Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fortunate Son

At the hawker centre, he orders his fried rice and takes a seat next to the stall while it is prepared. The old man with the long combover (on one side of his head) walks past, in his usual brown pants and striped shirt, plastic bag in hand, smacking his head and muttering to himself as always.

He's hungry and cannot wait to go home and dig in; the food in his hand smells divine. He sees the lift door closing so he dashes to catch it. A wave of his hands between the closing doors does the trick. The two in the car - a Chinese lady in high heels and thick make-up and an Indian lady in crutches, make room for him. He walks in and pushes 12. 3 and 9 are also lit. At 3, he steps out to give the lady in heels more room to exit. Before he re-enters the car, his attention is caught by a single bed in the lift lobby. It has pink sheets, a brown blanket and blue pillow-cases. The lady in crutches looks at him impatiently so he shuffles back in apologetically.

At 9 he holds the door open for her to exit comfortably. At 12 he exits, goes into his apartment and waits for his wife to return. Once she is back, they eat hurriedly, grumble about work and turn in at 11.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Communication Breakdown

He: Is there any meat in the curry puff?
She: Why?
He: I'm vegetarian today.
She: Why?
He: Just for kicks.
She: Don't bluff.
He: Wife said so.
She: Only curry.
He: But any meat?
She: No, no.. only potato and chicken.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Christmas Song

It is hot when he arrives. Senior has gone out, she tells him. They sit and talk. She sounds alright now, but she has been unwell too. She waves at the different medicines on the table. She is wearing green, like the codeine.

Senior is back now. They sit and keep talking. They eat grapes and longans, but Senior is still hungry, so he makes himself a bowl of curry noodles. He is not wearing a shirt. Junior leans out of the window. It is so quiet and peaceful on a Sunday afternoon. What could be more satisfying than being here?

It is cooler now, because the clouds have rolled in. He brings the clothes in and shuts the window. The conversation turns to her upcoming trip. It might be cold in February, so he asks if she has the right shoes, jackets, and so on. They turn the TV on. The newsreader reports on a murder in a food factory.

"Do you remember the Briyani murders", asks Senior.

"Yes, right behind the church at Dhoby Ghaut?"

They switch to a Japanese show, for children, dubbed into English. Men in robot costumes are fighting men in rubber alien suits.

It is raining now. He borrows an orange umbrella and leaves.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Drumming Song

He is awake at the crack of dawn. She is getting ready for her race. Nervous but excited, and very glad that it is not raining.
He waves good bye and good luck and turns to home. He sits down and replies to an email from a dear friend, a little guilty for not initiating the thread himself. When done, he turns to the problem that has taken much more time than he estimated. Which task has ever taken less time than he anticipated? Is it a sign of overconfidence? Or just hope?

He's followed all the instructions, tried all the suggestions on all the forums but cannot get the simplest program to run on his notebook; to make processes pass messages to each other. He goes back to the drawing board. Perhaps the test program itself is not right. He starts from the low-level "Hello World", adds a broadcast. Ok. He adds a non-blocking send. Ok. He adds a non-blocking receive. Ok. Deep breath, and a blocking send + receive. It works! Looking closely at the other examples, he finds the possibility of a dead-lock. Alright then, but why does the package not work?

Now the drilling begins. An incessant grinding against cement to complement it. Glorious. Construction has accompanied several phases of his life. At college, the bulldozers ran riot under his window. Now the lift upgrading program here. And his own apartment only to be ready in 2015!

As a last attempt (for today), he re-compiles the library, adds fluff to Makevars and installs the package once more. No luck with the interactive mode again, although that was expected. His last hope is that the batch mode version will run. And it does! Possibly the interactive session causes a deadlock because of the infinite try-catch loop that it induces.

Time to celebrate, he thinks. Such perseverance deserves a treat, no? No, another problem to solve. Amazon rejects his download, stating that only members who are resident in the States can download their songs. He changes his default address back to the old one and tries again. Done!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Future

He feels like he is looking into a mirror; one that shows a superior version of himself. The version he aspires to be. A skilled expert, capable of conveying the most intimate feelings with the simplest, shortest sentences. The style could so easily lead to rambling but the author's control is perfect. The undercurrent from unspoken desires is readily apparent.

He is encouraged that his goal is not unattainable, and is something that would make him proud. So maybe it is not quite a reflection he sees. His future self, he hopes.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


It's a new multiplex. Although he is in the middle of a row, there is ample elbow room and leg space. The seat smells new, and does not curve his back in. The screen could be a little further, but it's not a big deal.

The lights go down and a trailer begins - a movie (starring Evangeline Lilly) about 2000-pound boxing robots. It looks incredibly interesting. The girl next to him declares, "I am so going to watch that!". He wants to squeal, "Me too!" but his movie has started. He settles in and gets ready.

After 7 books and 8 movies, he feels such an intense familiarity with the characters. He knows what will happen at every step, why it will happen and to whom, but still he is ready to cheer and tear when the moment arrives. When Dobby's headstone is shown, when Snape's tragic love is revealed, when Harry has to make the hard choice that every hero has to, when Remus and Tonks are shown, when Neville steps to the plate,...

Some epic moments from the movie will stay in his mind for a long time too. Moments that were not in the book, but so adorned the movie: When the dragon soars, when the stone warriors prepare for battle, and when the dementors are shown outside Hogwarts - drifting, waiting, waiting...

What a great movie. To him, he watched it in the most ideal state of mind. The memory of watching it this time, this way, of closing his ties with the Magic world, will forever be perfect.

"These things, they go away,
Replaced by everyday"

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Time to Pretend

He is ecstatic.

The difficult part is over.

He is now an expert in his field.

The years of slogging were all worth it.

He has finally achieved what he set out to.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Little More Action

He is pleasantly surprised to find out they will be playing footie. While they jog to a field he never knew existed, his excitement builds. He knows that in all probability he will never go there again. But this one time is enough - his shoe splits with his first kick of the ball but he hardly notices. Goal after goal goes in as he 'defends' but he is not embarrassed.

"Pakai sarong lah uncle!!", the crowd chuckles. Their voices wash over him. Very quickly his legs and muscles remember how to stand, how to move, how to enjoy. The grass is long but now he once more plays without fear. Of injury, of losing, of what comes after. He forgets all else.

As he waits for the ball to drop, he becomes his idol. A sweet, sweet connection. It goes high and wide, but he is grinning uncontrollably.