Another Day

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"Doctor, how, my son? Serious is it?"

The anxious old mother tightened her grip on her son's hand. There was no reaction. Glassy-eyed as before, mouth agape as before, lost somewhere else but here. 

The doctor had not even greeted her, busily typing away at his computer.

But he asked, "Tell me, Aunty, has he lost his appetite?"

"No, he still eats like usual but only wants his favourite chicken rice from the kopitiam downstairs."

"Toilet?"

"As usual, twice a day. But I wonder about the terrible smell — "

"Sleeps?"

"When it's time but I think he's been sleepwalking. Last night I found him staring at his phone. One moment laughing, then crying. Oh goodness, if you could hear him. It's horrible like cows screaming, like kena butchered to death!"

"A normal healthy human being."

"But I see him like this. Everyday. He doesn't respond to me at all."

The doctor finally stopped typing. He whistled a quick tune. To the mother's surprise, her son responded. His head swerved quickly to the doctor. An awkward pause then back to his blank look.

"Is it a mysterious illness, doctor? Will he die soon?"

"This will take time, Aunty."

"I knew it! I can't afford this. I'm too old to get a job now. What should I do, what should I do?"

"Your son will die but another day, years later, just not now. His illness is treatable. First, you must terminate his mobile contract and take his phone away. And, Aunty, your son, being thirty now, I'd advise him to get a job, not you."

Her chair fell back.

And previous blank hollow eyes turned sharp with alertness. But his illness had made him too slow to react.

The old mother dragged her son out by his ear.


The End

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