Friday, March 22, 2013

Saving Grace

They say you never really appreciate what you have until it’s gone.
Like the friendly old uncle who made the best rojak down at our local hawker centre before he suddenly dropped dead while waiting in line to buy 4D. (His daughter who took over the business is a surly ugly cow who could have learnt a thing or two about customer relations from her dad. I’m just saying.) Or the days when you could find a taxi easily without suffering a nervous breakdown. The excitement and anticipation of settling down to the next episode of ‘24’. Your mother’s special chicken congee. Wrinkle-free skin. I could go on.
            Of course, sometimes, when you’re deep in the middle of a crisis, it’s difficult to see the wood from the trees. Like the time Saffy spent a whole afternoon bitching to her friend Marianne about how much she hated her job, how boring it was being poor, and how she wished she had enough money to buy her own flat. A few months later, Saffy learnt that Marianne had been ill since the beginning of the year and was having chemotherapy for it.
            Saffy was appalled. “My God, I can’t believe I was going on and on about my stupid job and there she was, so sick and she didn’t say a thing! I feel terrible!”
            “You see, lah!” said Sharyn cryptically. She stabbed firmly into her cake and stared owlishly at Saffy.
            Saffy paused. “See what?”
            “You tell me!”
            “Seriously, Sharyn, sometimes you drive me insane!” Saffy’s bosom inflated.
            “Yah, and den one day, hor, I die, confirm, you will miss me, one!”
            Due to a combination of factors, one of which included her guilt over the whole Marianne affair and the other being her monthly hormonal surge, Saffy’s emotional bank spilled over and she burst into tears.
            “You know I love you, don’t you?” she wailed, fat drops of tears falling onto her chocolate slice.
            Sharyn flapped her napkin at Saffy. “Aiyoh, please, lah, you don’t so drama, can or not? Aiyoh, stop crying! I'm only joking!”
            Saffy says Marianne was a much needed wake up call. “Whatever is wrong with my life, other people have got it worse!” she declared.
Ever since, she has made a conscious effort to be a little more positive. She does this by waking each morning and saying out loud, “Today, I’m grateful for…” Some days, she’ll be grateful for her health, or all her teeth. Other days, she’s grateful she doesn’t have a big black mole between her eyebrows like the cleaning lady in her office. The other morning, she told us she’d given thanks for char kway teow.
“You’re kidding, right?” Amanda said.
“What?” Saffy said defensively. “It’s a perfectly acceptable thing to be grateful for.”
“What about world peace?” Amanda pressed.
“Not my problem. That’s up to the Pope.”
And on other days, usually the morning after watching ‘Dexter’, Saffy will be grateful that she’s not being stalked by some crazy assed serial killer.
“I tell you, there are so many things to be grateful for!” she told Amanda the other day.
“You don’t say,” Amanda replied. “I was just in Gucci giving thanks that I could afford everything in that shop!”
“Well, that’s rather superficial,” Saffy said in a superior tone.
“Saf,” Amanda sighed, stirring her coffee, “when have I ever been anything but?”
“Yes, that’s true,” Saffy agreed amiably. “Well, if that’s the case, then today, I’m grateful for the incredibly low taxes I pay in Singapore!”
“Amen to that. Imagine if you had to live in the UK with 50% tax!” Amanda shuddered, images of all those Gucci bags she would no longer be able to afford flooding her retail-fueled imagination.
“Or America with all those guns!”
“And Justin Bieber!”
Saffy paused. “Hang on, I thought we liked Justin Bieber.”
“Unofficially we do. Just not in public.”
            By the time I got home, the two of them were busy congratulating themselves for having had the foresight to pick the world’s best country to live in.
            “Love the MRT!” Amanda said, completely oblivious to the fact that she takes the MRT about as often as Fann Wong.
            “Love my CPF!” Saffy sang.
            “Love Changi airport!”
            “Totally! The best. Oh, oh! Love the Prime Minister!”
            Amanda’s eyes shone with the kind of manic devotion you rarely see outside of an episode of ‘The Following. “A-dore!”
            Of course, Sharyn thinks both Amanda and Saffy have completely lost their marbles. “Lucky Woodbridge got space!” she said cheerfully when I had coffee with her, before adding maliciously, “Dey probably also best in the world!”

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