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    Friday, February 14, 2003

    Funny thing happened on my way to work.

    I thought it was going to be one of those morning when I would get caught in traffic for at least one hour before I get to the part of the road where traffic clears up. I will then need another 30 minutes to get to the office.

    This time it was different. It took me two hours to get to the part of the road where traffic clears up.

    Like most people, I’d cuss and swear and bitch when I get caught in traffic. Compound that with bad drivers who cut me off or drivers who take their own sweet time to get in gear and move their sorry asses, I am ready to road-bully. In the following seconds, every road user ahead of me is a motherfucker.

    However, this time, I thought I’d be a little original and potent with my swearing.

    “Someone better die for this jam!”

    I plough through the traffic. I’ve gone through one CD by now. I see more people walking and weaving through the cars ahead. Police are asking people to move along.

    “Yeah people! You losers! Move along! Damn Malaysians!”

    Yes, there’s that accident. Despite my self-righteousness, I still take a quick look to see what the fuss was all about.

    I see an old car with an open hood on the road. The standard-issue broken-down car scene; complete with smoke coming out of the engine. How typical. Then I see it.

    I see a body on the ground. At least, the lower body; the bare legs. The upper body including the face was covered with newspapers held down with shoes.

    My wish came true.

    The disturbing part was not seeing a body on the ground. It was seeing the shoes and recognising them. I know those shoes. I made them for Ling almost eight years ago. I painted on the shoes and sold them to her for a dollar because someone told me I should not give shoes as gifts.

    I call Ling. She picks up the phone. I sigh with relief.

    “Hi Ling. Are you OK?”

    “Who is this?”

    “It’s me.”

    “Waaaah....I feel so special today. I don’t hear from you in three years and suddenly I get a call.”

    “Are you alright?”

    “Yes I am. Why the weird question out of the blue?”

    “Oh...nothing.”

    Suddenly I wonder where has Ling been all my life. I used to have a major crush on her. That’s why I painted the shoes for her. All my feelings from the past came flooding back.

    “Hey Ling. Wanna have dinner tonight? With me?”

    “Hmmmm....sure.”

    I pick her up for dinner that day. We ate at Chili’s at Bangsar. I would like to think I impressed her my ability to de-meat a buffalo wing in my mouth without using my fingers as if I had some magical powers. However, if I know women, she’d think I’m gross.

    We talked as if we had been in touch all these while. Within that three hours at Chili’s and after seven refills of my beverage, we updated each other. It was such a pleasant evening.

    I drive her home. I promise to call her tomorrow and perhaps we could do a movie the next day. She said she looks forward to it. And for the first time in my years of dating, we both kissed each other. It was not me kissing her or her kissing me. It was a synchronised instinct that made us move forward to kiss. Just like in the movies. I am not going to screw this up.

    And to think all this started with a traffic jam. I will never complain about traffic again.

    We say our goodbyes and she makes her way into her home. I wait to make sure she is safe in her house and then drive off. That should impress her.

    What would impress her more is that I call her in a few minutes to say goodnight. I hear women love this romantic crap. Or would I appear too desperate? What the heck. I’ll just call. After all, it’s only 11. She could use a pre-sleep chat.

    I call. Someone picks up the phone. Sounds familiar. It’s her mother. Crap. I hope I did not wake the whole house up.

    “Hello. Sorry for calling so late. May I speak with Ling please?”

    Silence. But it’s broken. “Who is this?”

    “Errrr...it’s her friend...err...Bob.”

    Yes. Lie to her. That’s the way to impress your future mother-in-law.

    Before I could finish that thought.

    “Ling died in a car accident this morning...”

    How could this be? I just spent the evening with her. Her mother does not believe me. Did I imagine the events of the evening?

    I drive back to Chili's. People there, at least the waiter who served us must have also seen her.

    "No sir. You were here alone. But you ordered for two."

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