Making Light of Things


It seems so stupid, but sometimes we don’t do the right thing, even when we know it’s the right thing, because it’s a little late to do the right thing.

These are things not many people know about me.

When I was one month old, my parents left me in the care of a nanny whom they paid. I went home to my parents every Saturday night and came back every Sunday night. For the longest time I thought that my nanny’s family was my real family and my parents were the weekly abberation in the fabric of reality. I still call my nanny Mama, her children “Jie Jie” and “Kor Kor” (meaning brother and sister in the Chinese dialect we spoke). Till this day I believe that a large part of my character is derived from having lived there and having called them family.

But somewhere the aberration became the norm. I was moved back to my parents when I began formal education. I’d visit Mama every week. Slowly every week became every month. And every month became whenever. If ever.

Why don’t I visit more often? I honestly don’t know. Maybe it’s because I wouldn’t know what to say. Or maybe I’m afraid that the person I see before me isn’t the same person I remember from my childhood. Perhaps some part of me wants things to be the way they are, not wanting to rock the proverbial boat.

I was in Mama’s neighbourhood today. I decided to take the elevator up. The entire place had recently been repainted, now looking more like a set of building blocks than apartment blocks. Red, green, yellow and blue replaced the old cream coloured buildings that had turned a stale light brown with age. That aside, everything felt so very familiar. Like walking to the bathroom in the dark. You know where the light switch is.

I walked up to the corridor and looked at her door. It was half-open. And I froze.

I didn’t dare look in for fear of being seen. What if she asked “what took you so long?” What would I say? Where would I hide my unfillial face?

I stood there for the longest time. Then I headed home and left home behind me, still unvisited. Unresolved.

The Corridor to Mama's House

The Corridor to Mama’s House