I meet her at her University in Keele, West England two weeks before Christmas of 1989. I was introduced to her in the dark corridor of Barnes Hall laundrette by my good friend, Sharizan Shafiee, who is her junior reading International Relations. She send her salam to Noorazam "BJ" Osman and Azlan "Jelan" Hamdan, both who happened to be my roommates in Newcastle. I cannot recall her face because it was dark and kept thinking about her throughout the long Christmas holidays, despite going for a trip to Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, then with Mohaffri "Kaduk" Muhammat, his girlfriend Nor Fazlin "Mimi" Zakaria and Fizwan "Juan" Abdul Wahid dicovering the whole of Scotland, went down to Bradford and then off to London, for Christmas and an eventful New Year.
The moment holidays is over and I reached our home in Middleton Ave., I told BJ and Jelan about her and my intentions to go out with her sometime. BJ's instantaneous reaction was "Alamak......she's my 'aunty!' ". Oh no! I want to date my best friend's aunty!
(The Middleton Ave gang: (from left) Ija, my darling dear wifey, yours truly, Maria Kimin, Allahyarham Jelan, BJ. (Squatting down) Aton @ "Gumby Bear" and Yusri "Black" Misran. Picture taken at Gateshead Summer Festival, June 1990.)
And I eventually did, despite she 'playing-hard-to-get' and non-chalantness to my moves. It started when I made an effort to attend Keele University's Malaysian Night (Feb 1990), even though I don't actually want to (Keele's sparse Malaysian population, what could one expect from their 'Malaysian Night' do?). I even made Masaliza to 'invite' me to lunch at her flat. From that, I had the opportunity to write to her. She ONLY responded after three letters and a 'complaint' to her juniors (my 'agents' in Keele), namely Sharizan Shafiee and Masaliza Maskan for her 'non-chalantness'!
I can't remember much about her previous birthdays but once, when I got back from England, I took her for a birthday lunch at Pan Pacific Kuala Lumpur. While eating, a string quartet came over to our table and rendered a special "Happy Bithday" song for her. Later, she bantered me for embarassing her with the string quartet surprise short gig (she's always shy for these sort of things). I very well know she loved the attention but too embarrassed to deal with it, when it comes. This is something till today, I simply failed to comprehend.
She works for Malaysia Airlines. Although she started as Human Resources organisational developer and dealt with their Total Quality Management programs, she also served Human Resources (benefits) and Flight Operations (corporate communications) before assuming her current role as a trainer in Malaysia Airlines Academy. She was offered to represent Malaysia Airlines at Rolls Royce's Annual Future CEO's convention in 2002, held for the first time in Kuala Lumpur. She graduated top of her class and was honoured to address the farewell dinner, equivalent as a 'valedictorian' and the Birtish High Commissioner Bruce Cleghorn, who was the guest of honour at the dinner with his wife, remembered her for that. The Rolls Royce people was very impressed with her (considering that the other Malaysians who attended this internal Rolls Royce succession leadership programs are all men). That honour was extended when she was officially and specifically invited to visit Rolls Royce Training Institute in Derby even though we were in London for a private visit.
We shall be married for exactly twelve years in three days time.
She's been there for me, thick or thin, tall or short, heavy or light. She did an excellent job raising Aishah. Often I pondered how life would be without her in my life and I simply dare not thread into that imaginary dimension any further. I don't actually know how to repay her service to me all these years. Maybe, I should should explicitly express that I love her more..................and not just mere "Macam kita sayang dia!"