Father and Mother

Mother and Father’s Engagement Photo, 1953


My father and mother met only once before they were formally married. It was a setup, an arranged marriage. A matchmaker put them together. It was often like that in Malaysia in the Chinese culture. It was also Chinese custom that both the woman and man agree to the match in order for the union to occur.

My father was a tall, dark, handsome, talented mechanic and had “eyes for his work” (he was very focused and hard working). He could fix all sorts of foreign Japanese and English cars, tractors, bulldozers, machineries, etc. Gifted, he was, with languages, too. He was bilingual—spoke Tamil (with Indian and Muslim accents), and many other Chinese dialects fluently. He was very friendly and nice to the neighbors, but he was hot-tempered around the house. It was hard to tell if he had any respect for the women he loved, or if that respect stopped at his mother. He was too friendly at times, too, which is how I came to have two stepsisters.

My mother was an angel. I have often referred to her as the Angel: Goddess of Mercy. She even looked like an angel, even at nineteen. She was a dark-haired beauty. And the Universe gifted her these beautiful cheekbones that made her face always look like she was about to break into a smile. There was a peace about her; welcoming energy radiated from her heart and soul.

And so it was determined that they were a match: Mother’s compassion would complement Father’s temper. They agreed to be married.