Quarterly Literary Review Singapore
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Vol. 3 No. 1 Oct 2003

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By Daren Shiau

It started out as something she thought was great to do for a friend. Ganesh had just fallen out of a relationship of twelve years and was a wreck. He asked if she could just be there for him as a friend. He missed having to live for someone. To have to navigate the difficult terrain of mapping two schedules. Ganesh did not want anymore of entire days sitting at home or wandering without guilt or accountability. He needed someone he could call once in awhile to say he’d be late getting home. Or to ask if she had eaten and be asked in return. Or to point out something he’d seen or heard. Arul thought it was charming especially because she wasn’t attracted to Ganesh physically. She liked playing along by saying “yes, dear” or “no, dear” in her SMSes and emails or sending him cheeky messages now and then. It only started to get mildly irritating after the first fortnight when she realised that Ganesh would be hurt if she didn’t call to say “good night”, because it seemed like she couldn’t be bothered if he was safe at home or where he’d be sleeping. Once, when Arul was out for a date with someone she’d met at work, Ganesh called her three times in the space between the starter and the main course. She tried to explain the calls away but the timbre of Ganesh’s voice and her vexed whispered tones for him to hang up scared her date and they never went out alone again. In August that year, Arul’s phone bills doubled due to overseas calls she made from Bali where she was vacationing with her girlfriends. When she arrived back in Singapore, Arul decided that she had to confront Ganesh. She suggested taking a drive late one Friday night, which surprised Ganesh as they hardly met. As she told him what she thought, Ganesh looked out of the window quietly, seemingly unmoved. When she finished, Ganesh’s shoulders heaved heavily. He asked her to stop the car. They sat staring at the dark tarmac, cankered by the orange streetlights and the indistinguishable cicadas. Then suddenly, Ganesh started crying uncontrollably as only a grown man does, his baritone voice breaking into an unrecognisable whimper. He said something about friendship. And trust. Soon he started using words like “worthy” and then, “worth it” and “worthwhile”. Arul sat listening to her chiming indicator bell, the frosty air-con blower directed at her chin, and in that moment couldn’t, for the life of her, remember how she was supposed to end it all, or why.

QLRS Vol. 3 No. 1 Oct 2003


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Other Short Stories In This Issue

By Chan Ziqian.

Message in a Bottle
By Neil Grimmett.


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