It was a calm morning at work while waiting for the clients to revert with feedback when I saw something in my personal email that I didn’t think a mistake any PR personnel should do. Anyway, the conversation with Oliver went from that organisation’s PR department to someone we used to work with and then her husband who tried to add me on Facebook (to which I ignored) and somehow it was linked to this one guy I had hots for when I was in my 20s.
We met when I was a journalist, covering the send-off event for the Malaysian Battalion, MALBATT when I met this doctor from Brunei. Seeing that he was leading the small group of personnel from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF), I thought he was the best person to interview to represent his country. As usual, I started off with the usual questions on bilateral military cooperation and stuff, and then it came to this, “So, before flying to Lebanon, do you have any final words to share with your wife and kids in Brunei?”
While one of his subordinates cried so hard making that farewell speech (yes, the man really cried on camera), this doctor’s answer made my heart skip a beat, “I’m not married”. Or in his Bruneian/Borneo accent, “Saya belum berkahwin”.
My, my, my! Suddenly I got a bit (okay, I lied, A LOT!) ‘hormonal’ and became slightly more feminine, haha! And then suddenly, he got a lot more attractive in my eyes. I saw his cute smile that was bordering formal but kind. Then, I looked at his full name and designation which I scribbled in my notebook and I thought, ‘Oooh, my dad would’ve loved him!’ A military doctor and my dad was in the military too, the Royal Malaysian Navy to be specific. So, naturally, he’d love another military officer in the family. I know, I know, I was an idiot but everything I described here really happened in my mind, haha!
So, bidding the MALBATT goodbye at the airport, I told my cameraman whom I fondly called ‘Papa’ about the encounter. Papa Kenny laughed and said, “You should’ve just asked for his number and told him that you will inform him once the news is out”. Wait, why didn’t I think of that???
Anyway, I went back to the office and shared the story with my trusted colleagues. Well, being Ms. Paris, good news can only be shared with good friends. Anybody outside the circle may not share your enthusiasm and before you know it, rumours in all sorts of versions will spread. Anyway, my colleagues also thought the doctor was cute.
That was it. I didn’t think about the doctor at all for many months.
Until one evening, my assignment editor told me that I was assigned to welcome the MALBATT boys back from Lebanon. And instantly, memories of the first encounter rushed into my mind and I went running to meet my colleagues to share the news. Even they were excited and started suggesting what I should wear to meet him.
So, the next day, I remember I wore a lime green Nyonya kebaya top matched with my khaki long pants. I went to the event with a colleague who was just transferred from another department. Even he was laughing when he saw how eager I was to wait for the doctor. Just imagine more than 300 men in their desert uniform (is there a formal term for this? I wouldn’t know!) walked into the hall and the instant the doctor appeared, I found myself standing up as if I was personally welcoming him.
Naturally, after interviewing the Commanding Officer of MALBATT, I’d find a few people to interview and get their reactions on coming home after 9 months away to perform their duties. While I was interviewing one of the Bruneian soldiers, suddenly the doctor swung his arm around the man and smiled at me, saying, “Hello, journalist, it’s been a while!”
If this was a romantic comedy, I’d either blush so hotly or faint right at that very spot. But hey, I was a professional journalist so I just smiled and continued with my interview. Then, it was his turn to represent RBAF again.
Again, if this was a romantic comedy, you’d probably see flower petals and butterflies around us and my face just glows so beautifully. But, of course, I kept my cool and finally thanked the doctor for the interview.
You may not believe me, nor find me stupid, but I didn’t prolong the encounter. Instead, I just focused my attention to the event and our Malaysian heroes. But deep inside, I wanted to reconnect. It got me thinking, how could I do it without embarrassing myself? I mean, hey, I was a cool journalist. So, I’d prefer to keep my cool.
Trust me, the next couple of days were spent trying to find ways to get information on him, haha! Back then, it was a little harder to stalk someone. Especially in this case, someone who didn’t live in the same country at all.
Then, through my mafia connection, kidding, military connection, I was told that the doctor and his troop were staying in Kuantan for a few weeks before flying back to Brunei for good. Ooooh, and I saw the opportunity to propose a special report. I was known as the Queen of Special Reports back then. Nothing too serious, mostly health and culture. This special report I proposed actually started my long-engagement with our Ministry of Defence where I was usually assigned to cover their events and write special reports to highlight our national heroes.
Do you wanna know what happened in Kuantan?