Letters by Kenny Mah

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A love letter in seven days

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March 31, 2009

Hey you,

How time passes. Every day a letter, a signal, a triumph of sorts. And yet…



My dearest, we never write love letters.

Our world demands too much of us, it seems, with all the hustle to get our work done, to finish first or risk the penalty of being left behind. Do we lack the words or have we simply forgotten how to lift our pens and set our demons and our dreams down to paper?

Maybe this is the better way. When we first met, you knew of my reputation. He’ll woo you, they told you. He’ll court you and he will sweep you off your feet with flowers and candles and the flames of romance. You were forewarned and you always knew better anyway. You advised me that you would have none of that. You were, are, a practical creature. It is harder to live with someone than to simply love a body, an ideal, a feeling.

And I agreed.

What choice had I in any case? Yet a breath of fresh air was this to my tired lungs, wind to my weary sails. Romance and Great Declarations of Eternal Love had not served me well before. I was constantly let down, and more so, had let down many a heart aside from my very own. Your suggestion was a balm to me, truth be told. My wallet and bank account would surely be grateful, for one, and my withered brain not have to imagine yet another feat of chivalry? What bliss!

Perhaps for once I can triumph. Perhaps for once I shall supply substance over style.

That was a year ago. Tomorrow is our first year anniversary. The week we met and made ourselves as one. My trial, my sentence must surely be over? We have proven our worth, our daily faith in mundane routines and mellow regularity. We deserve a celebration. You could do with a show of material pampering, and I sure could do with producing that show.

It has been a while, I must confess. Do I still have what it takes? Would you be disappointed, my dear?



My dearest, we have breakfast together almost every morning. How would this day be any different? For one, it’s our anniversary yet I am about to fly off to another town for work in a few hours. Separation makes the heart grow fonder they say, but I am rather more fond of just being around you.

Ah well, we make do with what we have.

I want to take you for breakfast, for scones and coffee, eggs and bacon, for a taste of the good life, of the sun which shines upon us… and so, we trek across the park in hopes of a hot, palate-pleasing and tummy-teasing meal. It rained, naturally.

A light shower, and it only made sense to huddle together under our rather tiny umbrella. Walking through the rain, our bodies against each other, our fingers intertwined, wasn’t that romantic, I asked you, like a scene from a movie?

You said you were wet, and could I walk faster?

The Chinese believe water is a symbol of good fortune, don’t they? Or money. It means money, right, at least? (Hmm.)

Still, if breakfast did not excite, I bet the flowers that was delivered to you, a huge bouquet of your favourite roses and gerberas in a garish shade of Valentine pink, was bound to incite some delicious embarrassment from you. Your colleagues helped plenty with their curious stares and thrills of wolf-whistles.

Let them all know I love you, and love you enough to brave a nosh on the head with the blooms when I get back for reddening your cheeks like so. You are so cute, you know that?

And that’s only the first surprise, though I suppose at this point, you couldn’t possibly know better.

I called you from the airport and asked if you had any plans for dinner. Why not hop over to our favourite Chinese restaurant? Say 7:30pm, sharp? There shall be a table waiting for you, reserved under my name, and more.

Thankfully, you just went along with it. You must have thought I’ve gone mad… at last. Instead, there were two friendly faces greeting you when you arrived. A Lil Fat Monkey and his adorable McCutie, your favourite bundles of amusement and amuse-bouches. Ah, but their mission is not merely to entertain you while I’m away but to present you with the next surprise. A couple of DVDs — one that you’ve been hunting around for ages, and the other, a B-grade monster flick you thought I’d never watch. And I shall watch them both when I return to you, my dear, we’ll watch them together.

Anything to make you laugh. And may I make you laugh always.



My dearest, was it a mistake introducing you to Scrabble?

Granted, it wasn’t actually Scrabble but the online Facebook version, sorta. Point was it was something fun we could both do together. Back then, I wasn’t bowling with you yet or belting out emo tunes in a karaoke lounge. In hindsight, I should probably have succumbed to it earlier given how you quickly became addicted to this game. You check for your opponents’ new moves the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. (It used to be kissing me.)

You check the spelling of new words with me to see if it’s a bingo. You know every single word in English that uses the letter ‘Q’ and ‘Z’. (Ten points each.)

So it’s fitting that I celebrate this obssession of yours with another surprise luncheon, this time Japanese, with the irrepressible Casanova Unkaleong and the brainy, bubbly Snow White and of course, how could I leave out your favourite Scrabble rival, the Fabulous FatBoyBakes?

The man brought you not just a brand new Scrabble set from me (so we can play with words without a third party in our bed, i.e. the computer) but also baked you a dozen of your favourite flourless chocolate cakes. You know, the ones with the molten, oozing chocolate centres. A bribe, perhaps, so you’d stop challenging him to a new game…

By now, you must be wondering, what’s next? They tell you where to go for delicious desserts tonight, they give you a time and tell you a table’s reserved for you, and nothing more.

I wish I could see the look on your face every time you are surprised but since I can’t be with you these couple of days, at least I know you are entertained and you are in good company, the best. I want you to be always loved, even when I’m not around.

And what better entertainment than two of the best in town? A photographer extraordinaire and a budding pianist. Steve Steve presents you with a certificate, granting you a “Glamourous Photoshoot” with the works. Camera, lights, attraction. You have it all. They call you The Devil Wears Prada; it’s time to show those goods off.

And since I’m not here to sing to you, Edward the Piano Man will take my place. A love song upon the ivories. Steve Steve calls me up on my mobile phone and I listen together with you as Edward begins to play…


… it’s as if we were in the same room. In some ways, we are always together. We’re home wherever we are when home is the other.



My dearest, we speak in different tongues. English, Mandarin, Cantonese. And our own odd gibberish of endearments. How I must try your patience with my half-baked Chinese!

So here’s a chance for me to redeem myself… with a little help from your old school buddies. We would never have made it this far, after all, had they not embraced my clumsy efforts at reclaiming my linguistic roots also. And so, I spring yet another surprise on you, this time a note on the private blog of your close clique of friends who have accepted me as one of their own:




Strange thing is, we don’t need words anymore these days, whether in your tongue or mine, we speak clearly and patiently enough from the heart, as my fingertips traipse over the familiar territory of your skin and yours get lost in the dark tresses of my hair.

Words aren’t meaningless; it’s just that even without words, we never mean any less.



My dearest, we have shared so much in the past year yet it seemed just like yesterday when we first laid eyes upon each other. I remember writing

I am terrible at remembering lines of poetry. They are like rays of light on a winter’s day. Here one moment, gone the next. You can’t ever capture them, not for long. They escape, always. But beautiful nonetheless.

(I have experienced Beauty even if I am unable to hold her in my dreams.)

Yet I would want to hold these dreams of ours for as long as we can. So here’s another surprise, another gift for my beloved. Sheets of creamy paper bound soundly by thick, sturdy covers and in between its pages, the stories of our lives — photographs and poems, lists of things we have done and all the miles we shall run. Most of the scrapbook is still empty, for us to fill them together in the years to come.

Do you long for me to recite verses of love to you? I fear my memory may fail me, but trust me, my dear, where words are forgotten and lost, I still know my way back to you. In this life, in dreams, always. I can only escape to you.

(I will pen no lines of beauty but for you. There is no beauty but you.)

May it always be my duty to record these lovesongs for you, these odes to your kind nature and these dreams of mine you’ve made come true.



My dearest, we have not had a proper vacation together, have we? Last year you visited Australia and this year I seem to be flying all over. Yet we’ve not shared the sun and the sand and the sea together… till now.

You’ve seen all the photographs of the beaches and the sunsets and sunrises I’ve had. But such beauty pales compared to the ones I watch with you. A private chalet of our own, right out there in the water. We see the tides come in and go out, we hear their rushing hurry and taste the salt in the winds that they bring. We shower in the open air, under an amiable sun. We dry each other and fall upon the white sheets of a huge four-poster bed. Can we stay here forever? you ask me, and I’m tempted to say yes.

We swim. We walk and take the time to talk about anything and everything we care to talk about. We swim and sunbathe and soak some more. Night falls and we spend Earth Hour with only the light from candles to accompany us. We are in each other’s arms and we don’t talk anymore. Just breathing softly and watching the glowing waters, the darkness, the sea, the lull of a sweet forever.

Before bedtime, I give you a massage with body oil that smells like white flowers — jasmine, magnolia, ylang ylang. I can feel you falling asleep under the slow kneading of my hands. Drift off to Slumberland, my dear, and have the most fragrant dreams tonight.



My dearest, I wake you this morning with a kiss on your brow, and my lips against your ear. I hold your hand in mine and I slip you something quite dear. You open your palm and you open your eyes and softly I whisper, Surprise.

Yours always and always,

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