Wednesday, November 19, 2008

This Wall Between Us

I didn't mean to withdraw from the world, it just happened. I lie snug, wrapped in blankets in JB awake all night, falling asleep at sunrise with Mum standing at the foot of the stairs and hollering at me to come and have my breakfast or lunch or any food so I don't get gastric.

Her voice filters through as I turn over and burrow deeper into the bed, and settle myself to drop off again. No, I'm not ready to wake up yet.

She calls me in between her important phone calls to Aunty Baby, Aunty Shirley, Halimah Hassan - with whom (depending on the person) she discusses politics, the soap operas, the latest round of funerals, illnesses, me....

Mum: Jenny cannot sleep at nightlar.

Aunty Baby: Why don't you give her fruity yoghurt at night? Then she will drop off...

Mum: Poor Intan. That mother-in-law of her's is too much.

Aunty Shirley: Yalar. How can she take away the child? I mean, Intan is the mother after all.

(It has come to this - I actually know the plot of Intan. Could be worse. I could know the plot of Marina)

Usually she gives up when the soaps begin. And then I stumble down and have a cup of tepid coffee and maybe a nutella sandwich or maybe lunch if it smells tempting enough.

And I don't really mean to be a stranger, I don't. It's just that when the phone rings, I'm usually asleep. Or else I stare at it, this strange creature, singing to me and I feel a repulsion. I cringe. I move away.

You see, there is a wall of water between me and the rest of the world. It is a few miles thick and I'm quite comfortable sitting at this end and not braving the flood.

Tonight, for the first time since I got here, I went out. Drove. To the petrol station down the road. And then to Pelangi Plaza. Parked the car. Forced myself out. Walked up the two stories from the parking to the shopping centre. It was empty and ghostly.

I couldn't even understand the large poster ads.

I mean come on, Let them eat wake!?

And my footsteps dragged all five floors up to Popular bookstore to get some stationery. I figured, if I was going to be cut off from the world, I may as well do something useful, like Morning Pages.

Instead I recoiled at the legal pads I had intended to buy. I picked one or two up idly to look at them but couldn't bring myself to go any further. There was nothing wrong with them. I just couldn't bring myself to buy them.

So I made my way out of there...and arrived home to find Mums had made ayam masak merah and her (very tasty) version of a salad. I ate enough to want more. Chubs (who had gone for the first session of the kids' carolling practice) came back at about 10and had his fill, going for seconds and enjoying each mouthful with a peculiar relish.

We watched Monk in accompaniment.

And then, it was time for Intan.

And then, Mums went up to sleep.

And here I am, still awake, but maybe tonight I'll sleep early cos I promised Mum I'd make a cake tomorrow.

Chubs says we are so bad for him.

Looks like I'm spending my birthday here.

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