Once upon a time, a handsome young man fell in love with the wrong woman and married her. He desired to do right by her and loved their two daughters very much, in his own quiet way. He met his love at airports, shared with her his belief in literature, and bought her flowers when he was puzzled.
In his own quiet way, he kept mementos of achievements, remembered birthdays, and carefully printed a pair of signatures in greeting cards.
He rode the bus to work every day, having packed his lunch box carefully. He went on work dos to make sure that he was in with his colleagues. Walking briskly along concrete crazy paving lining the man-made pond at the sun-blazed park was exercise. A nightly bottle of stout was his poison. It made his head spin with possibility.
Daily and nightly, in stereo, the silence of his mate and the noise of the neighbours drove him to action. He lowered a sheet of paper out of his window. “Help me,” it said, in scrawled ballpoint. The monkeys in the roof, migrants from the remnants of nearby plantations, chattered about it. Captive birds – the mynahs and faded peacocks of conspicuous consumption – saw it. Fat tropical tears washed past. His flag melted into wall before it sank into memory. His flag and the wall became one, solid and decaying in tandem.
One day, the old man bought a tin of red paint.
(c) Vera Chok 2014