When Somebody Loves You: Her Story
By Faith Leong
We are at East Coast Park, where once you took me to watch the sunset while Mum prepared dinner at home.
This was our weekly routine: the waves licking our feet; the warm glow of the sun turning the sea into a carpet of floating diamonds; the race back to our white Toyota hatchback.
Now, as the photographer gestures for us to stand closer, I feel the folds of my convocation gown in the wind, and Mum slips her hands through mine. I wrap my hand around your watch from 20 years ago.
I hope you're proud of me, Dad.
The first day of primary school.
Water bottle – checked.
As we near the school gates, a million questions flood my mind. From afar, I see girls like myself in white blouses and blue pinafores on which is embroidered the school crest. Will I have friends? Will my teachers like me? Who will sit with me during recess?
My tummy feels funny and I tighten my grip around Mum's hand.
"Remember, Dad always said you must be brave," she says.
I look up, smile, wave and run into the sea of blue.
Mark and I are on the bus to visit you.
I try to keep my eyes away from him as I see him dozing off.
Each time the sleeves of our uniforms brush against one another, I wonder if I should have placed the box file between us. Mum doesn't like us going out together.
Then, the bus makes a turn and I feel the weight of his sleeping head on my shoulders, the musky smell of his hair spinning wildly out of control within me. I remember that scent. It was yours too.
Dad, please say you'll like him.
April 4, 1994. Today I turn four.
On the table is my favourite pandan cream cake.
A layer of glistening green buttercream surrounded by little balls of ondeh ondeh drenched in golden brown gula melaka syrup topped with a thick layer of desiccated coconut. I cannot resist pressing my finger down.
Lines, like the shape of a shoe print in fresh clean snow, appear.
"Si-wen, Make a wish!"
I shut my eyes. I hope that you and Mum will always celebrate my birthday with me.
Later, as Mum slices the cake, I remind her to leave a piece for you.
Can you see us now?
Mark is standing at the altar which looks out to the lake. In a while, I will walk down the aisle to the man I will vow to love all my life, in sickness and in health.
Mum told me you brought her here for your honeymoon. She says nothing has changed.
You made a promise 30 years ago, to love and to cherish. There is never a day where Mum stops thinking of you. Do you think of us too?
A drop of rain falls on my arm.
I will always love you, Dad.QLRS Vol. 17 No. 1 Jan 2018