Sunday, May 20, 2012


A gentle breeze caressed my face as I stepped out of the car. Looking down on the rows of houses and the tall durian trees in the orchard across the main road, I remember the day we moved to Taman U. It was a bright, sunny day and it was in the morning. I remember complaining about the heat, profusely wiping the droplets of sweat from my forehead and neck.

From a few square feet of barren laterite earth, our garden has grown into what our friends refer to as a jungle. Once, I helped to rearrange the plants and made use of the organic enzyme sitting in a blue barrel in our backyard. Little did I know that the small amount of enzyme I sprinkled over the plants was able to fertilise the plants in such great speed. The little cutlet of branches from a tree grandma gave us grew into a mature tree in a matter of weeks. After a six-week trip, I came home totally amazed that from a branch as long as my forearm was now at the height of the balcony.

Mr. Cactus in the middle of the garden seldom bloomed but when he did, it was always a pretty sight. We always looked forward to his blooms. With the addition of Remy and the other kittens, we were always not short on kitty humour, as we watch them learn to climb the trees and find their way through the maze of pots and plants. Once, we heard a big splash and wondered what it was. We could not hold our laughter as we noticed a very wet and shocked kitten fumble out of the fishpond.

Wear and tear from the rain and shine prompted Dad to give the gate a facelift. The rusty metal links were replaced by long, slender planks to resemble a picket fence. I remember helping Dad using tools and materials such as sandpaper, shellac and a Bosch cordless screwdriver. I proudly tell friends that I helped do the gate up.

Looking for my home did not cause much of a problem because of how easy it was to identify. I need only point out the gate and the jungle of a garden sandwiched between two mansions.

The bittersweet memories of childhood, adolescence and young adulthood fill every nook and cranny of this home. The melodies of my piano practices and singing practices of the young charges from choir echo through the stairwell. The tempting fragrance of freshly fried prawn crackers whiff through the entire house during Chinese New Year. Much of my character was built in this home.

Home. Just nowhere like it.

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