Saturday, May 28, 2011


172. Even if it's a Saturday afternoon, for the third time within less than twenty-four hours, I am once again walking to the printer room, this time neither for the printer nor the pigeon-hole, not even for the scanner. It is the handy paper cutter that I am after. Growing increasingly frustrated about having my notes on a project scattered all over the place, I thought of getting one of the notebooks stocked in the secretary's room, which is unfortunately locked during weekends. Then, a thought occurred to me. My desk has a drawer full of one-sided printouts that I keep to use the blank sides as scrap papers. I could cut these loose leaves in halves, staple them together along the width, and have myself a little convenient notebook. Rather proud of myself for coming up with this crafty idea, I set out to make it immediately. 

As I pull down the handle of the paper cutter, the first bundle of A4 pages are sliced neatly into two parts, the size of which looks oddly familiar. It suddenly comes to me. My sister and later on I myself, we both have studied many English words by writing them over and over again on these A5-size handmade notebooks. My mother, without the benefit of a proper paper cutter, would make the notebooks with a pair of scissors and out of one-sided exam question sheets that would otherwise be discarded, after my dad finished marking exam papers each semester. Leaving home midway through my teens, I have stopped seeing them, until almost a decade later when my mother came to Australia and made these notebooks once again, this time for my nephew and out of discarded papers from my university. Not seeing her for almost two years now, I have completely forgotten about the notebooks. Continuing slicing paper, I wonder what else I have forgotten, and if whatever time it is over there at the moment is too late for a phone call.

173. Getting an email from Tintin, and feeling proud of him for running 20 kms for a charity. He has been running to prepare for this race for a while now, but it was only until this afternoon that I realized he was doing it with a purpose. (Or, rather, with a different purpose than the one I had assumed: to look hot and subsequently get laid.)

174. 8ish pm. "He would be fast asleep by eight, and then not wake up at all until past midnight," his mother reassures me. As soon as she walks out of the door, Prince Charming starts crying. I stand frozen in front of his bedroom door, wondering whether I should enter. His mother has also told me, that every now and then he might whine a little, and his eyes might be open, but he would actually be sleeping, so do not wake him up; and if I did, there would be no putting him back to sleep. You have an opened bottle of vodka, I has thought of pointing out, but realized that it would not have been wise to joke about intoxicating a six-month-old baby on the first night his mother let me babysit. 

9ish pm. The apartment is completely quiet, except for the sounds of my turning pages. The silence makes me wonder whether he is still breathing, and, in fact, whether he is still there at all. You might think that it is a silly worry, but at least two people I know would disagree with you. Kate, for one. Last year, leaving me with her then also six-month-old baby, Kate left to watch a movie with her husband, only to ring me as soon as they arrived at the cinema. "Is she sleeping?" "Yes..." "Is she there?" Kate asked, only half-joking. "I... think..?" Kate has stayed on the phone until I went to make sure her baby was still around. "Yep, still here, and she is also breathing," I confirmed, after leaning down to look at the rising and falling of the little chest. Anna, for another, has also called me on the phone earlier this evening, even if he is not her baby. "Do not fall asleep!" she warned me, after Geluck had told us earlier this evening about a babysitter he once hired, who, by the end of the evening, distressingly reported, "I lost one of your children." "Don't worry," I have told Anna, "he would not be able to go and sleep under the crib like Geluck's son did," but now, slightly worried, I go to check on my Prince Charming just the same. 

10ish pm. Curling up on the couch, I am listening to the peaceful heavy-breathing sounds of my Prince Charming. If someone has been (un)fortunate enough to share a bed with me, he or she would know that, barring one exception, between the two of us I would be the first to fall asleep and the last to rise. This means that the co-sleeper risks being hit with a pillow if tries to wake me up. It also means that I almost never listen to the sounds of someone snoring, which, I now realize, has a very calming effect: these sounds are a sure indication that someone is there and alive.

No comments:

Post a Comment