Some random moments of absolutely no significance. They choose to stick to my memory like the extra sweet gum deposited on the sole of your shoe. You can keep walking over it but it refuses to drop off.

I was eight, an age when you want to be older. In one of such moods, I demanded my parents buy me a salwar-kameez. It was baby pink with light chikan work in white thread. The first time I wore it, it was a Friday. I remember this because it was on Fridays that they screened a Hindi film in the officers’ club. On this particular Friday, my folks did not want to go; so I accompanied a neighbor/dad’s colleague’s wife/mum’ friend and her two sons. We had just reached the main gate of our building when I felt my salwar come loose. Seeing me struggling to hold it to my non-existent waist, mom’s friend (Chhetry aunty to me) came to my rescue. Standing on the roadside, she tied the tape of my salwar for me and told me, “Beta, you will always remember how I tied this for you!”


I had been in this alien land for less than a month and was still trying to survive my transplantation, when I got infected by chickenpox. The doctor said I contracted it in a public swimming pool. Swimming was the only thing I had enjoyed since I had come to Singapore. On one of those tiresome days that I was forced to spend alone, I took a cab to visit my doctor. The ride was a quiet one but I was happy just being outside my house. So I was taken by surprise when the otherwise-silent driver said, “Do you see that tree that grows on the roadside?” I turned to see where he was pointing and saw a tree with what I will call elephant-ear leaves. “I love its leaves,” he continued. “I have never seen any tree with such big leaves.” I wanted to tell him that I had seen trees with bigger, much bigger, leaves. However, I just smiled and nodded my head. I may have kept quiet because I was self-conscious about the boils and spots all over me. I may have kept quiet because I did not want to ruin it for him. I will never know. But every time I see that tree now, I feel myself smile, involuntarily.


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