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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Sunday, 21 January 2007

Mrs. Santamaria.

A delicate narration by Susan Abraham

One day, the widow, Mrs. Santamaria invited me to stay.
Mrs. Santamaria was an ambitious Catholic woman. She desired a personal meeting with Jesus Christ. Mrs. Lee Siow Fatt who visited Mrs. Santamaria on her motorcycle, had heard Christ's voice vocally.

He visited but did not stay long.
He was said to boast an attractive French accent.

Mrs. Santamaria kept her short crop a stark white to make a statement. She wore lots of beads.
Mrs. Santamaria worked as a teacher.

Once, a precocious 9 year old schoolgirl was molested by another 9 year old boy. He could not resist giving her breasts quick sharp pokes.
One for the left and one for the right.

Mrs. Santamaria was furious. "What do you think," she shouted at the grinning boy.
"That these are radios?" "That you can just switch on and off and turn left and right for FM1, SW2, .... channel 517..." Mrs. Santamaria did a wriggly Hawaian dance to emphasise her point.
The children did not like Mrs. Santamaria.

Mrs. Santamaria offered me coffee. I said I preferred Nescafe.

Mrs. Santamaria waved a 3-in-1 Chow Ah Chap sachet in my face. The coffee powder was grounded in Taiwan. I hesitated. Ministers, engineers, doctors and lawyers had all indulged and partied with Chow Ah Chap. All praised the delectable flavour and returned, when they craved Chow Ah Chap.

It was an auspicious moment. I settled for a mug.

Mrs. Santamaria asked me about my religious faith. I used words like intuition and feeling compelled to describe how I would hear Christ's voice. I sensed she was jealous.
"So he's been talking to you too?" I kept silent.

Mrs. Santamaria sobbed openly.

She was the perfect Catholic woman. At Easter, she volunteered to wash a 100 feet.She owned 20 rosaries. Never missed church. A son was studying to be a doctor in India. Her daughter had married an airline pilot who worked for Cathay Pacific. They lived in Hong Kong.

True, that the daughter's husband had once chased the visiting Mrs. Santamaria out of his house because she had complained that his cd volume of Presley's Kiss Me Quick was too loud.

Because of Elvis Presley's vulgar lyrics, Mrs. Santamaria was forced to book into a hotel. To see her own beloved daughter mind you.

Mrs. Santamaria cried for a long time. Her body heaved about like the Himalayas experiencing an earthquake. Her tiny breasts were like inquisitive badgers hoping to sniff out an identity. Now, they wondered who I was.
I stared with interest.

Mrs. Santamaria asked me if I had supernatural abilities.
I said I had the gift of discernment.
I lied.
Mrs. Santamaria threw a fit. She yelled, "Oh you think only YOOOOOUUUU HAVE THE GIFT OF DISCERNMENT....
The words roared like a tidal wave.
Think the Platters.
Oh...you think...oh you think...oh you think...
(Clip fingers and tap dance.)

I wondered if Mrs. Santamaria would murder me.
She brandished the knife with which she was slicing an apple.
It was night and her doors were locked.
Would I die at the hands of an ageing hippy?
Mrs. Santamaria wailed and pleaded if I could contact Christ for her, next time he visited. To save my life, I said yes.

The next day, we did a walkabout.
I went to the house of an old classmate. Faridah's mum gave me her new numbers and addy.
Mrs.Santamaria asked me to telephone Faridah.

Faridah was shocked to hear my voice.
She remembered a schoolgirl crush. And how I would blush everytime he smiled.
She said my face looked a shocking pink. Faridah kept talking about the colour pink.
She said I had made it so obvious. That I was hopelessly in love with him.

I put the phone down.
Mrs. Santamaria demanded to know why my face looked a shocking pink.

I called Mildred in Melaka.
Faridah had given me the number. Mildred was less accomodating.

She remembered when we were 15 that we had visited the house of my crush to pretend to interview his mum for a school project. The mission was to source information about my crush.

Apparently, I had made Mildred ask a couple of embarassing questions.

My crush's mum decided that Mildred was in love with her son.
Soon afterwards, she told her son and her son told his friends.
After all this time, Mildred was still fuming.
The call was a disaster. I put the phone down.

The next day, Mrs. Santamaria had a visitor.
She was very excited. She kept baking cookies for her guest.
The construction worker's name was Wong Ah Kow.
Ah Kow had seen the divine light.
Jesus Christ had appeared to him in the flesh.
Ah Kow wanted to switch from Taoism to Christianity with immediate effect.
Mrs. Santamaria was taking Ah Kow to see Mrs. Manomoney.

Mrs. Santamaria had shared bad blood with Mrs. Manomoney but now was not the time.
Mrs. Manomoney was said to have spiritual powers.
She would sort Ah Kow out and lure him to the Catholic side.
Although things hadn't felt Catholic awhile back.

Mrs. Santamaria had gossiped about Mrs. Manomoney at the church social.
The bad blood occured when Mrs. Santamaria said that she had bought a pair of Bata slippers for Mrs. Manomoney worth MR200 for a Christmas present.
Mrs. Manomoney had given Mrs. Santamaria a tin of Danish butter cookies in return.
Mrs. Manomoney had heard the gossip.

One day as Mrs. Santamaria watered her plants in the porch, a car stopped outside her gates.
A Bata slipper flew out like a flying saucer. It hit the window.
Another Bata slipper flew out like a flying saucer. It hit the roof and was kidnapped by a crow.
Think Cinderalla's stepsisters in reverse.
The car zoomed off.

Mrs. Manomoney and Mrs. Santamaria did not talk for 4 months until the priest threatened excomunication.

Mrs. Santamaria poured a glass of juice for Ah Kow.
I studied Ah Kow carefully.
Was Jesus handsome, I wanted to know.
Ah Kow afforded a romantic description. Sparkling white skin, sunset flaming hair & a clean-shaven face. And yes, he might have spoken French.
I decided eternal life was promising.

I asked Ah Kow if Jesus had told him in French to become a Catholic.
Ah Kow spoke no English. Only Malay and Mandarin.
He said that Christ spoke in Mandarin and gave him a 4-digit Lotto number.
He had struck a major prize.
That's why he decided that Christ was a useful investment.
He would do whatever he took to collect more 4-digit numbers.

Suddenly, I heard a scream in the kitchen.
I hurried to see if the cookies had burnt.
Mrs. Santamaria was yelling out Hail Marys and reciting eerie chants.
I called and called.
She appeared not to hear but carried on singing with the passion of a choir.
She looked at me with crazed eyes.
I asked her what was the matter.
She said that she had heard the conversation.
Ah Kow was a gambler.
The devil himself was now relaxing on her cushions, drinking orange juice with a prized Made-in-Switzerland straw.
Was she committing the grave sin of taking the devil to meet God?

Mrs. Santamaria telephoned Mrs. Manomoney.
Mrs. Manomoney had her own problems and was reluctant to meet Ah Kow.
Her teenage daughter had threatened to elope with a canteen worker.
Mrs. Santamaria decided she would give Mrs. Manomoney a bit of what-for.

She pleaded Ah Kow's cause.
Better he entered the Catholic church and that was one more medal for the Pope before those born-again Christian fanatics grabbed the poor lad and his soul was lost to the darkness forever.

Mrs. Manomoney's car arrived on the dot of 7.
There was no slipper throwing and no exchange of butter cookies.
Ah Kow became sweet with Mrs. Manomoney's daughter soon after and Mrs. Manomoney had a new problem on her hands.
I lost Faridah's number.
Mildred is still not talking to me.
Unless I make a full confession to eliminate my sin.
My crush's mother died 5 years ago.
Mildred suggests I meditate at her grave and beg forgiveness.
Mrs. Santamaria is also not talking to me.
I turned her line called Oh you think only YOOOOOUUUUU have the gift of discernment into a song and sent her the recording. Toodle-oo to...and with a touch of Oo-la-la.

P.S: It was rumoured recently that Mrs. Santamaria had bumped into Christ himself while chasing a cockroach. Je t'aime had come the startling voice from behind the curtains. It held a distinct French accent.
Veux-tu m' pouser?
replied Mrs. Santamaria with passionate ferocity.
She crumbled to her knees and fell at the feet of her Lord. She wondered if he would like a sprinkle of Made-in-London perfumed talc. It turned out that Christ was not interested in marriage at this point. This in answer to Mrs. Santamaria's earlier proposal. He had simply whizzed in for elevenses. Who could resist a 3-in-1 Chow Ah Chup sachet. Mrs. Santamaria has since been seen wearing a beret.

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