I went back last night after a distress call from sister – she had math problems. She’s not doing very well in her studies, unfortunately, and is worrying about whether she can make it into university.

She was asleep by the time I got back – had to do duty until nine and only got home at eleven.

So I went to sleep.

Mother woke me up around six in the morning, pattering around the kitchen getting ready to go to school (my mother is a teacher, but you knew that already). It was hot and stuffy, the only thing alleviating the oppressive heat was the tiny little fan that cooled my feet. Unable to get back to sleep, I went to take a shower. It was a little surreal. I haven’t been up so early in ages.

Mother wasn’t really in the mood to indulge in conversation other than the standard motherly admonitions to finish up the bread and butter that she loved to stock but no one ate (since I moved out). I sat on the bed and looked out the window at what used to be,in the morning, my neighourhood. It was barely light out, but more than half the windows of the block facing mine were lit, no doubt from families with children preparing, like mother, to go to school. I tried to remember what that was like, but it seemed so far away. I saw some of them walking to school, drowsy like flies in the heat in their uniforms.

One by one my family got up and left. Mother and sister to school, brother off to god-only-knows-where (I have another sad story about how I found his resume lying around one day). Only dad and me were left. I made myself some miloand sat there for another hour waiting for the sun to rise, but it never came. I fell asleep again.

By the time I woke (again), it was almost eleven. Father was still sleeping. He sleeps much these days.

I had an appointment with Faizal at two, so I decided to putter about the house till then and see how I could improve it. My home-improvement theory is to throw things out, to my parents’ dismay, but I found it helped to clear the home of clutter. And today’s target was to be the sorting, packing and throwing out of my old clothes.

I had no idea I had so many clothes that I couldn’t wear anymore. I had outgrown them – if not physically, then in taste. I packed up the hideous things, the things that had holes in them, the things that were no longer my size… I’ve outgrown so much.

And when I was done, there was so little of it left. Just one or two shirts and a pair of jeans that I liked, but were a little too tight (okay, stop laughing, I know most of my jeans are tight anyways).

It was almost noon when I was done, so I volunteered to go buy lunch for dad as well. We seldom cook, and when we do it’s usually instant noodles or mother’s ba ku teh. He wanted wanton noodles, so I went off around the neighbourhood looking for a stall that sold them.

When I returned, I found him lying on his cot, moaning a bit. His legs felt sore, he told me, if he stood too long. For the first time since I had moved out, I looked hard at my father. He was old. So old. It wasn’t just the dry wrinkled skin, the failing motor skills, the strange pains that came and went, it was something else. Something that told me that he was almost over.

Something is wrong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *