click pic for larger view in flickr. J/TOHA coloured this drawing as well. For his version, click here
It's always hard drawing kids on the train since they can't ever keep still. Even when they do, they are always quicker to notice you. And unlike adults, who will pretend that they are not aware of you (or that anyone would even think of sketching them), kids have no qualms about making their knowledge obvious and staring back. But this girl was sitting quiet in the pram. She looked way too old to be still pushed about in the pram. She stared vacantly ahead and did not fidget. Occasionally her eyes would move, but not her head which was supported by a child-sized pillow.
After a good afternoon of kueh pie tee and wine with colleagues at my boss's apartment, J and I spent the rest of the day with Ma J at the hospital. These 2 halves of the day could not have been more different.
By 9 or so, most of the visitors to the hospital had left. Some patients had turned off the lights by their beds and were asleep. Others, like Ma J, kept their eyes open - even if only the narrowest - perhaps afraid to be left alone once they gave any indication of sleep.
Right beside Ma J's bed was a wall of windows. The view from the 9th floor this side of the hospital was completely un-blocked - there was not any highrise buildings. There was the hospital driveway, a field, some old barracks or houses (now an old folks home) and clean stacks of private apartments in the middle distance and beyond. Traffic was sparse and considerate on the quiet side roads. And this being a Saturday night, not many windows on the apartment blocks were lit. Those that were gave out a warm orangey glow, the kind of light you imagined people would slowly dance to or doze off in as music played.
As I stood by these windows looking out, a constant December breeze on the skin and the very last of the wine leaving my head, there was a calm and a comfort. Perhaps like me, you would say that the view was peaceful. But if you were a patient lying beside these windows looking out - maybe a bedridden patient like Ma J - I wonder if this view was not one of the loneliest, the December wind through the hospital's woven blanket a cold companion.