It pierces its way through the fine gap between the flesh-coloured curtains spread out from the high ceiling down to the tiled floor of a wholly bleached room. The visible ray of the spectrum, which finds the glass window as its true-blue accomplice at 6 in the morning, faint and dull, upsets the sleepyhead from her comfort. It taps me that it is a new day, and she is now mobile from a 6-hour paralysis, displacing herself slowly inch by inch on her mattress, creeping, as she stretched forth her hands to check on the clock at her bedside table. Fuzzy are its dials and numbers. She argues with the drag of getting up and succumbs to engaging in a 10-minute nap, setting the alarm this time, and buries her exasperated face in the lavender-scented pillow.
I will wait until she wakes up again, while clearing my throat inaudible enough to be heard. My left temple rests on my fist. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, and the room doesn't get any less colder.
She rises up, at last. As part of her morning routine, she stretches her extremities in repetitions until the cracking of joints satisfies her. Dishevelled, she combs her candle-like fingers through her hair and glues herself to the arched mirror and solicits a convincing grin for herself. It means she is all ready for the day, and she will be sporting that radiant aura all day, like what she does all the time.
After washing her face with soap and lukewarm water, I follow her footsteps down the staircase. Barefooted, she grabs over the lacquered railing while yawning sheepishly, as though somebody has caught her red-handed. She laughs at herself. She must be very sleepy still, yet she treads as lightly as she can to the kitchen past the living room, the library, and the dining room. No one else is around as usual at this very hour.
She plugs on the thermos just beside the bread toaster. She hurries herself to prepare breakfast sandwiches with bacon, egg, and cheese. Poor thing, lava-hot olive oil spills from the pan, compounding the beads of sweat forming on her forehead. A small drop of it burns her skin. It is nothing serious, though, as she continues on.
Coffee, milk, and two sandwiches are now served.
She climbs the stairs and realizes that she is without her slip-on slippers on, amusing herself twice today.
She opens the door of the room right next to hers, which has always been unlocked. On his bed, she sits beside the 7-year-old boy who is reading his favourite children's book, a fable collection, for the fifth time. After flipping through the end of chapter three, he turns to her. Dejection wells up in his eyes, and she is accustomed to this cycle. Nothing has changed ever since that day. All that she can muster now is to hug him, one hand on his flushed, rosy cheek, the other on his skinny right shoulder.
"Mom, I miss him. I wish dad were still here." These are the last words the young boy recites every time before they go down for breakfast.
Image: Johor, Malaysia
Image: Johor, Malaysia