I am in a meeting with a couple. They are Thai, skinny and youngish looking. Why, I am surprised when they tell me they are both 27 and 33 respectively. I had thought they were just in their late teens or early 20s.
We are in a cafe in a shopping mall, the kind with a large atrium. A few floors up and sitting at a cubicle table along the corridor. It is day, and very bright. The shopping centre feels familiar, like the one I had visited in a dream before. It has three high-rise circular sections, each with its own atrium and information counter.
The meeting starts. The couple are concerned. At this point I learn who I am. I am their English tutor and they are about to go overseas for studies. They wonder if they are making the right decision. I tell them it is never too late to study and it is always good to have a degree - for reason of career and personal advancement.
I ask if they are engaged; they both nod. I said "Really?" and they both nod again. I am not sure why I have to affirm this bit of info. There seems to be some kind of family values involved.
I then recall being at their family home and being with their family members. It was a happy, casual occasion.
After this first meeting I return to Singapore. I remember going via the Causeway so I must have landed in JB and taken the land road home. I did, after all, lived in nearby Marsiling before.
I also remember leaving the cafe and browsing over some clothing shop. The shirts there had patterns similar to Indonesian batik. I checked my wallet and realised I had a few notes left and just enough foreign currency to get home.
We are now at our second meeting. It's at the same location. Everything is cheery, and it appears that much have been decided upon. The couple are happy and give me a brown batik shirt as a gift. It is not cotton but one made of polyester and cotton mixed. Maybe rayon. But it fits me nicely. My shoulders and chest look buff.
Later, I meet MH and Set on the taxi home and they compliemented on my shirt. I told them I was on work assignment in Thailand.
At the shopping centre after my meeting with the couple I leave. But there seems to be a commotion downstairs at the atrium. People are fleeing and I am being swept along. We run to the back of the building and find ourselves in some back maintenance/loading area with big pipes running along the walls. They are painted in a dirty mustard yellow color. The whole place looks a bit grungy.
I escape to the outside and walk along a kampung road. It is a dirt road with a grassy stream running beside it. Ahead are padi feilds and coconut trees. The scene reminds me of a kampung from my godma's condo on the outskirts of Malacca.
I get into a taxi and meet MH and Set. Not long after they compliment me on my batik patterned shirt. I again look into my wallet and find few notes there.