Writer . Editor . Author
This morning I had a dream where I saw a beautiful house. It was an apartment unit located on the ground floor and it was in Balestier. I viewed the unit together with my younger sister from Australia.
It had a fairly old and retro interior and the place was really clean with skinny furnitures. It even had an upstairs and as I was walking around I remembered that I never liked ground floor units. But in the dream, I suddenly realised that this was not too bad after all, for it was big enough to be treated like a landed property.
I pulled the curtains open, saw the narrow land surrounding the perimeter of the house and realised its potential for gardening. I looked at the front door and saw the car parks, fit for two and the guard house that guarded the apartment entrance. I felt like this could be a house, simply with other residents living above you.
I inspected the house further and saw that it was much bigger than I thought. There were many sitting halls, and the interior got more and more modern as I walked on. I even spotted a bar area, and I remember thinking that this was big enough for me to host cell groups in my place.
I went out and met the owner. He was a big, bald and bearded man like my homestay owner from Melaka. He was slicing tomatoes into half and putting it into light dark soup. Behind him a flea market had started with people selling vintage wear and items.
I asked him if there was a kitchen in his house, and he said no, he hardly cooks. I remember thinking about getting an oven if I was really going to move in. That was the end of the dream.
I’ll cover up the designs if you want, I said to my friend M, who was lying on my sister’s bed in the top bunk of our old room. I was kneeling next to him, while he was under the covers but sat up in bed. I faced a wall to my front and he was on my left.
He said he didn’t like the batik motifs, so I said I would cover it up. M is a childhood friend but in this dream, we were conscious as adults but trapped in children’s bodies. I woke up and thought about how that room no longer exists.
My favourite corner of my pre-renovated house was the study room upstairs, fondly known as the Library. At the corner of the room facing the balcony was a long lounge chair made up of three big cushions. Underneath these three cushions were three drawers, big and deep and it kept American home magazines and music magazines like Galaxie and etc. By its side is a floor cabinet, which I filled with A3 folios of my artwork and collages. It was also where I put the large National Geographic encyclopedia book with maps of the world.
The three cushions can be lifted up and put underneath our large writing table. I remember playing masak-masak underneath the table with my sister. I also pretended to have newspaper articles and spread open the Encyclopedia book, pointing to Scotland. Why Scotland? Because it was remote. It was the end of the world, and in my mind, you couldn’t go any further than Scotland. I remember our childhood friend, S, who was boy, also coming over to play masak-masak with us underneath the table. This was probably when I was 10 or 11 years old.
I miss our old library. I had many fond memories of it as a child. Before my Dad turned it into a library-cum-study, it was my Ah Pek’s (my father’s older brother) room. I remember sleeping in it once, with my Dad next to me. I was 9 or 10 years old, and I had the chicken pox. It is now my parents’ room.
My first sight of Taiwan is its mountains. It is a Pacific island, restless and vulnerable with mountaintops rising above the clouds. Its pinnacles stood on the same plane as our aircraft, like neighbourhoods on the street, only at 30,000 feet high. We are skimming the top of clouds.
The populations are sparse, urban dwellings grouped in small clusters with plenty of green and brown in between. The rest is blue, white caps washing into the shores; every surfer’s dream. Taiwan is a country of coasts; coastal highways, coastal beaches and on the inland, industrial areas like a run-down Japan or an ageing China, turning muddy and brown.
At six in the evening, the landscape is a haze of industrial blue, green and brown farms. The country is made up of Formosas, grey highways and grey concrete buildings. We drive by quiet empty towns by winding coastal roads and I get that this is the Initial D feel.
Last night I dreamt that I had gone out on a date with a guy. He looked something like E, but I’m pretty sure he was Chinese. It went really well and we were on the top deck of a bus. I was smiling and saying goodbye and in my heart thinking when we were going to meet again. The bus driver was my colleague W. As I hopped off the bus, two friends of the guy I had just gone out with gave me the thumbs up from the upper deck. I smiled and waved back to them. The second I was about to wake up I had this sinking fear that this was really about to happen.