Celebrating without fuss. No fake smiles and crackly tin-foil laughter. No feigning delight at awkward gifts. No social kisses to endure. Just a little fluffy visitor at 5.30am, tiny docked-tail waggles: “May I come in and share the air-conditioning, please?” Up he goes into a lonely, Lucy-less bed. The empty space is too vast, no little fur-ball can fill it. No, not anything or anyone. But the little tyke is a sweetheart anyway.
There is a rumbling in the distance, a tropical storm. Tiny climbs up for a cuddle. We listen to Ashkenazy play Chopin Waltzes. The sound of the piano in crystal twinkling rhythmic rubato soothes the tot. His heartbeat settles, and he falls asleep.
We woke up late, at 8am. Sun’s up, storm’s over. Typical tropical. It felt like a Cornetto sort of morning, so off to the nearby convenience store. I thought of my friend Rick, brave and faithful supplier of Cornetto during our weekly noshments.
Lunch was a simple home-cooked plate of Prima Deli instant Laksa noodles with a hardboiled egg. Then some work on my laptop at my sister’s apartment next door, sitting in my comfy little temporary work space, pinching her wifi signal. Many lovely birthday wishes on Facebook and Whatsapp. I am not comfortable with so much attention, but nevertheless feeling blessed.
Glad for quietude, to celebrate a number of blessings gently, belatedly and all at one go. A birthday. Winning the Dean’s Award. Recovering from two weeks of terrible illness. Feeling stronger. Being in clement space, among people who truly care. All these are achievements in different ways, all humbling honours bestowed by an unfathomable cosmic grace.
The big event takes place the next day. Lunch at our favourite Thai seafood restaurant.
Some errands to run, a brief foray into the shops, and the babies are soon tired. Oh hey, a pleasant surprise present from baby sister: a new mobile phone!
We are all exhausted. Home for a good nap. And a simple dinner of congee, Ipoh Cantonese style. Not as tasty as the congee in Hong Kong, but good enough.
It’s been a difficult year. I needed this. But I miss my baby girl so much.