Archive for the ‘Stories’ Category

A Short Story

A friend of mine wrote this. She was on MC and feeling bored. She sent it to me coz she thought I could identify. It’s sooooo good. Thot I’ll share it here.
It was so apt coz I’ve been telling myself that I’m going to get my eyebrows trimmed….

A Short Story


"I ought to get these eyebrows trimmed," she thinks to herself, towelling dry her mid-length hair as she steps out of the shower and stands before the mirror.  It has been months –  before Chinese New Year – since she last got herself a haircut too.  The beancurd seller at the wet market then kept raving about how good she looked with her freshly-cut hair, which was quite embarrassing, actually.  Maybe next Tuesday afternoon, when both the kids have their CCAs….

"Daddy says we have to brush our teeth before we sleep!" the younger one hollers, as she hastily pulls her t-shirt over her just as the bathroom door swings open.  She always forgets to get them to brush their teeth before she has her shower.   A flurry of token toothbrushing and some serious elbow-jostling over the wash basin later, they tuck themselves in bed, stretching out their arms for hugs and puckering their lips for kisses.

This is what makes it all worth it, she tells herself as she brushes her hair before the big mirror in the living room.  Yet she cannot help but notice how her freckles have multiplied.  How her lips are thin and flaking.  That must be why her boss got her not one, but two lip-glosses for her birthday.

This part-time job is working out well, she tells her friends.  Sure, it doesn’t pay well – no CPF, no bonuses, but that’s the price you pay for flexibility.  After ten years of being a Stay-At-Home-Mum you really can’t complain about the pay, or be envious of your friends who have gone on to become school principals and chief editors of magazines.  Think of the price they have to pay.

She sets out two sets of uniforms for tomorrow – one set for PE, one set of pinafore.  Then she gets ready their lunchboxes and… they’ve forgotten to take out their water bottles to be washed again.  They still don’t wash their own water bottles, or pick up their clothes after they change, or help out around the house.  But they’re good children, she tells herself.  They’re honest, respectful and well-behaved.  They’ve been taught well.

There had been times in her life when she hated mirrors.

She hated them when she was a teenager.  She wore oversized, wire-framed glasses and had her hair cut at the salon downstairs,  a place where for years, the same black-and-white posters of female 1960s movie stars adorned the walls, and where the "hairdressers" were a mother and daughter team, both trained by the latter’s father, the owner of the man’s salon right next door.  In those days they used to call her "the smart one", because she was neither tall like her elder sister, nor pretty like her younger sister.

She began to hate mirrors less after she started wearing contact lenses and ventured further to get her haircuts.  In fact, she grew to love herself in the mirror when she started dating and got married to the man with infinite patience for her moods.

Then her reflection in the mirror began to change.  It started with a little bump where there used to be the hollow of her tummy, and it grew to be the centre of her whole being.  The process repeated itself in four years.  At the end of it, she hated herself in the mirror again.

But it mattered little because for the next few years she hardly had the time to look at herself.  Life was a whirlwind of diapers, potty-training, spit-up meals and soiled carpets.  She became known as her daughter’s mummy, and later, her son’s mummy.

Her daughter hogs the mirror to brush her hair.  She’s wearing her first set of training bras, and she has a crush on one of the boys in class.

"Mummy, I’m as tall as your shoulder!" she exclaims.  Mummy straightens herself beside her, the two of them giggling before the mirror.

"It wouldn’t take very much to be taller than me, you know," she says.  She studies her daughter’s face and sees the unmistakable imprint of her husband in her child’s eyes and smile.  Summoning her son, the three of them stand before the mirror.  For a moment, she forgets the advice she gave to a younger mother who was fretting about how little her toddler was eating.  "Never use your child’s chubbiness as an index of your success as a mother," she had said sagely then.

Now, she swells with pride as the mirror affirms that her children are well-built and handsome.

"Before you know it, you’d turned 40 and everything goes south," laughter roars in the studio as Oprah’s guest, an actress in her 40s who looks nary a day over 30, regales the audience with her tales of botox and other age-delaying procedures.  "Re-invent youself!" she urges, and the audience erupts in approving applause.

She switches the television set off, heads into the kitchen and begins to mince a few cloves of garlic with a vengeance.  As the aroma of cooking fills the kitchen she morphs back into mummy mode, leaving her insecurities and her questions about life back where they usually lurk – in the recesses of her mind, coiled and dormant until awakened.