It was only in the morning when I arrived at the office that I realised that I haven’t paid the café for my iced mocha coffee yesterday.
I tried to look for the café on the internet, hoping to call them and tell them that I would drop by later after work to make payment. I remembered that it was called the Monster Café. But that it was a small café, and I was not surprised when I couldn’t find the telephone number.
Just as I was about to lapse into a state of bad mood, a man walked in.
You couldn't say that I was observant or that he was striking. But I remembered him – the man at the Monster Café yesterday. He was here at the gift shop!
OMG! I am being stalked!
"Hello," the man smiled the moment he came in, I knew that he was greeting me.
Of course, I was the only one in the shop.
“Welcome, please feel free to browse around. Let me know if you see anything you like,” I said, I was told to say this the moment a guest turned up.
And then I moved slightly aside, so that my customer could walk around freely and hopefully he would see something he liked. And hopefully it was something expensive.
“Fancy this set of wine glasses?” I ventured. I was eager to make a sale.
“They look nice,” the man didn’t object.
“I could pack it up tightly for you, with foam and two layers of tissue paper,” I offered.
“Yeah, not to worry. I only need to bring it into a taxi,” my customer said.
“Huh?” I was a little surprised.
“I am only here on a staycation,” he explained.
“Oh, no wonder you sounded local,” I commented.
“By the way, I do not need to have so many glasses. I do not entertain. I am not married,” he carried on, and then,
“I am just browsing .... ”
“We have some very nice ashtrays,” I said quickly, adding, “they’re all here,” pointing to the few porcelain ashtrays displayed next to the newspapers. I was eager to make a sale. I still couldn’t hit my daily target of one thousand dollars.
“I don’t smoke,” my customer sounded apologetic.
I began to study this man standing right in front of me now. I could see that his necktie was not very straight, perhaps done in a bit of a hurry. But I was wondering if he were telling me the truth, that he was a non-smoker. I went a little closer to see if I could smell nicotine from his body. But instead all I got was the Cologne he lavished on himself.
Standing at close proximity we became acquainted immediately.
“Fancy this pair of cuff links?” I asked.
The man picked up the box, frowned, picked up the stuff, studied it, and he put it back again, saying, “Nice, but I have one too many.”
Before the man got tired of browsing, I had quickly brought him to the gift cards rack, in an attempt to detain him until he bought something.
“These gift cards are nice, limited edition, printed locally, on our local scenes,” I took out a few cards.
“No need to elaborate, I can see very well,” the man said.
“See very well what?” I asked.
“I can see very well that we are both having our masks on,”
And then we both laughed.
The atmosphere at once became cordial.
“Listen, if I buy up all the items at this shop, would you come home with me?” he fired me point blank.
Startled, “you must be joking,” I stammered. That must have been the most intelligent response I could give.
And I stormed out of the gift shop leaving all my merchandise at his disposal.
I still couldn't help thinking of Andrew. The last time I saw him was yesterday, and I am due to see him again later, which was pretty soon. Andrew and I have not been on talking terms, simply because he was in a coma now. He couldn’t talk to me. I saw him every day after work, just before I was due to go home for dinner. Dinner I ate alone, because Andrew couldn’t eat with me.
Yes, my husband Andrew had met with an accident since the day he was knocked down by the bus. The date I remembered very well – 20 April 2015. I rushed to the hospital from my office to see him, but I was just two minutes too late. The lapse was an eternity, without a proper goodbye and no clue as to when he may wake up to talk to me again.
Today after work I was at the Greenland Hospital again. The room was in complete darkness when I entered, so I automatically walked up to the window to draw the thick velvety curtains. The nurse in baby blue uniform was changing the drip for Andrew.
“Mrs Choo, do you have any children?” she asked.
It was a little intrusive, so I replied, “No, why?”
“I was thinking …” she continued, sort of hesitant.
“He will wake up, won’t he?” I began to sound desperate.
“In due course, I guess,” the nurse replied.
I walked up to her and looked at her name tag, and I stared at it, hoping to use her reassurance as some sort of certainty.
She backed off a little, and she quickly turned away and walked out of the room, before shutting the door behind her.
I stood in the semi-darkness, curtains half drawn, and I made a silent prayer. Afterwards, I went to the side table to pour myself a cup of water, the water was actually meant for Andrew.
I will drink the water of life for him. I said to myself.
Half an hour later, Dr Jason came in.
“Good evening! Good that you are here!” as usual he looked happy to see me.
“Most family members would have stopped coming by now,” Dr Jason said.
“Why?” I was surprised.
“They see it as futile …” Dr Jason spoke softly.
“But … the nurse said …” I tried to challenge the doctor, I knew what was coming.
“It has been more than two months, if there was any hope, your husband would have showed some response,” Dr Jason elaborated.
“So, you mean to say that we should just leave him in this state forever?!” I was getting hysterical.
“As you know, the law here does allow for euthanasia,” Dr Jason continued,
“and the cost of maintenance is high,”
“unless you want to continue … but there are other patients who might need it …” he spoke with a kind of stammer, done deliberately to dilute the severity of his words.
I couldn’t put an end to Andrew’s life, that would be murder. I had no right to decide if he ought to live or die, these matters are best left to God. But God wasn’t talking, He has to make a decision! If nothing else happens, Andrew would continue to live day after day by virtue of the life support machine. The machine cost three thousand dollars a day. I would never in my life spend three thousand dollars a day.
This morning I woke up after the alarm sounded for the third time, on repeat at a 5-minute interval. And then reluctantly I got out of bed. I went to the bathroom and realised that I had not prepared a clean set of clothes.
Never mind, I will wear what I wore yesterday, no one would notice. I told myself.
No one came into the gift shop today.