Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Koh Soo Ling: Letter perfect love

I will not be able to attend my friend's wedding because I will be in Kuching, Sarawak on the day of the reception. When duty calls, ...

That is so sad. I will make it up to you Koh Soo Ling, who is pictured here with husband Michael Howard.

Soo Ling has found happiness with a wonderful Irish man who loves her with an intensity that makes her heart flutter.

She will begin a new life in Ireland and the prospect of living in the countryside fills her with excitement.

She will love her man, take care of him, cook and bake for him, take part in community life and write, write and write. 

Yes, Soo Ling will continue to write for New Sunday Times and she promises to share her activities with readers in Malaysia.

Theirs is not a whirlwind romance. They started as pen pals, two teenagers who were eager to learn about foreign cultures.

Pen pal relationships are so mysterious. Some write to their friends abroad for only a short time; others continue to swap letters and gifts in their old age.

Yet others arrange to meet face-to-face and this sometimes leads to serious commitments including marriage.


The pen pal relationship between Soo Ling and Mike  went on for seven years (1970s-1980s). She was the window to the Far East for him. 

The picture below (right) shows Mike at the post office in Batu Pahat where Soo Ling posted her first letter to her Irish pen pal.

They met up once in the early 1980s when she went to London for a holiday (see picture above). He flew from Ireland to London to see her and to visit his uncle.

The exchanges stopped when he got married.

By a curious twist of fate they reconnected in June 2008 when Soo Ling decided to seek him out.

She knew his son was named after him and googled junior's name. Ten possible links came up on the first page.

She hit on one that looked very probable. Where was  Mike at that moment?

He was in the garden; his son brought out his laptop to show his dad.

Senior could not contain his joy. He was ecstatic about the discovery.

Mike was going through a reflective period at the time; he was trying to make sense of his world, his wife had passed away. But Soo Ling was unaware of this aspect of Mike's life at the time.

Her sudden appearance online was "a breadth of fresh air". He asked his son to reply (he was not computer savvy then) to his long-lost pen pal via email. Later Mike wrote a five page letter via snail mail saying "how happy and thankful he was" that Soo Ling had "sought him out and found him".


The rest, as they say, is history. 

Ireland's Own, a family magazine, paid tribute to the pen pals by publishing an article about their reunion. The picture above shows Mike, Soo Ling and the owner of the store where Mike buys the magazine from.

Soo Ling tells me that she is "so happy because God is looking out for us". 

"It is like a miracle. We've been given a second chance and it was totally unplanned. It's a beautiful friendship, simple and honest."

Mike has learnt many new things from the reunion such as acquiring computer skills, wearing bright shirts, tasting sambal belachan and durians while Soo Ling has understood the meaning of rest and recognised the scent of flowers.

Soo Ling will be leaving Malaysia for Ireland a week after the wedding and I miss her already.



Pictures courtesy of Mr and Mrs Micheal Howard.




2 comments:

justmywocents said...

Koh's case only goes further to prove that happiness and love can come to anyone at any age, even at a point where you are probably already world weary and bitter from the dark clouds of your past. There is hope for anyone to find true love, and I believe God helps those who always strive for happiness and love and well as the wounded ones. It is truly extraordinary that long-time pen pals could end up united in the name of love which is something, in my opinion, unthinkable for both Koh and her newfound soulmate before. Congratulations to both of you and may your days are filled with new excitement and joy.

Faezah Ismail said...

God works in mysterious ways and he will reward those who wait patiently for good things to come their way.