Just like that our car was lost forever.
It was parked where it was parked every Sunday, next to the building that Min works. It was a small car. A mouse deer. Grey. We had it for 4 years. The mortgage was clear in July so it was completely ours. The bank did not own it anymore. We hardly invested our emotions into this car. But now that it is gone, probably butchered and sold as parts, we can’t help but remember in detail how we felt when we were inside it, it’s smell, the landscape passing us by on the highway, our faces pelted by the wind.
When it was gone, something else was gone with it. Something intangible. Hard to explain. Something like love that had died. The landscape which breezes by us as we were in the car, the land itself, as in, the country that captured this land and imposed its rule on the natural soil, dirt, filth, manure, weed, grass, trees, bush, forest, jungle, wooden shack, houses, the suburbs, town, cities, country, all that is gone from us. We do not belong here anymore. Our hope has already fled. Our bodies, for they have weight, volume and mass, have to wait a while longer. They do not fled as easily from this country.
The country which our hope had fled but where our bodies are still stranded is called Malaysia. It’s flag looks like the American flag, with a yellow star and a moon substituting the 50 white stars in the U.S version. We have another knock-off from the U.S as our national emblem. A sculpture that looks like the one commemorating the victory of Iwo Jima. Our version is made by the same sculptor, and that it commemorates the victory of our colonial masters over our only armed rebellion for independence.
Min and I were both born here. We were born in the same year but we only became aware of each others’ existence a few years ago. This awareness developed into something very complex which, according to our law, there is only one recognition of the complexity: Marriage.
After we were married our lives gradually merged into a conglomeration of two. And as a conglomeration we operated as one, our individual assets became the assets of this conglomeration. Hence, the car that Min bought, the car that was stolen, became my car that was stolen and it was our conglomerate effort to be responsible to do what comes next.
What came next was the police report. What came out of the police report was not the assurance that there will be action taken by the police to follow up on the report, but the feeling that nothing will ever happened, and that if a crime is committed, the criminal will not be persecuted and the victim will not be protected from any future re-occurrence. That was the last thing that tipped our conglomeration to abandon this country.
As we were weighing our options on how to bring our bodies to where our hope is at, we were also thinking of a way to bring something else that belongs to this country to wherever that we are going. This something would have to be lightweight but substantial enough to last us a lifetime as a balm for the homesickness which will inevitably infect us time and again.
We puzzled over this until Min came out with a surefire idea: To ask our mothers for advice.
“You could collect recipes,” my mom said. “That way, wherever you are going, you will be able to bring the taste of home with you.”
“Collect the stories of our lives,” said Min’s mom. “So that you could pass on our heritage to the next generation. ”