The International Writers Magazine -
One night in KL
girl named Merisa
never gotten to know a seventeen year old girl before. It has
been quite enlightening.
you can't just tilt your head to the side, close your eyes and open
your mouth. You're not Cinderella and Im definitely not Prince
You see if I do the same thing nothing happens. It's like two dead jelly
fishes lying next to each other on the beach. You have to be more forceful.
Tighten the muscles in your neck and push your whole body up against
Now decide which direction you want to come in from, left or right.
What feels more natural? It doesn't really matter since it always changes.
Now, look into my eyes. Open your mouth just a little bit and softly
kiss me with your lips. No tongue, just use your lips. Hold it there.
Taste my breath. Good, now softly grip my top lip and pull back slowly-
and then move in again. This time open your mouth a little more and
try and make as much contact with me as you can. Find my tongue with
your tongue. Stop, stop, stop. The lips are good the tongue not so much.
The tongue stays inside the mouth, the worst thing you can do is paint
my cheek with gob. It may seem passionate, but it's really not. Alright.
You have to get this stick of Juicy Fruit from me. No hands and no biting.
Feel around, good. Now Ill get it from you. Kiss me again and
then feel under my top lip with your tongue. Trace it across and then
lift it slightly. Good, it's getting better. I'm going to keep my mouth
closed and you have to open it. You see your tongue is your tool of
entry, it's kind of like a crowbar. One more exercise. Push me against
the wall as though you are mad with me. Use both hands. Push harder,
you're mad remember. Now move in as close to me as you can. I want to
feel your heartbeat. Now kiss me with every muscle in your whole body.
English teacher in Taipei and now snog tutor in KL. Life takes one on
an interesting journey. No complaints. There's an awkward moment when
you're chatting up a girl in a pub and you ask her what she does and
she says she's just finished high school. I could sense the ghost of
Hubert Humbert urging me on even though she's clearly past the nymphet
stage. Anyway, at this point Im thinking she must be nineteen.
Nineteen is okay, right?. (Im 27 by the way.) "So, how old
"How old do you think I am?"
Merisa is a seventeen year old girl from Zvornik, a small town on the
border between Serbia and Bosnia. Our lives overlapped at Finnigans
Irish pub in KL on New Year's. Me with silly drunken eyes, liquored
breath and her looking fresh and awake like cherry blossom. If she was
carrying her school bag I would never have gone up to her. Would have
a been a giant shame. Clear green eyes, long wavy blonde hair, soft
white skin, puffy lips. Beautiful. All the features in all the right
places, harmonized. Of course I went to speak to her. The impression
made by me was not bad. (Im trying to remember what I said
so that the effort can be duplicated at another time.)
She took me out for dinner a few days later. Some place called 'Euro
House' which is owned by a fellow Serb. He specializes in twelve varieties
of European cuisine. I gorged myself as Im known to do when food
runs from an open tap, their hospitality making my head spin. Being
treated like royalty coats any memory with a sheen like that of a polished
sports car. My hostel had no room service. No pool either. So, upon
invitation, I decided to move my bags across to their small flat just
outside KL. A modest flat with no frills. I spent most of my time reclining
on the couch listening to their story.
In July, 1988 Merisa's father was planning a trip back to Serbia. He
had been working in Iran for the last
months and was desperate to be with his family. Merisa was almost two
and had recently taken her first clumsy steps. Her brother was eight
and growing up fast. Merisa's mom had been sending him pictures of all
the special moments. Her father would have returned much earlier, but
his contract kept getting extended. Finally, on the 3rd July he was
scheduled to fly to Belgrade. At check-in, he was required to pay extra
for all the presents he was bringing. He then boarded the plane. The
following extract is from: http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/5260/vince.html
Capt. Will Rogers III, USN, spent his career preparing for combat. Winning
his commission in December 1965 at the age of 27, Rogers came late to
the navy, but he made up for lost time with a gung-ho attitude and -
after a spell on the staff of the chief of naval operations - friends
in high places. In 1987, Rogers won command of the navy's most prized
high-tech warship, an Aegis cruiser. The billion-dollar Vincennes seemed
a sure ticket to flag rank. But Rogers, who like many peacetime naval
officers had never been under fire, longed to see action. On July 3,
1988 Captain Rogers got his wish. He sought out and engaged the enemy
in a sea battle in the Persian Gulf. From the captain's chair of a warship
combat information center, he made life-and -death decisions in the
heat of conflict. It was the moment he had yearned and trained for,
and it should have been the apex of his life in the service. Only it
wasn't much of a battle. Rogers had blundered into a murky, half-secret
confrontation between the United States and Iran that the politicians
did not want to declare and the top brass was not eager to wage. The
enemy was not a disciplined naval force but ragtag irregulars in lightly
armed speedboats. Fighting them with an Aegis cruiser was like shooting
at rabbits with a radar-guided missile. And when it was over, the only
confirmed casualties were innocent civilians: 290 passengers and crew
in an Iranian Airbus Captain Rogers's men mistook for an enemy warplane.
Merisa's Dad was one of six Serbians on Iranian Airbus 655. Her mom
found out on TV that her husband was dead. His body was found and identified.
Most bodies were too badly mutilated or devoured by sharks. The blood
money received from the US government allowed them to live a fairly
comfortable life in the small town of Zvornik. They had a spacious house
with a garden where the dog could stretch it's legs. This luxury didnt
last for, a few years later, evil was once again stirring. More dirty
mud clouding a clear pool. Milosevic in Serbia and Tudjman in Croatia
were discussing partitioning Bosnia between their two countries. Milosevic
sent his army on the rampage and since the said house was on the border
between Serbia and Bosnia, it was in the path of destruction. The soldiers
shot the family dog, looted the house and finally bombed it. Merisa,
her mom and brother were away at the time. The family decided that it
was a good time to move. Somewhere safe. Because of the war, their money
was frozen in a Belgrade bank where it's been ever since. They relocated
to Malaysia, just outside of KL where they found a cheap flat. They've
been living there for 6 years, but are hoping to move to either Australia
or back to their home country.
Getting to know people who have experienced such tragedy makes me feel
a little guilty. I've been blessed, nothing really bad has come my home.
I ended up spending ten days at Merisa's home. I chatted a lot to her
and her mom. A strong human spirit has it's own gravity. They move along
in life never really getting attached to anything, just living as best
they can. There is no speck of materialism. It just weighs them down.
I don't know for sure, but I think many girls at some stage imagine
themselves as the princess in a fairy tale. It's the Disney world where
good always prevails over evil, love being the ultimate force. Merisa
is no exception. She enticed me to watch 'Cinderella' and 'The Swan
Princess'. Although dramatically, none of these stories are in my top
ten, I do appreciate them for one thing: 'die hard' optimism. The idea
of hope is so prevalent that it's impossible to ignore. Even if one
fails to acknowledge it, I feel it still strengthens that core part
of us that still and always will believe that the future will be brighter.
Some people need that affirmation more than others. Merisa is a great
girl. She's kind, affectionate, ditsy at times, funny in her girly way,
charming and above all, innocent. When she rests her index finger on
her bottom lip she strikes an adorable pose. She can be incredibly sexy
and at the same time so naive. Spending time with her is delightful
because her thoughts are so green and girly. I've never gotten to know
a seventeen year old girl before. It has been quite enlightening. One
of the first questions she asked my was whether or not I liked Britney.
The walls in her room hold up a myriad of pop idols that Ive never
heard of or want to. Reading one day she popped Shakira in my ear and
asked if it was okay if she painted my nails. I somehow consented. (Thats
off the record by the way.) Lying on her bed together, I told her
the story of 'Hansel and Gretel'. Feeling my testosterone canisters
emptying, this story was abruptly followed by the myth of the Trojan
war. Theseus and the Minotaur also featured. On two occasions I was
vividly shown myself at her age. I took her to this classy restaurant
with an exotic menu and all she wanted was a hamburger. Come on, thats
what McDonalds is for! And then at a Japanese place it took her over
half an hour to try a sushi roll and then after briefly chewing, promptly
spat it into her serviette. My Dad had the same issues with me.
My time with Merisa was ephemeral. Its always like that when youre
traveling. I still speak to her from time to time. I will see her again
at some point, not sure when. I want to see her grow and develop even
if it's from a far away place. So much living is done in the next ten
years that Im sure it will be exciting for her. Above all, I want
her hopefulness to remain intact. If she needs to watch fairy tales
for this to happen then so be it. But, as far Im concerned, she
no longer has to imagine being the princess. No frizzle and pop from
a magic wand or warm kiss from a prince is needed. She already is a
princess and no evil that lurks in this world can change that. (Please
excuse the Mills and Boone introduction, it just came out.)
© Murray Walker Feb 2004
- stories about people in faraway places
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