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A Holly Lee and Lee Ka-sing online magazine. Published on Fridays.
Sushi Grass in Paradise (A story)
written by Holly Lee
with photographs by Lee Ka-sing
(62) An Anonymous Friend
The letter bore no stamp, someone had hand-delivered it to their tin mail box. Strangely it addressed to Mrs. Bento, using a name she’d used long time ago. Who could s/he be, wondered Mrs. Bento as she cut open the envelope with a letter opener.
“I saw you one day in a queue in front of No Frills. Your face just struck me as someone I once knew, but couldn’t remember where and when, and how many life times ago. Indeed my friend, my memory has becoming severely muddier, especially these recent months. Sometimes I couldn’t distinguish dreams from reality, present from past, does this thing really exist or is it something I’ve just made up. Anyway, why bother whether it’s real or imaginary. It just requires endless tiresome unknotting.
Then a few days ago I saw you again with another man, carrying bags of groceries entering a house. I guess this house is where you live, and in this mail box I would be depositing my letter, hoping it’s the right place and you would be opening the letter yourself. Alas, at least traces of your name come back to me, it starts with the letter W…Wa…a, ah yes Waah, let me call you again, Waah, it’s been an awfully long time since I call out your name.
You have grown old too, Waah. But if, in the near future I wanted to have tea with you, I need to describe my appearance so it won’t startle or surprise you. I no longer like to wear black, the colour causes me depression and draws me cruelly to unpleasant thoughts. In this lockdown period, I have to use an electric hair clipper to cut my hair, which has becoming shorter and shorter and finally reaching the length of an army’s cut. At least it looks cleaner and smarter, temporary suspending those silver hangings. I would be wearing old fashioned horn-rimmed sunglasses to protect my eyes, one of which is at the threshold of going blind. Do not mind my missing teeth when we talk, I still haven’t got them fixed due to pandemic deferment. You might also find me a bit out of sync when we chat, had it not been the pandemic, I should have upgraded my hearing aid. My recent hip replacement still gives me knee pain, so ignore my limp and walk, walk with me as we once did before, shoulder to shoulder, in words or in silence. My best to you Waah, stay safe and till we meet again.”
Mrs. Bento felt disturbed, she could not find a name in the letter. Sure she had some good friends and a few confidants in her high school years, but none of them have come to Canada, or, perhaps one of them has? If so, why so secretly? Has she really forgotten this friend, who was once so dear? It caused her much distress that this ‘dear friend’ of hers wrote such disheartening words.
In a covert manner, she was comparing herself to her friend. She withdrew to the bathroom mirror, staring hard on her own face as never before, a face she knew but always avoided to examine. That thin, wrinkled and noticeably saggy face seasoned with age-spots, those weary eyes showing signs of fatigue and redness that she rather kept them closed, and the teeth, now fewer by numbers, still haunted her with persisting aches. No, none of these features closely resembled the photograph leaning against the wall on the desk of her room. In her state of mind she had refused to be photographed for a long time. Occasionally, when friends took a snap shot and showed her, she never found the picture pleasing and could only point out, quietly to herself, all its flaws. The cloud of sadness grows thicker over her head everyday and leaves her little, or, no comfort.
“It’s time to face time,” a voice said inside. “You have an inner spirit that defies days and years, that won’t be disturbed and affected by it, only manifests, and grows evergreen with wisdom gathered from passing years.”
That’s probably true. I don’t feel at all ageing inside, in fact I can grasp things with more clarity even though my eyes keep failing me. Maybe I don’t need to dye my hair anymore, after all it’s the spirit that matters, not the look, refrained Mrs. Bento. But, I still need a fitter body that’s up to the job! If I were lucky, I should be able to obtain a clone in the not too far future, I won't hesitate for a moment to transfer my old brain to my young clone in flesh and bones. But what if…I have already developed dementia, and what’s the point of having this prime-time body carrying a brain perfect that’s from a total stranger…I know, I know, I think too much, what unrealistic, ridiculous and contradictory thoughts! Admit that there is no other way and the best way is to go along with the grand plan! There’s no other truth but the ultimate truth of cherishing, embracing whatever I have on hand, be grateful to live around people, and things I love, cook them good food, entertain them with good jokes, dance some sing some paint some and age some, bravely and gracefully, burn, burn your flamboyant flame from your last, brief candle! This is what I’ll say, my band-aid, what I’ll tell and brag about when I meet my dear old friend, who doesn't even remember to leave an address, or a phone number. I should just go ahead and make a leaflet, post it around our neighbourhood, but what should the heading be? Should I put, To: a long disconnected friend, an old friend, a forgetful, a careless, an absent-minded...ahhhh-hhaaamm, feeling bored, Mrs. Bento finally gave a deep yawn. I'm tired, I have to give up thinking.
"Sushi Grass in Paradise" is an on-going story. To read the full length version with previous chapters, please visit- https://oceanpounds.com/blogs/sushi-grass-in-paradise
Photographs from domestic-life-colour-book series (2020)
you can view this series a carousel presentation of 200 images at this link:
A Holly Lee and Lee Ka-sing online magazine. Published on Fridays.
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Holly and Ka-sing currently live in Toronto with their daughter Iris, and their cat Sukimoto.