How I Learned I Really Am The Center of the Universe
(or How Everyone Else Is Related To Me)
So here’s something I’ve realized recently: I really am the center of the universe. One way or another, it all leads back to me. Hey, I know it’s hard to take – but it had to be said. Truth hurts because it’s the truth. Let me explain…
It has come to my attention that, somehow, everyone else is related to me. This was mostly driven home on Monday, as I sat at my dining table, entertaining guests with chicken curry, stir-fried asparagus and coconut-milk-seasoned rice (slightly less flavorful than full-fledged nasi lemak). The meeting itself was rather extraordinary, given the circumstances that led up to it.
For one, I was having lunch with a certain Charlene, with whom I went to Inti College Subang Jaya with, almost five years ago. During the time we were absent from each other, we have never kept in touch since we were never very close in the first place – we only knew each other from the Christian Fellowship at the college. However, as Sarah and I were enjoying ourselves at the Pittsburgh Annual Three Rivers Regatta (a festival held at the Point State Park, where three rivers – the Allegheny, the Monongahela and the Ohio – meet. Yes, Pittsburgh is geographically akin to Kuala Lumpur), when we bumped into Charlene – who was there with a group of friends from her university, which was an hour away from Pittsburgh.
It was a pleasant surprise, to say the least (there aren’t many Malaysians to bump into in Pittsburgh). So we were exchanging pleasantries when we find out that Charlene hails from Penang, where Sarah is also from. And when Sarah first met Charlene, she immediately blurted out, “Hey! I’m Daniel’s cousin, you know Daniel, right?” Turns out, Charlene is Sarah’s cousin Daniel’s childhood friend. Daniel and Charlene’s parents, I gathered, went to the same church in Penang and their children spent their primary school years being good friends. In fact, Charlene and Daniel and a third person were the child-props (i.e. flower girl, ring bearer, etc.) at someone’s wedding. So, already it leads back to me. Charlene is Daniel’s childhood friend. Daniel is Sarah’s cousin. Sarah is my wife. And I am the center of the universe.
Okay, the next pleasant surprise also occurred while we exchanged pleasantries (much of the usual, “Where are you now?” “What are you doing now?”): Turns out, a friend of mine all the way from Arizona, Kheng, was coming into town that very evening to visit Charlene. Kheng’s a friend I’ve kept in and out of touch with ever since we attended Inti College way back when (is Inti College, or USJ, or even Subang Jaya the nexus of the universe?). So, being the gracious (and very Malaysian) host I am, I invited them over for a meal. Connection here: Kheng, my friend from Inti College, is best friends with Charlene, who is Daniel’s childhood friend, who is cousins with my wife, Sarah, who is married to me, the center of the universe.
Did you get that?
Now we come to the meal on Monday. So, after a delightful meal where everyone – in true Malaysian spirit – is stuffed, I get the bombshell of the week: I have a cousin in the U.S. and I didn’t even realize it. Here’s how I found out: After lunch, we started laughing about how cute it was that Charlene and Sarah’s history goes further back than either of them realized. I mentioned to Charlene that I thought she was originally from Damansara, and she clarified that she spent her primary school years in Penang before moving down to Central Malaysia. Then my eyes flickered: she said, “So, in Damansara my parents and I attended SS Methodist (Sungei Way-Subang Methodist Church).”
I hesitantly asked, “Huh… that means you might know my Uncle and Aunt who attend there. Do you know a Wong Min Hing?”
“Wong Min Hing… wait. That name sounds familiar. Yeah… I know him. He’s got a wife… Jo… Josephine, right? And they have twins and a boy… named… Steven. Wah! They are your uncle and auntie ah? What a small world!!!” she exclaimed.
Indeed. But the plot thickens.
Kheng pipes in, “Who’s that?”
(Brace yourself… here it comes…)
Charlene replies, “He’s Yoon’s uncle lah!!!”
“Yoon” as Charlene so chummily calls, is a Yoon Loong (I really don’t know the spelling… which goes to show how much more a bombshell this was to me) – who also attended the Inti College Christian Fellowship back when we were all at Inti. On at least an occasion or two, we’ve definitely hung out at a mamak after the weekly meeting. Yoon Loong (more affectionately known as “Pooks” to the gang – don’t ask me why) is also the son of who Charlene referred to as “Aunty Mui Lan” who just happens to be the sister of my Uncle Min Hing, who is the husband of my Aunt Jo, who is my mom’s younger sister. To verify this, we immediately call Yoon Loong up in Michigan:
“Hello, Pooks… eh, guess who’s here! … Charlene ah! Hey, you’ll never believe this… but I’m with your cousin here. Let me pass him to you.”
Charlene hands the phone to me.
“Hey Cuz!!! How’re you doin’?”
“Haha. Very funny. Who’s this lah?”
“Your cousin! Really!”
“Seriously, who’s this lah?”
“Heh. You might not remember me from Inti College, but I’m Wong Giok Leigh. Remember me?”
“Oohhhhh yeah yeah yeah. I remember. How you doing, man?”
“I’m alright. Hey, seriously though – do you know a Wong Min Hing?”
“He’s my uncle, man!!! His wife, Josephine is my mom’s younger sister!”
“NO WAY!!! SERIOUS AH?!!”
So here’s the scoop: Kheng is my friend from way back in Inti College, who is best friends with Charlene, who is the childhood friend of Daniel, who is the cousin of my wife, Sarah, who is very happily married to me, the center of the universe.
At the same time, Kheng is my friend from way back in Inti College, who is best friends with Charlene, who’s family goes to SSMC and is also best friends with Pooks/ Yoon Loong, who is the son of an Aunty Mui Lan (?) who is the sister of my Uncle Min Hing, who is married to my Aunt Jo, who is the younger sister of my mom, who gave birth to me, the favorite (contrary to what Boone or Sue Anne might think), who is the center of the universe.
You have to realize that throughout this time, Yoon Loong has only been, at the most, an acquaintance I spent a very brief time in history with, in the same vicinity. Yet, blood is thicker than water – and since he is older than I am, he owes me an angpow (traditional Chinese red envelopes containing money) at my wedding reception!
Of course, these two connections hardly justify me as being the center of the universe. So here are several more:
About two years ago, I started attending Soulcare Church where a certain Irene Kiew also started attending for a season. Irene Kiew, it turns out, was an old pen pal of my cousin Mee Keng, who is the daughter of my Aboh Winnie, who is the elder sister of my dad, who is married to my mom, who bore me, her wonderful and most beloved son. I only found out about this connection recently through the web phenomena of blogging. Mee Keng started her blog, and linked her site to mine, which had a link to Irene’s. That’s when they rekindled their old friendship and have become quite chummy now – which is not necessarily a good thing, since women (as women are oft to do) gossip, and they gossip about me.
At the same time, Mee Keng’s father is an engineer with the Malaysian government and thus, gets transferred all around the country regularly. During one posting, he was based for a year in Penang (Penang seems to be the second nexus of the universe). For the entire year, his family attended Penang Christian Centre (PCC), of whom Sarah’s family has been long time members of. In fact, while Mee Keng attended PCC, she was the youth cell/small group member where Sarah, my very-happily-married-to-me wife, was the leader. So, Mee Keng’s father is an engineer with the Malaysian government, who was posted to Penang for a year, where his family attended PCC, which had a youth group, which had cell groups, where Mee Keng was a member of, where Sarah was a cell/small group leader, who is ecstatically married to me, the center of the universe.
My brother, Boone, has discovered one series of links that connects me to football great, David Beckham, but you’ll have to ask him directly about that. I’m a part-time respecter of intellectual property.
See? It all leads back to me, which, needless to say, has been shocking to me. It’s not often one realizes that all roads really do lead back to Leigh. I know it’s something that I’ve always quietly believed, but here’s hard, indisputable evidence! Hey, I didn’t want to say it, but it had to be said.
It only hurts because it is the truth.