I thought that my life in Penang was monotonous. I did not realise that it can be even more ho-hum in KL. Wuan wakes up at 5:45am to cook my lunch and goes off to work while I am still in bed. I do not get to see her until around 8:00pm when she gets back from work with our dinner. I am home alone throughout the day, surfing intermittently and enjoying the sight of the little patch of unkempt greenery Wuan calls her garden. Since moving to an apartment, which incidentally is close to the hills, it is not often that I am in such close proximity to so many different types of plants.
Outside the compound, beside the road, the frangipani tree shows off her unmistakable maroon blooms. Heliconias, lilies, cannas and a magnolia tree straddle the fence. The pomegranate tree stands tall with its solitary fruit hanging ponderously by the tiny twig holding it. Several bamboo shoots peer out from behind. Birdnest and staghorn ferns look out of place in their pots and hanging on the wall. There are yam plants, ginger shrubs, cekur and pots of adeniums.
Adeniums – two of those I brought for Wuan when I came to see her for the first time five years ago; another two when Mum and I visited Wuan a couple of years later. Mum had a garden full of these adeniums, also known as Desert Rose or fu gui hua in Chinese. These are the only remaining four that Mum had cultivated from seedlings. The rest she gave away when we moved, including six lorry-loads of other garden plants.
This solitude has given me an opportunity to reflect on things away from the familiar confines of my apartment. There are just too many distractions at home, too many memories and too much lingering grief to keep a calm mind. There are memories here too, like the adeniums and the crystal tree Wuan displays prominently on top of her television. Mum had helped me choose that clear quartz tree. It reminds me very much of Mum and brought back beautiful memories, precious and most cherished.
Wuan had been trying to get me to come for a long time. Somehow, I always had something to do. I am glad I made this trip finally. Being away from the comforts of home has posed some challenges. It has also opened my eyes to the kind-heartedness of strangers. Their sincere smiling faces while assisting me along the way from Penang to KL tells that there is hope yet, especially after the indescribably sad catastrophe in the region. The monotony here is just a little price to pay for regaining some clarity of mind and to be reminded of the beauty of humanity.