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Tuesday, 17 May 2011

[ ..tall grass and red balloon.. ]

I have this specific memory of my childhood which I often recollect whenever I sit down somewhere and doing nothing.

The scene starts with the four year-old me, standing in front of my kindergarten, holding on to a thin white string that leads to a big red balloon hovering far above my head. It was a fun day. It was one of my classmate’s birthday. 

We had so much fun licking ice cream and devouring cakes. I particularly loved the jelly in that tiny little plastic cones. My fingers were sticky from the sugary liquid of the jelly. I licked in between my pointer and middle fingers. The sweetness of the red strawberry jelly still lingers.
It was a hot and sunny but rather cloudy day. I look at the red balloon hovering on top of my head and the sky beyond it. The balloon blocked the sun from hurting my eyes. The weather made me feel even sleepier than before, when I was in the class. 

Suddenly, I felt the presence of my teacher standing behind me. I was the last one left there at the kindergarten. Most of my friends already went back. Mom was always the last to pick me up. 

Teacher put her palm on the back of my head and made a slight circular movement on my scalp. I liked that. I always liked it when someone put their hands on my head. It made me feel small. It made me feel comfortable. It made me feel happy. 

Then from afar, I heard the familiar sound of bicycle tyres going round and round along the tar road, making popping sounds along the way as it occasionally runs over tiny little rocks and finally, the braking sound as mom squeezed the front brake to the handle grip. 

I smiled. Mom put her bicycle aside and proceed to greet my teacher. They both talked about me. I didn’t pay much attention to what they said, though. I could never understand what the grown ups say anyway.

As they paid no attention to me after they started chatting, I slowly walked further away from the gate of the school, and went skipping along the tar road. It was a quiet neighbourhood. There were very few cars at that place, so I had no fear whatsoever and continued to skipped ahead, and set my destination - the big field with tall grass and a swing set beside my kindergarten.

Finally mom saw what I was trying to do, called me out aloud and told me to get back inside. And so I did.

However, their conversation was utterly boring for a four year-old me. Although I stood by mom’s side for the next five minutes, I still couldn’t stand standing still and not doing anything. My feet wanted to skip along the road again and head over the field and swings!

Five more minutes into their conversations, I tucked my mom’s blouse and asked if I can be excused to play alone beside the road, but I promised not to walk any further or to the field. She nodded her head and continued her chit chat with my teacher. 

My eyes gleamed with happiness and my feet carried me out of the kindergarten as quickly as possible. But of course, which four year-old will keep her promise? I soon walked into the big field, heading towards the swing set.

I pranced and danced along the field, holding on to my red balloon. I even looped it around my right wrist a few times, to make sure that it will not fly up to the sky and leave me. I had this thinking that as long as the balloon is close to me and I can see it,  I will never lose it. 

As I pranced and danced my way to the swing set, I realised that the grass are getting taller and taller. The swing set is about ten to twenty steps away, but it seems that the grass are starting to reach to my chest. Mom mentioned about snakes. Should I be worried? ‘Nah, I am a snake baby myself, snakes won’t bite me! I can do this’ I told myself. 

I waved my hands to push the grass away from me so I can walk properly on the tall coarse grass. But I did not know that one particular wave would stings my heart so badly that I still can remember it to this day. 

At one moment, I had forgotten about my red balloon and as I push the grass away and I pulled my own arm to myself, that swift movement sent my balloon floating low among the coarse grass and *pop* it went.

I remember seeing the carcass of my red balloon slowly falling on to the grass. Lifeless. It is not round anymore. It does not bounce anymore. Just lying there, with the white string tied to my right wrist.

I looked at it and I looked at the swing set. I felt like crying. My red balloon. Gone, just like that. I still remember how bouncy it was when teacher let me choose it among the other balloons. I remember how it shaded my eyes from the sun just a moment ago.

I wanted to drag it along as mom fetch me on her bicycle, let it flow with the wind. I want to show it to my sisters and brother, what a beautiful red balloon it was. I wanted run around and let my dog, Bobby, chase it.  I wanted to hold it and let it floats with me on the swing.

Before I could do or say anything, I heard mom calling me out from a far, telling me to come back at once and leave the field. As I turned around and walked towards the kindergarten, teacher and mom, I slowly untie the string knot on my right wrist.

And as I got out of the field, I pull the string away from my wrist and gather it and the lifeless vivid red balloon together and hurled it to the field. It fell into the maze of tall grass. And I never saw the red balloon again. Then I slowly walked to mom and teacher.  Mom gave me a small lecture about the field and told me not to get in there anymore.

I looked up at her and solemnly told her about my red balloon’s demise. Mom said it was my fault, because I brought it along to the field. Teacher offered another balloon in blue for me, but I declined. It’s.. just not the same balloon anymore.

Soon after, mom finally finished her conversation with the teacher, and told me to get to the bicycle. I sat on the back seat and mom at the front. Normally, I would bid goodbye to my teacher with rigorous waving. But not that day. I hugged my mom’s waist tightly and I looked over to the big field with tall grass.

I closed my eyes and whispered, “Goodbye”.

I don't know why this memory stayed with  me for so long and it is the only memory that lingers around whenever I am not in deep thoughts. But this piece of memory made me smile and feel nostalgic.

There is nothing important in this post. I just want to write it down before I forget about it one day. And writing this made me feel peaceful and it frees me from the cluttered matters in my mind right now.

I wish I knew the significance of the red balloon and tall grass myself. Maybe I will find that out one day myself.


:: stitched on` ::*|17:53|

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