‘What should I do…?’

One a.m.

And I heard noises, a crying voice. I pinched my arm to shake off the last remnants of sleep, and exclude any possibilities of dream.

The voices sounded so near. An auditory hallucination?

I got up and checked the house. I walked out, tiptoeing down the stairs in the dark. The windows were closed. Some gadgets ran out of batteries, the others were off. Still, the voices persisted. I roamed the living room trying to pinpoint the source of the noise.

A form of lump, covered in blanket , wiggled in rhythms of the sobbing. The Cool Kid was crying. Is he having a nightmare?

I took the blanket to reveal his face. The crying had dwindled to occasional twitches. I scolded him gently. Why aren’t you sleeping? You’ve got morning classes!

“……” He was sobbing silently now.

Why are you crying?

His eyes closed. He fought hard to stop the sobbing from growing louder.

I patted his hair. Hot chocolate?

He nodded.

***

He sat up, looking at the glass of chocolate. “I was thinking about death…”

Death?! I was surprised. At one in the morning? Why?

He had woken up to go to the loo. On the way, he had seen Dad, who had been in front of TV. “He was sleeping, not moving… as if…” He could not continue. The sobbing threatened anew. “What if… Mum and Dad… You… What should I do?”

I patted his back while searching for words of comfort, replaying similar experience when I had learnt of man’s mortality. There had been none, as I recalled, other than the nonchalant response that “it’s bound to happen. People eventually die.”

I had posed the same question as well. Even Mum and Dad? “Yes.” Then what should I do if…? “Just don’t be afraid to live.”

So I offered the same answer. Don’t be afraid to live.

He seemed lost in thought.

I looked at the clock. It was almost two o’clock. He still needed his sleep.

You think you’ll be able to sleep now?

He nodded. I tucked him in.

I stayed with him for a little while, stroking his back. Before I left, he sleepily asked, “will we meet again after death?”

I nodded. We will. Let’s all meet again after death.

I have chosen to believe that.

***

It was less than a fortnight to another birthday. My, my! How you have grown, dear…

The Cool Kid, 11 months, 11 years ago...
The Cool Kid, 11 months, 11 years ago…
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