Friday 27 July 2012

The Story of Lim May Ling

She caught my attention when I marked her composition on My Teacher. In it, one of her sentences was "My teacher is very handsome". I asked her if you knew the meaning of the word 'handsome' and she told me, in Chinese, 英俊. Her level of literacy and intelligence or knowledge was well above the others.  At the end of the course, she was awarded the Best Student prize, which would be given out at an awards ceremony at the Singapore Conference Hall in Shenton Way. I drove her there and drove her home.  

Coincidentally at the event, I heard the name of my colleague, Ms Margaret Tan Joo Yan being called. I greeted her and sat with her. That was not very wise as I had to drive her back to her home in Jalan Batu near Katong before sending May Ling back to her home in Bukit Panjang.

After graduation from night class, May Ling kept in touch with me. She used to write to me in Chinese addressing me as "My Dear Brother" i.e. 亲爱的哥哥 It happened that her brother-in-law had a shop in Upper Serangoon. After visiting her sister there, she would drop by Toa Payoh to visit me. She knew I taught the afternoon session and would leave for school at around 11.30 pm. She would arrive an hour earlier and leave with me thereafter. I could then give her a lift to Bukit Panjang. She did this several times, much to the chagrin of my wife.

I was not aware of the emotional reaction of my wife until one weekend when we had a casual quarrel and she accused me of being a changed man because of May Ling. She was at the time in her advanced pregnancy state with Susan and yet she stormed all the way to Bukit Panjang to confront Ling. She pleaded with her to leave her husband (me) alone!

May Ling was shocked and consoled her by saying nothing had gone on between her and me.

I think May Ling was very hurt by my wife's accusation. She did treat me like her brother. We never did overstep our boundaries.

To prove her innocence, she took immediate steps to convince my wife that she had no ulterior motive nor designs on her husband. One month after the incident, she came to visit with her fiance, presenting us a customary cake to announce their engagement. However, she did not invite us to her wedding nor inform us of when it would take place. We kept up with our correspondence but she did not say anything about getting married. Out of the blue, she told me she was the mother of a baby boy.

My wife decided to pay her a visit one day. Our whole family went - my wife and three daughters. We managed to find their home near Sin Ming Road just off Woodlands Road.

I guess my wife wanted to express her apology for having mistaken her as a 3rd party. She held May Ling's newborn son and "sayang-sayang" him. Finally, she tucked an ang pow - a red packet containing money, into the baby's bundle.

After this visit, we continued to keep in correspondence. One of the last ones was a photo of her two sons. Her husband had also become a full-time taxi driver. Slowly, our contact faded with the passage of time.
We now have lost complete touch with one another. I hope she is still well. She should be in her 60s.

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