Sunday, 21 August 2011

An Afternoon Ride with Siew Lian

The sun stood upright on a shadowless Friday afternoon as a classic beige car came to a stop at the front gate of the eHomemakers’ office.

The arrival of the said vehicle marks the inception of a ‘tag along adventure’ for me with Siew Lian. I grabbed my bag as I leaped off the couch and dashed towards the front door.

Aunty Ching Ching had ordered me to follow and observe her for half a day as an assignment to get to know her better. I’ve been warned that the journey would be hectic as Siew Lian is known to be never not busy.

The gear stick was shifted into position and the handbrake was pulled down - the engine roared as she places her foot on the gas pedal and off we went!

The events that followed were a bit peculiar; what was supposed to be a short ride to the Malaysian SLE Association Centre prolonged into an out and about road trip as Siew Lian drove around town to meet up various members of the committee and run errands on behalf of them.

It was during those empty chats in the car that I learned more about her.

She told me about the colour of her first car (“It was yellow!”) and her first minor car accident with that beloved car (“I banged into a silly gate! I might laugh about it now but I remember crying for hours.”).

I also found out that she obtained a degree in Mass Communication and this is a rarity considering the fact that it was a new and recent degree introduced only in the 70s. No wonder she is familiar with the workings of the media industry.

When we did arrived at where we were supposed to be, I was slightly surprised to discover that the centre was located in the building of the Spastic Children’s Association of Selangor & Federal Territory.

As we walked in the building, I realized that the corridors were barren and dimly lit. Throw in a nighttime scene and this place would be the perfect setting for a horror flick.

Alas, we arrived at the office, I thought to myself as I caught sight of the front door of the centre.

But there was no time to catch a break for Siew Lian; she rushed in the office and jumped straight to her work.

It was there and then that I can finally understand why Siew Lian is constantly on the go. With the assistance and avid support of Lucy the Volunteer and Abidah the Intern, the centre is a one-woman show starring Siew Lian the Executive Secretary.

Seeing all three of them heavily engrossed in their respective jobs, it was soon before long that my sense of guilt started creeping; I offered them my help. They each politely refused my offer and instead told me help myself to some ice cream in the refrigerator. I found myself being acquainted to two new cups of ice cream in the next hour.

Nevertheless, dessert can only occupy me for so long and I was soon offering my assistance to them again; though this time, it’s out of boredom. I am proud to announce that they finally budged in to my wily charms and entrusted me with the all-important task of inserting pamphlets into envelopes.

Abidah bid farewell to us when she later left at five in the evening. (Nice to meet you too, Abidah!)

It began to pour later in the evening. The heavy rain was soon accompanied by the blitzing pair of lighting and thunder.

Lucy immediately went off in a mad rush to turn off the electrical equipment as she feared that a short circuit might occur. Siew Lian remains undeterred at the computer as she refuses to be interrupted by the weather, but a sudden ‘kaboom’ soon made her change her mind.

Siew Lian and Lucy actually found it weird to be suddenly ‘free’ and ‘not working’, so I took this opportunity to keep them occupied by filming a video journal that I was required to do.

We decided to call it a day at the centre as the clock struck six.

Siew Lian was however not permitting Lucy or I to go home just yet; she has decided to bring us both to dinner with her at her favourite local Indian cuisine restaurant. We stayed there longer than expected as we chatted away and were kept entertained by the funny stories we told each other.
All in all, it has been a really pleasant outing and I had thoroughly enjoyed the pleasure of their company. I do believe that I had gotten to know them better as their layers are being peeled off before my eyes to reveal their true personalities; and with that I’ll say:

Mission accomplished.

Article and photos by Nigel Lim Zhi Xin

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