Here are some other pieces from my recollection. I am sorry, I remember these events happened, but I cannot quite seem to recall when (year or month) they happened. That is the problem when one does not have any children or some milestones upon which to mark the passing of time. By "children", I mean I know of friends who remember the year of events because they remember how old their children were at that time.
Well, as you can see, despite my intelligence, I have a somewhat broken memory system. Haha!
Part 8 - An overseas call and a walk in the forest
(A) An overseas call
During period before the millennium (1998 or 1999), I was recovering from depression. One day I emailed a greeting to all my friends. [I cannot remember what kind of greeting. It may have been a year-end greeting or something else.] Out of the blue, my mother answered a phone call one evening and insisted that I get to the phone. I gave my mother some bullshit that I was too tired and sleepy to answer the phone, she then insisted that I must answer it. She said (in Cantonese), "It is a man on the line. He said that it is an overseas call."
In those days, long-distance calls were very expensive. In my family, the attitude is that if someone is willing to pay the expensive long-distance phone bill, the call must be regarding something important, so one must not ignore the call. A man calling from overseas? I wondered if it was AL. Then I wondered if I should even answer the call -- I didn't have the guts to because I would not know what to say to him.
Finally after about a minute of hesitating and my mother harassing me to get to the phone, I got down from my upper bunk (I was the top-bunk on the double-bunk bed) and picked up the landline phone in the living room.
"Hello, this is SMS speaking. How are you?"
What a surprise! There was no reason for him to call me since I no longer worked at my second job. I was perplexed. Then I thought that maybe he needed some help/explanation on some work/technical stuff, as another staff from my ex-vendor ever called me for -- even months after I've left the job. No matter, I was just relieved that it was not AL on the line.
"Errrrrrr, I am ok", I replied with uncertainty.
"Oh, it is good to hear your voice. I was so worried. Your email sounds so sad," he said.
"Oh, is it?" I asked in surprise. I did not realize that I had sounded sad in my email. I thought that I was just sharing some of my general thoughts.
Then SMS went on to chat as per his usual self. And finally after about 10-20 minutes, we hung up. The interesting thing is, besides SMS, none of my other friends picked up on that sadness. Either that, or my other friends discreetly did not discuss the matter. Perhaps because SMS had gone through a divorce and an affair-that-turned-sour that he could pick up on the grief? I do not know. I only know that SMS seems to have a knack for reaching out to me and my hidden grief (even years down the road).
(B) A walk in the forest
I think I had almost recovered from my depression at that time. In any case, I was on the recovery path. By then, I had another of those interesting paranormal experience. It turned around my desire to die.
Since I was planning to join a social group for a walk in the forest of one of the water catchment areas, I suggested to AL that he joined us. I was in two-minds about re-connecting with AL and decided it was best not to be with him on a one-to-one meet-up. AL asked if we could meet up in another setting. I do not recall what I told him, but I know that I somehow declined his request.
We met the group and I introduced AL as "a friend". AL had discreetly removed his wedding ring. I think the group had simply assumed that we were dating. AL was his usual thoughtful and caring self, although we chatted very little (unlike how we used to be) throughout the walk. The walk lasted several hours. Initially, I went ahead and hung out with the kids in the group, leaving AL to mingle with the other members of the group.
Then we met some darker/slippery stretches where AL once again held my hands with our fingers inter-twined. At some points, he released some of my fingers and re-twined our fingers, but with his middle finger pointing upwards, rubbing the tip of his middle finger upon the palm of my hand. He did it several times. I was a blur sotong -- I had no idea then that it was supposed to be a hand signal, probably for "sexual intercourse". I think I even asked him why he was "tickling" my hand. When we were near the end of the walk, exiting onto the road, he let go of my hand.
I don't remember if we had dinner together thereafter. But I know that I went home (i.e. my parents' home) that evening. I did not go to his hotel room.
Recovering from depression was an interesting period. Somewhere along the way, I decided that I would do whatever that I had wanted to do since young.
E.g. I wanted to be a vegetarian since watching my chicken "friend" being slaughtered for a prayer sacrifice and a celebratory meal when I was a kindergarten kid. Thus, I became a vegetarian, albeit a "closet" one initially.
E.g. I always enjoyed drawing cartoons from young. Thus, I read the newspaper and spent some time drawing a cartoon daily or weekly. My mother was getting frustrated at this stay-at-home bum, nagging me, demanding why I was not looking for a job instead of wasting time reading the newspaper from cover-to-cover daily and drawing useless pictures. E.g. Once my mother was standing just outside the bedroom door fuming in silence, while I was drawing a cartoon on a makeshift table (i.e. in-bed breakfast tray) while seated on the floor. I turned around and shouted at her (in Cantonese), “莫吵啦！” ["Don't shout!"] She looked at me with a shocked and scared expression.
E.g. I knew at that time that I no longer wanted to be a career high-achiever. All I wanted was to be able to spend hours observing the world -- just like what I did as a child; watching rays of sunlight beaming through the air-well, the shadows on the wall dancing with each breeze blowing at the fallen leaves, at my paternal grandparents' Chinatown shophouse home.
[1990 or 1991. Air-well in the Chinatown shophouse,
which I spent many of my childhood hours staring at]
I did not want to return to the Information Technology world before the millennium arrived. Too many of the I.T. jobs then were for the boring task of making systems safe for the millennium date transition. I decided that I might as well enjoy and celebrate the millennium, in case the millennium did bring the world to an end. I also made a promise to myself that if the world did not end with the millennium, I would save up enough money to have a roof of my own. Then I would rent out one room, and live my life as a frugal freelance artist (click here and here for related stuff).
[1989. 2 of the 4-page illustrated letter
that I wrote to my then-BFF,
which she subsequently displayed in her hostel room]
[1st-Jan-2000, My silhouette
with the millennium sunrise as backdrop,
East Coast Park, Singapore]