The kitchen in the two-bedroom flat had brown tiles, bamboo poles overhead with damp military vesture, a curated exhibition of spices and the woman in a low bun and batik housedress waltzed through scooping buckets of water, reaching for ladles on hooks, turning to grab the tin of condensed milk from the sage-coloured fridge while still stirring the porridge on the stove, as if the room and everything in it were objects of affection, as patient and worthy of her attention as her cracked heels which she consoled each day with Nivea or the sprained left arm she lifted, again and again, while watching I Love Lucy.

To be in that flat, one must be like the man who built her a wooden cupboard with his hands or the grandson who has stood close enough to smell the Yu Yee oil through her towel, and later, before forty winks, breathe in the aroma of Cuticura – Marie biscuits and green apples – and the taste of Milo, which was quiet on her mouth, the mattress drifting down the cried river, a pale moon shadow on the floor, and hear the clink of pots against the sink – and picture the weathered ceiling – the back of the woman bowing, palms together and accommodating the roof and violent winds.

Vaishnavi Nathan is passionate about using language to explore one’s identity, social change and the various mediums of arts and culture. Her work has been published in The Harpoon Review, Eunoia Review, The Blue Hour, Glitterwolf Magazine and others. She holds a degree in Language and Intercultural Communication (French and Spanish) from University of South Australia. She lives and works in Singapore.

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