Thursday, June 15, 2017

Things left behind

I don't even know where this took place. It was towards the end of a trip to Tokyo last month, and we took a local train out to a different suburb to roam every day.

Up on the road in front of us, a woman was crossing the street with her friend. A scarf that was tied to her shoulder back was unravelling, and dropped off.

I didn't have the Japanese to call out to her to stop. And there was no point in English. She wouldn't even realise I was shouting to her.

By the time we reached the part of the pavement where she had crossed, she had long gone. The scarf was already part of the roadside detritus. My friend stepped over it. Nobody else had seen how it got there.

Today, a girl sat at the bus stop, reading. The bookmark that she had tucked into the pages slipped out and fell on the floor. It was a home-made affair, cut out of stiff board. The text printed onto it was cut mid-sentence, the words obviously didn't matter. A cord was slipped through the circle cut out by a hole-puncher and knotted into place. The bookmark was something serviceable, not aesthetic.

And so I didn't tell her she dropped it. The bus came, and we both got on. The bookmark was left behind, soon to become part of the litter blowing in the wind.

I don't know why I'm going on about things left behind. I think it's because I'm forced to revisit some things I'd dearly like to leave behind.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A girl can dream

The nice thing about this time of my life: When you're a teenager with a crush, all you can do is giggle with your friends. When you're a good old broad, your friend sends you flowers and pretends it's from him.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Listen to David

I just got off a lean-in, check-up chat with a lovely lady. She was one of my editors when I got my first job out of university. My co-workers then were like me, all fresh grads wet behind our ears in our first jobs, and she mothered us all.

She is mothering me still. This time, from a distance, in Beijing. And despite her own health problems and caregiving issues. Though I think it's the latter that has made us pull together lately.

She ended the chat with "Have a nice cold beer, read a book and listen to David play.".

That the beer was in the fridge, the book next to me, and David mentioned by his first name made it sound like he was in the next room. If only. :)

But a great coping mechanism nonetheless.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A year to live

The hospital where L is has chalk boards in the lobby where people are invited to write what they would do if they had one year to live. I remember reading in the papers that a very brave terminally ill man chronicled his last year, and perhaps this initiative is part of that book project.

Most people wrote about doing this, seeing that, bucket list stuff.

All well and good but all that doesn't not take into account that a person with a year to live is often already gravely ill and usually already in functional decline and bedridden. Such a patient is not going to travel.

I look at all those well-meaning and well-intentioned comments and I wonder how many of them really thought through the physicalities of life's last year. Because if so, most comments would be about overcoming anger, unfairness, regret and not doing stuff.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Kind of Magic

I can't remember how old I was when I first heard Queen, but I knew straightaway that the tinny cassette wasn't good enough -- Queen needed to be heard, be experienced "live".

I don't know why I never went for a concert during the years I lived in the UK. Then Freddy died, and after that there didn't seem to be any point.

Still, over the years, the music of Queen continued to pop up in my life, providing some kind of back drop -- a college football cheer, campfire night singalongs, a couple of weddings (both straight and gay), a funeral.

Make no mistake, Adam Lambert is no Freddy Mercury -- but he is the best person to carry the torch. Paul Rodgers tried but never quite got there. Rodgers had the heritage from Bad Company and Free, and when he collaborated on the first post-Freddy Queen album, I got it straightaway. In fact, I tried to get it here before it even came out, and I still remember the quizzical response from the CD shop salesperson when I asked for it -- he wanted to know if I was sure there's really a new Queen album because didn't I know that Freddy Mercury has been long gone? Anyway, that album didn't really work. Rodgers was old school rock, he couldn't bring Queen into the 21st century. And back I went to listening to the voice of a dead man sing.

And then Lambert totally rocked it on American Idol with Brian May and Roger Taylor. It was a work night and when the programme came on, everyone dropped what they were doing and gathered in front of the TV. And look what Lambert is doing with May and Taylor now! Who would've thought.

Freddy's mantle fits well on him. And as if in acknowledgement, he came out for the encore in a crown. (The second encore was May playing God Save the Queen -- and you could tell the embedded pommies in the crowd because they were the only ones singing.)

Speaking of singing, I must've joined in 3 or 4 impromptu choruses (chorii?) of Bohemian Rhapsody with 3 or 4 groups of random strangers, the last rendition on the 1am train out of Raffles Place.

Queen does that to you. It's A Kind of Magic.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Bah, humbug

The first BS of the year comes from my boss. Who sent an email with the usual happy new year greetings, along with "enjoy the long weekend". To people who stayed till late on Wednesday night, came in early on Thursday/New Year's Eve, will be working New Year's Day and also Sunday. Bah, humbug.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

I grow old

Last year, I turned 50. I travelled a bit, walked a lot, ate even more. It was a good year.

This year, I turned 51. My father died, my mother is in a nursing home, my dog is going through chemo, my eye got lasered for a torn retina.

Last year, I caught up with my junior college cohort. We were all ageing well.

This week, I got news that the younger brother of one of the guys is in an induced coma, possibly brain dead, after a fall in the gym fractured his cranium. I remember him, we were friendly, the older brother was dating a friend of mine. They later got married. And now, the children are grown.

When you meet people when you're 16, you never think what you're going to be in 10 years, who you're going to marry, how many children you're going to have, how you are going to die. And now, all I can think of is how the years have gone by, and how a family is wondering why daddy isn't home from the gym.