Good morning

I have been home four days since my month-long stay in the States. The grey sky and the mercurial British weather welcomed me back. These are my constants here and I am grateful for it. When I walked out from the airport, I found myself smiling as the cold raindrops made dark patterns on my faded blue shirt that says Baltimore. Rain on a sunny day, I missed it. I am indeed home.

When I got home that day, I did not realize how tired I was until I saw my bed and I just literally fell on to it and the next thing I knew it was dark and I have missed a dozen phone call from friends asking how my trip was.

For the past weeks, I found myself paying attention more to my routines so I can savour and enjoy the almost ritualistic nature of the act. When I prepared my EnergyFizz of the day, I listened to the crisp sound the sachet made as I tore it open, the splashing sound as the water filled the glass and the fizzy sound the EnergyFizz made as it hit the water. I love my drinks elaborate so I put the mixed drink in the blender, threw in a handful of berries and voila! A drink so good it’s like drinking summer right in my kitchen.

Life happens and often times, I’m rushing around to get things done that I don’t get to enjoy the simple act of pampering myself. So today, I deliberately slowed down when washing my face and enjoyed the smooth and cool feel of the cleanser as I lathered it on my skin, the luxurious feel of the soft towel as it absorbed the excess water and I imagined the dead skin cells coming off to make way for new wrinkle-free skin as I wiped the DermResults Daily Radiance Peel Pads with 2% Caviar Lime across my face (me actually holding the container and reading the label). Before applying all the creams, I made sure to apply the cooling mask (fresh from the fridge!) then I relaxed back on my bed with the spa music playing in the background. When fifteen minutes was over, I spritzed some toning mist on my face, applied collagen serum , then some eye cream to reduce the puffiness, fine lines and dark circles from sleepless nights and finally the moisturising cream with sun protect factor.

It’s nice to hit pause once in a while so we can breathe. Some moments in our lives can be too overwhelming when we don’t take our time to process it. Pause. Breathe. Feel.

Nature has a very gentle way of soothing a melancholic heart.

Murder on the Train

WARNING: Sensitive content.

I managed to squeeze through the tiny gap of the closing door of the train and nearly knocked over a man dressed in black standing right by the door. I mumbled a breathless “sorry” and walked around him to take the seat along the aisle in the middle part of the train. The old lady with a thick stack of pearl necklace looked up at me briefly as I sat down then went back to reading the morning paper. There was a distressed mother sitting in front of me trying to calm the toddler on her lap who was crying and kicking his short legs along the backrest of the seat in front of them. It was a normal day. The other passengers ignored the racket and continued working on their laptops, drinking their Costa coffee or catching a 30-minute nap as the train sped to central London. The man dressed in black ambled along the aisle. His hands were behind his back and a wide smile graced his young face. His hair was shorn close to his scalp and on the collar of his black polo shirt was a white band. Ah, a pastor, I thought. And as if to prove to us that he really was a pastor, he started preaching!

“Do not be afraid of death, for the Lord will take care of your departed soul”.

I whipped out my earbuds and firmly placed them in my ears to block out the noise and the preaching. The silky voice of Lady Gaga singing La Vie En Rose blossomed in my ears, muffling the goings-on around me.I leaned my head back and closed my eyes. 

“I am the way! I can help you see our Creator.”

For some reason, I think the voice of the pastor was getting louder. I raised the volume a little.

“Surrender yourself and find peace in death!”

There was a piercing scream. I sat up straight and when I opened my eyes I saw a man in a suit halfway off his seat, his laptop raised like a shield, two teenagers trying to climb over the tall backrest and a woman holding her arms out like she was warding off evil. For a half a second it was like a pause button was pressed and everybody was in suspended animation. Then there was more screaming as more people realised what had happened. The people around me erupted into chaos and they started pushing each other as they tried to get away. The mother in front of me stood up with her toddler cradled in her arms but she was mercilessly pushed down on the floor as two women ran over her curled body, she used her body to shield the child beneath her. Then the pastor fell over right on top of her. He bounced back to his knees, his big smile still in place. He raised his right hand and in that hand was a knife with a short wide blade. Blood coated it and big fat drops of red pool at the tip to eventually fall on the mother’s back. Every drop was like an electric shock and it made her jump with each drop making her cry even harder. 

“Help!”

“Close your eyes now, it won’t be long.”

At that moment, I felt somebody grab my arm. It woke me up from my trance. I saw the old lady sitting beside me looking at the pastor. Her eyes peeled wide and her mouth opened in a silent scream. My eyes fell on the loaf of bread on her lap. I grabbed it and threw it at the pastor who at that moment stabbed the knife down. The knife sank in the bread.

Task: Imagine you are on a train station when a murder takes place. Expand upon this scenario by writing a story of 500 words or fewer.

A beautiful Easter day

After so many cold gloomy days, I woke up to sunlight pouring inside my bedroom, bathing me in warm yellow light. It was so cozy I stayed cocooned beneath the duvet for a good couple of hours before I could make myself get out of bed. These past few days we were treated to a totally unpredictable weather (not that it was anything new)–but it snowed, in April! And weather forecast says snow on the weekend. We are probably looking at five days of summer this year. So waking up to a beautiful day with streaming sunshine and deep blue sky was a luxury. I felt really happy and my heart was imbued with gratefulness.

I leaped out the bed and run in the living room. As expected, sunlight was spilling in the room from the picture window and the flowers sitting on the table nearby seemed more vibrant. A perfect morning indeed and I basked in the sunshine while enjoying a bowl of granola. It was so invigorating. A while later, my sister and I decided to spend the day outside (like the rest of the masked populace) and drove to Coombe Hill which was about 15 minutes away from our flat. The small parking space and the whole length of street were packed with cars but surprisingly, the place was not too crowded. We meandered along small footpaths to avoid other people until we reached the peak of the hill. The light breeze blowing was chilly but as long as we were seated on a patch of sunlight it was bearable. The sky was so blue not a speck of cloud in sight. Occasionally, birds could be seen silently gliding in the air.

It was peaceful.

Coombe Hill