I wrote this 11 years ago. In an old blog. In a defunct "Multiply" account. I thought it is worth revisiting.
At that time I was a happier person, so I wrote sombre yet happy stories. I really don't know if this story is appropriate now. Maybe now it would be considered racist or insensitive or something... I really don't know because everything seems to be wrong now.
But back then in 2009, this story was well liked that people asked me to write a sequel about it.
In 2009, the Chinese 7th Month (Hungry Ghost Month) and Ramadhan started on the same night. The believers believe that during these months, souls are released from wherever they are believed to be.
This year, the 7th month coincides with the new month of Muharram which also means the new Islamic year. I hope you will enjoy this short story.
THIS IS HOME TRULY...
Peng Yu wakes up.
It's a new day. He can't wait anymore. He's been waiting for this day.
His friends had already packed and some has left.
"Eh Peng! Go where? Go home or see old girlfriend first?" a friend shouted to him from the door. He spoke in Mandarin of course, so he could be understood.
Peng Yu just smiled. Shrugged his shoulders.
"Ok I chow first. Enjoy man! Don't AWOL ah. Book in on time!" the friend said his last words and went out the door.
Peng Yu smiled. That friend has always been a good company. But today, he won't be with him. It's an exciting day, with exciting days ahead.
Picks up his bag, jingling his keys in his pocket, last check in the mirror. Looking good. Off through the same door. His new car downstairs, no driver though. He's happy. He doesn't need a driver. Oh how comfortable the cushion is and his hands stroking the steering wheel. And the engine's rumbling... wonderful music. Signal, mirror, check back, the blue Mazda whizzes away.
Windows down, Peng Yu was enjoying the journey with the cool wind blowing in his hair. The smell of colitas, rising up to the air. Up ahead in the distance... he didn't see a shimmering light. He saw a familiar figure, strutting down the sidewalk.
Peng Yu stopped his car just beside the figure, pushed his shades up his forehead and looked.
"Mat! It's you!" he shouted gleefully. In English this time.
"Eh Peng Yu! Old friend! Long time!"Mat replied, in English too. It will be in English from now on as the story will be about these 2 Chinese and Malay friends. Hard to believe that they remember each other after all these years, but yes, good friendship will never die.
"Going home?" Peng Yu asked.
"Should be la, I don't know where to go also," replied Mat.
"Come I give you a lift."
"Am I not troubling you?"
"Of course not old friend, it's been a long while. Singapore isn't so big. It's nice to see you again."
Mat hopped on the blue Mazda.
"Nice ride man..." Mat quipped as he admires the dashboard.
"Ok ok only la... for transport can la.... it's a gift actually. Just got it last week" replied Peng Yu.
"You still don't have car ah Mat?"
"No la..... will never get one."
"You Malays ah... forever backdated one. If I never see you just now, how? You'll walk all the way home ah?"
"Should be la... I was at the bus stop just now, I looked at the bus numbers, I don't know which one to take. Last year was easier."
"Ah... nevermind la... life's like that. From last time, even until now, everything happens so fast here in Singapore. There change, here change.
Eh, I heard, your place there going to change also right?"
"Yup, I'm left with 5 more years. After that, the government going to shift us to a newer place. I think the new place should be better ah."
"Ya la... new houses all getting smaller"
They drove on... heading to Mat's house.
Peng Yu continued, "Your children never give you anything?"
"Like what?" Mat questioned.
"Like anything la... money or car or anything..."
"Got la, usually they give me new light bulbs and service the aircon in my place. They make sure it's always bright and cool and comfortable.
But no car la..."
"Oh like that ah... ok la... it's the thoughts that counts ah...? Maybe your children got different priorities as compared to mine. They prefer your comfort than luxury ah... so Malay... which is good, nothing wrong, but still so Malay."
"Ya... hahhahhahah. But ok. I'm happy."
"Good.. good.... like that good."
The two old friends caught up quite a lot during the journey. It was a beautiful journey for them. A great start to the exciting days ahead, meeting an old friend that they sorely missed for many many years. Of course, topics were like, families, jobs, the past and the always evergreen topic of their years in National Service and during reservist duties.
As they turn the last corner before reaching Mat's flat, Peng saw food stalls set up at the void decks. He politely suggested to Mat.
"Eh Mat, makan first want?"
"I don't think so ah... I'm a bit excited to be home fast."
"But your house there only, we eat first ah. I see this foodstall got so many food to eat. I a bit hungry already."
"Errm... you go ahead la. Sorry I can't join you."
"Why?" Peng pondered. "Oh ya...!! Haiyah... sorry my friend. I forgot la... these foodstalls not halal one."
"Ok la Mat, no problem. I have no rush la. You go up see your family. Later when you free, you can meet me at the stall here ok?"
"Sure man." Mat replied. "Such a short time, so many things to do, so many people to meet. But yes, I'll meet you here later. Thanks for the ride man!"
"No problem. I'll take sometime here la. Don't worry. I see some stalls got fruits. Later I get some for you, give your family ok?"
"I trroubled you too much already Peng Yu old friend... it's ok. I'll see you later!"
Mat ran up the stairs, he can't wait to meet his family.
Peng Yu parked his car and headed to the stall for a meal.
The place, the area, was buzzing with activities. It was a heartwarming feeling to see everyone happily having their meals at the stalls. He realised that there were many of these stalls set up along the street of the relatively new HDB estate. As he was eating, he remembered Mat.
An old friend that he missed for many years. What are the odds that he meets him this year? But yes he did. It was nice. Inter racial harmony is nice. This is going to be an exciting set of days for him and his friends.
"EH! PENG YU!" a shout from a flat nearby. It was Mat.
"You wait there! I'm coming down now!"
Peng Yu smiled.
Happy Ramadhan and Hungry Ghost month to all.
Web logs of art activities on a regular basis (hope).