Image credit: Usha Shantharam

It was Sunday morning when I saw Mom’s body sprawled over the bed.

Her eyes were wide open with blood trickling from the corner of her mouth.

I felt for a pulse. I shook her heavy body. I dialled for an ambulance.

They merely took her pulse once the medical officers arrived. I asked for those reviving machines that is so often used in ER.

“Dah lama pergi dah,” murmured one to the other, as if I was invisible.

They tried covering a white sheet over her. “She won’t be able to breathe! Wait!” I cried, then sobbed as loud as I could.

I didn’t know when the neighbours came, but one took me aside with a strong grasp and glared hard into my sunken heart.

“Jangan meraung, orang Cina macam tu lah, kau tu bukan macam tu,” she said.

I was too shocked to respond.

The day was akin to the long hours spent in the paddy fields with my late grandmother, who used to own several plots.

It was hot and yet I covered my head with a white selendang. A few elderly women held my hand in the surau.

I felt nothing.

My eyes fell onto the wrapped body with the Egyptian cotton. Her face was left open for the final prayers and a kiss from me.

Her pale lips were slightly covered with red lipstick. She smelt of talcum powder.

My mind was blank – none of it made sense.

***

“Adik, wake up. I’ve made you fried maggi mee.”

Mom’s smile despite undergoing treatment for anemia was still strong. Her gentle touch woke me with a sudden jolt.

I wanted to crawl back underneath my blanket. “Five more minutes,” I grumbled. “Just five more minutes.”

She knew I was tired from the daily late shifts at the office, and that I preferred the cool evenings to meditate.

I felt robbed off time from everything, and no space left for me except in my sleep.

I can hear the front door slam as Mom walked in. She loved to buy fresh meat from the wet market. There she would meet her friends, chat over roti canai and black coffee.

Her face and ebony skin had a tinge of yellow. She’d soon need to see her specialist.

Now, I can’t feel the soft pressed hand on my shoulder. There’s no loud television blaring early in the mornings.

The house is silent, safe for a few of our cats purring at my feet.

One, a huge tabby, stares at me as if he knew someone was missing. He was Mom’s favourite.

I lifted Ginger and walked towards the balcony with the balmy air enveloping us.

It was night and full of darkness which I had no choice but to revel in every day.

***

There’s a woman of average height smiling outside the door. She’s sitting cross-legged on the tile floor.

It was our old home near the sea. Sunlight poured in from the side windows as the waves pounded hard onto the sands.

Strangely, we made no move to reach out, only to face one another, as a student would to a teacher.

“I’ve missed you, Mommy,” I whispered.

Shaking her head, there were words spoken which I couldn’t hear as if there was an invisible barrier between us.

I then heard the gentle voice, saying,”I’m always here for you.”

Mom kept repeating it in a soothing manner. I knew then she was beyond happiness. Her radiant face and young energy glowed around.

There was a sudden shake, as if I was going through a wormhole.

“Mommy! Mommy!” I screamed.

There were sweat beads covering my skin, and a lingering smell of jasmine in the air.

 

Elly Van Dalen is currently a journalist with theSun Daily and loves hiking in her spare time which enables her to meditate. She writes both hard news and features, with the latter as a form of indulgence. She is also a self-published novelist with a science fiction book titled “Almost Human: The Rebellion“. The book can be purchased at RM 21, with a portion of the profit going to a single mother’s charity organisation. Call 013 2811 335 to purchase the book directly!

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