by Ang Kia Yee

From 3 January

I walk out of the station and it is drizzling. I walk slowly in my slippers, almost shuffling. The ramen place which opens till morning is still open. I see a teenager with his fringe tied up in a little stub on his head get up from his booth and put in his face mask.

It is cleaning hour at the food market, so the floor there is wet too. As I pass through, some water from the floor splashes on my foot. I continue walking, feeling the wet. I take deep breaths to expel that nagging sensation of disgust, of wanting to wash or wipe it somehow.

I head for the 7-11 hoping for the last pack of ramen eggs and a sweet snack. On the way, I loop around a darkened food centre where old men mill about having their last mouthfuls of beer. One of them looks at me as I pass. I can see his eyes even though most of him is blurred by the lack of light. I hope he is okay, though I doubt it.

The cashier has her back to me as the entrance bell jingles. I admire her lack of fear. Quickly I see that there are no eggs left. Even the Seng Choon eggs have all been wiped out. I hover at the potato chips section for a while. Then I spot the budget packs of cereal I bought the other night, still on sale for a dollar. I swop out the Koko Krunch for Honey Stars this time.

Nothing savoury appeals to me. I almost give in to some Jin cup noodles when I remember that we have so at home. I pay for my cereal and leave.

The rain has gotten heavier. As I reach for the hood of my jacket, I walk into the long sheltered walkway that stretches all the way home. So I drop my hands and keep going.