These Foolish Things by Yeo Wei Wei

Yuan was waiting for her husband to return from work. The weather was incredibly bad and it was pouring heavily. Danny failed to close the windows before leaving the house and the rainwater entered their home. They lived on a 20 floor apartment, above the Kallang River. The city was very modern as compared to the 1950s. They could watch the NDP fireworks from their home. Danny and her were married for 3 years. Later, Danny enters the house with another woman. His arms were around her waist. Yuan was tormented by this sight and how Danny was treating her. Danny liked to simply ignore everything she said.

Yuan was heading to Phuket alone. They were conversing in the living room. It was 26 Dec 2004 and the tsunami hit in Phuket. Oliver, the man she was with now, had drowned. He was a divorcee and was a father of 2 children. There were little signs of life after the tsunami. A jazz singer’s voice reminded Yuan of the past. It was a year since the tsunami and life in Phuket was returning to normal. Yuan returned to her villa and saw a couple’s luggage tags. The couple were named Gavin and Julie Ng and they stayed at the same apartment where Yuan used to stay. This further triggered her memory of the past.

Assia touched Julie’s umbrella and saw a hantu inside the umbrella. She was the domestic helper in the house. Gavin couldn’t find his car keys. Tom was their son and Gavin’s passport was missing too. Assia was tired because the couple were very strict towards her. Julia and her friend, Fern, were chatting while their husbands were away. Fern was now married to Danny.

The scene now flashes to the scene where Yuan confronts Danny about the woman he brought home. The lady turned out to be Fern. As Danny tried to get rid of Yuan’s possessions, he found that he paralyzed and that he couldn’t move. Danny managed to crawl and went to the kitchen to find a tin box of dried sage leaves. He lights a leaf and then extinguishes it. Then, he scurrying around the room like a lizard. He enters Yuan’s room and examines her possessions. He missed Yuan. The burnt leaf had a scene of Gardenia and it reminded him of Yuan. He tried to imagine her being with him, but the moment was fleeting at best. Danny was deeply distraught and felt an acute sense of loss. It was then that Fern clutched him and Danny said longingly, ‘Fern, my love’.

Gardenia perfume lingering on the pillow…wild strawberries only seven francs a kilo…and still my heart has wings…These foolish things remind me of you. – Jazz Singer



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