Looking good and feeling bad? Or is it the other way round?
Do I need to have a book launch? Why do people have book launches? I didn't plan to have a book launch but my friends kind of talked me into it. A book launch will put me under the spotlight. Such an uncomfortable position. Frightening, actually, with people's eyes stuck on you.
But my friends got so excited planning the event I had no heart to refuse them. None of us have been to book launches and this was going to be our first! So we decided the date, discussed what to do, how to do, who to do and all that stuff. The day was in the distant and it slowly drew nearer and suddenly it was upon us.
Did I have time to indulge in a mini panic attack? I guess I was too busy. I had offered to talk about writing to encourage my listeners to write their personal stories. There was a lot to do. I designed my slides. Edited my notes. Changed the slides. Discarded some notes. Added pictures. And I went over my material mentally, trying to fit everything in a 40-minute slot.
VIPs have been invited, I was told. Datuks and Datins. Oh? I didn't want to embarrass my friends and extended family!
One week before the launch there was a last flurry of activities. My friend, Evelyn, almost back out of leading the tai chi exercises, somthing we do at the start of our weekly activites. But she insisted on doing my make-up!
"I don't need making-up," I told her. "I can do it myself." But she refused to take no for an answer.
"Are you there yet?" She sent me a text message early in the morning. "I'm going already."
"Just leaving home," I replied as I piled books, laptop and myself into the car.
How do you say no to someone who's raring to go.. to paint your already painted face? It was easier to let her do it although I cringed when I saw the golden-toned eye-shadows. I don't wear orange! Not my colour! She smoothed cream over my face, my neck. Oh no! I thought. She's turning me into a Japanese geisha! She penciled in the eye-liner. I had black around my eyes. Little pools in an expanse of white. My heart hammered in my chest. I couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry.
"Keep still," she said sternly... like a school teacher to a naughty kid. In the end I gave up. I surrendered my face. After all, I told myself, I won't see my face.
There's a write-up in the local paper. There's a photo of me. Black and white. No, it isn't a B&W picture. My face is white and my blouse is black!