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Best of Times, Worst of Times

サンデータイムス ロンドン 2004年7月11日) 記事は英文です。


Lillian Too, 58, from Kuala Lumpur, feared she would never be a mother and set out to be a banker. It was a visit from a feng-shui man, she says, that changed everything. By Caroline Scott. Portraits: Chris Anderson
I wanted a child so bad. To me, marriage means children. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t have one. But in nearly 10 years of trying, it never happened. If you both want this thing so much and don’t succeed, something in the relationship dies. In our case, this need took over our lives to a point that everything else was extinguished. Every morning, I had to check my temperature; we had to have sex at certain times; and I was probed by doctor after doctor until I felt like I was an empty shell. Medically my husband, Wan Jin, and I were perfect, which made it worse, as there was nothing we could do to help ourselves. It seemed there wasn’t anything left to talk about except the fact that we couldn’t have what would make life complete. The phrase I remember from that time is ” Such a pity, such a pity.” It seemed a terrible waste of all the love we had to give.
To save our marriage, we tried to refocus our lives and began breeding German shepherd dogs. I turned all my mothering instinct on them, and for a while it seemed to work. But we were kidding ourselves. We presented a good image to the world, but inside we were falling apart. The marriage was deeply unhappy and I don’t think either of us held out much hope for it. And being Chinese, divorce wasn’t an option.
The longing to be a mother so bad it was like physical pain. I felt I had no future if I couldn’t have a child. It was a long time before I could accept there wasn’t going to be a baby, but gradually I did – in my heart I knew this was how things were going to be. I thought, ” If I can’t be a wife and mother, I’ll be a hotshot corporate woman.” These were the days of Germaine Greer and women’s liberation. I thought if I filled my life up with work, I could forget the thing I really wanted. I got a place at Harvard Business School and I agreed with my husband that we should part for a while.
But before I left, the feng-shui man called at our house. It’s easy to find feng-shui people in the Far East – people consult them all the time – and I felt I needed luck and good chi (energy) in my new life. The first thing he said was: “Of course you’ll never have a child in this house. See this tree? It is blocking your entrance.
Your front door is made of glass and this is really bad. And see here, your staircase is facing the door. There are so many things wrong with this house; you are lucky to be alive.”
While I was in Boston studying, my husband built a house in Pantai Hills, in Kuala Lumpur, according to feng-shui principles. First time, feng-shui man got it wrong. He designed the house to attract wealth rather than fertility, so we had to knock down a wall and resite the water feature to give us the best chance of having a family. To optimize our chances, we had to sleep with our heads pointing to the east – the best direction for my husband. My desk was placed in the best direction for wealth, which is west, and everywhere was uncluttered and open to allow positive chi to flow freely.
By the time the house was built I had graduated from Harvard, but the marriage was still shaky. I’d been in Boston for two years and come back someone else, so we were practically strangers. At business school they tell you, you can have the sun, the moon and the stars, and I wasn’t even sure I wanted this marriage anymore. But four months after moving into the new house, a miracle! We conceived our daughter, Jennifer. I went to the doctor because I’d been feeling so ill and he told me I was pregnant. The same morning, I had a job offer form the World Bank.
I went back to work when Jennifer was a baby as the managing director and the first woman head of a Hong Kong bank. Not clever, just lucky. I was the first woman to run a public listed company in Malaysia. But I decided there was no money in being an employee, so became the chairman of my own department-store group in Hong Kong.
By then my daughter was 10 and one day she said to me, “Why are we always saying goodbye?” This was the child I waited so long for and here I was, throwing it away. I retired just like that. Everyone thought I was crazy. I had a fleet of Roll-Royces, two drivers, and could buy anything I wanted. But all I wanted was to be a proper mum and watch my daughter grow. You’ve never seen people drop away so fast. I’d phone friends in the business world from home and it would be: “Lillian who?”
Jennifer is 26 now and Cambridge graduate. You can be clever but you need luck to get into places like that. So we used feng-shui to help her along. She got married last year, and I was worried she would be like me and have problems conceiving. She said, ” Mummy, we’re young. We don’t want a family yet.” But, I was naughty; I used feng shui to activate a fertile corner of my house, and her house, without telling her. And now I am a grand mother. Lillian Too’s Feng Shui Life Planner (Hamlyn, £14.99) is out now.