Les Petits Contes

About life's little observations, which matter. About hilarious situations, which illuminate. About stories which offer immense possibilities, open endings, different interpretations and perspectives.

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Location: Singapore

A nature lover; sun-worshipper, manic book-collector, dessert-devourer and a magnet for hazards

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Not a Typical Mad Day

In the evening
It is 7.38 pm. I am alone in the office, accompanied by some calming music from my laptop. Waiting for some damned document from Finland. It’s for the fire-fighting fiasco that I have been facing since last week.

I have 100 other things to do. I have my Italian homework to do. I have my air ticket to Perugia to sort out. I have my travel book to edit. But I don’t even want to look at any of it. It was the same last night.

I am brain dead with the fire-fighting issue. My colleague from another business unit just rang me – he wanted to talk to me about some article I submitted last week for him to vet.

My mind is blank. Device management? OTA? I didn’t know what he was saying – yet, to think I had edited that article last week! How to tell my internal customer, ‘’sorry - my mind is full of that crisis from another business unit and I have forgotten your topic’’?

I am so hungry. Ah – I have my cup noodle. I have kept it for months, resisting it no matter how hungry.

Now I don’t care about the MSG or the lack of nutrition in it anymore. I add hot water to it and wait for it to ‘’cook’’. My colleague, on her way out of the office, passes by and gives me a packet of biscuits – ‘’here, eat this if you are hungry.’’ ‘’Thanks; I have my cup noodle!’’ ‘’Oh please,’’ she groans.

In the afternoon
It is 1.45 pm. I have a call with my team in Japan at 2 pm, and I have not read the documents they sent across. I am trying to eat the fruits I had brought. But the phone starts ringing…. Mid way through the conversation, I see another line coming in – from France. Drop the first call, pick up the next. Drop the idea of having lunch too.

The call begins. I try to focus, and chair the call. But I could not help looking at the in-coming emails… and replying. They are all ‘’urgent’’. HQ wants something ‘’today’’. My colleague here also wants something ‘’tonight’’. The publisher I am dealing with also wants something else ‘’tonight’’. And I also want the text from another colleague ‘’tonight’’.

After the call, I have to make another call. ‘’Please, let me have my loo break first,’’ I plead. Phew – I manage not just the loo, but to munch up all the fruits….

In the morning
I receive many emails. I have some self centred ‘’requests for approvals’’. I brush them aside, and choose to read a long personal email from my yahoo account instead. I just have to. It is mesmerising.

In the late morning
I could not concentrate. I miss Kent Ridge Park so much. I just had to go there for a run. I know I would feel better.

I look out of the window…it looks like it was going to rain. But I don’t care. Quick – all the more you should go now and do it before it rained, I urge myself.

At the run
Somehow in 1999, a young romantic Parisian decided to travel on impulse to Avignon, enroute to Manosque, to give a surprise visit to his favourite student, and some other students.

He observed many things, he felt deeply, and he remembered them all.

Today, these thoughts and impressions keep playing in my mind as I ran, ever so slowly.

I have come here to run, also on impulse. Heck – I am very busy and should have been in the office – and I had better finish quick and go back for that 2 pm call. Heck – my left calf still hurts from yesterday’s training and I had planned to rest today, so that I could go for ballet tomorrow.

But I just run, and run, and run. To hell with work, to hell with my calf, and to hell with ballet.

My breathing gets heavier, and heavier… I am weeping.

Why am I weeping? Because of the beautiful observations, feelings, and memories of the young man of 1999? Because, as Marcel Proust says, ‘’in love, one never chooses wisely?’’ Because, for once, I had chosen to ‘’love with my heart’’, only to tell myself, using my ‘’head’’, to ‘’unlove’’?

Because it’s impossible to love yet another writer, philosopher and painter? How about a cook? Isn’t he all this and more? And a very loving father too!

I don’t want a rich man. I don’t need his money or diamonds. Diamonds I can afford myself. Any rich man can go into a shop and buy one. A richer one can even call up the Platinum concierge and order one.

But not everyone can discuss semantics with me. Or tell me five different words for ‘’chubby’’. Or tell a joke linking Mandarin and French words. Or invent an impromptu murder story while chatting. Or bake a cake and deliver it to my ulu office.

Or best of all, be brave enough to write about his acute observations of his Avignon of 1999 in broken English (and apologise for his ‘’linguistic mistakes’’) – just ‘’for you to understand the inner feelings of the French’’.

Going home
I understand now. Your loneliness then. Your love for nature. Your desire for happiness. Your impulse. Your disdain for promises. Your desire to go east.

Well, you are here now, in the east. And I am going home now, at the end of a long day. I am already in the east. I do not know if someday I will settle in the west. I don’t know.


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