When you were at a certain age you wanted to be someone rather than yourself. If you were Chinese speaking you wanted to be Jack Ma, and if you were pro American you might wish to be perceived as if you were Bill Gates. I wanted neither, I only wanted to be Mrs Dennis Chan. I was certain that God had nothing against adultery. In the Bible they said that God had sent His Son to pardon people like me.
The Covid-19 is spreading exponentially. Once we had finished calculating one set of data, another news came in and we had to redo the statistics to convince ourselves that the pandemic was under control. Everyone was worried and no one was left to chance. I went to the grocers and did my last round of shopping as I had decided to go into self-isolation. But in reality, I was hiding from Dennis Chan my enemy and my associate.
I could see crowds of people at Fresh and Frozen when I went in. Panic had set in the supermarket and I could see staff busy replenishing the shelves as shoppers were busy picking up the food. Most were wearing masks by now as people were beginning to take this virus seriously, like when you suddenly found that your opponent in court were no paralegal.
Covid-19 was beginning to take its toll on the population. Looks of frustration were written on every shopper’s face, probably because many people were unable to get the food items that they wanted. All I wanted was some tom yam paste with fish balls so that I could cook it with some instant noodles. Many people frown on it when I told them that I survived on instant noodles, they said that it was bad for the health. But that was the fastest that I could prepare in a short span of time. For someone like me, where my eating hours depended largely on my timeline for the affidavits, I really could not make a regular mealtime.
Of course, as a solicitor I had my own issues. Solicitors were not immune to problems either.
I hurried home after I got my groceries, which apart from the above, consisted of some pork, potatoes and vegetables together with strawberries my favourite. And as I was having my dinner with the radio on, I heard from the news that almost every country around the globe were talking about flattening the curve. This phrase has become a cliché by now.
But at the same time, the coronavirus had become a convenient excuse for cancellation of meetings, contracts and all forms of social gathering. Clients have called in to enquire if their cases had been adjourned.
When I reached home, I took out another item – a watch which I was wearing when Dennis Chan was around, and I drop it into the chute. Since I decided that I must break up with him, I had systematically transferred every conceivable item that reminded me of Dennis to a drawer that I marked as “Dennis and I”. Dennis had not bought me any gift for me to throw away, so that I could only use this method to disassociate myself from him. I needed to erase all thoughts of our past together. One more item and that will be all!
We finally had to lockdown. There seemed no other way to break the chain of transmission. The virus was moving from the traders’ screen to the real economy. No one went out, no one shopped, everything was done online, every dish on my table was an online order. The only people that came out from hiding were the deliverymen. Even the newspapers were slipped into the letterboxes instead. I missed the delicious white rose dumpling at the food centre on the way to the bus stop.
As I was toiling in bed falling asleep tonight, I thought about the much hated Covid-19, and had to agree that it was a fair demon after all. The virus didn't differentiate between persons, young or old, rich or poor. It just latched onto you and attacked! And, not even distinguishing between the good or bad. Like HIV, you could try to conclude that it belonged to persons who were “immoral”, and if you avoided certain steps or certain classes of people, you were relatively immune.
It was not easy to extricate out of a relationship, much less easy to change religion, especially if you had friends who used to share the same faith with you. No, I had not abandoned the Catholic Mother Mary. But tonight, I began to speak Mandarin to Kwan Yin when I prayed. Since it was the first time I offered my prayer, I ended it with “Amen”. I had not found out how I should practise my chant to close with Kwan Yin.
Kwan Yin was beautiful, radiant in the night, I fell in love with her smile. For the moment, I had temporarily forgotten about Dennis Chan, until someone knocked on my door this morning. It was too early for me. I went to bed past midnight writing my affidavits, and unless the alarm screamed at me, I did not get up from my bed. So that when I went to the door to open it, I spotted a man in his thirties with a package in his hands.
“Mind if I come in?” he said.
“Why?” I asked, I was still in my pyjamas, although a very reserved one, an old t-shirt and a pair of track pants.
“I was told to hand deliver this to you,” the guy said.
“Fine, just pass it to me through the railings,” I didn’t want to open the door.
“Let me in first,” he insisted.
“Do I need to sign for it?” I was still half asleep.
“The parcel is too large, and the sender wants me to see that you open it in front of me,” the guy in jumpsuit said again.
I now began to recognise him as someone from the DHL.
So, he was a proper delivery man. I opened my front door and let him in.
The man stepped in. He took of his mask and unveiled his true identity.
It was Dennis!
I was finally confronted with the truth.
As far as I was concerned, I preferred not to revisit upsetting memories. Dennis turning up at my doorstep had once again revived and unravelled the past, from the first day I met him, to the last meal we had together at the Fish Burger Restaurant …
“Darling, I miss you,” the man in the jumpsuit said, the minute I opened the door.
“God damn it, where have you been?” I couldn’t contain my surprise.
Dennis Chan was still alive!
“You know about the case, right?” he asked.
“Where have you been?” again I asked.
“China, of course,” Hanoi is very close to China, just below.
“You could have told me?!” I confronted him, although this was not the best thing to say at the moment.
“I was not supposed to have any contact with you, remember??” he said.
“Ok, now that you are back, why don’t you just wash your hands first, take a hot shower and then relax for a while, and then I want to hear your story,” I continued, I had not forgotten the standard practice for protecting ourselves against Covid-19.
“You mean what I have been up to …” Dennis mumbled.
“Were you able to deposit the money in my account in Hainan?” I was supposed to let him rest but couldn’t help asking the man as he was washing his hands in the toilet.
“Oh my, I miss the familiar scent of your toilet …” Dennis gave a swoosh.
“Don’t deviate, I want to know where the money is,” I pursued.
“Not to worry, it is safe with me,” he tried to reassure me.
“No, I am concerned. The account is in my name. What documents did you have to show them in order to put the money into my account?” I was very curious and was concerned about this all the while.
“Darling, you know me, all I had to do was smile at the bank teller!” Dennis grinned and showed me his front teeth.
I became a little annoyed but knew that the information would come out from him sooner or later, so I went to the kitchen to prepare him a hot drink.
I must admit, Dennis’ sudden reappearance had injected a certain amount of stress and uncertainty in me. As I was boiling water in the kettle, my mind racing, I asked,
“Where is your passport?” – this was to find out if he had actually been to Hainan, where he said he was.
“Oh, it’s in my trouser pocket,” Dennis said, nonchalantly.
I rushed to the washing machine, the equipment was churning, and the red button is on showing that the door is locked and could not be opened anymore. I started to get frantic.
“Help! … “ I yelled, “Dennis, come here … help!” I shouted.
“What’s the matter, dear?” he sounded unbelievably calm.
“Your jeans … it’s in the washing machine … your passport … “ I cried.
“Let it be, I am here to stay, I won’t need it for the time being.” The man said, with a faint smile over his lips.
Dennis looked good to be here for stay, so that I ignored the matter for the time being. I told myself that I would have more time later on to cross-examine him. For now, I had my man back and I was quite happy with the status quo.
I looked at Dennis, this was the man that I had wanted to marry and the same man that I had wanted to be put away in jail.