“Do you go there to pray, or do you go there to eat?”

4yee came from after her cell group with so much food for mom, who couldn’t resist a jibe.

It has been a long time since I manually dealt myself a game of Solitaire. My memory of it was a bit rusty. I couldn’t remember how many columns to deal, whether the colours alternated, if I could only start a new column with a King. But it eventually came back to me.

I was reminded of the days without electricity, when we couldn’t watch tv. Candlelight, a deck of cards. Even then, we didn’t play cards with each other. Separate games of solitaire. Peeking under the cards to see what the next might be. Drawing one-by-one, instead of three at a go.

There is a tactile pleasure to cards that the convenience of an app can make me forget.

  • m: Excuse me. Can I have the chair back please?
  • man: kerusi! *nudges* Kerusi!
  • h: oh! *points at chair under butt* this one?
  • m: yes. You said it was just to take a photo.
  • h: ok *halfway gets up*

I close the curtain again. And wait. And wait.

I see her back to sitting again, studiously avoiding my gaze through the curtain slit. I cross my arms and stare some more. I can feel I have her attention, but she’s feigning ignorance Oh, I see. Drawing the curtain causes amnesia.

I consider giving up and getting a new chair, but I realise part of the bullshit is relying on me to easily give up over this.

  • m: excuse me, the chair?
  • h: this chair?
  • m: I got this seat from the front, you can get one too.
  • h: but I brought this seat here.
  • m: yes, from me. I got mine from the front, you can get one too.
  • h:
  • m:
  • h: but last night we had a chair.
  • m: yes, I carried that chair here too.
  • h: oh, is it.
  • m: yes. 😒
  • h: kan ini hospital…
  • m: ya…
  • h: sama je kerusi.
  • m: ya? Jadi ambiklah kerusi sendiri dari depan.
  • h2: sudahlah, jangan nak gaduh pasal kerusi
  • m: ya, saya setuju. Sila pulangkan kerusi ini.

We stare at each other again. Them in feigned disbelief. Me, just my usual dead-eyed stare. Internally: 🙄.

Tongue clicking and dissatisfied. A noisy display at standing. An exaggerated grunt as she lifts the chair and spins it towards me. I do not react, I only take the chair back.

The woman then sits on the edge of the bed, shooting stares at me. I return the stare deadpan. I observe she has a seat after all.

This makes them ignore me completely. They make like I’m behaving very rudely, but my language has been polite. I have the vocabulary of passive aggressive politeness in at least three languages to get my chair back.

Yes I can see you have a blind mother to care for. I’ve been caring for her too when you aren’t around, you don’t see me waving that, or my mother’s own condition, back in your face.

I can’t believe we are having a petty power struggle over chairs. CHAIRS. I drag the chair back to where it was before they removed it.

From behind the curtain, a loud conversation ensues about some people and can you believe how possessive they are of chairs.

I have a book, and now, a chair. So, suka hati kau lah.

A girl returns later, triumphant. She has found a huge chair. I take a look. Ffs, it’s the standard type, not a spare. They must have taken it from another caregiver. The spare chairs are just two rooms away 🤦🏻‍♂️.

They make sure to slam the bathroom door open next to me as they enter. I barely look up, observe, go back to reading. Their mother jerks on the wheelchair, unsure about the loud noise as she goes in for her mandi. They breeze past, to assure me they do not see me there. On my chair ✌🏻

The seduction of my uncle, my new aunt, my former aunt.

Sitting on the chair, reading. Suddenly hear a metal ball bearing hit the floor and roll. I pick it up. It’s too small to be my tongue ring, and I can feel both ends in my mouth, but I check anyway. After all, it did come dislodged the other day. Maybe I’m feeling a phantom ball bearing. But it isn’t.

I look at the chair. Can’t have dropped from the furniture, surely. Tell my mom, she asks if it dropped from my phone. I dismiss it immediately, slightly annoyed. Could it have come from an earring?

Mine? Can’t be. I check my right ear. Still there. My left. Gone. These have not moved since I put them on. This is so weird. I did not feel it come undone.

There is a heat now. 😔

and random prickliness. Sigh.

a circle around my ankle.

A pressure follows me as I leave the hospital.

I want to go home but I go somewhere public instead. I am getting random aches and throbs. A migraine builds.

I have a dinner I didn’t really want.

This cat wanted my dinner more than I did. I take the interactions of the cat as a positive sign that I am alone.

I enter my car. It is thick with the fragrance of white(?) flowers. I drive home. The song keeps saying to say bismillah. Sure, why not. I’ll try anything.

Come home. Play with cat. Take it as a good sign again. Salt bath. I feel clean, and fresh.

As I lay still and type, the band of my boxers shift up, and slowly snap against me. I assume, gravity.

😶

I find a spot of data, and I don’t move while the picture uploads.