Saturday, December 17, 2011

Twelve years


It seems a lifetime ago that the whole house stood still. So many changes since then: lines on faces, hairs turned grey, a grandson born, all the familiar feline forms that my mother knew gone the way of all cats.

Work and life alike throw me plenty of opportunities to talk about grief, to help others unpack theirs. That's the thing about grief, it really is a package. Its contents are mixed. Some days you reach in and pull out comfort, warm from the sun and smelling of cosy cuddles and laughs, whispered secrets and giggles and Saturday-morning shopping excursions.

At other times you feel bitten, as by a shark rather than by a mosquito: a large chunk of you, the part of you that this person shaped, is gone and you wonder how you go on. They don't make prostheses for that, but the human spirit is a wonderful regenerative thing. What grows back will never be what you had before, but it isn't completely foreign. I see others' experiences of grief, some much older than mine, and count myself blessed for the peace that I have.

I think I would have been a very different person if my mother were still alive. I don't know how much I'd have liked being that person. I only know and love the one I am now. I hope she does, too. From the nineteen years I had with her I've taken a lot, good and bad. A public blog is no place to tell about the bad. The good, no book on earth could hold.


I didn't feel any great pressure to post this today and only today, on the anniversary date. It worked out well that it fell on a Saturday this year, giving me time to blog. But truly, most days are the same. There's rarely, or never, a day when I don't think of her and miss her. It's really hard not to think of a person you strongly resemble in face and voice. But I've had a dozen years to find a way to live without the pillar of my earlier life. So far, by the grace of God, the way has been a good one to travel.

If you're one of those who knew and loved her too, raise a glass (okay, coffee mug -- containing a brew as strong as the mug can handle; we can always have a group tremour-and-tic session after) with me in honour and memory of the beautiful, tenacious, long-suffering, glad-hearted, cat-loving woman who was my (and my brother's) Mummy. Sally Saw Leng Geok, 1948-1999.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday, December 02, 2011

Short short story: Wave

I completed a "short" story recently. It was nearly 5,000 words long. So I decided to create more of a distinction between short and short. I think flash fiction is traditionally capped at the 100-word mark. If you know me at all, you'll laugh at the thought of me keeping my thoughts so succinct.

Anyway: tell me what you think. It's been too long since I posted fiction here.


It was too hot to care about anything as she walked home from school that first day of summer, not even that her skirt was riding up and her old gym shorts were probably showing. At first she thought the bird was waving for help; it looked so like a greeting, a plea. Hi there. I am small and weak and hurt. Can you help? She looked both ways and hurried to the middle of the road. Immediately she saw the crushed head, the tiny still chest. Calmly, she picked up the body and walked back to the shaded kerb, laying it by a tree. She knew it was well past any pain but it seemed wrong to leave this defenceless one to be smashed and spattered by traffic. Later she would remember the warm, soft feathers, the closed eyes and slightly open beak, and she would weep. Later she would realise that was the first time in years that she had touched another living thing. Later she would wonder why, when softness had finally returned, it had come so sad and still. Now, she simply picked up her backpack and walked on home, gym shorts exposed.

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