Wake up. Feel good. Not full tip top of the World, but at last refreshed after a few restless nights in a row. Two hours later, a fatigue creeps into the being. Not so good or refreshing. Mouth turns down. Super glue would have to be applied to keep the lips up for a smile. Not sad. Not happy. Not caring. Not loving. Not thinking. Not talking. Just nothing. A disengagement. Grey and bleak? If the mind would function, it would probably determine it to be just that. Two word sentences are the peak of imagination today.

Thoughts cast forward to tonight. Barbecue is planned essentially to celebrate finishing landscape works and fire place along our back wall. Chicken wings (marinated) and kebabs on the menu. Supplies bought earlier today apart from soft drinks. Aghhh – should have acquired earlier when still at the shops, but the grey had settled in. Still have wood to cut for the newly built fireplace. This is just family, those at home in KL that is. Will have to negotiate my way back to the shop later with some dread attached due to Covid third wave really making a mess of Malaysia’s really good early Covid control work last year. Wow, twelve months on and we are in a serious mire. ICU wards overflowing and case numbers doubling almost daily. The grey thickens towards black at the thought of going to crowded areas. We have Movement Control Orders in place, but there appears to be no difference in traffic or people milling in the streets than pre-Covid times. Mask on, sanitise the hands, in and out as quickly as possible. Don’t forget the Ice!

Fireplace just waiting for test run two nights later. Worked a treat!

Mind casts back to the test fire two nights ago, sitting out there with wife, hypnotically staring into the last of the flames and dancing light and shadow play of the fire embers. I was not here (in KL), but mind transported home in Australia to the many fires had through childhood, camping and in the backyard. Always built a place for a fire, whether from recycled bricks up against an old tree stump in the yard to a simple brick lined hole in the ground fire pit. Camp fires had on solo mid winter surf trips to East coast Tasmania. Wearing multiple clothing layers due to 1 degree C, standing up and rotating back to front regularly to warm the body. Usually these cold nights coinciding with crystal clear moonless skies observing the milky way in its awesome glory. Nothing else mattered.

Fire casts the mind not just to the place, but to people. All week random thoughts of family there have popped in and out. Dad (Les) a few weeks ago with his 91st birthday and just lost yet another of his close friends and yet another funeral to attend. Very few are left now. But Dad sounds good over the phone, nice and solid timbre to the voice and we manage without much effort to chuckle about many things. But there are no hugs, no looking eye to eye to show the big love between us, just the massive cavity of Covid and distance. My sister (Michele), who has become a regular visitor to KL over previous years and now we are relegated to whatsapp and facetime. Wonderful videos and photos of her garden are sent. Digital conversations are had. But, it is not like the real thing. Yet again no hugs.

Daughter (Alice), in the most isolated capital city in the World (good one for trivia night and no clues here) apart from a mere 5 hours flight time from KL in pre-Covid days. A simple journey taken more than once a year. My first grandchild – Millie just had her 1st birthday, with a second grandchild due towards the end of April. FB Messenger is the common communication channel now. Videos usually starring Millie are sent. Son (Sam), back in this most isolated capital city after many years in Canada and just before Covid hit. His plans of permanent residency in Canada put on hold while Covid plays out. FB messenger is our conversation conduit as well.

I can’t touch, feel, sense any of them. Tactile does not exist anymore. It is as if we exist in ghostworld of apparitions past. How long can I hold onto these sensations that fade every day? Ride out the storm I must, we all must.

Now in KL – fire for aesthetic purposes only. No need for warming due to our tropicality. I envisage a walk in freezer nearby to go into, get freezing and then warm the frigid limbs in front of the healing fire. Stupid I know, but at least two nights ago the imagination was working and glue not required for smiling lips. Now? Not so.

Earlier after the barbecue shopping, this creeping tiredness led me back to bed. Set the timer for 45 minutes and off to siesta world I went. I certainly did and in what appeared to be no more than 5 minutes later, the alarm interrupted the bliss of nothing. Took a few minutes to reconnect with the day. Up and about feeling not so dull and disengaged, but still the lingering fog.

A short time later, facebook checked. A photo posted by Alice of a one year old in front of his cake, smiling and happy on his birthday. Younger brother Louis. All week, my family coming in and out of thoughts and never once a thought of Louis until now. Is simple this lack of thought as Louis never woke up from his slumbers some 18 months after the first birthday almost 29 years ago in July 1992.

“a photo posted by Alice of a one year old in front of his birthday cake”

The way today has gone with onset of grey and bleak casts back to every other year around this time when the subconscious stirs memories almost untouchable and unfathomable until a trigger like FB photos are posted. Sometimes the trigger is not pushed and the subconscious fails to wrestle its way to the cold hard reality of day. Louis’s birthday not always remembered even though the dark day of death refuses to be like birthdays.

Our family is small, but even in these times we are mighty, loving and caring. At this time of writing I have not bothered informing my extended family in Kl of today. I will, probably staring into the dying fire embers tonight or a quiet word with my love Shakirah earlier. For now, there is no need to pass on the sadness, the grey to black. It is lifting now. The writing has been cathartic for the injured soul, the missed hugs, missed genuine in your face love and fun of family.

I look up to an Ernie (Sesame Street) doll perched on the wall in his Cowboy suit and guitar singing out loud. It is Louis personified. Into song with glee, happiness, abandon and fire that only two year olds can muster. I feel that too.

“Ernie is his Cowboy suit and guitar singing out loud”

We all miss you Louis. Happy Birthday forever young!

2 thoughts on “Fire

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