There was never a long break from work for my husband during our stay in Butterworth. I remember an instance when he was allowed to go on a week’s leave and we hurriedly packed and left for Taiping, where both our parents, his and mine, were residing. All hopes of a short holiday were dashed when he was called back for duty just a day after we arrived. The next morning he was back to flying again. Although I had grown accustomed to these unpredictable work schedules, occasionally selfishness took the better of me, especially when he volunteered to stand in for someone who had suddenly gone indisposed. I would launch into a lengthy and angry tirade on the frequency of his voluntary services. It seemed so unfair to be working so hard for absolutely nothing in return.
Despite the long hours of flying, there was still time for him to lament over his long overdue promotion. There were no children to divert our attention, so the focus was solely on his career. He would suffer bouts of frustration every time someone of the same seniority got promoted. Although the number promoted was much too small to cause him to pine and grieve over, it nevertheless, got him into doing something rash. He got himself a brand new car.
It was his fifth car in a span of five years, so that averaged to one car per year. He was, and still is, extremely careful with his and MY money but cars were his weakness then. He poured out all thirty one thousand of his entire savings into a brand new Alfasud Sprint. It was quite a hefty sum then. Despite his shrewdness, he never believed in getting anything pre-owned. I protested but not hard enough to make him change his mind. I knew I would get to drive it to school. It was no Lamborghini or Ferrari but sleek enough to make heads turn in the Butterworth of the 70’s. There was no way I could be persuaded to take his “kapcai” to go places.
The car was able to make him forget his promotion for a while. He would spend the little free time he had cleaning and polishing it to perfection but, like always, it lasted for only about a month before he relegated the duty over to me and it was back to brooding and mulling about his future.
The car was his last indulgence (only as far as cars were concerned) for a long time to come. He started saving furiously back again and also appointed himself as my financial manager, an appointment he retains to this day. Although I felt that he was much too stiff and rigid as a financial manager, my resentment gradually eased off as the savings slowly grew and grew. Over the years we accumulated enough to warrant us the modest lifestyle we were used to, if he decided to bid an early farewell to the Air Force.
The Alfasud Sprint