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Monday, August 26, 2013

My memories: picking a cherry seed from a cliff

People do dumb things all of the time. But most of the time, you don't realise that you're doing a dumb thing. This was one of those times for me.

I was about seven years old. It was my first holiday to Australia (somewhere in Western Australia). Among the many places that we went to was a mountain. I don't remember too much about that place, except that there was a cliff.

I had been eating cherries that afternoon after lunch. There were a number of cherries in my hand, and as I ate them, I made sure that I kept the seed from each eaten cherry. And so I was happily eating cherries while walking with my family towards a bridge at the cliff.

Just then, a seed fell from my hand! Not wanting to lost any seeds, I calmly walked up to where the seed was. I picked it up, then walked back to rejoin my family.

Little did I know what panic I had caused them! Apparently, the seed had rolled quite near to the edge of the cliff. If I had missed my step, I could have toppled over the edge!

But I didn't realise the danger I had been in. All I had wanted to do was to retrieve my cherry seed.

Years later, my dad recounted the story to some friends, and I was deeply embarrassed. But then he also said that he had purposely made sure that everyone stayed silent while I went to pick up the seed. He had been afraid that if anyone had made any noise, I would be startled and cause an accident.

Fortunately, my guardian angel was watching over me that day, and I am now able to recall that memory here.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My memories: running through the school building

When I was in secondary three, my secondary school moved to a new building. When classes started in January, the campus was still not completed. There was still some bare patches of land awaiting landscaping, and the car park was half finished.

One of the things left unfinished was sealing off inaccessible areas. I know this because during a Scout camp in school, a few of us ventured out at night and discovered a whole new side to this building.

I think this was during the June school holidays. Boys being boys, we were restless about being cooped up in our designated area, when we had the whole school to ourselves. And so when it was around bed time, we went off on our own little adventure. This was before there were security guards in school, so we could run around as long as our teachers-in-charge didn't know what was going on.

It was a tame start, where we simply went from floor to floor to see where all of the different paths and corridors led to. Then, we somehow got into the auditorium. And we went backstage. When we weren't playing a fool around the curtains, we were climbing up and down the rigging.

While climbing through the false roof, we discovered a path to the performing arts centre! And so we had even more time having fun in both of these big halls. We went into the sound rooms, dressing rooms and other rooms. It's too bad that the arts centre's stage floor trapdoor was locked shut, otherwise I can barely imagine what we could have done down there!

The last place we went to that night was the clocktower. There was a staircase that led up to its base, so we walked up to see how far we could go. To our great delight, the door was unlocked! And so we went all the way up the tower, to where the clock's gears were. Of course, we didn't mess with the clock, but we had a great view of the neighbourhood.

That was a night to remember.

A year later, during another camp, I and a few others (not all from the same group) tried to retrace our paths and rediscover the school building. Alas, not only were the doors locked, but there were other barriers to prevent trespassing.

But I still have that night, when I was 15 years old, crawling and climbing through a new school building. That's a thrill that can never be taken from me.

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

My memories: Fear of walking downstairs

As people grow older, they usually overcome most of their fears. And for those fears that they overcome, they rarely get afraid of them again.

I wasn't so lucky.

This is a memory from my mid-20s. For some reason, I suddenly became afraid of walking downstairs. It could be at a pedestrian bridge or a building staircase, wide staircase or narrow. My footsteps became shaky when I looked down at the stairs. I had to hold to the railing and walk down slowly, step by step.

Of course, being an adult, I had to pretend that nothing was wrong. And I really had to force myself to believe that nothing was wrong.

So it went on for about half a year. It was very frustrating, but I knew that I had to overcome it. After all, it was an irrational fear. Eventually my fear disappeared. I don't know exactly when it went away. But today, I can walk downstairs normally, and when I do, I wonder how I became afraid again then.

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

My memories: Colin's Corner

This is a memory from my 7-year-old days. I was in primary one then.

Every day at recess, most of my classmates would gather at the far corner of the school's basketball court. The court wasn't in use then, and it was more of an open space for groups of students to gather at. I'd join my classmates in chatting and playing. It was the place to hang out during break.

One day, a classmate said that they were going to "Colin's corner" during recess. I didn't know what he was referring to, but it sounded new to me, so I joined them. We ended up walking to that same corner at the basketball court!

I put it all together. I had a classmate named Colin. He came from a well-to-do family, so I guess the other classmates looked up to him. Somehow, he was like a de-facto leader who had organised everyone to be at that basketball corner during recess. So it became to be known as "Colin's corner".

And I didn't realise it till about half a year later… after I had been going there every day!

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