On Walking Slowly

These days, I like that the walks I take back home from the station has been unusually slow.

Every time I walk that same path, I’d discover something new about the place I live in.

I know that every morning at around 8am, the cleaner would come wash the floors around that hotel.

I know that the same SMRT staff would be there by the stairs I always walk down from because all escalators are moving up at peak hour and there’s no way to get down except the stairs. And I know no matter how tired she is of having people go up and down the wrong side of the stairs every morning, she’ll still greet you with a smile and it’ll somehow always make my mornings a bit better everyday.

I know that when I get home, there’s always a tour bus or two full of tourists checking in and out the hotel. I’d walk pass the same stretch of ramen shops. And sometimes, I wonder if the staff would notice the same girl who’s always wearing that thin cardigan walking pass their shop with a blank stare, and maybe wonder what that girl is wondering about. Until I realised there’s so many people who live around this area and would also walk that same path everyday at a specific time and basically, people just don’t give a shit about other people and are too busy doing their jobs to take notice about other people.

I know that the Japanese chef in Sanji Ramen is always focused at whatever he’s doing at the shop. He’s always checking the broth or cooking noodles with the classic stoicism that the Japanese are always known for.

I know that there’s always that old man who would be seated at that hawker centre around the corner drinking beer and watching free tv with others.

I know that there’s a guy from Cat Society who would drive down from Jurong East to feed the stray neutered cats in the area. There’s a beautiful orange tabby cat who’s just so afraid of strangers and would bolt if you ever come near, because it’s been unintentionally hurt by innocent children who’d come and throw stones at it once too often.

There’s always the same bunch of people who’s exercising by the public gym.

And I’d especially slow down on my walking pace because every now and then you get half naked guys showing off their bodies because, I mean, that’s why they exercise by the public gym. So why not, right?

And mostly, I’d walk slowly because in a few more months, I won’t be here. And I want to take it all in so I can remember all the tiny details in my mind when I’m no longer around.

And I also like to believe that if I walk slowly, that maybe people will notice that girl with the blank stare, maybe they will start expecting her to walk by at that certain time of the day and night. Maybe people will start wondering what she’s wondering about and whether she had a good day, and maybe they will notice when she is no longer around anymore, and maybe they will wonder when she’ll ever come around again, always looking out the window and thinking, “well, maybe she’ll come by today…” until maybe some time later, just before I become a distant memory in their minds, I’d reappear and I like to believe that in their minds, they’ll smile and be like, “oh there she is…”

I like to believe that really happens in my mind. But then I know people just don’t really give a shit about others. And you can’t really blame them because they’ve got their own lives to live, bills to pay, and mouths to feed and only so much cognitive attention you can give to your surroundings when you’re busy like that.

Still, it’s pretty nice to fantasize about people actually caring every now and then.

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