I have christened my father's present, and his name is Arthur Ono. Arthur because it's going to be Arthur's Day soon (do not judge me!) and Ono after Ono Daisuke, who has recently entered my list of favourite seiyuu (Japanese voice actors), along with Fukuyama Jun.
As for my sister's gift... erm, I will name it TOMORROW!
General LCK peered over my shoulder at the computer screen baring my incomplete digital painting, and with s playful smile, said, "Make him more handsome," pointing at the dark, dark man in the foreground, smoking a cigarette.
I nod sheepishly as I finish blotting in several sack of potatoes in the background, which I hoped (in vain) would pass off as humans. Later in the critique session, General LCK would move the cursor over my sack of potatoes and ask with chagrin, "What is that?"
Today's lesson was particularly nerve-wrecking for me. Possibly even more so than last week, when our subject study was a dark Benz (that somehow changed shape from person to person, until at one point, it transmogrified into a truck). Today's subject study was a silhouetted man smoking in an airport.
However, when I was done with him, he looked like he was smoking in his own personal oblivion. I wasn't the only one who unwittingly changed his surroundings, as one other person made it look like he was in the waiting seat to heaven, while someone else painted him in hell. Not on purpose, of course. But somehow, the colours went in that direction.
Back to the point, Friday's class always ends with a thirty-minute critique session, when General LCK flick through everyone's work and give comments on what we've done right (or wrong) and how we can improve the piece. I chewed furiously on some gum as he went through each painting leisurely, hoping against hopes that he would forget to go through mine.
Presenting my work in front of other people was for me a mortification in a class of its own, since I'm usually dissatisfied with what I'd done. Today a little more because I lost myself trying to save the painting from looking like a person on fire, and nearly jumped when Lieutenant General Wei Huang (quite a fitty) took the tablet stylus from me to fix my colour saturation.
Mortification was nearing peak level, but since combusting with self loathe was unacceptable in class, I pushed on with my smoking man and potato sacks.
Much to my surprise, however, my piece proved not to be a complete epic failure during the critique session. Sure, General LCK said that my key colour was off and my figure rendering left a lot to be desired, but he liked my depth perception. Insert heaved sigh of relief here. Though I still have a long way to go, at least I know I'm not moving backwards.
There was a Rolls Royce parked outside the Sunway Pyramid supplies centre right next to headquarters. It was dark, large, gleaming and stood out with its old sharp angles, which were absolutely saliva-worthy. I slipped out my camera, trying to sneak in a shot when the guards were not looking, only to be distracted by a young couple walking past holding hands.
They were wearing one of those couple tees Cadet Aaron, Cadet Tricia and her beau had expressed so much dislike for, only they had taken it to the next level. The girl walked forward, her shirt boldly declaring that she loved TIAN XANG, and the boy...
...the boy had discreetly covered the name on his shirt with a bag. Poor boy. I wonder what he had been bribed with (or what bet he had lost) to be walking out in public with such red-faced travesty.
Cadet Tricia and I got a bit lost today. We had booked the Digital Art Lab 1 for use until 1600 today, but the personnel from Operations had messed things up and forgotten that DAL 1 would be occupied by another squadron till 1800 of today.
"Can you stay till 6?" Cadet Tricia asked me dubiously.
No way. So we went looking for an alternative around headquarters but as it turned out, all but one lab was occupied, and that one lab was as warm as a sauna. Cadet Tricia wavered over the row of computers. "Maybe we should just go home."
After testing our luck with every other lab and annoying two other cadets who had been working in the sound recording studio (I AM SO SORRY!), I decided that her suggestion sounded like a very good idea. I'd rather much tackle finding the elusive Photoshop CS4 for a Macintosh than deal with whatever obstacles TOA had decided to serve me for attempting to use one of their labs outside class.
Lunch, my hungry stomach commanded, and so the both of us traipsed down to one of TOA's many unofficial cafeterias, Ming Tien. The cramped eatery that shared space with our colourful orange-purple headquarters, used to be a little more chaotic; feel a little more questionable. But ever since a truck came by several months back and carted several hawkers away, plus the small renovation to accommodate the Malay food section and the addition of the small bakery-like stall near the seating area, Ming Tien's ... changed (for lack of better word to describe it).
To what end, I'm not sure, as I rarely dine there. But I do miss the kakak who used to tend the waffle-cum fruit stand right outside. I wonder what happened to her; if they had given her long leave again or she had been stationed somewhere else again. She was one of my first friends arriving at TOA. I probably should have given her more than a 'hi, 'bye', 'have you taken your lunch yet?' friendship.
Midway lunch, one of two volunteer workers approached our table. With his short hair, wide eyes and limited command of English, he reminded me of Lieutenant General Ze Lin, whom we had encountered just several minutes ago wearing a surprisingly happy grin.
("Ze Lin, so long didn't see you, dy!"
"Few weeks only ma!"
"I miss you can or not?!"
Anyways, he approached us and oddly enough, one of the first things he said was, "Please don't scold me." Pathetically endearing, but I immediately felt my heart go out to him because I'd done some volunteer work before, and yes, it was no easy feat to talk to strangers who constantly give you the evil eye. "Sorry, for disturbing. May I sit down?"
He proceeded to explain that he was a student of USCI, doing volunteer work with his friend, collecting donations for a foundation of spastic/Down syndrome children. I've heard the same thing before, and was only waiting for him to stop and take a breath of air so I could offer him my money. "You two look very kindness," he said in broken English.
Yes, well, you look very cute, I thought, my eyes darting to the photo on his identity card. Before he left, he regaled us with a story of a fierce man who had scolded him to near tears for approaching him, which explained the earlier pathetic utterance.
Good luck to you, friend Edison (that was his name). May you better your English and serve that foundation of yours well. If only you were in my squadron. We could use more cute guys like you.
The new week has begun and while the threat of an unfinished acrylic painting looms over my head, I find myself in a rare moment of true self satisfaction after purchasing three books for the shocking price of fifteen ringgit. I now find myself arranging more space on the shelf to accommodate my new friends.
North and South by Gaskell, The Little Drummer Girl by John Le Carre and Schwarzer Truffel by Michael Dibdin, the last of which I will translate once a slot opens up in my schedule. In that similar vein, Dan Brown's new book is due for release tomorrow. Hardcover. Not what I would prefer so I hope they'd start publishing it in paperback soon.
My brother left for the UK today with my mom. It feels kind of odd. At first, I thought I wouldn't miss him as much as last time (blimey, the last time was a real sucker punch to the gut cos' I'd never spent more than two weeks away from him) but the quiet and empty room at the bottom of the second flight of stairs now felt so strange.
Usually upon noticing that his lights weren't on, I'd immediately wonder, where'd he go out to? and when is he coming back?
This time, the answer was fast in coming. UK, to the first question. Three months, to the second. Three months. Cue sucker punch to the gut. I entered the room and for the first time in months, his desks were immaculate. Even my bedroom reeked of his absence.
It made me regret the cold war. But I know that even if I go back several weeks, I wouldn't have been the one to say sorry because in the face of family, my tongue is heavy with cowardice. It sucks even more to know that he won't be enjoying himself there.
We were never as close as I'd hoped to be; as close as Ming and Martin are. But what can you do when two siblings so fundamentally different? I wonder if in future, when he has his own life and I have mine, will we still see each other? Will we initiate reunion dinners, and clink glasses of tea (because he would stay away from alcohol till his deathbed, and maybe even after that) while we reminisce old times with our mother?
I don't know. Our future hasn't come to that yet. But I already miss him.
1. ...during Sunday School, Auntie Siew May revealed to me the origin and meaning of my adopted name, Terry. Although I used it as short for Terrible, Auntie Siew May said that in actuality, it is short for Theresa (darnit!) which means industriousness. Darn, gotta work harder to live up to my namesake.
In the same note, Amanda's name means 'beloved' and Joshua's means 'Jehovah saves', which is unbelievably awesome, if you ask me. Maybe I should change me name again...
In the same note yet again, yesterday General Yap Sau Bin claimed that Cadet Tricia's name, in the same vein as Patricia and Patrick, originated from the word 'patriarchy', which has a double meaning of 'firstborn'. "I'm the second child though," said Cadet Tricia hesitantly, exchanging dubious looks with me.
2. ...Ian freaked out when his found an offering bag in my knapsack and like the rest before him, probably thought I was stealing from the church. Once again, I had to explain that I was entrusted with the bag; to keep and count the money before passing it to our Sunday School administrator. So yes, while I may steal the occasional sip of a drink now and again, I will never steal from the church. Though, the look on people's faces when they thought I did was kinda priceless.
In the same note as above, turns out Ian is actually Scottish (or was it Irish?) for John. Ivan is another variation of the name John too. Though I can't really remember how as Ian was doing the explaining, and sometimes he speaks a little quick. Additionally, he seems to find it very odd that Joshua (Lau) and I never even entertained the thought of dating one another.
"Guess what? Guess what? Joshua says it's impossible for him to like Terry and Terry says it's disgusting to even think of dating Joshua!"
"Yea! We're brothers!" I added.
"You're brothers? He thinks of you as a brother?" Ian asked, eyes bulging.
"Yes...like heng tai, y'know?" Is that so odd? Hey Josh, is there any easier way to explain our relationship without making people raise their eyebrows?
3. a poor Chinese lady with a crew cut and an umbrella approached Joshua and I in front of Pavilion asking if we could spare here a ringgit and fifty cents (RM1.50) so she could buy something to eat. I looked back at Joshua, catching his eye and silently asking if this was one of those begging scams I absolutely should not fall for. But he was digging around for his wallet so I did the same.
The lady thanked us with a smile and left with her ringgit fifty cents. Thinking back, she was the most honest-looking beggar I had ever seen. Then again, was she even technically a beggar? She wasn't sitting on the pavement waving a bowl frantically, sleeves pulled up to reveal any physical deformity.
She had been walking around, looking a little lost under the umbrella and rain, and so happened came up to Joshua and I, thinking that we looked kind enough to be willing to give her some change. And she only asked for one-fifty! Should I have given her more? I have given much more to people my friends claimed were begging liars.
She was sweet, that old lady. "I go buy my food now," she said, head bobbing, bony hand grasping the old one ringgit note and silver coin. How did she know to speak in English? Most people would come up to us speaking in Cantonese, judging our supposedly yellow skin.
I hope she had enough to eat with that one-fifty. Father, please bless that lady, wherever she is now. I pray that her stomach is full and that she has shelter. Real beggar or not, I hope she will continue to meet good-natured people who will not be afraid to help her. In Your son's most precious name, Amen.