What The Last Six Months Had Been

Catching up with my thoughts is a rarity nowadays with the numerous events & assignments I have undertaken to bring the stories to you. Life seem to have gone on a fast forward mode with pauses in between for the things that matter in my life albeit brief ones. I was mourning the loss of my best friend, Choo Tse Chien, the person I have considered as family, since his sudden demise in August 2011. At that time, I had work assignments that required my composure & sense, keeping it all in to project the fragile front that managed to trick a few who did not know me well. I lost a travel partner, a guide, a teacher, a source of inspiration & excitement. I lost my panic button of sorts, a shoulder whose never tired of my outpouring of emotions . Immersing myself with work, I could only think of how my life would be without a reference, a valuable opinion or a confidante. Just how God can take him away at the prime of his life, I don’t want to know. I only know how much I miss him, his nagging & his kiddie-ish sparkle in the little secrets that he shared with me. I am thankful to have been his best friend for the last 6 years of his life & to have known how precious his friendship was to me. The whole of Penang rings of his name & presence at the mere mention & as I drove up to bid him farewell then, I knew Penang would never be the same again.

Everything that I know about birds, Chien had taught me. Every gear that I needed to get, he had done the research for me to make sure I didn’t make any wrong purchases. I made it this far since we started birding in 2006 is because of his infectious influence in my life. He made me enjoy birding so much. When I was on the phone with him one morning after walking the dog, I had seen a very curious blue/green bird with no tail. I described the bird to him & he told me to get my gear back to that spot I had been to shoot the ever elusive Hooded Pitta! And I did. He made everything so simple & attainable. And he worked hard for everything he had acquired, choosing to buy me stuff because I was the female version of him who loved bags. He added to my collection of bags when he himself couldn’t resist getting them. He made decisions when we travelled & it was simple because I didn’t want to think. I can go on & on but I want to tell you that even as I miss him dearly, I have chosen to let my memories stay within the hundreds of letters we have written to each other through email. We even fight through email. Being the big man that he is, he is very quick to make amends & apologise even though it’s my fault. Gosh, I don’t want to cry anymore & I’m sure you would want to read about the happy things happening right now instead.

So I will leave you with this, as personal as I could ever get, I am sad I have lost my best friend but I am glad to know that he loved me even as he had to deal with the biggest brat ever in the last 6 years of his life. I will endeavour to keep this passion for birding that you have instilled in me, for the underwater photography that you have been so supportive of & the cycling that you inspired me to take on. Sorry for all the times I’ve defied you as you have always been right. I just wanted to be a brat. Babes, if I’m not a brat to you, who else can I be a brat to???

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In loving memory of Chien.

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