I looked up from my drink, the straw still between my teeth as I mindlessly chew on it out of habit. I saw the waiter making his way steadily towards our table, supporting the weight of four freshly boiled bowl of noodles on a metal tray. Somehow, his clumsy, careful image reminded me of the many stories I've read, the heart warming visual novels that I've played. The blinding midday rays of the sun flooded through the doorless storefront where the battered bamboo blinds hung limp, half-raised, as if they have given up on shielding people from the sunlight after years of failure.
I began to think. The words of my would-be story flowed flawlessly, though they were without a beginning and lacked an end.
One by one, our noodles were served. Lisa slid mine over to me. As I picked up the chopsticks, clutching them like how a normal person would hold the Chinese calligraphy brush, and dug into my steamy hot bowl of brunch, strangely, I felt the need to burst into tears.
Why is that, I wonder?
The dark brown sauce, yellow noodles; slices of char sao scattered across the sauce-stained noodles which was complemented by the few limp but crunchy tao geh that lay helplessly among the abundance of springy noodles, while green and purple spring onions topped the lot. I mixed them all. Clumsily. My technique of using the chopsticks never did improve, and I never got it right. Not even once. Not even now.
I wanted to cry.
It wasn't because I haven't eaten konlo mee since I moved to the city. It wasn't entirely because I missed the food here, back in Sitiawan. No, not at all.
The scarcity of people, the serenity and the simplicity. It is surprising, how the genuineness of small town folk could touch a person. The superficiality of the people you see in the city, crowds of frowns and faces thick with powder and colour, they don't exist here... No... Not here, where excess modernisation have yet to mar the innocent, somewhat primitive civilians. It's only a matter of time though-- I frown at the thought.
Who would ever want to leave this place?
There is a man in a faded dark turquoise shirt leaning against the wall as he scrolled down the display of his smartphone. A tall, lanky figure, with pants that are too big for his thin legs. Though he may not seem like it, that man is a doctor.
A mechanic walks in. Black hair, dyed a golden shade at the tip. He must be from the motorcycle shop next door, hungry, starving, from work. He picks up a thick bundle of noodles between the plastic chopsticks, and shoves it into his mouth, slurping in the rest. How his cheeks shrink as he sucks the noodles in.
The few people that sit here in the shop, it's calming. There isn't an excess of humans talking, laughing and gossiping through artificially painted lips. We're all just... Caught up in our own thoughts.
I remember now... The eateries in the city. Breakfast in an air conditioned dim sum restaurant in Taipan. Chairs so close against each other, chatter suspended in the air, making my head spin. All the painted faces, the fancy clothes and expensive bags... I may not have noticed it during then, during the times I awkwardly force myself to sit in places I know I don't belong, but now that I am back in this comforting town of dullness, I realise that I am afraid of it all. I am a confined animal that has been released into the wild. All my life I have lived in my cage where things seem so normal and effortless, and suddenly...
The city is worse than a jungle in many ways. The most dangerous animal is not incapable of rationality nor does it walk on all fours. Humans are the most dangerous creatures you will ever come across.
It gives me nightmares, the place I am now in. Everywhere I turn, I see thick lips in unnatural shines; faces in layers of powder; eyes drawn out of shape and expensive clothes with the appearance of cut rags-- how the burn my eyes!
I don't want it I don't want it I don't want it
Slowly, it creeps up on you, the culture. Day by day, it worsens, numbing what humanity that exists within. It's tiring, the way you have to blend in and become one of them, of pretense, of farce and of contempt...
And so it is... I walk around empty malls with quiet halls, of deserted tiles, not shuffling feet. It is depressing, but I am not complaining. This, is better than a room full of people who put up lies.
The roads are empty, the cars are slow. Wide are the tarred paths, impatient I have grown.
Why would anyone want to leave this place?
I wanted to leave once, but not to where I am now. I still want to leave, but not to where I am now. If I could, I would sail away and never be found.