Of Goodbyes

With a heavy heart, I watched as sky­scrap­ers and mas­sive traf­fic fly­overs of KL blew past a weather-stained glass win­dow. The low-gear roar of an eight-cylinder diesel engine jolted the bus for­ward as it swerved past traf­fic on a four-lane high­way. The view didn’t stay the same. Con­crete jun­gles slowly mor­phed into vast and neat rows of oil palm plan­ta­tions. Watch­ing end­less rows of oil palms can be hyp­notic I tell you — for I dozed off about 30 min­utes into the bus ride to the KL LCCT.

I never liked farewells.

Return­ing to KL used to be a yearly affair, it was only when I flew here 10 days ago I realised how long I haven’t returned to this place — an easy one and a half years.

My attach­ment to the cap­i­tal city of Malaysia is a unique one. I was born in Perak and although every sin­gle one of my rel­a­tives are scat­tered across the Penin­sula, I’ve never actu­ally lived there. I prac­ti­cally grew up in East Malaysia, where my par­ents have been attached to. There is always a con­flict of inter­est with regards to my sense of belong­ing, often do I lay torn between the two land masses — one bear­ing mem­o­ries of my whole child­hood, friends, my life; but the other, filled with fam­ily and rel­a­tives — cousins, uncles, aunts, grand­par­ents. Ear­lier that after­noon, I bid farewell to my uncle and aunt who dropped me off at KL Sentral.

The Coffee Bean @ KLIA LCCT

The Cof­fee Bean @ KLIA LCCT

I’m care­fully sip­ping through a cup of Ice Blended Caramel Cof­fee as I type this on a Wi-Fi con­nec­tion that dropped 2 min­utes ago. An Euro­pean cou­ple is sit­ting next to my table. The hus­band taps away on his iPhone while the wife slowly flips through a stack of fash­ion mag­a­zines. Nei­ther uttered a sin­gle word since I sat beside them.

The World in your Palms

The World in your Palms

The Cof­fee Bean is sur­pris­ingly packed — the crowd here notice­ably dif­fer­ent from the crowd in say, McDs. There is lit­tle inter­ac­tion — save for a few busi­ness­men in that cor­ner — everyone’s immersed in tech­nol­ogy, be it lap­tops, iPhones or Blackberries.

Sending my sister off.

Send­ing my sis­ter off.

Just two weeks ago, we sent off my sis­ter who is now doing A-Levels at Kolej Yayasan UEM en-route to the UK under a MOE schol­ar­ship. It’s a 2+3+1-year course that would end up with her grad­u­at­ing as a teacher. Unlike me, she already has a def­i­nite path laid right before her. A promised future.

As we were on our jour­ney back to KL after a whole gang of rel­a­tives, cousins, aunts, uncles and grand­par­ents alike saw her off, my uncle told us that we’d prob­a­bly won’t see her very often from now on. I pon­dered about it for moment, and thought, ain’t that the truth.

Sister over breakfast

Sis­ter over breakfast

I guess I haven’t really sank into the whole leaving-home-study-abroad-graduate-and-work thing yet. Never could I fathom the real­ity of my sis­ter leav­ing the fam­ily, void of see­ing her every­day, one less voice echo­ing off the walls of our fam­ily home, although much less com­pe­ti­tion in the ever-present bat­tle­field of sib­ling rivalry, yet I must admit, I didn’t see this coming.

So many things do we take for granted in life. Like the com­pany of sib­lings, our par­ents, the fam­ily. Blinded we are by the fact that we won’t live together as a fam­ily for­ever, under the same roof, din­ner on the same table. It’s all a fact of life where one day we’ll all leave the fam­ily we grew up with; the home we once played, quar­relled and fought in.

Welp. Guess it’s just life isn’t it?

The deaf­en­ing crescendo of mechan­i­cal rum­ble dis­rupted my train of thought as the plane lurched for­ward in reac­tion to the tens of thou­sands pounds of pure thrust spit­ting out from a pair of jet engines at full throt­tle. I grasped the arm­rests of my seat as the plane rum­bled down the run­way; lights danc­ing around the win­dows against the night sky. Then the sink­ing feel­ing sets in — my body’s sense of bal­ance telling me that the plane had left firm ground.



My heart sank. I never liked farewells.

by shenghan in Life on 31st July, 2009 at 10am, Friday, July 31st, 2009 10:46 am GMT +8


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  1. Hua Chen said

    Are you also Chi­nese? I’m Chi­nese, 20 years old. Hello!

  2. RG said

    Your life is very inter­est­ing to me. I can relate to almost every­thing you say, yet our lives are as dif­fer­ent as can be. I am the one who left my fam­ily and one sis­ter (okay, so our lives do have sim­i­lar­i­ties) to study abroad, and this is actu­ally the last sum­mer I’m spend­ing at home.

    After this is prob­a­bly work and grad­u­ate and work (in that order due to intern­ships and co-ops) and I’m quite sure we will never quite live under one roof again.

    Yep, that’s life.

  3. I like farewell.. Farewell from things that I don’t like. *whoops* =D

    Yeah I felt kinda sad too when my brother left the house to con­tinue his col­lege. Though we used to quar­rel and fight but some­how the house was felt a bit empty when he’s not there. But like you’ve said, that’s just the life. We are always faced with the new situation.

    Farewell becomes suck if it’s a farewell with the things you love. T_T

  4. I really love the way you write about things. Blog­ging is a tal­ent in your case. Hope some­day you will pub­lish a book. A photo book.

    Good luck to you and don’t be upset — this is life, it’s changes.. This is what you gotta go through through­out your whole life­time. Enjoy it.

  5. jixing said

    I like your reflec­tions about Good­byes writ­ten here. This is one of your best writ­ten pieces I must say! I do agree with Dmitry say­ing about a photo book — com­bin­ing the two strengths.

  6. wying said

    you’re feel­ing exactly what I felt 4 years ago when my brother left for Rus­sia. Yea life’s like that. Just have to accept the fact that we’ve grown up, and we’re start­ing a new page of our OWN life. Sib­lings and fam­ily can’t be with us forever..

  7. Sam said

    Wait, Shu Yi is your SISTER?
    Time and again I am reminded of how small Kuch­ing truly is.
    Bokeh on the sec­ond photo is awesome.

  8. Teddy said

    Huge apolo­gies for not being able to drop by your blog and pho­to­blog for a long time. Three weeks into the semes­ter and now I’m busy iron­ing out the wrin­kles before I pass my post over to a fresh­men :)

    The post is the most beau­ti­fully writ­ten entry. Ever. Ember, I admire your tal­ent in writ­ing and pho­tog­ra­phy — a rare com­bi­na­tion of two seem­ingly dis­tant and unre­lated fields. This is going to be my favourite line:

    The deaf­en­ing crescendo of mechan­i­cal rum­ble dis­rupted my train of thought as the plane lurched for­ward in reac­tion to the tens of thou­sands pounds of pure thrust spit­ting out from a pair of jet engines at full throttle.


    I know farewells are painful — espe­cially when bid­ding one to some­body who’s so close to you, let alone your sib­lings. All the best to your sis­ter in the UK :) she’ll be all good.

    Take care, and have a great week ahead!

  9. Dayna said

    I’m not a fan of farewells as well. With that said, I hadn’t actu­ally expe­ri­ence many farewell moments (thankfully).

    My dad used to work over­seas very often when I was still young so I couldn’t remem­ber how those farewells were like. But then again, farewell usu­ally sig­ni­fies a fresh new begin­ning in the future, no?

    All the best to your sister! :)

    Lovely pho­tographs by the way.

  10. Damn never farewells.. Although iHad tried to attend every farewell of my friends and cousins. But never thought of they R hav­ing a farewell for me as iCame to Mel­bourne.. When iSaw ur post, my heart sank as well.. iMiss them, iMiss u all, iMiss Malaysia, i..Dont know what can iSay.. >”<