If... (05)

That night, I couldn’t sleep. Who would in a situation like mine? It might also be that the Ishikawas put me to bed early. All lights were out by 9 o’clock. Although I could remember no shit, there is one thing I know, by instinct: that nobody sleeps this early, not even children. I tossed around in bed, wide awake. My mind was restless, disturbed. The same things kept going through my mind. Who am I? Where am I? Why? The more I tried to recall, the harder my throbbings became. It might only be some mild pounds I felt on the back of my head, nevertheless, irritating enough not to be ignored. And to stop it, I must stop thinking. I tried to think of something else, nothing else. I turned to look at the windows. The linen curtains were half-drawn, moonlight coming in made the room slightly illuminated. And when the wind came, the curtains flapped, casting random shadows on the walls, and at times the floor even looked like it was dancing along.

I looked at the door, remembering how a lady had appeared before disappearing. She was the first person I saw, the first input on my mind, which was now void and empty and eager to be filled with new memories. I had not see her again until now. Ishikawa said she is his daughter. He has two daughters: Kei and her. And she is the younger one. I met Kei over dinner. She cooked and served us and ate little herself. But I did not see Rika. Did she not have her dinner? Maybe like Kei, she ate little and had left before I turned up; maybe she had no appetite and missed her dinner completely. Even so, I thought I would see her around the house after dinner, but she was no where to be seen. Strangely, as I lay in bed now, I found myself suddenly curious about her. She had a drawing quality about her; she just seemed mysterious and elusive.

I closed my eyes and tried to recall little I could make of her features. Her hair is long, straight and black. Her body, petite. Her dress, long, almost touching the floor. Her moves, nimble as she was gone as quick as she had come. And I smiled, not knowing why. No, I knew why, but that would be later.

The next day, I woke up forgetting how I had fallen asleep. The room now looked bright, and my heart sank when I saw how everything still look the same. I was hoping that after a night’s sleep, I would wake up to find myself in another room, my own room, and things had not changed, and what had happened, my loss of memory, my presence in a strange place, were all but a bad dream. But I was not dreaming. For the first time, I felt fear. I tried not to think about it.

I got up to leave the room and walked the only passage I knew around the house, toward the dining place. I didn’t know what I was expecting but I was feeling quite hungry and was hoping for some food. And when I entered and saw plates of food on the table, I broke into a smile. So glad was I to see food I had not notice at once that Ishikawa was seated around the table.

“Good morning,” he said as he looked up.
“Good morning,” I said back.
“Slept well?” he asked.
“Yes,“ I said and nodded, as perfunctorily as he had asked.
“Good, join me. Your food is getting cold.”

So I sat down and ate. Unlike the night before, we did not talk as we ate. But I knew he was watching me, the same way he had watched me before, surreptitiously yet not very clever. I almost laughed and had to bite my lips and swallow my food.

“You seem hungry,” he said.
I lowered my chopsticks and said, “Yes, I do. Sorry. If you think I eat too much.”
“No, not the least. Should I get Kei to bring you more food?”
“I’m fine with what’s on my plate,” I said.

We started to talk. Inevitably we got back to that topic, my topic. I say so now that when a person loses her memory, it does not mean that she loses her ability to think. I turned suddenly to Ishikawa and said, “I wish to go to the authorities. I’m sure they can help me, will try to help me.”

Ishikawa’s eyes widened considerably and he shifted his face away, hoping to hide it. For the nonce, I felt he was hiding something, that he might not be the good person I first thought him of. He cleared his throat, sat upright and braced himself. And then he spoke.

He said many things. So many things that even by recalling them now, I felt myself getting queasy. He raised questions and provided the answers himself. Most importantly, he said I was found without any forms of identification. I had no idea at first what he was hinting at. I told him “since I’m a citizen, they will have my data.” He shook his head and said I did not look local. It was preposterous. I could speak Japanese I almost argued. But he had his way of talking me out of it. He had his own set of theories, which was interesting enough to make a good drama from. And when he was finished, I was exhausted from listening.

Illegal immigrant! Goodness me. Which part of me looks so? Even though he had been convincing, I could not help but notice his eyes darting when he was speaking. He had behaved so suspiciously, I had conjured my own theories about him. Maybe he knew what happened to me. Maybe he was responsible for what happened to me. Maybe he lied. Maybe I was kidnapped and held captive and lost my memory through a freak accident and so he came up with this tale to continue me to stay; and if I were to insist and leave for the authorities, he would walk free of his crimes. Because his motives were so clear, all his words point to one thing: he didn’t want me to leave, he wanted me to stay.

If that was so, then maybe, just maybe, he knew…

If... (04)

“Papa, we should call in the authorities.”
“No. We’ll wait and see.”
“How can we? We don’t know her at all, and she’s not telling. What if she’s bad? Someone who screwed up while trying to smuggle herself away? No proper person would lie out there, you know that!”
“She looks harmless. And she doesn’t remember a thing. Pitiful I would say.”
“She might be faking it.”
“No, not from the looks of it.”
“Papa, you can’t be sure. Crooks don’t have the word ‘I’m bad’ engraved on their foreheads.”
“See, you hesitate now. I’ll call them.”
“No, wait.”
“Look papa. If she’s good, they will help get her back to where she’s from. We will be doing her a great favour.”
“I know. It’s just that…”
“Just what?”
“Just that since your mother passed away, I’ve never seen Rika look the way she did when she brought the lady back. I am thinking if she could help your sister, then I want her to stay…”


If... (03)

Remember how I said earlier I felt things familiar yet strange. After my first meal with the Ishikawa family, I knew why. Something was not quite right with me. I had not realized then the magnitude of my anomaly.

So, just what was wrong with me, you would ask.

I had this problem what people call ‘amnesia’ or ‘loss of memory’. I remember some things but not many things, and sadly, important things. I remember the names of things and not remember why they were there, if you understand what I mean. I recognise a bed as a bed, a chair as a chair and a wardrobe as a wardrobe. But why were they there or why were I there in the room, I had no idea.

It was during dinner time when Ishikawa asked me for my name and I had given him a blank look, just as my mind had gone blank. I could not remember. How could I not? I began to panic, just as anyone should. I suddenly felt alarmed. I should have a name, everyone has a name, but what is mine? Why can’t I remember?

“Is there anything wrong?” he asked. “Surely I’m not being intrusive here asking for your name?” he laughed slightly. “Well, not after I had gotten you back and nursed you back to health, after my daughter found you lying unconscious on the beach, ermm, three days ago.”

“No,” I said. “But what?” Too much information at any one time. Unconscious, beach, days ago… what is going on here? I looked clueless.

His smile was gone. I saw his brows come slightly together. He looked to his left at Kei, a lady whom he had introduced earlier as his daughter, and back at me again and was silent, perhaps thinking of what he should say next. I fidgeted.

“You were in a pretty bad state when Rika saw you,” Kei suddenly said.

Rika? Another name to remember. Could it be the lady who had appeared in my room before disappearing? I had no time to think about that.

“I am truly sorry,” I said. “I must have behaved badly and you must have think me rude. I wish to tell you my name. However you must believe me when I tell you that I have no idea.” I could tell him the slight throbbing I felt on the back of my head even now as we spoke as I badly tried to recall things, but I didn’t; it won’t make him believe me more nor less.

He tried to look sympathetic. “But why?” his tone was flat.

I wish I could tell him. I remained silent. He gave a sigh and got up from his seat. I could not see from his face what he was thinking, then he smiled. “It’s okay. Come join me at the living room. You can watch some television while I do some reading, and we can talk.”

The living room. It was a spacious room with tall ceilings and long walls. There were windows everywhere, but it was currently so dark outside, I could see nothing beyond. We sat in the middle of the room where the sofas were placed perpendicular to one another, forming a L shape. We sat on either side. Ishikawa took up the papers on the coffee table in front and started reading. I looked at the television which was switched on for my sake but paid absolutely no attention to the contents in it. I was very conscious of Ishikawa studying me although he appeared to be reading his papers. I fidgeted more.

I wish he could ask me outright what bloody hell is wrong with me! instead of pretending to be cool about the whole thing. I could take it no more.

“You said you found me?” I asked, quite abruptly. He seemed surprised and placed his papers on his lap.

“No, it wasn’t me. My daughter did.”
“No, my other daughter, Rika.”

Rika, Ishikawa Rika. A beautiful name. I even thought so when I first heard it. I looked around.

He seemed to understand why. “She must have gone outside,” he said. “She likes to go out there,” he smiled, “that’s how she found you. You should be glad that she does. You see, you were there in a pretty secluded part of the beach. Quite very far from here. Normally people who come stay here in the inn will not wander that far. You would have, you know, if Rika hadn’t walked that far.”

I should be grateful to her. That was what Ishikawa was telling me, indirectly.

When a gust of wind blew in, I smelt tanginess in it. I think we must be very near the sea.

Ishikawa spoke again. “But… ah… I guess I made a mistake.”


“Well,” his tone became apologetic. “I should have listened to Kei and called for the ambulance instead.”

“I guess so,” I said when I saw him pause, and only for the sake of saying something. I smiled to cue him on.

“But I thought you will come around in a couple of hours. So I suggested that we get you back here and into a bed. But you never did wake up and just slept and slept.” He laughed.

I would laugh along if I hadn’t remember Kei saying I looked pretty bad when they found me, but now, as he was saying, I looked fine. Something wasn’t right. I became wary.

“And how long was I in slumber?”

“Days. Three?” He was thinking. “We are all so glad now to see you waken. But I guess we are faced with another problem?”

He was right, absolutely right.


If... (02)

I gave the surroundings a quick look. The feeling familiar yet strange. I couldn’t put a word to it; perhaps you could if you were me. But, let me try. I was in a room. It was a simple room. Not many furnishings. There was a desk, a chair, a wardrobe and a bed, which I was lying on. My eyes became drawn to the turning blades of a fan on the ceiling. Watching it turn lazily, I tried to remember what I was doing here…

Pain. A pain that came and went quickly. Nevertheless, it was a pain excruciating enough to make me feel alarmed. A pain that I would later grow to hate and yet feel deeply attached to.


I turned to the gasp. The figure quickly disappeared behind the door, leaving the door ajar. But I managed to have a glimpse of the lady. She’s not very tall, petite and has long black hair. I didn’t see her face. I got up, stumbled and fell. My legs felt numb, my knees cold against the wooden board. I felt weak. And thirsty. And hungry. Oh God, I wonder to myself. How long had I gone without food? Looking back at the bed, I wonder too. How long had I been sleeping?

I got up again. Steadying my stance, I took a careful step forward. No problem. Then another step. Then I saw a figure appear at the door.

“Oh, you’re awake!”

A lady. She was another lady. I was sure she’s not the one before. “Ah… yes,” I finally said. She smiled. I smiled back.

“We’re having dinner soon, please come join us.”


If... (01)

It all happened very long ago. Still l remember it clearly. I hadn’t before. But not now. Now, they are back, all back; everything clear and etched on the back of my mind. And whenever I close my eyes now, I would remember, dreadly remember… how I had opened my eyes… (more...)