For a moment, I was blinded by the ray of light, which was in stark contrast from the pitch-black I had grown accustomed to for more than a decade. The surface I was lying on… it was slightly harder than the one I slept on every night. Dad often described night as total darkness. This was certainly day in this case, since it was obviously brighter than what I have experienced for the past decade.
Where was I? Did I always look like this? What was in front of me? Panic engulfed me. My heart wasn’t just palpitating; it started slamming against my ribcages. What were these facades surrounding me?
A familiar grip on my arm put me at ease. I recognised that grip. It was the grip that accompanied me wherever I went. It was Dad. I didn’t expect him to look so wrinkled, given how lively his voice always was. He was neither bony nor brawny, but he certainly did give me a sense of warmth and comfort.
It was not long before we were on our way home. The raucous, metallic shriek heralds the arrival of the decrepit carriage, standing in defiance of its condition – all corroded iron and tacky upholstery. The doors reluctantly ease open with the force of a stocky station guard, as if gripped by age, the handles stiff with arthritis. It was not long before the train takes a plunge, inching forward at an excruciating pace. It rocks back and forth, its relentless whining and groaning comparable to a resident of any hospital.
“Dad! Look! Those white fluffy unicorns are running behind us!” I could not help but exclaim in curiosity. Dad related how unicorns were special creatures with a horn and could run in the sky. The line of clouds in the azure blue sky resembled the shape of the majestic animal Dad was talking about, running in the opposite direction at equine speed.
Just then, chuckles from a nearby couple caught my attention. Dad only told me that laughter was a sign of joy. What was the couple laughing at? Were they happy for me too? It cannot be… I don’t remember confabulating with them or of any sort. Soon, the chuckles turned into bewilderment as those around me had their eyes wide open. Dad told me that bewilderment was often emanated through the action of one’s mouth hanging agape, or when their eyes enlarge. This usually happens when someone is behaving in an abnormal way. Aren’t I normal now? Just like everybody else?
It took donkey’s years before we reached the place that I had always called home, but I had never got a chance to view it with my very own eyes. At least, they weren’t mine to call a few hours ago. The apartment was definitely more colourful than what Dad had described. To be frank, I had expected my house to be much more suburban, given how tenuous yet wearisome it was for me to climb the steep flights of stairs up and down daily.
Night soon ensued. Phosphorus moonlight spilled into the dimly lit room. Behind the doors’ glass insets, a majestic view of the skyline appeared with startling beauty. Rows of towering skyscrapers stretched above; their windows alight from within. A half-moon hovered at the fringes of the luminous cityscape, with the red blinking lights of distance radio towers twinkling in the night. Fog softened the hard lines of buildings and diffused the orange glow of sodium-vapor streetlamps. A line of police cars screamed by, lights flashing, sirens wailing and ululating. Were those police cars Dad used to describe about? He certainly did tell me about how the sirens were used to signal an emergency, but never once mentioned about the red and blue sirens flashing through the night.
Didn’t Dad mention things only came in black and white? Perhaps he was wrong after all; or was he lying to me all this while?
I didn’t give a hoot; all I wanted was to step out of the very world I had been entrapped in for 14 years. The scene in front of me was just surreal. All I knew was that, for the first time in 14 years, 14 years of loss and emptiness, I could finally see the light in the dark.
As I retreated to the comfort of my bed I got to see for myself for the first time, so did my vision, as it drifted into darkness again.