Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sunny and me

listening to my heartbeat

clutching my hand

holding me tightly Posted by Picasa

“Je suis une ange”

To an angel.

On a break from ‘domestic life’ I went out last night. The whole town became one big party, with music gigs, dance events and entertainment all over the place. Never have I seen so many people, mostly youngsters like me, drinking, dancing and partying into the night. The weather was kind, not too hot or cold, and the air mixed with the smell (read: stench) of spilt beer and barbeque. Still I’ve not been able to figure out what the whole evening was about, but I suspect it’s related to the start of the Tour de France in a week’s time.

No matter. I enjoyed myself, going from one gig to the next, stopping and walking, only to stop again wherever the crowd gathered. I looked and envied those people who were enjoying themselves so unreservedly in the middle of the street, dancing away, streaming and being wild.

At one point I came to a small gathering underneath the Cathedral. Beneath the magenta glow of floodlights on the cathedral clock tower, under a clear black sky full of stars, a girl sang and played her guitar. She played love songs, my favourite kinds, to the likes of the Cranberries, Natalia Imbruglia, the Carpenters, and other French ballads. A crowd slowly gathered in a crescent formation around her, cheering her on, clapping along, and some even bold enough to engage in a bout of duo-dancing. I was mesmorised by her soft voice, and the lyrics which seem to capture my feelings in few, but powerful words. I stood there, glued to the one-girl show, and just listened, sometimes sang along in my heart, and allowed the music and the words to take me away, to swoon me with butterflies and other love bugs.

Then I noticed you. You stood there diagonally opposite of me, on the other end of the crowd crescent circle. You were alone, I made sure of that as I glanced in your direction a number of times, just to be sure. You were dressed in a […] black top, with a row of bold font white words on the front. You wore dark blue jeans, and a black pair of Adidas. In the dim street light I could just about make out your facial features—a young profile of a tween, smooth-faced […]…and if I’m not mistaken dirty blond hair. […]

I tried not to stare too much at you…but at times it seemed like you were looking in my direction too. Were you? Or was I imagining things, like I often do? I tried to focus on the music, but it seemed like the music was taunting me and my thoughts, […]. There were so many other people around us, we were in a crowd of people, but you stood out from the rest. Did I stand out too? I looked at you, hoping you wouldn’t notice I was looking…but then again, perhaps also hoping deep down that you would notice me looking. For perhaps this was the beginning of something, I thought to myself, and allowed my thoughts to run wild at the possibilities, the endless and boundless possibilities. So much for living in the present moment.

Music and singing drifted around me, and hordes of people walked passed me, in front of me, behind me, some even bumping into me, drunk and confused. But that did not take my mind and attention off of you. You stood there, perhaps as nervous as I was. Somehow I seemed to see me in you. The way your head darted from side to side looking around…the way you didn’t seem to know where to put your hands and arms…the way you touched your face and the top of your head, like I would when I felt nervous…were you signalling to me? We must have stood there for over an hour, you glued to your end of the crowd, and I glued to my end. Even as people left and came you and I stood our ground, in the same places we were standing when I first caught glimpse of you. A lesbian couple stood next to me, one whispering soft words into the beckoning ears of the other. They hugged and kissed one another, held hands and were in love. And I wondered if you and I could…

Then, I didn’t know why, you strode over to my corner of the crowd. And within moments you were standing just one or two metres to my left. Then I could see more of you, more of your angelic face, you body, your hair, and realise the colour of your eyes were light hazel with a hint of blue.[…] The darkness around us played illusions with my vision and mind. Why did you come closer? Were you seeking ‘contact’? I stood where I stood and didn’t budge…[…] But I was too shy, too insecure, too embarrassed to ‘make a move’. Something I will and still regret.

You looked in my direction a couple of times too…or was I imagining things, as I often do? We were so close. For those milliseconds our gazes met I melted. What were you feeling in those moments when our eyes met and the world stopped? And I realised what those bold font white words on the front of your top said:

“Je suis une ange” (I am an angel)

Yes, you are. The moment I noticed you I realised there was something about you. Even in a crowd of crowds, in a sea of people and passer-bys I could not take my eyes off of you. Something around you, about you seemed to radiate such warmth and beauty which dwarfed all others and all else. I was lost in your heaven, with this angel on earth so close to me. Music and song drifted around us. I was lost […] though I know I shouldn’t be…not in the whims of a random sight, a vision of beauty; however mesmorising, however mind gobbling.

Then you left. I could still remember that last glance at the back of your head as you slowly disappeared, out of my little fantasy, my little imaginary world where anything and everything is possible.

I stood there, wondering where you went, and where you are now.

I walked around the city, under the towering cathedral’s sympathetic magenta glow, under a sky of stars, hoping that I would bump into you again. But there were simply too many people, too much chaos and craziness. Soon I felt lost.

Like you, I soon lost myself in the crowd. And was not to be found.

writeincode brought to my attention that the word 'angle' should be 'angel'!
And I figured out what that festival was: Fete de la musique, an annual event on 22 June to usher in Summer, celebrated by street performances all over France.

Baby's day out

Went out with the baby today. Sunny, not too hot, a mild breeze, crowded streets on a market day in the city centre. Baby Sunny slept, or at least had his eyes closed, most of the time, occasionally opening them, and then closing them to go back to his world of dreams.

Yet in the world of adults and reality I noticed something different. People, faces we do not know, faces foreign and strange became happy faces. People smiled at us, as we pushed the pram with Baby Sunny around the city. Of course, they were more interested in the baby than in us, but still people became especially friendly and actually smiled. Some even stopped to chat with the mother, giving advice, exchanging experiences…saying how cute, how sweet and how pretty Baby Sunny is. He is cute, sweet, pretty, that’s undeniable. But why do people only talk to you when you have something (or in this case, someone) they are attracted to? Why do people suddenly become so friendly when you are with a baby?

When I walk alone I feel like I’m invisible and unnoticed. But with Baby Sunny his very being seems to attract people from far and near, to unite people of all races and backgrounds to flock to this new-born being for comfort, and a reminder of how we all began life. We were not any different when we were born. Skin colour, class, education, religion, beliefs and whatever barriers we manage to erect throughout our lives to differentiate and align ourselves were non-existent in the beginning. We were all once vulnerable, in desperate need of attention, love and care. But at some point in life we manage to loose all that; loose that innocence and purity, loose that beauty and loveliness that surround us with an air of envy. And then we put on masks, to hide that very human longing for interaction and friendliness behind stern faces, sunken lips and sullen eyes.

In Baby Sunny’s world of dreams and invisible butterflies there’s no need for such worry yet. But soon enough, as he grows up and older, he will realise…

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Cheek to cheek

I held him over my shoulder, supporting him around his little waist as his little arms swayed from left to right. He was crying before, but as soon as I held up, supported him, and bobbed up and down like a little plane going through turbulence, he stopped crying. Instead his crumpled face brightened to a smile and let out weak little giggles. I felt his cheeks against mine, and his warm face warm up my insides.

The little plane on my shoulder flew wherever I went. Its arms outstretched like free wings, and legs kicking the air like two powerful propellers. We hovered through the air, through space and time. We slowed down by the butterflies suspended close to his bed…their light wings of blue, red, green and white don’t flutter, but still their bodies move through the air with the gentle push of the slightest breeze. Baby Sunny is always fascinated with these creatures and like always reached out to try to catch them. His eyes try to capture their random and free movements, try to mimic their liberated flights of fantasy, and recreate a world of bright colours and contrasts. Perhaps these are the creatures he seems to see when he drifts off into his world of dreams.
Fly, baby, fly! To freedom, to a land of discovery and opportunities. The bounds are endless.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Baby's touch

You clutched my finger
And we touched.
Barely your clutch
Could surround my finger,
Yet the strength of your grip
Was powerful as such
That sleep came over me,
And till now still lingers.

I closed my eyes,
My heading resting at your feet.
Your chest did thump,
So full of life I hear.
In a dream world of dreams
Our hearts and minds did meet.

In that moment in a moment
It suddenly became clear;
How touched I am by you,
Each time your draw near.
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Baby babble

He likes to make strange sounds. Sounds that no one can understand, but can make everyone worried. Sometimes it’s a slight hum, sometimes an ‘aaa’ or an ‘eee’, an ‘ooo’, an ‘iii’…sometimes it’s an ‘aaa’ followed by an ‘eee’, or an ‘iii’ followed by an ‘aaa’. Funny, because it sounds like he’s already beginning to master the vowels. Then there’s the soft cackling, the muffled crying, the weak little wailing, the stuttered screaming, followed by a sudden silence and calm which takes over the baby as quickly as it leaves. Nobody knows what he wants to say, if anything. It’s all baby babble, a new and foreign language perhaps only Baby Sunny understands, and, perhaps, makes up as he goes along.

With a baby that small, it’s difficult to know when he’s happy or when he’s sad. Or maybe he’s not happy or sad, because those are just emotions that we project onto him. Maybe he’s just living, in a state of non-happiness and non-sadness, just living in the moment, breathing in and out, experiencing every physical and mental process as they come and go…which would make him a better and more advanced mediator than any of us. But again, that’s just projecting ‘grown up’ attributes and feelings onto the curious little being.

More peculiar are his facial expressions. Sometimes he just looks around him, at nothing in particular, and just stares and stares. His grayish pupils dilate to such proportions it seems like he could see the whole world, and things in it that we ‘grown ups’ cannot see…or have lost the ability to appreciate. Other times his whole face crumples up to a cringe, as if in disgust, as if in discomfort. Only to brighten again, with raised little lips, revealing a toothless smile, or grin, or laugh, or perhaps a combination of them all.

And then there are the hand and arm gestures, more energetic and expressive than Italians. They swing around, wildly and freely, sometimes softly, at times with great force, drawing invisible shapes in the air or trying to catch invisible insects that only he can see. And he wriggles his stubby little fingers, as if letting them dance to a melody only he can hear.

And when he’s asleep, all is quiet. His chest heaves up and down, up and down in rhythmic synchrony. Short, warm breaths flow from his nostrils. His eyes softly shut, his lips softly sealed, and his face puts on a still and serene show. Unmistakably, he is at peace.

And so would you be if you could see him.


First there was a silent cackle, barely audible. Then it became louder and louder. I thought I was dreaming, but it was no dream. Baby Sunny was crying, not howling and shrieking, but a soft cry, carrying with it the sounds of innocence and a slight wheezing. Something was wrong, that much I knew. Perhaps he was hungry, perhaps he wet himself, perhaps he was uncomfortable, perhaps he was ill, perhaps he was cold, perhaps he was hot. Perhaps, perhaps…

3.24am. Time to get up, open tired eyes and get ready for baby action. It turned out he was hungry, and had wet himself, and also pooed too. A couple of spoonfuls of powder, 90ml of lukewarm water, a little shake of the baby bottle, and his dose of nutrition was ready. He gobbled it down quickly, sucking on the rubber tit with an expression of satisfaction and joy. A couple of times he took too much into his little mouth all at once, and trails of white streams flowed down the corners of his little lips. Quickly a stand-by piece of cloth for wiping his drool was called into action. He continued sucking, drinking, his cheeks expanding and contracting, his eyes closing and opening as he devoured the juice of life.

I looked at him, my heart filled with a strange sense of pleasure that this little curios creature before me was under my care. Behind the responsibilities and worries lies the satisfaction in knowing that I am helping, if only a little bit, to nature and care for this fragile little baby. Again he took my finger and held it tightly in his hand; sometimes tightening his grip, as he needed the assurance that he was not alone; sometimes letting go, as if he was trying to prove that he was ready to take on the world by himself. In his clear pupils I could see my own reflection. And in him, in his voice, his movements I saw my reflection. Once I was like him, once I was so in need of love and care. Correction. We are born and are in constant need of love and care.

He burped as the bottle was taken out of his mouth. A few pats on the back, to prevent him from choking, to help him swallow better, and prevent him from throwing up…but also partly to praise and commend him for the joy he brought to our lives, and the joy we feel as he drank his way to growth and health. Like always after his dose, he looked drunk, with his arms outstretched, eyes rolling, lips slightly parted, wheezing ever so slightly. Drunk with pleasure, with contentment, with perhaps the discovery what a wonderful world of pampering and love this is for a newborn…

Next on the agenda was to clear up the mess Baby Sunny had made. I laid him on his nappy changer, and softly stripped away the layers of clothing that wrapped around him. He wriggled and danced on his back, as if it was a game of tickle and wriggle, his feet kicked and little arms swayed in the air, trying to catch invisible butterflies. And he laughed, chuckled, smiled and giggled, with such purity, without a trail of pretence.

The nappy was wet and soiled. Smelly too. Gently I peeled it from beneath him, and quickly put a new one under his tiny bum. If I had been any slower, a slush of brown would have trickled down his bum and onto the towel he was lying on. Quickly I pulled wet tissues from the box and tried to catch the exiting deposits, but more squeezed their way through, to the accompanying sound of farting. He continued giggling, smiling, wriggling and dancing. There’s no shame in farting, no shame in soiling yourself; not when you are still so small and innocent.

Suddenly a jet spewed into the air, spraying on his clothes and my busy hands. Emergency! Another tuck at the tissue box and quickly I covered his hose to prevent rain falling wildly all around us. He continued giggling, smiling, wriggling and dancing, not a worry in the world, just living from one moment to the next, experiencing this magical new gift he so recently received: the gift of life. Desperate situation called for desperate measures. Away the old nappies and tissues went into the bin, and away the wet clothes and towels went into the hamper. A fresh start, a fresh try in trying to change Baby Sunny into clean and dry clothes.

I closed the window to prevent the night draught from chilling Baby Sunny. It was a struggle at first putting his nappy and clothes on. Gently I took ahold of both feet and held them up, while sliding the new nappy underneath. I was inexperienced, new, and learning, as much as he was. Clumsily I felt my way around the nappy, trying to find out how this incredible invention works. Finally I found the seals that would prove vital in sealing off the toxic wastes and gasses. I gave them a gentle pull and stuck the lycra parts on the front of the nappy, just underneath the picture of a little smiling duckling swimming happily in a clear pond. Nappy done, and now the rest.

From the cupboard I got out some of his soft linen. They smelt wonderful, like the smell of fresh roses, spring air and morning dew. Especially his fragile little arm I was afraid to break as I tried to pull it through the sleeve. I held his hand lightly, and as if he felt I was initiating our usual game of grip-my-finger, he closed his hand around my finger tightly. Using the opportunity, I jerked his arm ever so lightly and managed to free it from the tangled sleeves, out to freedom. Much the same struggle with his other arm and feet. But in the end was a clean and fresh smelling baby, lying there before me, kicking and waving, giggling and smiling.

Mummy slept on. We tried not to disturb her, and let her sleep, for she has done too much already.

But so many things happened as she had her back turned toward us. So many things between Baby Sunny and me.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Calling home (abridged version)


The weekly call home. I was somewhat apprehensive about calling, because I knew that there would be some kind of unpleasant news. I thought calling home would be a pleasant thing to do, but it’s gradually become something I dread […], but must do because…well, it’s a ‘must’.

So I called home, and as usual mum picked up. Immediately in her voice I could detect something was wrong. Perhaps she and dad had been arguing again, or perhaps the unbearable situation of living together has reached an impasse. She was hesitant about telling me what had happened, but eventually did. Perhaps I’m the only one she can talk to, and who can understand what is going on.
A cousin of mine is coming to Europe for a conference, and since computer gadgets in Taiwan are so cheap I asked him to buy some for me (remember, my computer is over 5 years old, losing its memory and becoming senile). Who would have thought that even something like this could cause an ‘international incident’?!?! My aunt called my parents and mentioned this to my dad, resulting in an inquiry and overreaction. All I wanted was for my cousin to buy some hardware, and to do so cheaply. But that somehow managed to draw two feuding families into the picture. A very simple request, but it managed to evolve into something touching sore tensions and nerves.


I saw this coming when I left home, what now is already three months ago. I knew they would not get along, I knew it would be torture for both mum and dad to live together again. So I told them to get a divorce, or at least live separately…that would have been the best for everyone. But they didn’t listen. And still don’t.

And I’m not even going to go into the ‘cold war’ situation between my parents and my brother. Let’s just say communication has frozen and relations have reached another low point, over money this, money that…

Oh, all that frustration from just a simple phone call of no more than ten minutes!
Really… GROW UP people!!!