Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Memories and Musing Paths Not Taken

It was Father's Day last Sunday--that's my excuse to post this ancient photo of me with my (late) dad and mum.

I remember telling my dad when I was nine or ten years old that I wanted to be a writer.


Because the girls in my class used to ask me to tell them stories at recess.
I remember one about the loud, angry woman who had a pastry shop down the hill from Mount Sophia where our school was.
In my story, her (delicious) 50 cent curry pies were made with the tongues of dogs and cats, and her $1 pies were made with the tongues of children--that's why she never talked to primary school students like us, because she wanted to preserve young tongues for her special pies.
But (and I still like this twist) our Principal secretly went to talk to her and Loud Angry Aunty agreed that she would only cook the tongues of students from our school who lied to her.

After the squeals and giggles came the dilemma: what if Loud Angry Aunty caught you eating one of her plain curry pies and asked 'how is it?' and it had no taste (because no tongue); do you tell the truth and make her angry or do you lie to her and let her Cut Out Your Tongue?

FYI that last question was delivered At someone and when that Someone started to cry I knew the story 'worked'.
(Sorry, H!)

I thought telling stories would be a good way to earn a living, but somehow my father wasn't equally convinced,

'You'll become a doctor' he said.

This photo is evidence I tried Med School for a while. Here I'm with some course mates in front of a Rubber Plantation upcountry, on a break in Malaysia.

And yes, I'm thinking of setting the next book in a rubber plantation. How does 'The Rubber Tree Mystery' sound?

It was Jeff's last birthday post that made me think about paths not taken. Dropping out of Medicine felt like the right thing for me then and now. The only time I've wondered was when first my mother then my father got sick and I wondered if I might possibly have made a difference if I'd taken a different path...

But of the twelve of us (including the photographer) in front of the plantation a lifetime ago, four died before reaching their 60's--despite access to the best (presumably) Medical care Singapore has to offer.

I doubt I could have made a difference to them or to my parents. And I've had a wonderful time on my chosen path so far, even / especially the sections I would label 'Adventures' (Thank you for the definition, Patti!) .

Another of those friends is now a neighbour and, since a stroke made it difficult for him to, I get to walk his dog sometimes,

This furry sweetheart brings me so much joy!

And so does this slightly less cuddly one I spotted last week...

I love mudskippers for their adaptability and for how they hop, skip and climb mangrove trees. They're literally 'fish out of water' but seem perfectly comfortable adapting to their environments!
If I had a spirit animal, it would be the mudskipper!

And now, like the mudskipper, I have to decide whether to go for a long walk on land or go out on the water today--it's not raining but there are definitely some clouds not too far out--

Or I could just stay here reading and writing--which seems to be where I end up, no matter which path I choose to start out on!

Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things woul be if you had made other choices.
Matt Haig--The Midnight Library


  1. Note: the $1 pies contained half a hardboiled egg--that's why they cost more.

  2. Just think how many people you've given pleasure with your stories!

  3. Ovidia, "Still waters run deep," is the thought that came to mind as I read about the tales you shared with your 10-11 year-old mates. No wonder most of them are likely now vegan :). PS. I loved your post, the jury's still out on the pies.

    1. Thank you, Jeff. Your funny/profound pastiche started me off on this path--I really love what your daughter put together for Father's Day!

  4. I think you would have been a great doctor! Laughter is the best medicine.

    1. Thanks Caro, but I suspect it's a lucky escape for any victims/patients who might have come my way!

  5. The tongue thing--genius! Love this, Ovidia. x

    1. HeeHee--I would have liked being in school with you I think!

  6. Dunno about those pies Ovidia but has a great laugh just imagining it. Your words just comes alive...think its the way you put it. Writing was a good choice .

  7. Replies
    1. Han Keat? Oops... I never served you anything like that, did I...? I know you turned away from Medicine too, so I guess you understand better than others might!