Mom of the 2 students: another tale (next part)

[Continued from previous blog: Tale of 2 students]

I met Moon over a birthday party in 1988 in Singapore. It was a party next to a pool, not a pool party in swimsuit. To be exact. It was August 13, 1988.

Lower right was the night she & I met

I was on the last day of a student exchange program between dental students of University of Hong Kong (HKU) and National University of Singapore (NUS). HKU dentistry only had it first batch of graduates in 1985 while NUS was over 70 years old. We from HKU had a lot to learn from our NUS friends. Singapore was hot, we were sweating a lot but I was impressed by the friendly mannerism of the people and the impressive clinical facilities. We had a brand new HKU dental hospital, PPDH but NUS was another level.

I was the youngest kid in the family, I hung out with my mom a bit before I started school. She exposed me to the idea of a few languages, Chinese dialects and foreign cuisines. She would sporadically describe her earlier childhood in Hainan island. It sounded like an exotic tropical experience but in a lousy era, World War 2. I also heard one of the younger brothers(廖譚財)of my maternal grandma was in Kuala Lumpur, he was a ‘war-groom’; he met the love of his life during the war, married to that gal, and lived in Kuala Lumpur happily ever after (I sincerely hope so).

I am a slow learner but my mom’s verbal capability I was exposed to and all her little pointers sprung to life when I was in Singapore! Suddenly all the small talks made sense and I felt like I was at home away from home! The rain, satay, prata, laksa, chicken rice, and mixture of various dialects in regular conversations were all new to me but I had experienced them before!

Meeting a small size tanned skin gal from Kuala Lumpur was not part of the plan. Moon was doing her A-level in Kuala Lumpur on holiday in Singapore and our common point of contact was the NUS birthday gal, Peggy. Her cousin and Moon were classmates. Meeting a gal at the pool side at the last night of the exchange program was unexpected, crashing into the NUS dinner and dance after was not part of the script too. She told me she was visiting her grandparents in Johor Bahru (JB), spending time with grandparents over holidays was a plus point even though I had no idea where JB was. She came cross as a friendly and energetic gal. Did I say, ENERGETIC? She told me she was planning to go to university in the USA while I had just sent off my post-graduate application to 13 schools in USA for specialty training a few nights before my exchange program! After some small conversations on quite a few personal topics at the dance floor, the whole group went for KFC after and then we parted.

We finally found the place we met in 1988 😁

I began writing to her after I went back to Hong Kong and start my fourth year dental curriculum, a challenging and heavy clinical year! I had a full year and typically in HKU dental school, during those days close to 20% of the class wouldn’t make it to final year! Most of the classmates whom I hung out with graduated together with me, well we were that lucky 80%+. Writing to Moon was a great fit into my tight schedule as I usually start school at 830am, finish clinical session by 5 and then hide in the library until it closes by 10 then I would go home and hit more books before I closed my eyes for the day. In those days, even gym workout and running were out of the equation, and I scored my first ever non-podium finish in 800m in the 1989 intercollegiate game, which I was a defending champion from 1988!

More I wrote to Moon, more I knew I was low on her priority. I got replies sporadically but it seems it did not bother her. She just told me she was busy. I found a few things about her along the way. She was smart between her ears, did her Malaysian O-level equivalent well enough on the day when the result was released her principal would call her name out in front of her schoolmates. In contrary, I only had my name called out in front of my schoolmates when I got into trouble or to get my interschool running medals.

Moon always has a palm size organizer booklet that she details every single move and moments of her months, weeks, days, minutes. I have never seen anyone more organized than that.  

Moon’s mom worked as an English teacher, was a headgal and was among the rare few science stream students during high school in Batu Bahat, Malaysia. Moon stayed on dean’s list in university, while she kept her non-academic time fully filled with various activities. After we moved to Canada, she reluctantly took her GMAT and LSAT (she was ‘voluntold’… by yours truly), she was offered places in law school and MBA at the same time. No doubt, she made it looked easy.

I went to the Northwestern university downtown campus (near Water Tower place) for post-graduate residency training in dental school. The area was just like Orchard road in Singapore, Nathan road in Hong Kong or University Avenue in Toronto; a combination of concrete with some small bushes far and between. She visited me a few times there and one day she quietly told my buddy, Robert and me that she saw rabbits there. Robert had lived in that neighbourhood for years, what rabbits? We were absolutely sure Moon either forgot to take her medicine or she was seeing spirits! However, we eventually noticed that there were real tiny rabbits among the bushes in DOWNTOWN Chicago!

Probably around 1971 at her grandparents place in JB
When she modelled for a FAX machine in 1990
Always onto something, choir singing

As I started practising in Toronto in 1994, I found myself always begging for her mercy as I could not keep up with her during our weekend outing. She has been always up to her next something and absolutely never gets tired! She can have a conversation with practically anyone and anything (animals & plants included) while everyone knows that I just happened to be her spouse.

She writes well and have much better verbal skill than me, which was a much needed department for my worldwide exploration and family formation. She has never been specialized in keeping track of time and suffers from irregular syncope (only) in the kitchen. No one is perfect, right? I can and love to cook anyways, so I whipped up numerous quick meals (and good IMHO) for us before/after we got married. We have complimentary skills set.

Cant be more malaysia than this ☝️

I started reading newspapers cover to cover since I was about 9 years old. My little head was fascinated by the idea of perfect crimes, which I have yet to find on the news. I was also curious and intrigued by the world that was beyond my comprehension. Now we always have 2 piles of newspapers at home, a bigger pile (the yet to read) and the others. On an average newspaper, I may pick up a few pointers, while my boss, Moon would routinely pick up multiple pointers that she ‘would like to discuss with me’. Very informative, educational and at time mind stimulating. When we are done with it, she would just have another one small idea that she would like to share with me next.

The ‘national sport’ in Hong Kong (if there was such thing) is horse racing. On horse racing day, extreme traffic jam near the race track, taxi drivers going to wrong destinations, waiters getting orders wrong are often expected and understood. Approximately 15% of the jockey club revenue (>USD$160billion in 2021) is used for various essential community services (eg low cost/free medical service). One of my dad’s favorite topics was about which stable the race horses belong to – trainers highly focus on the blood line and all horses are put into classes. A pony from a wrong bloodline may never get to a good stable under great trainers, race other first class race horses and well, eventually breed new race ponies. It would require excessive irrational optimism to expect tall kids from short parents through genetic lotteries! Naturally, my dad also believes in this logic and family formation goes hand in hand. I knew what went through his head when he met Moon because one day he said: ‘Moon is damn bright!’ (but son; please do NOT cook & wash dishes for her…) I heard it all but I listened to some.

When our gals were born, we had two curious homosapiens running around at home all the time. My elder daughter has been a quick learner and knows a lot about many things but as school year progress, she showed signs that she needed help. Moon tried various methodologies, Alisa was eventually diagnosed with ADHD. Quoting the psychiatrist friend/colleague’s word; ‘I am not worried about her…’ of course, she is my daughter, not his, lol.

2 homosapiens running around ☝️

ADHD has a significant genetic correlation, I denied it outright but Moon was smarter, she went for her own assessment… (to be continued)

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