Sunday, July 22, 2012

A love story - Part 4

When I was in my mid-teens, my mother wanted to divorce my father. In the end, she decided to stay in the marriage because she felt that she could not raise the children on her own. I remember thinking to myself then that I would not be a weakling, dependent on a man for anything -- not even the welfare of my/our children.
[Note: That said, I love my dad. I had always been (and am probably still) the apple of his eyes. In fact, according to my mother, even before I was born, when my mother was pregnant with me, my dad was already especially fond of me because he considered me a "lucky baby" as his business picked up suddenly. IMHO, he is a good man despite the difficulties he had/has with life, his wife and children -- especially his wife (my mother). I think my parents' marriage is one where 2 hot-headed persons with strong personality brought out the worst in each other.]
During my university days, I met a female hostel-mate who proudly declared that her life goal was to be happily married, to be a good wife and (if they have children) mother. I remember wondering why she was attending university when she only had 小女人 [literally "little woman", i.e. dependent woman] ambitions in life. But I knew by then that I would probably never understand some people because we have such different lives.


Part 4 - 小女人 [literally "little woman", i.e. dependent woman]

I cannot remember the remaining days of my first Hong Kong trip clearly. What I remembered was that when AL could not be around, he would try to arrange for our other mutual friends/colleagues to hang out with me. E.g. On the day that I visited our Hong Kong office with WY's son -- since the Singapore software team worked closely with the Hong Kong software team -- AL was stuck in meetings the whole day. Thus, AL arranged for our mutual friend MS to show me around the Hong Kong office and introduce me to our Hong Kong colleagues.

For some time, we never talked about what happened that night. In fact, we pretended that nothing had happened between us. One evening (I cannot recall if it was some days or some weeks after my return to work in Singapore), AL suddenly broached the subject in the midst of our BBS chat over work. He asked how I felt. In my work-mode and with my well-ingrained 女强人 [i.e. "strong woman"] mindset, I "calmly" typed my reply that it was a mistake, and that we should forget about it and move on. Like a swan floating gracefully on the water, but paddling furiously underneath, I refused to let others (not even AL) see how I was struggling emotionally. There was a pause in his reply, given AL's usual BBS response speed. Then, AL typed his deepest apologies for what he had done and he promised to keep things a secret and never bring up the matter again. Some months passed and we went back to our usual office buddies relationship. AL still shared with me about the issues he had with his girlfriend (6Snoopys), as before.

About 3-4 months from that first Hong Kong trip, I tendered my resignation from my job, having received a job offer from a headhunter that fulfilled one of my financial dreams (at that time). What I did not expect was that my company required me to leave the office that day and paid me garden leave for the remainder of my notice period. I tried frantically to contact AL. He was busy the whole day with meetings. In frustration and panic, I left an angry message with his Hong Kong colleague, “如果他不打电话给我,他就永远找不道我了!” [i.e. "If he doesn't call me back, he will never find me again!" Note: The Chinese characters are an approximate of the Cantonese words used, sorry I don't know how to type in Cantonese.] Bad move -- some of my colleagues heard it, and I believed at least one (or more) began to wonder about the relationship between AL and me.

Anyway, in the evening, AL contacted me, asked how I was and if I had any plans for the garden leave. I told him honestly that I missed him and asked if I should go to Hong Kong to visit him. He hesitated for a while, then replied that he left the choice to me; if I came, he would arrange for everything and take care of me. Thus, after spending one more week in Singapore handing over my work (outside of office) to my then supervisor [because I was completing some leading-edge system architectural change at that time], I took my second trip to Hong Kong.

My goals for that trip were simple. I could not deny that I missed AL. I wanted to know how he felt about me, about us. I also wanted to find out the state of his relationship with 6Snoopys, since AL vented a lot of his frustrations over their relationship to me. AL arranged for me to stay at his recently acquired apartment (which was empty at that time) -- the one he bought in preparation for 6Snoopys to live together with him if/when they eventually get married. AL had to juggle his time between his job, me, 6Snoopys, and his own family/parents. Good to his word, AL took really good care of me, bringing me out for dinner, shopping, and entertainment. [As before, when AL could not be around, he would try to arrange for our other mutual friends/colleagues to be with me. E.g. He arranged for yet another mutual friend/colleague to send me off at the airport.] Usually he would asked me what I prefer, and since I don't really have much preference -- I only cared that we were spending time together -- he made almost all the decisions, big or small. I finally understood the joys of being a 小女人 (dependent woman) -- no cares, no worries, just enjoy spending life with a loved one.
This trip was also the first time that I shared a bed with a man that I loved. It happened ever so gently. One night after hanging out together for the day, we returned home and watched TV. After a while, AL said that he was tired and suggested that perhaps I should also turn in for the night. I looked at him and then at the bedroom -- there was only one bedroom fitted with a bed, a double-bed, at that time -- and hesitated. He then said that I could have the bed and he would sleep on the couch. He went to the bedroom to grab a pillow. I hesitated and then replied that it wasn't nice that he had to sleep on the couch when it was his home. Then he turned around (as he was in the bedroom) and assured me that it was ok. I thought about it, and then suggested that he could sleep on one side of the bed while I took the other. [After all, some of us young colleagues did that before when we all crashed overnight at one of our colleagues' home; nothing untoward happened.] He smiled and agreed. 
I got cold-feet and sat still on the couch. AL stood at the hallway to the bedroom and offered once again to take the couch. I didn't want to look like a fool who backed out on her words, so I bluffed him that I was ok, that I just wanted to drink some water before I turned in for the night. AL stood at the same spot, watched me drinking a glass of water, and said that he was waiting for me to get to the bedroom before he switched off the hallway light. I finished my water, put down the glass -- he said to leave it there and he would wash it the next morning -- and walked slowly towards the bedroom. I wasn't sure what to expect.
So there we were in the bedroom. I took the right side of the bed and he took the left. We each had our own pillow but shared a blanket. Initially we kept to our sides of the bed. After a while, without a word, AL reached over for me under the blanket and started caressing me. Slowly, he began to reach under my top and bra to caress my skin and breasts. Then he slipped his hand under my panty and fondled me. I told him fearfully that I wasn't on contraception. He acknowledged, and then took off our tops. Then we continued fondling each other, with our bottoms on, and he came. With each subsequent night, I became less shy of sleeping topless with him, until finally we slept only with my panty on and he with his briefs.
Towards the end of this second trip, while I was alone at AL's home, I snooped around and found out by chance that AL and 6Snoopys had a joint bank account. For those who don't understand the Asian mentality -- a joint bank account and a home purchased for life together meant that marriage was on the cards. I pretended that I did not know anything about the bank account and asked AL about his future plans with 6Snoopys. Suspiciously, he kept dodging the issue. It was not like him to not answer my questions candidly.
I knew by then that I was exceptional in some ways, and so I convinced myself that I would not fight with another (weaker) woman over a man. I told myself, "I am smart, I can be a woman of independent means. I can be a strong woman. I don't need a man to lean on."
I left Hong Kong heartbroken. AL and I agreed that it was perhaps better that we do not see each other again.

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