An Incident 7
My buddy told me a story his cousin told him last week, here it goes...
Phew! Finally I was back in Singapore after my 2 months long back-packed vacation in Europe. Nowhere is like home sweet home.
After paying the taxi driver and just by stepping out in front of my flats made me smile.
Looking at the old flat in the wee hours at 3:15 am gave me a different feeling towards our Singapore´s HDB flats.
Oh yes, let me introduce myself. I am 28 years old, male, single, part-time model and currently putting up with my mother in an old 4-room HDB flats. My 2 younger sisters used to stay with us but they moved out since they got married 2 years ago. My dad died last year and now it´s only my mum and I.
I am staying on the 14th storey and at every level, there are only 3 units (point-block flats) which make our flats really quiet.
While stepping into the void-deck, I noticed that there was a piece of half-torn red paper glued to the wall beside the lift.
For the benefit of non-Chinese, let me share with you the significance of red paper which is usually pasted onto the walls of the void deck. Residents usually glue red paper on the walls (normally cut into oblong shape) on the path from the funeral wake to the house unit when somebody in a family passes away.
Seeing the half-torn red paper, I felt cold suddenly cos I knew someone living in the same block had just passed away.
When the lift door opened, I stepped into it and just before the lift door closed, Mr Wong, my neighbour staying on the same floor stepped into the lift.
There are 3 units in each level of my flats and apart from Mr and Mrs Wong, both retirees, another unit on our floor is Aunty Sharon, a divorcee, and her only 8-year-old son, Timothy.
Although I was rather surprised to see Mr Wong at such late hours, I greeted him with a broad smile and he nodded and smiled back.
Mr Wong, unlike his wife, is a rather quiet person and we only exchange morning greetings and nodding of heads when we cross path with each other.
When the lift reached our floor, I noticed that there was also a piece of red paper glued on the wall beside the lift; That means somebody at our level had just passed away.
Before I could ask Mr Wong who had just died recently, he walked out of the lift and headed back straight to his unit. It´s alright, I could ask my mother tomorrow morning and while I was closing the door, I still saw Mr Wong standing in front of his door probably waiting for Mrs Wong to open the door for him......
x x x x x
Next morning, I woke up at 1 pm and mum left me a note saying that she would be going for gei-tai 歌台 after her work that night and would not be back early.
I was meeting my friends for dinner and to pass them some of the souvenirs I bought in Europe. After a sumptuous dinner, I went home early to rest at about 9:30 pm as I was still having the jet-lag.
When I was opening my door, Timothy opened his door and called me, "Uncle James, you are back."
"Hello, Timothy, have you eaten your dinner?"
"Yes I had dinner with mummy and she is washing the plates now."
"Oh yes, Timothy, give me one minute." I went into my bedroom and brought out the toy I bought for him when I was in Paris.
I passed the toy to Timothy and he smiled happily.
"Eh... Timothy, are you aware that someone passed away recently?"
"Yes, Mr Wong passed away last week and ambulance and policemen all came..."
WHAT!!! I couldn´t believe what I heard cos I just met Mr Wong the previous night taking the same lift.
"Uncle James, are you ok?" Timothy asked me softly.
"Ya, I am fine." I did not want to scare Timothy.
Just then, Aunty Sharon opened her door to call for her son.
"Bye, Uncle James and thanks for the toy." Timothy waved before going into his house.
"Are you ok, James? You look very pale." Aunty Sharon asked.
I told her my encounter with Mr Wong the night before and she too turned pale. I told her not to tell Timothy anything about my encounter.
"Of course I will not tell him. James, I think you better go to the temple and pray and get some flower water to bathe tomorrow."
I knew Aunty Sharon meant well but I am a Christian but I just nodded my head. "Please go home and keep Timothy company, Aunty Sharon."
"Yes, see you around, James."
Before Aunty Sharon went into her house, she looked at the door of Mr and Mrs Wong´s house.
Just as Aunty Sharon closed her door, the lift door opened and I saw Mrs Wong walking out of the lift slowly.
"Hello James, you are back. How´s your Europe trip?" Mrs Wong smiled at me.
"Hello Mrs Wong, my trip is fine. How are you? Please don´t feel so sad and you must be strong. Just give me a shout if you need anything at all."
"What do you mean, James?" Mrs Wong looked very puzzled.
Just as I was about to continue talking, Mrs Wong´s house door opened and Mr Wong walked out towards us.
My heart probably stopped beating for a while when I saw Mr Wong walking towards us and he was smiling at me.
"You... you..." I was so shock that I could not even speak properly.
"James, are you alright? You look very pale." Mrs Wong was very concern.
"Ghost!" I was shocked when I heard my voice coming out from my mouth as it was very weak.
"Ghost?" Mrs Wong turned around and as if she looked through Mr Wong and turned back and said, "James, where´s the ghost?"
I pointed my finger at Mr Wong who was standing behind her and managed to squeeze out the following few words, "Your husband... Mr Wong... is standing just... behind you..."
"Why are you so pale, James?" Mr Wong took a step nearer to me and tried to put his hand on my shoulder probably trying to hold on to me in case I fell.
"You are already a dead man!!" I pulled myself away from his hand.
"Who says I am a dead man?" Mr Wong sounded confused and puzzled over my statement.
"Timothy told me you died last week..." Then something struck my mind, that Timothy trying to be funny and played punk and lied to me. Children nowadays don´t know what to joke and what not to joke.
"Timothy told you? When did he tell you?" Mrs Wong asked.
"About 3 minutes ago, just before Aunty Sharon called him in..."
"Sharon called him in!?!?!" Mr Wong sounded even more afraid than I.
"Yeah, I was talking to Aunty Sharon right here where you stand and she went back home just before Mrs Wong came out from the lift. I must tell Aunty Sharon about what her son lied to me..."
"James, but that´s impossible cos both Sharon and Timothy died last week..."
lim peh kong wan liao