Today I woke up as per usual. A little later than on normal days when I had college to attend and errands to run.It was past 9, and a couple more minutes to 10. It was one of the few times I actually woke up naturally, without my alarm clock repeatedly and incessantly screaming at me to wake up, or the abrupt presence of my dad in my room out in the balcony putting the clothes out to dry. Warm rays of sunlight filtered through the slits between the two plain white curtains in my room and cuddled me in their mild, gentle heat. The temperature was just nice, the kind that invites people to go for a jog outside But the humidity was still palpable. This is Singapore, after all. I decided that today was going to be one of those lazy days, even if it was indeed the final day of the year 2016.
I had my daily dose of Murakami on my bed as usual. Norwegian Wood. The plot took a heart-wrenching twist and I can almost anticipate an ominous ending. Brunch arrived and it was prata — one plain and one with eggs. They were soggy, soaked with drops of condensed vapour due to its heat. But I liked them all the same — the overpoweringly pleasant aroma of fried dough with chicken curry. Just two pieces were enough to fill my stomach and induce some kind of sleepiness in me. I managed to suppress the temptation to fall back into sleep even though I continued reading on my bed (not the most conducive environment to do so, but I managed nonetheless).
Time flew when you’re busying yourself with something. It’s lunchtime and I might as well have skipped it because all I ate was a fishball, a steamed prawn and a pathetic portion of fried fish. I downed everything with a glass of tea, and settled down talking with my younger brother. Today’s the final day of 2016 and it’s also one of those days he’s actually in a pleasant mood. Not many days are like this and I am grateful that today is one of those days.
We decided to go cycling. My brother has been persuading me to go biking with him for quite a few days now and finally I relented. The weather was fine, a slight, playful breeze was flirting with the leaves of evergreen trees that lined the roads. Traffic was light, thankfully, so the air was a little clearer than usual, without dust dancing ferociously around us and inducing our coughing. All was peaceful without the constant humming of engines and occasional honks.
We rode towards the East Coast Park connector, into the underpass to the park itself and headed straight for Marina Barrage. It has been months since I’ve been there. I remembered the last time I was here, I was running with a junior of mine, 15km straight down. Those were the days, when I was fitter and had the luxury of time to build up an impressive level of endurance and stamina with consistent training. Well, I thought to myself, if I had the will, all that’s standing between me and level of fitness is just time. At the same time, if it really matters to me, I will find a way to make time for it. A part of me longed for the past, the past version of myself, when I had a system, a scehdule, a goal of my own.
On our way there, the wind was blowing towards the direction we were heading. But not so on our way back. We faced a strong windy resistance after making a U-turn at the barrage. My thighs were beginning to burn as we started on our way back home, the unpleasant and excruciating sensation of accumulating lactic acid lingers even if I wasn’t pedalling. My butt cheeks were aching so much from having sat on that hard and small bike seat. It’s no wonder I put off cycling and go running instead. Too much of a hassle and you hurt are strange parts.
We were riding home at a faster speed than when we got to the barrage. Whizzing past the throngs of people and unsteadily manouvering through children on bikes and pedestrains on bike lanes, occasionally cussing at their lack of road safety knowledge, we finally got to Bedok jetty, the relatively peaceful part of the park. The wind swept in with it the smell of sea. I can almost taste the saltiness of it. Oh how I missed those days when I frequented the beach on my runs, seeing it every other day or two. But then I looked back at those times briefly and realised than while on the run, I don’t usually have time and the relaxed mental state to enjoy and fully soak in mood like how I could on bike rides. Perhaps, a plus point for biking instead of running.
We crossed the underpass and got to the other side of the road. There is an army camp there and it was devoid of people, no one running on the tracks, no guards patrol the entrance, no sight of a smoker taking a puff on the stair landings next to the vending machine. Obviously, they were told to go back, to spend time with their loved ones on the eve of the new year. Without the people in it, the entire camp had a look of desertion. The compound is evidently young but it was hollow, lifeless and forlorn once people have vacated.
I starting seeing white spots and knew that my blood sugar was dangerously low. Thank God we were approaching home. Once home, I downed the entire cup of grass jelly. Sugar never taste so sweet, I thought.
I spent the night finishing up Norwegian Wood while my brother was out with his friend counting down and my parents watching television in their room. It was a lonely way to spend the eve of a great moment, alone in a room with a (honestly) depressing book and 6 unusually active hamsters. I had a strange feeling that the hamsters were excited about the new year too but dismissed that thought because that was just me anthropomorphizing these poor guys.
I was sobbing at the ending of the book when he texted. Lonely and feeling a little depressed, I replied and see if the conversation could take things the other way. We ended up talking way past midnight and were the first ones to wish each other a happy new year. We touched on random topics like rap and shared about how we felt about movies, books and animes. It felt like the day we sat on the roof garden after some wine having the exact conversation while peering down at warm glow of street lights and listening to the slight rustling of tree leaves.
I thought I’d spend new year’s eve alone but I was wrong. It was far lonelier than previous new year’s eves but it felt warmer and more intimate (even though we communicated through text) because I spent it with the person I love.