Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Memories from a girl

It's always very hard for a girl to see the man she loves leave for the dreaded National Slavery Service at Pulau Tekong.

There are the teary farewells, the lonely days and even lonelier nights, the worry and the boredom.

And of course, you're not helped by spooky tales, gleefully told to you by your other male NS friends, of how servicemen go missing or die easily on Tekong. And the widely-held belief that relationships never survive the two-and-a-half years (or just two years if your boyfriend is a chao keng kia like mine).

Sad to say, my first relationship added to that statistic and contributed to that belief. My then-boyfriend entered Nee Soon Camp (no Tekong then) 3 months into our relationship in 1998.

True to form, I wept buckets, moped and pined before resuming my normal routines within a week (though I did leap on him the moment I saw him on his first book-out day and weep buckets again).

3 months before he ORD-ed, we became one of those doomed NS couples that don't make it through.

Fast forward 2 years to 2001...

It was the turn of my current boyfriend (hereafter referred to as The BF) for his chance to serve the nation and get soil on his face... our soil.

Ok, I digress.

But this time, 4 years older, a little more mature, and a little more experienced with regards to boyfriends in NS, I decided to accompany him into Tekong on his first day, together with his family, because I knew this time I could control myself enough not to burst into tears.

As it turned out, I had to control myself from laughing when I saw The BF's entourage. Where other enlistees were mostly accompanied by just parents, some with friends, some with siblings, some simply alone, The BF turned up with his grandmother, his mother, his 2 younger sisters, and his maid.

But I couldn't really blame him. Being the only son in his family, The BF is exalted and given treatment befitting Prince William at home. I should have expected such a sendoff for him.

Anyway, I was really quite impressed with my first sight of Tekong. It was a far cry from, say, Nee Soon barracks, with architecture reminiscent of holiday resorts (of course, it didn't take long for The BF to inform me of the truth behind the facade). But to be honest, I was more impressed with the hunky sergeant, who had the most enticing dimples, whose duty it was that day to show families around.

When it was time for families to leave, I gave the BF nothing more than a perfunctory hug and kiss and acted all very brave.

But when he called me that night just before lights out, I really started to wail. And The BF chose that time to break the news to me that he wouldn't be allowed out of camp at all for the first 2 weeks, which of course made me near hysterical.

I was miserable, and missing him terribly for 3 days, when on the afternoon of the 3rd day he called me.

Me: How come you can call me in the afternoon?

BF: I booking out now mah!

Me: Now?! For what?!

BF: I went to see the MO, take MC, MO give me Attend C some more! So I can go home for 2 days!

Me: You're sick? What happened? Are you ok?

BF: Ok lah, no problem. Just that people tell me might as well chao keng in NS since it's a waste of time anyway. So I'm starting now! Anyway, you do miss me and want to see me sooner right?

Me: What the hell? I do want to see you but I also want you to do something good in NS and not be lazy!

BF: Aiyoh, dear, I tell you, only the IDIOTS in camp go chiong sua. Other people are smarter. They want to finish NS as soon as they can and not waste too much energy on it.

Me: ......................

This (extremely undesirable) attitude would eventually become a perennial feature in The BF's army life.


Agagooga said...

Hey! I remember you. You're the one who got caught for smoking in the Premier Institution of Social Engineering.

It'd be interesting to get a female's perspective on National Slavery :)

Merenwen said...

Wow, my blog actually gets read! Thanks... Anyway Social Engineering is such an apt description for NUS. It creates/trains social automatons who will keep PAP in power forever. LOL~

And yes, I emailed Mr. Miyagi for a spot here 'cause I really wanted to contribute to this male-dominated blog from a female's point of view.

David said...

HAHAHAHA looks like your bf and i have a lot in common =P

cokecat said...

haha... those that go in with the chong sua attitude eventually gets the chao keng... at least it happened to me when i wasn't treated right.

Anonymous said...

NS sure beats NUS as a tool of social engineering. Although you are entitled to your own opinion, I take great umbrage at the idea that those who chao keng have poor attitude.

Army life is not for everyone. Individuals have their own interests and being a good soldier does not equate to being a good person. In fact, those who chiong are often the most dogmatic and intolerant people I have seen.

I have friends who chao keng out and spend their nights volunteering at hospitals. Those who got out of BMT and represented the country at international forums...etc. There is nothing to be ashamed of with chao kenging.

The reason why most females find it intolerable is that vicarious emotions of NS is no substitute of the real thing. THe main torture is not physical, but mental as you are forced to do mind-rotting activities and watch as you waste away isloated from the real world.


Merenwen said...

Hey SKH, thanks for commenting. But I have to make it absolutely clear that I never did say that ALL the chaps who chao keng are bad. Just like you, I know lamers who chiong sua, and chao keng kias who are the sweetest guys imaginable. I just don't like MY boyfriend chao keng-ing. There's a big difference!

Mr Miyagi said...

I know a lot about mind-rotting activities, now that I've just spent a week in-camp. Hell, my brain's not even working well enough to blog now.