The perfect present

The perfect present
Illustration for the article “The perfect present".

SINGAPORE - When it comes to presents, I've got a lot to learn. But with practice, I can only get better

How would you feel if you got two pillows for your birthday?

Not ordinary pillows though.

One is a large, V-shaped pillow to prop up in bed so you can sit back and read comfortably. The other is a flattish 2m-long bolster you can wrap your whole body around. It's called a body pillow and used by pregnant women.

Would you regard these as nice presents?

Till today, I can't quite understand why H didn't think so.

I gave him those two pillows for his birthday last July and was surprised when he didn't express delight at receiving them.

In fact, he got rather cross with me.

I realise pillows aren't the most romantic of presents, but surely the ones I chose were useful, original and funny?

I would have liked them, honestly.

For years, my mother has been giving me bedsheets for my birthday and I've appreciated them, which is why I couldn't understand H's tight smile when I presented him with the pillows.

He said it wasn't just that they were pillows. They were also unwrapped. (True, they were in two Takashimaya paper bags.)

Oh come on, I said, do you realise how big the bolster-pillow is? What a waste of gift paper if I had to wrap it.

What got him more miffed, though, was that I had bought the present only on his birthday and had given it to him that night when we both got home from work.

Presents should be given first thing in the morning, he said. That is the only acceptable time.

I was genuinely puzzled.

But it's still your birthday, I said. The day hasn't ended.

And I did put in effort, I added.

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