Of Innocence and Other Things

Butterflies fluttered in her tummy as she made her way across the tiny aisle of the budget airline. She experienced an odd sensation, something very new. As she settled in her seat, she tried to think rationally; well as rational as an eighteen-year old can be in the matters of heart.

Feng was a lovely boy, no doubt about that. She has spent many friendly hours with him in the past two months. He had talked to her when the other Singaporean classmates looked through her, he helped her with her algebra (that counts a lot, right?), and he stood up for her in front of the mean girl at the bus stop. She knew he was special, that is why she had cooked for him the other night, but regardless of all this, she had not expected him to pop up at the airport and whisper, “I love you.”

She had been speechless. All she could think was that such things happened in her favorite Korean dramas, how could this be happening to her? He was impatient, though. She could feel the pressure on her slim fingers that were tightly clasped in his palms. She had pulled her hand back, gingerly. But she had smiled, and for some reason, she had brought up her hand and ruffled his floppy hair, as if he was a little boy. “I will see you in two weeks” is all she had said before rushing through the security check.

During the next five hours and 20 minutes, she thought about this unsettling new event. It was only when she got out of the Shanghai Pudong airport, and found herself being squeezed in her mother’s loving but enormous hug that she thought about anything non-Feng.

During the next seven days, she successfully ignored calls from her boyfriend who claimed to be dying-to-meet her. Her three-month affair with Qin Hao had been a roller coaster ride, and then she had received the acceptance letter from the National University of Singapore.

She had been free after school exams when she met Qin Hao at a friend’s party. As a simple school girl with a ponytail and completely unaware of her natural charm, she had been overly flattered to have received attention from a six-year senior, extremely handsome boy. To top his gorgeous looks and trendy attire, he spoke fluent Japanese, and had extensively traveled all over the world. His stories were always charming, and she had had a time of her life for the first few weeks. Then slowly, the pressure had started to build up.

They met every Saturday, and he turned up dressed up in extensively stylish and branded clothes, his hair styled professionally. He spoke of distant places as if they were his native village, and his friends were all from the rich families and drove nothing less than a BMW. While she had a hard time selecting simple cotton dresses every weekend, and sneaking out of the house with some lip gloss and eye shadow on. Mother would kill her, if she found out. He had begun to notice as well, but Qin Hao had always been sweet and generous. One Saturday, he took her to the boutique in The Peninsula Shanghai Hotel and offered to buy her a Chanel dress. It was a present he had said, but she had flatly refused. She could not take such expensive dress home. She would be slaughtered by her mother. It went downhill from there.

He continued to be sweet, but she had grown conscious of her plain-Jane look. She often spent the entire time looking at the other girls dressed in all things posh, and insecurity built up. He, however, never talked about those posh girls. When the letter had come, she was almost relieved. A long distance relationship with Qin Hao would be far simpler.

He, on the other hand, had been devastated. He had asked her to ignore the letter and apply in some Japanese university instead. Then they could both travel to Tokyo together. She had laughed out loud at this suggestion. Agreed, her English was poor but the only Japanese word she knew was “Sushi.” Ok, maybe not, but you get the point, yes?

Qin Hao had pleaded, and then shouted. Their last meeting had been excessively painful for her, and she had walked out after the row seemed unending.

From Singapore, she had emailed her new phone number to him and for the following two months, he had called every day. They would talk about their respective classes, but slowly, she had found the calls growing shorter and the topics deteriorating to weather and food.

Then, Feng had said those three words.

It was around noon on Friday when her mother walked in and declared that she refused to cover up for her any more. Whatever her problem with Qin Hao, she had to act like an adult and solve it. Of course, mother had no factual knowledge of the romantic angle of the friendship but she might have guessed, given that she was, well, the mother.

It was Sunday morning, when she finally gathered enough courage to call up Qin Hao. She kept the call short and asked him if he could meet her for dinner. He said yes, of course. She spent the rest of the day writing down the excuses.

By four o’clock, she had the speech ready. She could obviously not tell him about Feng – the ordinary boy from her university, who spoke only two languages, wore Heng Ten t-shirts, and had never traveled beyond China, Singapore and Malaysia. Qin Hao was a man of high dignity; it would kill him if she dropped him for a lesser person. But she herself was a lesser person and she needed to be with someone like herself. How could she tell him? So she would lie. She would tell him that her mother was planning to send her to the US, the land so far away, for her post graduation. She would follow this up with the probable problems of continuing while she traveled the world. And then, he would kill her!!

Just like she had seen in that horror film last year, the boy could not take rejection from such a simple girl. He had stabbed her repeatedly, until she bled to death. Her fate could be the same. Oh how she wished that mother would cover for her for the next few days and then she could fly back to Singapore – the land where she was safe from murdering ex boyfriends.

She called up her school friend Yann Yu and implored her to come with her in the evening. Yann Yu was initially uninterested but when she realized how sacred her friend was, she decided to oblige.

At six thirty on the Sunday evening, Yann Yu made her way to the Tesco Life shopping center. She stayed about ten steps behind her friend and waited until her friend settled on a table in the terrace restaurant. Yann Yu took a table in the far corner, ordered some tea and pretended to be a stranger. From the corner of her eye, she saw a dashing guy stop next to her friend. That must be Qin Hao, good that they had never seen each other before.

Qin Hao sat facing his girl friend. She wondered whether he knew what she had to say. She also hoped that he could not see the hardcover book she had stuffed under the front of her sweater. In case, he brought a knife to her, the book should reduce the impact. Yann Yu could then help her reach the hospital. That was the plan.

No such thing happened. Qin Hao heard her out, asked her if he could hug her one last time but she refused considering that the danger would increase immensely if he came that close. Ten minutes later, he walked out.

Yann Yu finished her tea and joined her friend on the journey back home.

Seven years hence, she, the ex of Qin Hao, lives happily with her husband Feng in Singapore. She recited this story to me recently over our lunch of Malay food. I changed the names, but that is all I have changed. Promise.

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2 Responses to “Of Innocence and Other Things”

  1. eye shadows that are waterproof are great and i always use them~*`

  2. sunshin3girl Says:

    You do know that if you spam, I won’t click on your link? :p

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