an enchanted alumni night

an enchanted alumni night by Praise L

Kate is glad she did not make it to that alumni night after all on that fateful night of reunion on 2017-5-17. This is the account of what really happened that night of the alumni dinner. After pausing a long while at the bridge watching the swiveling black water thinking about her past life, she drove towards that meeting hall in the city at the other end where the river mouth whispered gently into the ears of the sea.

It was a dark and lonely drive. She stayed occupied in her mind anticipating the scene of the reunion.

“What am I going to say to all these strangers?” She thinks of the old men and women whom she has not met, not in their adulthood anyway. She tries to think of Noel, the only boy in school who owned a motor cycle and tried to court her by daily standing outside Kate’s classroom looking at her.

She was not prepared to meet any of them, especially Noel whom she rejected. While driving and musing to divert her mind to something more meaningful like a poet writing about how he wandered lonely as a cloud, and saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. (William Wordsworth)She also recalled a story about one day a woman decided to plant a single bulb. This single bulb turned into many more and soon she had a field filled with daffodils. The daffodil field had refreshed many tired and wearied hearts and her story motivated others and changed the belief that a small thing was too small to matter.

Why was she not interested in Noel’s courtship? The reason given was she had to travel far and not likely returning.

Yet she returned after decades. This night, like the swiftlets returning to their habitat (dark caves or houses as in the case where Kate was raised) and the fastest speed is 69 mph (111 kph), which was the speed Kate was driving. As Kate chewed over such mixture of data she realized something was not right.

She should have have reached the city of brilliant lights in less than half an hour but she had been driving well over an hour at least! She recalled making one turn towards the beach road shortly after she left the bridge. The sea and the river ran parallel so there was no reason why she had not reached the city. She could hear the monotonous sound of the sea waves on the way and she knew she was on the beach road.

She stopped the car and listened in the dark. It was strangely quiet. There was no street light on this stretch of the road. With her car light she could see a mist rising ahead. He phone went dead and frozen. No WiFi signal. No telecommunication signal. Her car clock was dead. Where was Kate?

Resuming driving she made a decision to turn off to a side lane, seeing a distant gleam of light. Finally, a colonial style house appeared at the end of the lane. To her relief, its door was opened and she was greeted kindly by a friendly and pleasantly looking woman of indeterminable age, neatly dressed in the style of the sixties. The woman was a housekeeper of the beautiful house whose owners were away overseas. She served the weary Kate cups of warm tea with fresh milk, and some freshly baked scones.

This was the conversation which Kate remembered vividly in the aftermath.

“Thank you Ma’am, for being so kind. May I borrow a phone to call my friends? We are supposed to have a reunion alumni gathering.” Kate asked politely after a cup of tea. and scone.

“You are very welcome, Miss Kate, I am afraid we do not have a phone in this house. Neither do I carry a phone.”

“Am I correct in what I am seeing? That wall clock shows a time at 11:55 and it has frozen since I arrived. Perhaps I am mistaken.” Kate tried to sound calmly.

“You are right, Miss Kate, we are living in a frozen time here. “

“My car clock, and phone went dead and none of the communication ways seems to work.” Kate replied.

“Not surprising, Miss Kate. We live in a zone without modern communication.”

Kate’s mind worked like never before. “Am I dreaming? Is this real?” She asked herself silently. Then she looked into the face of a familiar looking young woman looking at her from the opposite wall, with a puzzling look on her face.

Kate stood up and looked closer. It was a mirror and the reflection of a very young woman, like her twin in her twenties. Kate was looking at herself in the 1960s. “Have I gone back in time?” She asked.

The housekeeper answered, “No, you have merely stumbled into a parallel time zone which has been frozen in time. “

“Are there others in this time zone?” Kate asked. Memories of sixties rushed to her like wild mustangs.

“Yes, of course. Whom do you have in mind?” The woman asked.

“Perhaps my high school mates? If that is possible…” Kate made a wish silently. She believed in miracles.

“Why not?” The kindly woman answered as if it was a matter of simplicity and fact. “Just do as you normally would do when on this day as a young person.” She added.

“I was driving, on my way to attend a graduation gathering and that was the last time I would meet with my high school classmates. I flew off the next morning. Something happened. ” Kate reminisced that fateful night.

“Well? Did you have a good time?” The woman asked.

“I never got there. I was driving and lost my way somehow and ended up in a house like this one off the side lane.” Kate looked up and burst out loudly, unable to keep her cool, “It’s the same house, this house!”

“Well?” The woman asked without showing any surprise.

“Yes, I had a rather quiet and pleasant time drinking tea and eating scones. After that I drove home as it was rather late and long passed the party. I never got to say goodbye to them. And we all grew old separately.” Kate spoke calmly as she thought about that night of missed appointment. Then she remembered that she received a rose before she boarded the plane. There was no card. She never knew who the sender was.

“Do you want to live that redeemed time with a different outcome or would you rather go home now?” The woman seemed to be able to give her a choice.

Kate thought for a moment. Just a moment with a tiny bit of a glimpse of what could have been. Then she said resolutely, “I wish to go home.”

There was no further conversation. Kate and the woman said goodbye and she drove back to her sister’s house safely and swiftly. When she reached home her digital equipments and the car clock were all functioning perfectly and it was exactly midnight as she walked into the house.

She flew off the next morning. Her former classmates sent a message through Pretty Flower and said they had a nice time, though they wished they could have seen her. Being old and easily tired, they all went home shortly after the dinner. They sent their combined best wishes for a safe and good journey. She received a rose before she boarded the plane. There was no card. She never knew who the sender was.

Praise, 2021-11-18

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a hermit-traveler’s snowy November 2019

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Two years had passed since one November up a mountain lavishly painted with snow. It was a new experience for a hermit and yet a traveler in life for decades. The snow came just as notified through the weather forecast on the internet. Nothing really changed when it came and the locals above the city of the clouds lived as usual. The traveler was somewhat caught in surprise but the priceless Canadian “chauffeur”, a fellow traveler like the hermit-traveler was not shocked. To her it was really nothing because she came from the snowy and colder part of Canada. She was well prepared with all the normal preparations for her sturdy land rover, and her trailer home, hardware and software. They went to school as if nothing happened. Some students were deterred by closures of roads, and the school had to suspend the penalty for no-show of the students. But not this brave woman from Canada all equipped with her amazing driving skill. So the hermit traveler went to school as usual snow or no snow. What a memorable day riding/gliding on snow and seeing many cars in ditches as well, while praying real hard not to slide into the ditches as it seemed the norm to join the rank then.

Looking at the old photos, priceless memories returned and said, well done my friend! Yes, well done, my dear friend across the distance in the colder and more extreme-weathered land. It is comforting to know that you and your loved ones are together, staying healthy and well, holding onto your dreams and visions.

2021-11-02

Past squares #15. A traveler’s day including an orphanage outing.

taken on 2014-11-04 an orphanage

I can remember that day. I was with several tourists. Someone wanted to see an orphanage and so we were brought there. It was part of the travel package. We saw the lake, the dam, fishermen, flowers at roadside, colorfully painted schools, a boy who drew a pair of glasses on his face, toothless kids with wide grins, noodle making, weaving, and then an orphanage, before we went on to a bullock cart ride into the fabulous sunset on this landlocked backwater village in between two famous cities. What I remember most are the faces of the children, those with parents and those without. I do not remember sleeping that night, in the mosquito netted bed.

Becky’s past squares 2021-10-15

Remembering October

Remembering October snow

I still recall the shock. Sunshine and clear blue sky in the morning when I went out. Snow and blurry car windows when I returned at noon. October. October snow. I noted in the weather forecast but I just did not believe it could happen. It had been decades since I went to live in a snowland. I was warned about the sudden changes in weather and I did prepare though feeling skeptical.

But the first snow came on that fine morning, saying hello, my acquaintances said, and that’s the way the weather up that 8000 feet altitude worked. To the locals, it was business as usual, nothing out of the blue.

After the initial shock I took some nice pictures. My first snow in October for decades. Lovely moment.

2021-10-10

the accidental art of being and not doing (June 2020-June 2021)

I never knew then I would come to this page. No, I am not discontinuing what had started. Blogging is not like turning on a tap to wash your hand and then turn it off when finished. Is there a finishing line? Where or what the finishing line is? What is the goal? The terms “finishing line”, “goal”, or “goal-post” seem irrelevant for non-commercial blogging. It all depends on the blogger/producer for a blog to survive. In commerce it depends on the recipients/viewers of the blogs/products. In blogs like this the blogger merely does a creative thing and leave it on the shelf, not necessarily for any other purpose aside for the creation process.

Do bloggers ever visit their own site and view the things they have journaled in the dusty past?

Of course, some bloggers use the piece as an expression or a diversion. Perhaps there is something you want to tell a loved one or someone really important, but is unable to do so in person or in other forms of communication, like a digital text or audio/visual message, email, or even a longhand-written missive, well, the remaining option is to blog, hoping that the intended recipient will one day find this and read it (and perhaps respond somehow).

For me, I use this blog as a way to check on my writing. Am I still writing words and making sense? Is my mind still working and my use of language fluid? What are my trends of thoughts lately? Today I visited this blog and noted a post on August 15, 2016, titled “Leaving behind is like a taboo statement”, and the content stirred me to write this page. In it I quoted a passage about Paul, (the protagonist of a classic book) being left behind as a self-imposed derelict after the demise of his mother and the final leaving of his long term girl friend. Looking back now, that passage had wielded its impact subtly over my years of solitude, and that blog post has revealed a page which I had forgotten, but not entirely lost…

A blog expresses something a blogger wants to talk about. It is interesting that at that time I wanted to talk about a sudden sense of being alone after a rather fruitful event of writing a biography for a business missionary and her team in a distant land. It was a restful time for me after finishing the big task of writing and publishing the book in two languages. Yet, away from the limelight, I could sense the solitude of just being and not doing.

The year June 2020-June 2021 had been a “being” year for me. “Being-not-doing”. In a way, it is very much self-imposed. I returned from another foreign land, locked up another newly acquired academic certificate and an important license and rested. Over the whole year I did not get to use them. Are certificates and official licenses important? The Generation Zs know they are important for them.

For me? Really I have no imagination there. Meanwhile, I continue this blog and not abandon ship. Afloat with words. Effortlessly sailing ahead. Ahoy! Land!

PraiseWord, 2021-06-30