………has become my favourite subject.
If I can write forever, I think that I will write forever about Leah.
In reality, we are physically apart from each other. She is in Qatar and I am in Malaysia. We do not talk every day, and lately have been fighting a lot. I sense that we no longer trust each other. Our past came to haunt us, and tested our veins away. But deep within that, I have never seen a love like ours in my life time.
When she or I go, I know that I will always love her.
I cannot speak too much about tomorrow, but I can tell you a bit of what I know of a her past.
She is of Punjabi-Malay parentage. Born to a Punjabi father and Malay mother, they separated when she was a baby. That must have been at sometime before she turned two years old. In her identification papers, she possesses another man’s surname; this was done to keep the authorities from coming after her family, and her mum. All that said and done, she was raised by her mother, and her mother’s older sister. Her mother worked most days and nights to ensure that her little one had milk to drink. Their lives were very unstable, and at two years old, she was admitted to the hospital with a very high fever. Her father, who was married to another, never came to the hospital, nor asked after her. It was felt that my wife would not survive the night but like the fighter she is, she survived.
She lived with her mother, and saw her mother go through relationships with various people before her mother eventually settled down with her step-father. This was a secret affair because they were married for a year before her step-father introduced her mother and my wife to his family. It is said that her mother and my wife were disapproved of before the meet, and so her step-father did not want to incur the wrath of his mother and father.
My wife tells me before she was married to her step-father, her mother was a freer person. She also tells me that her mother taught her differently, encouraged her uniqueness, and loved her unconditionally. After marriage, and especially the birth of her other children, Leah’s mum changed. Her step-father changed too.
My wife tells me that he used to beat her when she was a child whilst he never laid a hand on his own daughter. I also understand that there were times when she was not given pocket money by her step-father. What is vivid is that her mother changed to suit her new marriage and their own lifestyle. I recalled that Leah once told me that she saw her mother being beaten up by her step-father. I also recalled that Leah once called on her father, who threatened her mother that he would take her away from the mother if she did not treat Leah right.
Already, I have not said much about her childhood.
Yet, to my mind, each time my wife tells me of her past, there is a piece of heart shattering somewhere. When she speaks of it with ease, she masks the pain. I listen as neutrally as I can, without judgment on either party. Deep inside, I ache for my wife, anger against the perpetrators, and twist my soul for my unborn children.
Recently, her mother allowed me to view her childhood photos. I saw so many things. I saw a beautiful, beautiful baby who filled my eyes with such joy. And I never saw such a free smile in a toddler until I saw my Leah. When she was three years of age and running around in her mother’s family’s home in a baju kurung, she had the smile of a thousand sunshines. And it wasn’t her mouth that smiled. It was her eyes. When she was wrapped in the arms of her mother, I saw love, untainted love between a mother and her child. When I saw Leah, I think at the age of seven years old, with her father, sitting on his lap, I saw the same smile.
Leah, as a child, had a way of filling pictures with light when she smiled.
Then I saw pictures of her with a tudung. There are pictures of her after the other siblings came. My Leah looked so serious, it sadden me. Her eyes tell me everything. They also told me that she bore the weight of something or somebody. When she was growing up with her mother’s family, I never saw a picture of a girl with smiling eyes.
One of my first thoughts about my wife is: “She is a burst of colour”.
I believe that my wife, Leah is a burst of colour.
That colour is the light in her eyes. My wife's eyes are her soul.
When there were pictures of her in school, the light did not show in her eyes. When she sat at benches with her friends from college, I did not see the light. When she graduated at university, I did not see the light in her eyes. Sometimes, I saw the light in her eyes, but I have seen them recently after we met.
Before that, I did not see the light in my wife’s eyes until…
She met Adam.
Her first husband.