In my grandmother’s home, Time is a wholly different concept.
You see, Time goes retrograde when you enter her house.
It thickens like jelly and congeals into a sticky mess, much rather like a melted toffee sweet, and flows to a complete stop when you swing your foot gaily over the doorstep. The ancient aroma of the antiquated furniture mixes well with the stagnation of incense smoke from her praying altar that looms over the house, like a patient guardian deity. Or several ancient deities, seeing that there are more than one.
The Goddess Of Mercy.
Tua Pek Kong.
The Earth Deity.
The Kitchen God, nestled comfortably on a mounted altar in the kitchen.
My mum told me once that if the deities were “at home”, or said to be inhabiting the deity statues, the faces of the deity statues would be dust-free. So I would scrutinize their faces with a healthy curiosity. But the dim facade always ruined my inspection. So I never really found out.
Three sticks of incense in the incense burner.
I catch a glimpse of the scarlet moon blocks to the left of the candle holders.
I would sit down on one of her wooden armchairs, to which underneath my late grandfather had inscribed the date of purchase on the heavily ingrained wood. I picked out the rough-shod marks on the resting arms of the chair.
I remember scratching them in with a pink plastic knife when I was 5 and being precociously destructive.Then I would run my hand over the other marks, which I had no memory of. They must have come from cousins much more precociously destructive than me, and the ones before them.
The pink plastic knife was one out of many knives that would come freely available with garishly coloured birthday cakes.
In my mind, a plastic Pikachu figure seats itself proudly on a sea of whipped cream and sugary sponge. It has no intention of making space for the spindly birthday candles, and absolutely insists on making itself the center of attraction for a 9-year old girl, who beams at the camera. That shot must have lost itself in Time’s embrace, or a dusty photo album somewhere.
Slowly, but surely, Time squeezes its own eyes open, a slit of dark pupils revealing themselves. But it still cocoons us in its own peculiar time blip, separating her house from the outside world. I slide back in the armchair and soak in the sweet silence.
Someone once told me he found her house radiated creepy vibes, to which I could only shrug my shoulders.
Lunch is served in tin plates, sparsely decorated with resplendent cockerels and flowers. Porridge, salted olive vegetables, fried eggs with black soy sauce.
The television is switched on, and it whirls into life.
It is 10 am, which means that the usual Cantonese opera will be showing on Channel 8.
I proceed to close my eyes.
(Aw, how about another one more?)
© Zelda Reville