This afternoon Asaki started the topic:
“I heard that Mr Mori has two wives,”
“What do you mean?” My eyes rolled big.
“He was in Sri Lanka before this,” “she killed herself.”
“One would have thought that she was killed by the natives.” I said.
“And apparently he still has a family there.”
“Oh, dear, what a complicated situation,” I said.
I thought about it and I still couldn’t believe it. Mr Mori looked like a disciplinary master. His face was thin and gaunt and when he spoke to you, he stared straight at you without blinking, the magical spell in his eyes always made you tell the truth.
I often got the feeling that Mr Mori was hiding something from me.
His has another wife .... she killed herself when he was posted to Sri Lanka ...
“Oh ok, she died,” I tried to remain disinterested.
Then out of curiosity I couldn’t help myself asking,
“There could be several methods to suicide. Did she point a gun at herself? Did she jump down from a building?” I gave Asaki a few examples.
I sensed that Asaki was not ready with the information, so that I quickly added, “let me know when you are ready, I know that this is P & C.”
I sensed that Dan was with me in the same house, although I couldn’t say for sure which part of the house he was occupying. I have a double bed and Dan used to sleep on it with me. Of course he was not there with me now, he was stuck somewhere in a niche in the St Francis Church. But fact was that Dan left on a sudden note, almost in a hurry. He didn’t plan to leave, that was for sure.
Every morning when I was at Mr Mori’s room I saw my Cross pen staring at me. It was a gift from me to Dan shortly before he died. The pen has the engraved words “I love you Dan,” on it.
When you have done something wrong usually you didn’t tell other people about it. So far, I have done no wrong. I have no intention of entering into any relationship with Asaki, assuming that this was what he wanted. And if anything, it was always he who followed me out into Caterpillar Road.
Today we walked further down the street and we arrived at the Fur Café located just as you turned right from Caterpillar Road into the main road. Asaki attempted for the first time,
“Want a cup of coffee at Fur Café?
I usually have my coffee there anyway after we parted company. Our office closed at 4:30 p.m. so that it was not yet crowded as most other office staff were still working. I took the initiative to go up to place the order for the afternoon tea.
When I brought the coffee to the table where Asaki was seated, he said,
“Do you know that if you drink too much coffee you are prone to cardiovascular disease compared with those who drink less?”
“Rubbish!” I said, “I drink in moderation. Moderate coffee consumption could have cardiovascular benefit.”
“According to research.” I was adamant.
Today I decided that I wanted to show Asaki that I trusted him, so that I left my transparent bag with him.
“I’d only be gone for a while,” I said. And then I took only my wallet from the bag. Surely, he would wait for me until I returned. He won’t run away with my bag. He was my colleague not a thief. I walked to the cashier.
“How much is the food?”
“What are you having?”
“A set of tea, two scones,” instead of coffee I decided to take tea today.
“Any other orders?” the cashier was meticulous.
“That will be fifteen twenty,” she said, thus I dug into my wallet to take out the change.
When I went back, Asaki asked, “what is this that you have in your bag?”
“Oh, that’s nothing, that’s just my jewelry pouch,”
“How did you know that I have it in the bag?”
“I can see from outside. Your bag is transparent!”
Yes, my transparent bag. My bag was transparent.
“Is it for sale?” Asaki tried to be funny.
My transparent bag is not for sale!
My transparent bag was my life. My identity card, credit card, and discount cards, etc. …. they were all inside, so that if I lost my bag I was gone. The bag contained all worldly possessions to tell people that I was Rachel Wee of Chinese descent, aged thirty-six this year, and in possession of some amount of money.
In retrospect, I should have realized that the office suspected something going on between Asaki and myself when Joanna spoke to me out of the blue one afternoon. She leaned over and whispered in my ears, “Try to tell lies if you can,”
“You mean to say that I have something to hide?” I retorted immediately.
“Nope, I am just saying it as a general principle,”
“Ok, got you,” I nodded my head and carried on with my food.
I thought that the others did not hear us.
As a said, there was no reason why I should not like Asaki. He has this boyish charm and baby good looks. He looked young for his age, and he talked to me as though I were his age, even younger so that I was not so sure why he liked me, or why he chose me to be the subject of his affections. But one thing I knew for sure, he was not going to give up until he got what he wanted, which was still quite undefined now.
Today Asaki and I walked the length of Caterpillar Road in silence, each in our own thoughts. I was nursing a wretched cold, but I didn’t know why Asaki was quiet. Perhaps he was thinking of his wife, maybe even his new born baby. Angela had told me to give him a birthday card for his baby – to register with his wife of my existence. Like a caveat.