By Hans Ebert
NOVEMBER 22, 2017: OVER AND OUT.
Trina, the girl I married, called this morning to express her displeasure at being mentioned in the autobiography being written and published as a blog on social media. But, why, I asked? I had only written about her with the utmost respect. About being the wonderful human being I was fortunate enough to have met, the girl with whom I fell in love for all the right reasons, married for richer or poorer and with whom we had a beautiful daughter. But, she didn’t want her nor her daughter mentioned on “the Internet”.
Her reaction was disappointing. Extremely disappointing. And once people disappoint me, there’s no point in keeping up false pretences and holding hopes for any kind of reconciliation.
This is my story and I know how and where the threads are sewn, the ties that bind and how this particular chapter ends. One door closes and another opens. Many have opened over the years, but I refused to enter these sliding doors as I remain a U2 song: I still haven’t found who and what I am looking for. But like British Rail, I am getting there. I think. No one compared to Trina. No one else mattered. Past tense.
Writing is therapeutic. It’s helping me find the way. The journey to Rama, especially- revisiting my childhood in Ceylon- has been scary, sad, happy, illuminating, enlightening. It’s helped me explain much about myself, something discussed at length recently with my ex wife. Wife. It’s a peculiar word. Marriage is a strange concept. Life is what you make of it. Only you and not extraneous forces. The truth is out there, Scully. It’s a liberating life lesson when one finally finds it and can let go of traditional and shackled thinking.
How I have arrived to where I am right here and right now by fighting the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune and racism in Hong Kong by being the first “darkie” in an international junior school has also been a fascinating journey. Trudging up those three hundredsomething steps to Quarry Bay Junior School to be chased around the playground every lunchtime by a bigger kid and being called the ‘n’ word wasn’t easy. Having to constantly prove yourself because the cards were stacked against you was competition I welcomed. The rebel had a cause. Cain wasn’t Abel.
Passengers- gypsies, tramps and thieves- have jumped on and off on what’s often been a runaway train to somewhere without any stops. I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s made me stronger. It’s given me that Third Eye. It’s made me the person I am, for better or worse. It’s stopped the journey from ever being predictable. And the journey continues with new players in that chess game of life.
I shall always be grateful for everything and more Trina did for my parents, especially when my mother was degenerating in Melbourne before my eyes as Alzheimer’s took over mind, body and finally her soul. And she did all this after our divorce and asking for nothing in return.
Trina was there when I didn’t have the strength to deal with them and was looking at distractions to get me through whatever hounds of hell I was trying to outrun and find a sense of safety and security no matter how shallow these proved to be.
I shall always remember Trina as a wonderful wife and mother- a woman with great qualities. But no one’s perfect. Not even Jesus. There are days when I think we’re constantly suffering for his sins.
Our marriage collapsed for a number of reasons. If some think it was all my fault, so be it. But a coin has two sides.
If our daughter whom I named Taryn refuses to see me, she has her reasons. I respect that.
If I haven’t been allowed to see my Grand daughter in almost five years for reasons that remain baffling, why confuse the young girl now by entering her life? Let it be. We both know it’s way too late to make amends. Everybody hurts. The “Give her time” mantra ran out of all karmic qualities some years ago. So give it a rest.
The past belongs in the past with no role for it in the future. My future. Which is not to say it didn’t have its time and place. But that time has come and gone though it won’t go away. It will live on in my writing.
Trina and I were seeing each other openly and regularly with La Taverna, below, and Pink Castle being our favourite places to meet up for dinner. Most of Hong Kong met up for dinner at La Taverns. “Going Italian” was kinda unique for those times.
She was staying with her parents and Steve and Eric, her two younger brothers, in Shouson Hill. I was in my “bachelor digs” at Arts Mansion in Conduit Road, not exactly one of the more exclusive addresses in town, but which was home to many just starting out in Hong Kong and seeing what opportunities were out there- models from overseas, advertising people. flim flam people, working girls and others trying to work things out. We were all in the same boat and wondering if it would stay afloat.
Trina would stay over before I would drop her off at home around 3am. It was during this time in our courtship that my best friend Steve (Tebbutt), below, far right in both photographs, returned to Hong Kong with an Afro after the end of a stint with the band The Renaissance with the very good Peter Nelson as vocalist at The Outrigger Bar in Honolulu.
He had married Anna, an older local girl once with an all-girl band in Hong Kong. Theirs was a volatile relationship. It was like The War Of The Roses. During a visit to Honolulu, I remember being in their apartment and seeing something stuck to the ceiling. It was dinner. Anna had flung the dish at Steve, it had missed him and ended up there. He found it amusing.
Back in Hong Kong, Steve broke the news that he had left Anna and was going to marry his girlfriend from those wild school days- Irene Ryder, below, the stunning Eurasian A-Go-Go dancer, who was now a popular singer.
They had been seeing each other and wanted to take the relationship to its next logical conclusion. I was to be his best man. Invitations had been printed, some had been sent out, but Irene had backed out. Steve was in a tailspin. We met at my place before heading out to see an Afro-funk band at the Dickens Bar in the basement of the Excelsior hotel. Steve wanted to just get out of his head and kick on, but with Trina coming over to my place the next day, my priorities were different. So was my lifestyle. I was determined to make my mark in advertising and I was very much in love for the first and probably last time. That night was the last time I saw Steve alive.
The next afternoon, with Trina at my place, I received a phone call from (disc jockey) Mike Souza with the news that Steve had been found dead. He had decided to dabble in some drugs to ease the pain and hurt of the breakup with Irene, and choked on his own vomit. Those with him apparently panicked and left him alone when they couldn’t revive him.
If not for Trina having entered my life, I would have probably called it quits. Other than being racked with guilt for not being with him and talking him out of this senseless journey to nowhere- and I probably still am which trigger some dark moments where suffering fools gladly becomes a huge chore- our many years of friendship flashed through my mind- those adventures into adulthood that started when we were around 14-15 years old, and wandering through the wild side of life down Shanghai and Temple Streets with local triad society members who, for whatever reason had befriended us, going to bars to watch older local bands, the girls and women who came and left our lives, the long nights listening to music few found commercial with Steve listening to the musicianship, me more interested in the songs, and both of us falling headfirst into those bell bottom blues.
When we laid Steve to rest with me being one of the pall bearers led by his elder brother Tony and some members of his band at that time, a bird flew right across my face.
I would like to think that was Steve finally being free and heading to where he would be happy. I would also like to think that he was telling me he was alright and to go wherever and whoever I felt to be right. I didn’t have to think twice. It was Trina.
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