There, her image was clear in my mind, still the same as it was eons ago. Why she came to me in a dream, I do not know. All I wanted to ask of her now was of her family, her background, her likes, her dislikes, and her hopes. She was just a servant girl, older by a few years than this teenage boy of 15 or so. Thus her name or rather her title was “Older Sister Plum Blossom”. Of course “sister” was just a civility; a mere deference accorded to her in acknowledging that she came into this world earlier than my siblings and I.
It was not that I am the young master and she, of a lower status; but someone, a companion or perhaps even a friend. All I cared about was how we interacted. Her background, her station and her past meant nothing to me. A friend to chat with after school. How I wish I could have gone back in time, armed with today’s technology of a digital camera and a laptop to record my life both in pictures and in videos.
In my dream, I asked of her family. She replied without hesitation. Her father was a no good bum who barely kept debtors away from their doorstep. More questions asked; more answers given. Now in my awakened state, I remember them not. The crux of this dream is that I told her that I had never been a real friend to her since I had never asked of her personal background as a friend should. She replied with a thank you. I could not help myself but to quip that this meant I wasn’t a friend at all then. She just smiled and said something to the effect, “never too late”. As she continued on with her maternal side of her family, this dream ended abruptly, the same way she came to me so suddenly. All the exact words and details have turned into a distant fuzziness. However, the nostalgia, the meaning and the warmth remain.
Of course, things were never easy. The very, VERY much older female servant was jealous of our coziness. I was too innocent and naive. Now, I can see her fear that this upstart might one day become her superior, her mistress. How silly of the grownups! If they only knew what my inclinations were. I think my mother had tried to have a talk with me filled with innuendoes and subtle warnings. Of course, this “talk” resolved to make our bonds even stronger as we faced someone not from our age group, an adversary arising from jealousy. So many misunderstandings and so many suspicions. However, everyone’s fears were allayed when they saw I had other interests to pursue – my hobbies, my schoolwork, my male school friends that were beginning to occupy most of my spare time. One day, we were told that she was leaving us since the children were getting older and no longer need supervision.
I could not go back to sleep. I was thinking. After all these years, never once had I dreamt of her or thought of her. Why did she come into my dream now? Was this meeting, an occasion for her last words of goodbye before stepping into the world yonder? I know that this is but a dream. Strange is the mind seeking closure to address lingering wishes unfulfilled.
As I am recording this, I wonder where had she been all these years after leaving the service of my family. In my dream, I should have asked, “Did you get married? If so, you should by now have become a grandmother. Did you have a good life?”
Time, a cruel master, taking one-by-one away and insidiously replacing clear memories of yore with haziness; repackaging a sleek version of charm and nostalgia.
Wednesday, February 04, 2015, 5:13am – 6:20am