“Uncle, one teh-c siu dai (lit. tea with evaporated milk, less sweet).”
“Uncle, chio leh (try to smile), she taking photo of you.”
Uncle only smiles after the cup of tea is prepared, clinking it onto the slightly wet saucer.
All the nooks and crannies I’m wandering into, around, and on top of; I am re-discovering home when I thought I knew what I could. The bittersweet knowledge that we are still (oh, still!) finding our way, amidst the anger, the quiet discomfort watching the vocal minority, listening to misinformed views distorting the bigger picture.
I leave you with this few lines from a Singaporean singer, and a Singaporean lyricist. Something I wish we all could know and feel stronger for.
我的愛 明明還在 轉身了才明白
該把幸福 找回來 而不是各自緬懷
In this country of eternal summer, the cakes stare through their cold windows and beckon to me to buy them. As a child with limited pocket money (think 50 cents), I’d just run my fingers across the condensation above the counter, look balefully at my mother and wish that I had more reason to buy cakes besides birthdays.
After the sky fell overnight, I got up for a “it’s better for you” jog. There’s something about the comfort of that semi-hard cushion beneath my feet as my squeaky trainers begin their quiet trod. The sky remained grey as I made my rounds.
Into my sixth round, I saw a lady stopping, stooping and picking up.. A twig? Perhaps she didn’t want fellow joggers to inadvertently twist their legs should they slip on stray twigs.
But closer I got, and closer I got, only to realise she was stopping to pick up earthworms that were too slow to avoid the heavy feet that came on top of them.
Once I realised her efforts, I began to notice the ground better, taking my own care to at least avoid the earthworms that remain alive. It just takes one person to take action, for you to realise you can take action too, doesn’t it?
While I can’t bring myself to touch earthworms with flimsy leaves, I did rescue a snail on my walk home. I do better with shells between bodies. As do most of us, maybe.
Those mildly balmy afternoons after school’s out for the day, where you’d swing the heavy-as-heck backpack onto the not-quite new bus seat, and chatter non-stop even though you just finished a tutorial with your classmates. Those were days of patience, of stories to share, of heads looking out of windows, not into that pixelated window we are now too familiar with.
When was your last bus ride? Did you get jostled, because you didn’t move in? Or because you did, and people back there didn’t see the need to be as courteous as you?
I look at the days that easily pass us by and I wonder why we don’t make even better memories from the limited time we are given.