Kuala Lumpur? There were many pretty nurses there. My mate had to stay there for a while and he really enjoyed it."

"Lucky him!" Laughter.

"Did you go out with them?" Cheeky look.

A pause.

"No. But I used to go out with this girl from Malaya. She was Chinese, like you. We went out for a long time. Almost the whole two years. And when I had to come back to England, I asked her to come with me. She said no. Her family - her mother, her sister - they were all in Malaya. She didn't come back with me."

"Ohh. Oh dear."

"Many years later, I got married, to a very lovely lady and we moved out here to London. Not far from where we are now, you know. (Inaudible street name) We lived in an apartment building. Not long after I moved in, this young lady stopped me outside my house and said, 'I know you. I have seen you somewhere.' I said, 'I beg your pardon. I don't think we have met before.'"

"Was it one of the nurses?"

"No it wasn't. A couple of weeks later, I was walking my youngest daughter, heading back home, when I bumped into the young lady again. She stopped me, and she said, 'I know you. My mother knows you. You are Patrick.' And then she pulls up this photo of me and her mother together."

"It was the Malayan girl I used to go out with."

"Oh my god. Was her mother in London too?"

"No, she stayed on in Malaya."

"Did she ever visit after? Did you write to her?"

"No, I don't think she ever came to London. Just her daughter came."

"And you know... We are both married. My wife is the most wonderful lady in the world, and we have children. Oh, she is such a darling, my wife."

"No yes, I am sure she is very wonderful."

A pause. I continued:

"It's ironical that she didn't want to come to London, but the daughter came instead."


"But that's life, you know."

"Yes... I was going to say that too. Life's lament."

One smile. And then two.

Life's lament, fond thoughts.

(Singing in the Rain music in the background)

1 comment:

  1. Funny what life deals you with isn't it?