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.
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 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.
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.
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.