Thoughts of Singapore haunt me as I stare out of the window from my new house. I try to find the soul of the city in the scent of sand. Flashy cars try to outdo each other on roads and flyovers. Far above them are Dubai’s tall buildings. I shut my eyes tightly and imagine tall pine and maple trees in the place of skyscrapers. I replace carefully arranged flower beds with wild bushes and undo the huge mall for a small pond.
I sit in the General Hospital, waiting for my turn when I hear a loud wailing. Expecting to see a child, I am shocked to see an elderly lady in a wheelchair, crying with her eyes tightly shut. I am deeply disturbed and could see that the other patients are uncomfortable too. This incident reminds me of an old cleaning lady in our condo whose eyes glistened as she told me how lonely she felt as her children and grandchildren lived far away. There is another instance of a man in our neighborhood who is dreadfully scared of dogs but has to walk his daughter’s dog, as she is too busy to do so. As I walk away from the hospital, I see an elderly man staring into space.
The Wooden Chair was the first haibun I had written. This was published in Contemporary Haibun Online’s July issue, 2013, Vol 9. Please find below.
My Wooden Chair
I stroll restlessly in my new house as trees outside are being chopped for construction. Lifeless new buildings are sprouting in the neighbourhood. I wonder mildly about deforestation as I lean back in my chair.
my wooden chair screeches– memories of a felled tree
I stare at the ceiling, wondering if it is 1 or 2 PM. At the corner of the table is a kerosene lantern, not used for many years. I light it and walk into the night. The creatures of the night hush at the sound of footsteps, but the persistent buzz of a bee holds my attention. The bee hovers around a wild plant; an orange bud. The bud sleeps on, unheeding the bee’s buzz and noise. But, the bee does not give up. It sits on the leaves and bends towards the bud, shaking it. Suddenly, there is a loud hiss. It is not the bee, but the flower. It opens up to reveal a yellow inner part, further illuminated by the lamp. The bee moves home and rekindles in my heart the hope to live.