Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Mrs. Chan

Mrs. Chan poured herself another cup of green tea, and settled down slowly back onto the coach. Her feeble fingers reached for the remote on the side table and a Zhou Xuan number began filling the living room with an air of nostalgic quaintness not unlike her surrounding now, a meticulous blend of joyous reds and pinks to usher in the lunar new year.

Then she jumped up from her couch, her mobile, her mobile was in the shower, on the dressing counter next to the potpourri where she had left it. She struggled free of the coach and hurried over to fetch it, and with trembling fingers, she clumsily unlocked the phone to check for missed calls or new messages, but only to sink low with disappointment.

Mei Ling always calls on the eve. The highlight of her day, her month rather, would be to hear the comforting, though distant, voice of her beloved daughter, an annual merriment of sort that would set her on a prolonged bliss long after the five-minute conversation had ended, and would somehow justify the long gaps of desolateness she would endure for the past twelve months.

But Mrs. Chan would find no missed calls, and no messages, apart from the senseless promotional ones that had provided her with too many false hopes too often that she had now learnt to ignore all of them. Setting the phone on the side table, next to the remote, she held on to the side of the coach and sank lower into her coach.

The reflections of the red lanterns with chasing lights in the row of photo frames on the wall soon caught hold of Mrs. Chan’s attention, and she began staring at them for the longest of time. She had spent the whole morning earlier today painstakingly fixing the entire string of them onto the wooden frame of her patio. One of them was coming loose now, but she didn’t notice it, she was already in another world, fighting a certain war of reality and delusion.

••

The last cup of green tea had turned icy cold. Against Mrs. Chan resting body, the joyous oldies continued to form the perfect contrast against the stale, still air of the apartment, long after the last firecrackers had thundered the festive skies.

From the slit of the patio door, a shred of red paper, the remains of some distant firecrackers, somehow broke free and fluttered into the room. Over Mrs. Chan very still body it travelled, traced the string of red lanterns, crossed the row of photo frames on the wall, and finally arrived at a forgotten corner of the apartment, where an altar stood.

Its flight then came to an abrupt end, as it knocked against a photo on the altar, a photo of Mei Ling, staring peacefully outwards with her gentle smile. With one final quiver, the shred of paper fell and rested next to the photo where it would remain for a very, very long time.

2 comments:

deeperanddeeper said...

Syabas! Penulisan yang cukup bagus! Tapi, keluar tajuk! Ini adalah blog BravingKL, buat apa tulis pasal Puan Chan! KOSONG markah untuk karangan ini!

:p

bravingkl said...

kejamnya cikgu!!! jangan sampai terpaksa aku menarik diriku kembali ke sauna untuk mencetus ilham baru penulisanku.