Cartcart left for Rome last night. My family and relatives were there to see him off. Even with these people around, I can’t seem to hold back my tears. That heartache feeling again.
As we waved at him as he passed by the gantry, it wasn’t too long ago that I saw him at the arrival hall.
Cartcart arrived on Sunday evening. A day late due to the fog at the Heathrow airport. Back in Singapore, it has been raining. I must have looked a little dishevelled, being caught in the rain on my scooter. Upon reaching the arrival hall, I waited by the barricades. There were many other people there, waiting for their friends and loved ones. In time, the area was crowded with people.
One by one the travellers come out from the arrival hall. But where was Cartcart?
After what seemed like an eternity, I saw him, behind the glass. I smiled at him. He noticed me, and smiled back and immediately my heart warmed.
He pointed at the baggage counter, “My luggage is missing! Only after the longest time, he came out of the arrival hall looking a little sad. His luggage will only arrive later in the next flight, tomorrow. The only thing he was carrying was a small bag with his wallet and a magazine.
“Because of the incident at Heathrow, I haven’t showered for 3 days!“, he complained.
“Ewww! You stink!“, I jokingly replied.
It was Christmas eve and already about 9 pm, thus I was sure that there wouldn’t be much shops opened at this time. We went around the airport to purchase some basic necessities for him before heading to the bed and breakfast where Cartcart had his much needed shower and rest.
I looked at his face, and felt amazement that he was here. It was unreal, like a dream. We hugged, and feeling of familiarity hit me, and yet, I still felt as if I was dreaming.
Christmas day. It was raining the entire morning and it didn’t seem to want to stop. I brought Cartcart some breakfast from the hawker centre near my home. I was curious to see what he thought of our local food.
Cartcart was vegetarian, so I got him some local favourites like Roti Prata with Dhal Gravy, Potato Epok-epok and some vegetable Popiah.
He ate with his fingers, like how the locals do. I watched him pick up the food and take a bite. He seemed to like them all! He especially liked the Dhal Gravy.
“This is tasty! Mmm!”
We waited for the rain to subside before heading out. I wasn’t sure where to take him. But since it was Christmas, I thought it could be good to bring him to Orchard Road to see the decorations.
Cartcart was curious and looked all around him.
“This is a good design,” he pointed to the raised zebra crossing as we walked over it. “This will force vehicles to slow down”
“How come we don’t have things like these?” he asked, while holding on to the double pole on the bus. “I am sure it isn’t that difficult to do”
He even complimented the traffic lights
“The beeping sound is good for the blind, it changes its tone so they will move faster and I like the countdown before the light changes to red”
“So, is there anything that you don’t like here?,” I joked
“I’m just getting used to the humidity here. It feels and smells like I’m enclosed in a tropical fish tank”
I didn’t smell anything off though. Mainly because I was very used to the environment.
Going to Orchard on a Christmas day wasn’t such a great idea I think. It was extremely crowded! When we reached along the stretch of road next to Takashimaya, it was neck to neck with people! If I had to choose between being on the road, screaming at insane drivers and walking here, with loads of pushy people everywhere. I would choose to be on the road.
Trying to admire the Christmas display in a leisurely manner was quite impossible. Cart already started to get uncomfortable. So I had to abandon the city walk. Instead, we took the train to get to my parent’s place.
I peeked in to see who was there. Mum was already expecting him today, so my whole family was there. My aunt and my cousins happened to be visiting too.
I asked Cartcart in and introduced him to the family.
“Everyone, this is Cartcart. Cartcart, this is my family”
We all sat down and had a chat. Initially, my family seemed a little flabbergasted.
“Nak cakap apa eh? I don’t know what to talk about” They whispered to each other. So they started on safe topics like what Cartcart was doing and how long he will be staying here.
Not before long, we started on everyone’s favourite topic – food!
Mum : Did you know that there are a lot of different type of bananas? We could also cook them in different ways. We can even cook them in santan. If you come here again, I’ll cook you Nasi Lemak!
Cartcart brought some Italian chocolates as a gift. Mum started to ask him how to pronounce some Italian words.
“This brand of chocolate is called sperlari”
I had to stifle a laugh when I saw everyone looking so enthralled when Cartcart was pronouncing some Italian words. They all had large eyes of amazement and rapture.
Dad was a little more direct and asked him if there were any Islamic centre, there in Rome.
But all in all, my family is starting to warm up to him and by the end of the night, everyone was all smiles and seemed to accept him.
I felt glad.