[Sunday, 18 February, 2007]
Alone in the living room, that was how I spent my first moment of the Chinese New Year. I could not even be bothered to look at the television. My brothers each occupied a room while my mum started offering prayers to the heaven and then went to the temple.
The bonus was the phone call from Suimin. It was fun to chat with girls who spoke English most of the time and had weird but sexy Chinese accent. Usually I would try my best to fool them into using Chinese. Nevertheless, it was good enough to chat with sweet girls. We did not chat for long again.
I also received a greeting SMS from Sherry. How weird it could be for such a busy girl to do this? We used to chat a lot during the IRC days but time eventually got us separated. She moved on fast with the pace of this society but I was still straying and losing my way at the very beginning. Almost seven years of friendship and we had not taken any photo together, but I trusted her to keep her promise, unlike other friends.
After two o’clock, my mum returned home and gathered my siblings and I to invade Chinatown. Weirdly, this was the first year that I had visited Chinatown only during the last day of the pasar malam. We met up with my younger brother’s friends and started walking around. The place was still very crowded at three plus. Many people were partially blinded and had to bang into me even at spots where it was not so dense with people.
I hated the sticky floors. Uncivilised people had thrown wrappers all over the floor at their convenience, trying to turn down the title of the garden city. It was very boring for all the stalls were selling almost similar items like the previous year except there was this party gun which was cool but expensive. At around 4am, most of the stalls at the streets were already closing. A couple who just got there mistook that business was good, but actually, the owners were on curfew and had to stop operation around that time by law.
We went to Maxwell market. I was quite hungry but there were not many stalls left. All of us had bean curd type of dessert, which was quite fulfilling. Then, we strolled back to Tanjong pagar and waited for my younger brother’s friends to flag a cab home. We waited quite long and were entertained by two half drunk westerners.
I had to drain my bank account once again for my mum wanted us to contribute hundred bucks each for my auntie who was taking care of my sick uncle. Government did not offer enough help for the childless old couple who could not work for they still owned the 3-room flat even though their savings had almost depleted. In fact, I was not in any better situation.
Back at home, it took me quite a long time to settle my stuffs before going to bed. It was as early as 11am, I was waked up by my mum and younger brother. My younger brother seemed to be grumbling about either my elder brother or me, or both of us for bugging on the bed. I was very irritated.
We set off for my auntie’s house. Breakfast was chicken rice from the stall at the nearest bus-stop. The owner rented that stall for one day only once every year and that explained the quality of food. Anyway, we had takeaways and dined at my auntie’s house.
After eating, I dozed off as usual until a few visitors arrived and I was waked up by the noise. All the familiar faces I saw only once every year gave me a weird feeling, especially when receiving the red packets from them. Anyway, these were the only pathetic few small red packets from my mum’s side of relatives. In fact I was so used to it already and would be glad enough if friends were to believe my “income” was so low.
On the way home, my mum’s feet were giving her big problems again. I was not positive about how long she could still hold with such poor health condition. I expected my health to be worse than hers when I was as old as her for my injuries incurred.
It was a very sunny day but rain soon swept over areas in Singapore to welcome us into the new year of the lunar calendar. I spent my late afternoon playing Romance of the Three Kingdoms 3 after abandoning it for so long until dinner time. My younger brother wanted to dine out at Marina Square but my elder brother and mum decided to finish up the leftover food and thus we had steamboat again. The idea of making my whole body and work area stink turned me off so much.
Since the barbecue platform was nearer to me, I did a lot of cooking for my mum and elder brother and was attacked by the flying oil many times as well.