Saturday, 5 May 2012


Auntie Shan and Uncle Yuan made a cute couple.  They knew my parents since way back in the 1950’s when they attended night school together. During the WWII many kids had to quit school and would continue their education through night classes when they started life as working adults. And it was through the night school that these four young people found Happily Ever After.  I have old photos of the couples double dating in Cameron Highlands and Fraser Hill. I don’t know which couple got married first. All I know is that the friendship between them became so strong that when the opportunity arose, we all moved into the same apartment block to become neighbors.

Our families lived right next to each other.  Their son, A., and I were inseparable playmates until we were teenagers.  Then we decided that we were too cool for each other.  :)  A. embarked on a career with a local bank, got married and moved away from the neighborhood.  No matter, our parents remained close friends.

Sometime around the year 2000, several things happened all at once: Doctors found a tumor inside Auntie Shan’s head. It cannot be operated on. And then we received Notice to vacate our then 30-year old apartments and allocated new ones. We can’t be neighbors anymore! Auntie Shan passed away not long after she moved into her new home.

After we had settled into our current apartment in 2005, Auntie Shan appeared in my dreams – twice. In the first dream I was in our old apartment when I heard a knock on the front door. I opened it and there she was wanting to be let in. Strangely enough I was shaking even though I had known her since I was a kid. I tried to close the door on her but she stretched out her right arm to prevent the door from shutting. Then she made her request, “阿芬,” she rasped, “给我一瓶枇杷膏,可以吗? (Fun, can you give me a bottle of Pipa Gao?)”

(Usually when I get to this point in my story, the friend / relative / whoever I’m telling it to would explode into uncontrollable laughter and I would protest indignantly, “You may think its hilarious now but I was terrified.”)

On her second visit I was sleeping in my own bed and in my dream Auntie Shan drifted into my bedroom and placed a cold palm on my thigh. I remember feeling more annoyed than afraid. She told me, “叫你的妈妈把那些碟子还给我吧! (Ask your mother to return the plates to me!)” The following morning I said to my mother as casually I possibly could, “阿姨叫你把碟子还给她啦!” Imagine my surprise when Mom answered, “是她说送给我的呢!要我还吗? 怎么还? (But they were gifts from her to me!  Now she expects me to return them?  How?)”

Creepy, yo?

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