Eloise, The Story. Chapter Two.

Chapter Two.

It is an old HDB building with a strong smell of urine inside the lift. I press the 10 button because there are only “5” and “10” buttons available where my destination is 9th floor. I say a little prayer that this lift won’t break down, again feel so ironic since my goal in this life is being dead. After I reach 10th floor, I go down the stairs to 9th floor. I still remember every detail of the yellowish floor and which step of the stairs that’s crooked. I’ve lived in this building for eleven years but I haven’t set foot in for the last 5 years. And I don’t miss it at all.

I knock the door because I know the bell doesn’t work anymore. After about a minute, no one opens the door. I knock the door harder and louder. “Anybody’s home? It’s me, El!”

I see my hand bruised a little when somebody finally opens the door. “It’s late. What are you doing here?” he asks me.

“It’s not late. It’s still 9 o’clock.” I argue.

“What do you want?” He doesn’t bother to counter my argument.

“I need to see Dad. Is he home?”

“Why? What do you want?”

“None of your business. Is he home?”

“It’s funny how you never talk to us and now you suddenly need to talk to him?” He chuckle cynically. “It’s like you’re dying or something.”

He opens the door and lets me in. I stand just about 2 meters from the main door, so if anything happened, I could just run.

My father comes out from his room. He’s tall, skinny and looks very wasted, but I knew he isn’t. It’s just the way he looks. He looks surprised seeing me. I guess it’s been years since the last time I saw him so I kind of thought that he missed me.

“Hi Dad…” I greet him awkwardly.

“Eloise…” He says my name softly. “You become more and more like your mom.” I can see he smiles a little. “What brings you here today?”

Dad takes my hand and asks me to sit on the sofa. He asks my brother to make some tea and he straightaway refuses. He tells my brother to have some manners but then he replies that I came here because I kept something fishy. My father is mad at him and he is mad at my father back and they keep arguing for a while until my dad realizes I’m still sitting in front of him.

“Sorry about that.” He says.

I just nod a little and start to tell him why I come. “I don’t request for your permission. I just wanted to tell you this because I think you must know. So I will cancel my Singapore Permanent Residence and withdraw all my CPF money. You can’t look for me because I don’t know where I will live.”

Dad is surprised again. So is my brother, who has been listening standing 5 meters from us.

“But why?” My dad asks me.

“I don’t belong here, Dad. You know that. I never did.”

“Why now?”

“I made a mistake. I supposed to do this long time ago. I was just too chicken to get out from this comfort zone.”

My dad and my brother are just quiet now.

“Do you need money?” I asks him, breaking the silence.

“No”

“Yes” My dad and my brother answers in the same time.

“No. We don’t.” My dad turns his head to my brother.

“How much, Jerome?” I, too, turn my head to my brother.

“How much is your CPF money?” He answers rudely.

I take a deep breath not to lose my anger to him. I grab my bag and stand up, looking directly at Jerome, “Listen you punk, I will not be here anymore. I can’t help you anymore and I will never come back. So you better stop acting like an asshole and be a man! Stop doing whatever you’re doing now and start looking for real job because I won’t be around anymore. Register for Dad’s Casino exclusion when I cancel my PR and start to take care of him. You heard me?!”

Jerome doesn’t say anything. He just stares at me with a confused and angry face. He won’t understand now but he will eventually.

“Can I take one thing from you, Dad?” I ask.

“What is it?”

“I want Mom’s journal. The one that has buttons on the cover.”

 

***

 

I come back to my rented room around 11 at night but not too tired to read my mom’s journal. I’ve been reading it for couple of times but I never get bored. My favorite is the time when she lived in Paris for two years. She dated this guy named Remy, a Parisian guy who literally serenaded to my mom on her 22nd birthday. He was the exact definition of a living romance. My mom fell in love head over heels with him but then he cheated on her with a waitress in his restaurant. He was a chef and that time he was 7 years older than my mom. I guess my mom was a naïve young lady. Then mom stayed in Paris another 4 months to finish her NursingSchool and came back to Singapore. She met my father in Singapore, followed him to Indonesia and got married there. She didn’t write about my father as much as she wrote about Remy though. But in a journal entry on her wedding day she wrote, “I love this man and I can see my future with him. I want to take care of him and make him happy always.” So I believe that the feelings that my parents once shared were true.

She didn’t write so many entries after she married my dad and the blue journal ended on 1983, one year before I was born. She stopped making journal then because she worked so hard as a nurse. I love the way she wrote, always full of details and passion. I could really tell she loved Paris so much because the journal itself spent 70% of her Parisian stories even though it was only 2 years of her 7 years journal span.

My mom loved Paris so much that she named me and Jerome after her two favorite Nurses when she was in a NursingSchool. She told so many inspirational stories about how Eloise and Jerome would sacrifice their personal lives for patients. I never meet theses people in person though and never been to Paris too but Paris always sounds so good and somehow gives me hope.

I feel a small fire burning in my chest every time I think about Paris. A feeling that could make me smile, dream and look forward to live. Now I will never see Paris because I will die soon.

I close the journal and go back to reality. I apply online for my CPF withdrawal and prepare documents and stuffs to give up my Permanent Residence Status. Resigning from my job turned out to be so easy since I have my doctor’s report stating that I’m dying. My company let me leave at once and even gave me two months compensation. I applied visa for my journey which was also approved very fast given the fact of $116,224 CPF money plus all my savings for the last 6 years in my bank account. I also took part in flea market, selling all my clothes, accessorizes, and all the petty stuffs that could be sold for $5 to $2. Some things I even sold for 50 cents! I sold my laptop, printer, TV, old cameras and DVD player through ebay. That adds up about $5000 more to my fat account.

The next thing I know, I’m standing here in a Singapore airlines counter at the Changi airport, holding only one polka dot suitcase and a backpack. “May I help you, Miss?” the lady in the counter greets me politely.

“I want one way ticket to Paris please.” I say.

“May I have your passport?” She asks. I give it to her and she does some things on her computer. She sees my 6 months tourist visa and smiles at me, “That’s a beautiful destination you choose.”

“I know.” I smile back at her.

“How would you like to pay?” She asks. I give her my credit card.

I can’t stop smiling. I will die within 6 months, even though I didn’t die then, I could always suicide. Me dying is inevitably, but at least I’d die in a place I had always wanted to see.

I would die in Paris.

Footnotes: In Singapore, the residences must give 20% of their salary to Government (the institution is called CPF). The only way to get the money back is waiting until 55 years old to become one’s pension fund, or give up the residence status.

Eloise, The Story. Chapter One.

Chapter One.

It’s the first chapter of my book, which probably won’t be finished since I could die anytime. I’m twenty eight years old and I have cancer. Very contrast with my name Eloise, which means “very healthy” in French.

It was Friday afternoon and rained heavily when Dr. Boey told me that a lump in my left breast is a spreading tumor cell. I eat healthy, I don’t drink alcohol, I’m not obese, but here I am, having cancer. Way to go, god!

Dr. Boey put me on medication and asked me whether I would like to do surgery. I was a complete stone. Then he continued whether I want to discuss with my family first. Again, stoned I was still.

I walked home from the hospital, since my rented house is only 6 blocks away from it. A little boy kept ringing his bicycle bell towards me from behind, I still occupied the whole space of the pedestrian walk, won’t let him to go through. Then he overtook me by force and hit my right waist with his bike.

“Ouch!” I yelled.

“You supposed to move!” He yelled back at me and cycled fast his bicycle further from me before I had completed my reply “It’s a pedestrian—“

So it was an ultimate bad day. I almost cried then, but I waited another block to go inside my rented room.

I cried myself to sleep that night.

 

Two weeks later, I visited the hospital and talked to Dr. Boey. “I don’t have family. I’m the only child, and my parents died. I don’t know my aunties or uncles. I make decisions on my own and I’ve decided not to do surgery.”

Dr. Boey seemed shock but then replied, “So it’s medication then?”

“Will I die slowly and painfully if I didn’t take medication?” I asked him.

Now he seemed even more shock. “Miss, you know cancer is not the end of everything. Your cancer can be cured if you start being on medication now. There are also some of the government’s programs—“

“Sorry to cut your speech, doctor. I know it’s not the end of my life, it’s just making my life complicated.”

“What do you mean?”

“That day, when I went here to take my medical report, I didn’t expect cancer to show up. I was expecting a full clean and clear report so I could apply for insurance.”

“You still have medisave*. You don’t need insurance,” replied Dr. Boey.

“I wasn’t going to apply for health insurance. I was going to apply for death insurance. Now that I have cancer, it will be complicated.”

“Why would you apply…?”

“I was planning to suicide.”

Then there was a complete silence. I could hear the clock ticking and a heavy breath of Doctor Boey. “Who’s the money for?” he asked softly. I didn’t know what to answer. I didn’t know should I answer.

“Well, you mentioned no family and you seem so cynical about life, so why do you need the money? You could just suicide. Matter of fact, this cancer is doing you a favor.” He spoke boldly.

“Is there any doctor’s ethic or something? Can’t you be fired of what you just said, doctor?’

He smiled. “I just thought that suicide is so silly, Miss—“ He stopped and stared my particulars.

“Excuse me, is this meant to be blank?” he pointed my surname.

“Yes it is.” I replied.

Doctor Boey didn’t say anything. He closed the thin book full of my particulars and medical information, walked to his cupboard full of stuff and leaving me sitting on the chair in front of his desk.

“My parent is Indonesian Chinese, during 80’s era, we couldn’t have Chinese name. They didn’t give me surname because I’m a girl and they said girls don’t need surname because eventually we will get married and take our husband’s surname.” I explained. “Ironically, they didn’t think that I might not get married, so I’ll die without a surname.”

Dr Boey sighed, “Again Miss Eloise, this cancer is curable. You just need to do surgery or medication, before it spreads and become worse. Please think about it.”

I wanted to argue him back but I found it to be useless. He’s the kind of happy optimistic person and I’m the exact opposite. So I just nodded slowly.

 

I walk back from the hospital but I don’tt go back straight to my rented house. I sit quietly in the bench park below my HDB flat watching little kids playing on the small playground. Their nannies watch them as they are gossiping the latest news.

I’m lost in my miserable mind. Why should I be upset of this cancer? Dr Boey was right, if I wanted to die, this cancer is doing me a favor. So why would I be upset?

Should I tell my father about this cancer? Maybe he would pay back all my money he borrowed if he knew I was dying.

Then I chuckle. It is probably the funniest thing that comes across my mind this week. My father won’t pay me back my money; he would totally ask whether I had death insurance. Guess what daddy, I don’t! So, ha! You could actually cry at my funeral.

So telling my father is not an option, I start to think what I should do with this cancer.

There is one person I would like to tell though, maybe the only person in the world that would actually care. She is my best friend since we could remember things. We were always together. She always protected me from bigger kids who wanted to bully me in school. She shared her lunch with me, wrote me notes if I skipped school and she was always nice to me. I left Indonesia when I was 12 and since then, Shannon and I would visit each other every one or two years. When we started to work and have our own money, we would visit each other every two months. Flight between Singapore to Jakarta wasn’t so expensive anyway. So we managed to keep our friendship, just like we always did for all those years.

About three years ago, we went to Thailand for a holiday together and she met this guy named John from London. I thought it was just another hook up but six months later they got married. That kind of shocked me. Sometimes I think I’m a lesbian because I love Shannon just too much. I never wanted to share her with anyone. She always had boyfriends who comes and goes, but she never intended to get married.

I came to her wedding in Jakarta and it was the last time I saw her. She moved to London with her husband and from her facebook page I know she has one cute daughter now. Shannon and I tried our best to meet up but something has always gotten in a way. She was busy with her new house and when she could finally buy a ticket to Singapore, she got pregnant and had a miscarriage. She canceled the flight and she never bought one again. I stopped talking to her. I felt like betrayed. I was always her priority and I just wasn’t anymore. I was angry and I threw her away out of my life.

A tear drops to my cheek. I feel so broken hearted whenever I remember Shannon. I pushed people away ever since I lost her. I know Shannon tried her best to keep entertaining my non-sense while she pulled herself together with her family, but I always demanded more from her. Maybe going out from her life was a best decision after all because if it wasn’t right, Shannon might try to keep looking for me and come here to see me, but she didn’t.

God I miss her so much. I start to cry like a baby. I just let myself cry for missing Shannon, for the cancer and for my miserable judgment, for not wanting to fight for my own life.

Will telling her about my cancer do any good for her? Or is it just my ego to get attention from her?

I wipe off my tear, walk to a vending machine nearby to get me a coffee. I go up to 7th floor and step inside my flat and start to collect all my CPF documents. I know what to do.

I still don’t know what’s the title gonna be so I just call it “Eloise, The Story.” I’ll post one chapter every week, probably on weekend. Comments are welcomed.

2012 is gonna be the year when I finish a novel.

This might be a little unfair since 2012 is half way gone, but I must MUST motivate myself to write stories again. That’s where I was originated. I was a novelist, I was a story teller.

Well, I can’t complain of being a blogger or a casual twitter spammer, but my last novel was done in 2005, so this is a big stepback for my personal achievement.

Since today, I would write my novel chapter by chapter and publish it in my blog. Comments are welcome and probably will affect me in the progression of the novel.

I hope I could finish one novel this year. Support is very very welcome (and needed!) ;)

 

Love, May.

The Guy With The Scarf

Here I am staring at the moving clouds through this airplane’s window, moving further away from you, leaving you alone, as lonely as my soul now.

You are as free as your green boots could step, I’m a flightless bird. Try living in a conservative culture with a pressure as a man, which you call it privilege while I perceived as a curse.

I remember you kissed my lips while we were arguing about that. You said our time was too short to be used for arguing.

Arguing the things which used to be very important for us. But not anymore since our future is not ours anymore. Now it’s your future. And my future. In two different sentences.

Your face appears vividly in my mind, every single seconds that I’m alive.

Your voice calling my name keeps repeating itself, convincing that I’m crazy.

I swear I would kill just to kiss you right now.

The memories of undressing you, kissing your neck and touch your skin are killing me slowly.

I love you so much I could kill to have you back. I love you that way. You told me it’s wrong. But if it was wrong, then it was wrong all along.

I know you were lying. It’s just something you had to do. I hate that.

You were the best thing that ever happened to me. My life after this is just a social responsibility for my culture and my family. My life was with you, your cheeky smile, your snorty laugh, and your memorable green boots. And my life ended yesterday, at the Orchard Road, by a goodbye kiss and a tear.

I am not a person anymore. I am dead. I am left nothing, but this scent of you on my scarf.

May, Above the Clouds, On the Airplane, January 27th 2012.

That obsessive girl on a green boots need coffee so bad.

Here I am, standing tall in the crowd of the Orchard Road on the Saturday Night feeling lonelier than ever.

I can’t remember when was the last time I walk slowly, when was the last time my hands being held sincerely, when was the last time being sane, and being whole.

I want to dance freely, in the rain, if I could. I wanna feel loved again. I want a cup of ice coffee with just a drop or two of hazelnut syrup and two spoons of milk. That’s a latte. It’d just be easier if I ordered a latte.

I’m heading to the nearest coffee shop now. There are about 7 coffee shops in this one big street but I can’t seem to find it. I’m chasing my comfort and my relaxant from caffeine coz you don’t give them anymore.

I’m broken hearted, more than I have ever been before.

I, myself, broke my heart. Again.

I’ve walked this street for the hundredth times, memories juggling through my mind. You, that scarf of yours that made me warm, myself in your arms and those little sweet pinches on my cheek.

I was a fool of giving my heart away. Of trusting people too much and of a thought that I could actually love someone.

The fact is, I don’t have the capacity to love. I don’t have ability to share my life with someone. or anyone.

Shit! Where is this coffee shop?!

I’ve been going round and checking the directory of this fu**ing building twice but I can’t find it!

I’ve been counting my steps and I hate to stop to check the directory when my step stops at odd numbers. I also hate you.

I also hate the fact that memories of you is more rigid than the picture of you, of us. There are no picture of us.

There’s only this mental picture in my head. keep rolling like a sixty’s movie.

There goes my coffee shop. I can catch my breath now. I can drink my comfort, I can get lost in my fake daydream and I can pretend I’m in love with you again.

 

May, Orchard road, 14th January 2012