Memory I

Remembering the simplicity of lazy evenings spent bird-watching in a home with trees that prosperously bore mangos, guavas and rambutans. The two of us would lie on our backs as the ceiling fan kept us cool, uncaring of the 50-plus age gap between us, watching sparrows scout for meals, sharp beaks nitpicking into the ground. She would share animal facts with me; how the alligator drags its prey into the water to drown and later consume them, how mammals would lick wounds in order to debride them, how bees would store pollen and honey into honeycombs. She had this habit of leaving hairpins littered across the house which I would find. Sometimes I awoke to the sight of her ironing clothes beside me just so I wouldn’t wake up to an empty bed.

She used to select only yellow rambutans from her tree and place them in a plastic bowl for me. Black ants would trail deliriously all over, enlightened by the promise of inner sweetness beneath the thick skin.

Once, she told me: the bad men on Earth will eventually perish and turn into mosquitos for not living up to their fullest potential on Earth.

Once, she told me: don’t ever be completely taken over by anybody, because even the king shits.

Even as a child, I loved her courage, her tenacity, how she was fierce and independent and how she did not sugarcoat anything. Her gentility was solely derived from her practicality in getting things done in life.

Sometimes I recall that big white swing at the front porch with the sienna shade of rust gnawing away on its hinges, the peeled white paint and its rhythmic creaks sounding like the woes of days past and how her eventual passing would resonate for many, many years to come.

Memory II

Remembering how whenever it rained, the wind outside would howl like a hundred ghosts embittered by different longings on the seventh floor of the condominium where we used to live. It would feel like the rapture of an enclosed dream, with only that tiny space being the only tent of security.

I used to imagine God behind those curtains.


4 thoughts on “Yesteryear.”

  1. I don’t know how else to describe this but I am always so envious of the memories you had with Tok, may God bless her. I can hardly remember anything with her and I feel such a loss for not having the chance like you did. However, you paint such beautiful visuals with your words, Shari, that I’m glad to be able to imagine what could’ve been. We all miss her terribly, your Mak Lang especially gets misty-eyed if a conversation mentions Tok. I don’t usually reach out to talk to you but I’d just like you to know that I couldn’t be any prouder to have such a brilliant writer in our family. I hope for only the best for you and your family.
    – Fatin

    1. Hi Fatin,

      First of all, thank you so much for reaching out with your words. It touched me with its kindness and sincerity and it means a lot more than you know. Tok will always be remembered fondly and to be able to share these memories with you and others is, I hope, a way of sharing affection and good memories too. I truly wish the best for you and family, always, and hope that it will be sooner than later that we get to meet again.

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