Instant Story: Hot chocolate, oldies and my iPad

It’s been a while since I have been able to have some time on my own. So I packed up my iPad and made my way here to Freshness Burger at Nex. A perfect time to do this thing which I’ve always wanted to do – to sit at a place, write a story or observation on my iPad and instantly upload it without edits.

So here goes – my first Instant Story.

I love this joint here at Nex. It plays oldies which brings back memories, serves pretty decent hamburgers and drinks. I decided to try it’s hot chocolate today. Just for fun, really. I don’t particularly fancy the stuff… If you’re going to San Francisco… a familiar song from my youth back in the kampong. My brothers would play songs like that. I didn’t really cared and would be engrossed in catching spiders, casting marbles with my friends or just generally goofing around with my younger siblings.

But when you are repeatedly surrounded by songs or music, it sticks in your head and becomes a sort of signpost to certain times in your life. Imagery emerges from the shadows and feelings of yore surfaces.

I remember my very first crush. It was on my neighbor. I must have been about 10 or 12 or thereabouts. I remember I was still in primary school. But because I had failed my exams from Primary One to Primary Four, I had to redo one more year. Thanks to my new form teacher, Mr Francis Yeo, I then sailed through Primary Four to Six. Which is also why I’ll never forget Mr Yeo. He proved to me that I was not stupid.

Anyway, Linda was her name. Skinny but very lively, active girl. She would come over to our place and hang out with me and my younger bro. I think she was a year younger than me or a year older. I can’t really remember. Her parents ran the air conditioner repair shop next to our house and she would smell of that – the freon (?) gas smell.

For some reason, however, she and I would not get along very well. But we were friendly and never really had any big quarrel. It’d be hard to quarrel with a girl you like, anyway, at that age. You’d be more smitten than anything else, which I was, truth be told.

Then one day, she had to go away. Out of the blue, she no longer showed up. The shop no longer opened. And that was that. She was gone.

Now when I hear music from that era, I am reminded of her – her skinny frame, her thin lips, her long black hair and her squeaky voice. The look on her face when she got angry. The times when she would beat me because I’d been unkind to her younger brother, Jason, or her even younger sister, Connie.

Life is strange and moments shared sometimes make you wonder what would have been.

But here I am – more than 30 years later, all grown up. Here at Freshness Burger at Nex in a very different Singapore.

But memories don’t change. They grow fonder the older you become. And in that way, they become more precious as they blur into the past and you try to cling onto them.

They are an integral, intimate part of you. Each memory like a little painting of a jigsaw that makes up your life.

Now I understand what you tried to say to me… How you suffered for your sanity…

6 June, 18:23 hrs.


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