Almost Real

The bed was pushed right up to the walls at the far corner of the room. There were two windows. One had louvers that opened out to a spacious air well where Mum would hang clothes that she had washed. The other opened out to the garden and had cast iron grilles and green window panes.

My eyes were still closed. The familiar sounds of birds chirping indicated that it was already mid-morning. In my mind’s eye, the view beyond the iron grilles was as familiar as the lines on my palms. Just outside the window, a fertile bush of betel thrived. Its vines gripped and snaked around the stakes that looked like rotting wood but were sturdy nonetheless. A coconut tree stood behind, spreading out its fronds in all directions and provided ample shade for everything beneath it.

I strained my ears to catch hints of activity in the garden. Mum would usually be pottering away with her adeniums, orchids and bougainvillas. She was especially proud of her green fingers and skills in cultivating beautiful looking adeniums. Many Chinese households have a pot or two of this plant for its auspicious name which meant prosperity in any of the Chinese dialects.

There were no familiar sounds other than the chirpings. I wondered where Mum was. Perhaps she had gone for her breakfast. I was happy nonetheless, knowing that I was in familiar surroundings. A sense of security and contentment enveloped me. Then reality struck. I realised was reliving a time fifteen years ago. Mum was no longer around and I was 400km from home. And I woke up from that dream feeling empty and lonely.