Measuring ….um….bananas

There I was walking in my garden in the cool of the evening and minding my own business when my evening contemplations were interrupted by my neighbour (who, evidently was contemplating as well).

“So…can your banana be eaten?”, my contemplative neighbour asked.  

“Wha…..what?!!”, I replied, after snapping out of my contemplative stupor. 

Frankly, I thought he was being rather obscenely rude. 

Until I looked up and realized he was looking at the bunch of bananas growing from my banana plant. 

“Oh! Um…er…I don’t know actually. The last bunch didn’t quite make it to maturity”, I replied, recalling how the bunch was viciously attacked by banana-hungry insects and died prematurely. 

“I don’t think your banana can be eaten. It’s probably ornamental”, the guy responded. Thereafter he shifted his gaze to his banana plant with a nice bunch of bananas growing out of it as well. 

“Oh well, if it doesn’t mature, then I’ll chop it off one of these weekends”, I replied, all the while thinking why the fella cannot pronounce a bunch of bananas as bananaS and not merely banana?!!!!

That was a couple of weeks ago. Today, I was in a contemplative mood again in the garden near the banana plant. I looked up and saw this: 


I guess its true. My banana can’t be eaten. :(

Deafening silence

I fell when I was 5 years old.

I hit my head hard on the floor. There was blood oozing from my right ear.

I don’t remember much about what happened thereafter. I remember the visit to the doctor. I remember coming home and vomiting onto my parents’ freshly made bed. I remember another quick visit to the doctor.

After that…blur….

I do remember a visit to the ‘ear’ doctor’. I had these huge microphones strapped to my ears and I was asked repeatedly if I could hear.

After that, things were never quite the same again.

In the quietest of night, when everyone is sound asleep and everything is supposed to be still; It is then that I am aware of it most profoundly.

That sound. The constant ringing in my ears. It’s been there for as long as I could remember. I would come to know its scientific name: tinnitus.

Sometimes it drives me crazy. It’s like having a perpetual cricket in my head.

But over the years, I’ve learned to live with it – to ignore it; to shift my focus and concentrate intensely on something else. Because to do otherwise would mean sleepless and restless nights.

I’d like to think it helped me improve my auscultatory skill with the stethoscope – to ignore the patient’s breathing and concentrate on the sounds made by the heart valves – lub dub lub dub, and on and on it goes. I learned to pick up murmurs, even the softest of them, framed by the loudest of tinnitus in my head.

Maybe my accident made a better physician.

But still, there are days I wish I could hear it. I want to hear what everyone can hear.

You see, since the age of 5, I’ve never truly heard the sound of silence.

The one where I bought an Islamic book

Once in a blue moon, some one would mistake me for a Malay (don’t ask how or why, I don’t know). And so, the other day I was walking across the road from the hospital back to the campus when I was waylaid by a Malay Muslim man clutching several books in one arm who addressed me with the customary Muslim greeting (I can’t repeat it here because in this land, some greetings are deemed the sole propriety of people of selected ethnicity or religious belief).

I smiled. We shook hands. And he asked if I would like to purchase one of his books. “It’s for charity”, he said in Malay.

Without a thought, I said, “Sure!”, and fished out RM 20 from my wallet and passed it to him in exchange for the book (below).


The book seller’s eyes eventually rested upon my very-Chinese name tag and, probably realizing the faux pas, became momentarily speechless while smiling sheepishly.

“It’s quite alright”, I reassured the man. ”I’d like to read the book and see what it says”.

Much reassured, he shook my hands, thanked me profusely and we parted ways.

I’d like to see this become a norm some day in my country.