"You've got mail! There you go," dad said stepping out of the escalator of our 5-storey condominium at the second floor as he handed over to me a huge, rectangular envelope with the unmistakable Star sign and the words imprinted after it read : STAR PUBLICATIONS (MALAYSIA) BERHAD, printed boldly across the top left corner of the envelope which is now wrinkled all over and folded at the edges by the postman's determination to shove the big envelope in through the tiny hole of my mail box. It was addressed to me and my house address was handwritten neatly at the heart of the front envelope with a blue ball-point pen. I beamed at the sight of the STAR sign when the envelope reached my hand while I was standing at the doorway of the house.
"Oh, my! It's from The STAR!" I said gleefully, holding it in my hands. Dad couldn't be bothered much as he had a basket full of the daily purchases of fresh greens from the wet market on his hand, eagerly trying to get into the house, while I was afixed at the doorway holding the envelope, trying to digest whatI was looking at. Then, feeling like a little six year old at the sight of his Christmas gifts under the tree, I rushed into the house and frantically looked for a letter opener.
I'm always happy when I recieve mail with my name written all over the envelope! The thrill of knowing that it's mine and that it was sent specifically to me. The satisfaction! It's most probably due to the fact that growing up as a kid in my household, I've never received any mail posted specifically to me. Excluding that one part of my childhood life when I was 10 where my B.M. teacher made us send letters to one another as a class activity as she was teaching us on how to write an informal letter. Recieving my classmate's copied letter from an essay book was fun! It gave me the impression that Mr. Postman is a really nice guy and he does his job to send our letters to one another. That was the only time I recieved any form of mails. Not until now that I'm serving in the Lectors Ministry in church, my duty roster is sent to me every month. That's the only mail I receive nowadays. Having friends who technically don't celebrate what I celebrate, greetings of warm wishes in the forms of cards are some of the things I'll never dream of. Let's not hope too much. Enough about my sad childhoood life that doesn't recieve any forms of mail.
So, I found the letter opener beside the TV at the living room and hurriedly tore the opening. I was so excited! "Could it be a RM50 note that I won with my numerous sending of pictures to the Thumbnai section of the STAR? Coud it be that I've won the RM999999 competition? This is exciting!" I thought to myself, while I carefully opened the envelope hoping not to tear anything apart that's inside. The anticipation and anxiety was definitely there.
It turns out to be nothing from what I've imagined. No cash or cheque that's worth a thousand. It was better.
"Dear BRAT-to-be, CONGRATULATIONS! You have been selected to attend Tha Star BRATs Workshop from 28th - 31st May 2006 (Sun - Wed) at Motel Sri Pantai, Penang." as I read it out aloud for dad, akak and poh poh (she's here for the weekend), I couldn't help but smile at every word that was coming out of my mouth. Yay! My application got in! I was jumping over the moon to hear this!! I sent in my application - an essay that I had to write about myself, family, school and friends in not more than a thousand words, I think - about a month ago. After all that's happened, with kong kong's passing, I kind of forgot about it already. Just a couple of days ago, when I decided to read the newspapers (out of sheer boredness), only I remembered about my application. I had kind of given up hope on it, thinking that there's no reply for such a long time and my essay's probably one of the worst they've recieved. Talk about self-esteem, I've got none.
But now, this! I am a new man! LOL. I was speechless! I never thought I could be picked! You probably think that, "OMG, it's just BRATs! Why the hell am I making such a big deal out of it?" Well, I've gotta say I'm not much of an achiever in my whole schooling life. I'm not one of those over-achieving teens who excels in sports, academic or publicly known for their smartness and talent. I'm the kind who enters all competition with the hopes of winning but never does, the kind who put himself out there but usually fail miserably, the kind who is unknown. Getting into this made me feel proud (and good) about myself. Made me feel that my essay was probably interesting that someone could like it. Made me feel I did something good for myself once in a while. This is just one of my very rare and very few personal achievements! Yes, I'm very very positive now. I'm learning day by day!
I was kind of taken aback by dad's silence after I read to him the contents of my letter. After I read to him that a fee of RM120 needs to be paid for accomodation and food. "Couldn't you at least feel proud?" I said, frustratedly. He gave me that smile, sort of a giggle, that exposes his yellow teeth, that always make me feel that everything was alright. "Do you have RM120?" he asked me. "No" I replied looking at him. "That means I've gotta pay, right?" he joked and it ended with poh poh's and mine's laughter with him smiling. "Hurry up, let's go for breakfast! We're gonna be late if you're still standing there and dream," he said.
I got a quick glance of the rest of the pieces of forms and rules that needs to be filled and followed before I left it on my desk and grabbed my mobile to go breakfast with dad and Edmund at the nearby coffeeshop. After ordering porridge (for the carbohydrate fix in the morning) from the freaky man who tried hitting on mom, I sat down at one of the many dirty tables in the coffeeshop. Yes, the man was so old and horny (and he's married, but usually seen holding hands with other women in public places) that he couldn't control himself. He got silent after dad showed up at mom's side while she was buying porridge one day. That's so gross. But what can I say, he makes good porridge. LOL. While we were waiting to be served - the usual thing you do after ordering when you're in Penang hawkers, I asked dad, "So, am I going to the workshop?" "Why of course you are! You got picked," he said as Edmund's food arrived at our table.
That morning, breakfast was served hot with happiness!
Suddenly I feel like reading The Star : The People's Paper.