Story 5 - A Second Chance
A Second Chance
After their little camping session, An b, No. 8, Super N and Kara rushed into the kitchen to look for anything they could eat. Although the sun had only just risen, the friends to their surprise found themselves confronted with a banquet of their favorite foods on the kitchen table. Sausages, fried eggs, bacon and plain congee were still steaming hot and the gang could not stop themselves from diving into the feast right away. After finishing the breakfast, they decided to retire to their bedrooms to sleep, despite still being so early.
In the meantime, their Mum had quietly slipped into the kitchen to clean up the mess. She was a white sheep with brilliant eyes of violet color. The neighborhood used to call her Mai Mai; however, once she became the mother to the four children, everyone soon began to just call her Mummy of Four and her real name was eventually forgotten.
Mummy of Four could barely keep her eyes open on her ragged face as she continued to clean up the kitchen; she could barely catch a wink of sleep last night. She kept waking up every so often to check up on the children: had they slept? Were the safe? All these questions kept her up until dawn. Once she had finished wiping the table, she took a moment to sit down in her favourite chair. As she gazed out the window next to her, she began to reminiscence of her yesteryears.
Before she got married with Daddy Tiger, Mummy of Four was a slim little sheep. She fell in love at first sight with Daddy Tiger who was called Tigerier at that time. They wedded after only just 1 year. While she couldn’t attribute the feeling in her heart as happiness, Mummy nevertheless felt that something crucial had been missing within her. She recalled this uneasiness the other day during a luncheon with an old friend, Beverly the donkey.
Before Mummy of Four got married, she worked as a secretary in a trading company. Her lifestyle was neither extravagant nor impoverished, but it was enough for a comfortable life. Beverly also worked as a secretary in past under Mummy’s supervision. These days, she is employed as supervisor in a big firm, travelling to various regional offices every month. As she looked at her old friend in brand-name clothes, Mummy of Four could not help but feel a touch of envy; after all, she herself no longer held the same grace and elegance as she once did.
Mummy of Four went back to her bedroom and took a silver coin which Grandma Kitty had given her on her wedding day. She remembered that day very much. She recalled waking up very early in the morning on that day in a nervous sweat. On the eve before the wedding ceremony, Mummy decided to find some time alone to settle her own feelings before she would meet her Prince Charming. As she smelled the scent of the roses in her hands, she saw Grandma Kitty walking towards her.
Through most of Mummy’s life, Grandma Kitty was the person she was the closest to. After her mother passed away on her birth, it was up to Kitty to look after the young Mummy as she watched her speed through her childhood, adolescence, and recently her young adult period in a blink of an eye.
Many would describe Grandma Kitty as gentle and kind, though you could probably attribute that to her cute appearance of that of a brown short-haired kitty. Appearances can be deceiving however: whenever her grandchild would make a mistake, it would be Kitty’s imposing voice that could be heard from miles away.
Grandma Kitty, upon seeing her soon-to-be-wed grandchild, said in a quiet tone:
‘Mai Mai, today is your wedding day isn’t it? I am so happy and I know that Tigerier will take good care of you.’
In truth, Grandma knew she was well past her prime years and would not remain with Mai Mai for very long. On this very day, she could feel the burden shift away from her shoulders.
‘I don’t expect you to become very rich. I simply hope that you will be happy and healthy forever.’
She then took a silver coin from her wallet. One side of the coin was blank while the other side of the coin contained four heads; unfortunately, they were too vague for Mai Mai to determine who those heads belonged to.
Her grandchild looked at the coin and asked her grandmother what it was.
‘Mai Mai, this is the greatest treasure of our family. I’m going to pass it onto you now.’
‘As per our family’s tradition, we can only hand this silver coin over to daughters and not our sons.’
‘It gives us one chance to change our life. Fortunately, I’ve never had any need for it; until my final days, I will always be grateful for all that I have.’
‘This day is a turning point of your life; you are getting married after all. However, if there was ever a time where you wanted to turn back the clock, just throw the coin into the air. As it falls, speak of your wish. Remember though, you only have one chance. Once you have said your wish, you can no longer undo the results. This is the first wedding gift I’m going to give you. The second gift will be given to you at a later time.’
Grandma Kitty passed away one month after her wedding. Although Mummy of Four never received her second gift up to today, the one gift she desired most was to see her grandmother again.
Envy for her friend.
A quarrel with Tiger.
Not a hint of attention from the children
At that moment, Mummy thought that the world was out to get her. She took out the silver coin from her purse; holding it close to her eyes, she could see it retained its glimmer from day it was given to her. As she twirled it in her hands, she remembered every single word from her Grandma.
‘Was Grandma really telling the truth? Can I really turn back the flow of time?’
Mummy shook her head.
‘Such things are impossible. I’m just thinking with a head full of hot air.’
Though there is no harm in trying, she thought to herself as she threw the silver coin into the air. As it flew, Mummy said in a clear voice:
‘I want to go back one hour before Tiger proposed to me.’
The silver coin began to fall down in slow motion. Everything in front of Mummy of Four became distorted; a flash of Light forced Mummy to close her eyes.
When she opened them again, she was forced to do a retake on what she saw. The bedroom she was standing could no longer be found; instead, she found herself standing in front of a grand cathedral. Many people were heading into the castle dressed in all sorts of suits and dresses. Upon closer look, Mummy recognized the building as the Sweet Potatoes Cathedral; it was initially difficult to identify the famous cathedral as she had not visited it for quite some time.
A massive fountain decorated the front of the cathedral. As Mummy marveled at the spectacular architecture, she caught sight of her own reflection on the fountain pool; what she saw scared her wits to no end. The water reflected a Mai Mai that retained all the grace and elegance of youth. With realization dawning on her, she quickly checked her watch, and noticed that the date exactly matched the day of her wedding. Not only that, it was 5 o’ clock – 15 minutes before Tigerier proposed to her. With little idea of her current circumstances, she quickly ran home; the only known sanctuary that she knew in this new world. Unbeknownst to her however, Tigerier of this world had managed to catch a glimpse of Mai Mai running home and decided to follow her.
Thankfully, her memory did not fail Mummy in remembering where her house used to be. When Mummy finally got home, she quickly realized that Tigerier had followed her all the way from the cathedral. Unable to contain her thoughts nor comprehend the current situation, Mummy blurted a single statement:
‘I’m sorry Tigerier, I don’t love you anymore.’
Though shocked by the sudden revelation – more so due to how abrupt it was on the eve the wedding – Tigerier still managed to maintain his composure. He asked Mummy to give him a call if she ever loved him again and simply left the house.
Tranquility once again returned to their home. After going through all the past events, Mummy decided she needed to calm herself with a drink from the kitchen. As she walked there, she was assailed by a strange sensation in her mind – her vision became blurred, her five senses faltered, and her limbs gave way. She began to have flashbacks to key moments of her life – the wedding, the birth of her children – memories that started to slip away as if old photos were being ripped away from a picture book. When Mai Mai recovered, she could no longer remember anything from beyond the day of the wedding.
The days ahead proved to be fruitful for Mai Mai, as she continued life as if the past decades had never occurred. She was promoted to the role of supervisor in one year and became a director in only two. In these 3 years, she has been working from 7.00 in the morning until midnight, spending most of her weekends living in the office. Like her old friend Beverly, she carried expensive handbags and had business trips every month, though any remnants of that envy has long since been forgotten. Nonetheless, she could not help but feel a sense of déjà vu – a feeling of something missing in her heart.
One day, Mai Mai was out jogging in a park. It was a late afternoon and children were playing in the playground after a long day at school. Out of the corner of her ear, she suddenly heard a child call out.
Mai Mai was shocked. When she looked back to the source of the voice, she saw a Mummy Giraffe holding up her baby Giraffe. Something about the scene gave off a sense of nostalgia to Mai Mai. At this moment, she unexpectedly felt something in her trouser pocket. As she searched, she realized it was a silver coin with four heads. It was then when she remembered what she had been missing all along – her lovely children. The thought of never being able to see them again made Mai Mai sob in the street.
All of a sudden, white smoke crept out from the middle of the coin. The smoke shaped itself as Mai Mai to determine what it was. Suddenly from the smoke, Grandma Kitty appeared.
Grandma smiled and said:
‘No one understands you more than I do, you know. As such, I knew you come to regret your decision. So here is your second wedding gift – I’m giving you a second chance to reverse time. I hope you make this decision with wisdom. Once you use this chance, that silver coin will disappear forever.’
‘Mai Mai, when you go back, I won’t be there with you. No matter what happens, I hope you will always share the joy and prosperity that I also once enjoyed.’
Her grandma then went up to Mai Mai and gave her a kiss.
Mai Mai cried and said:
‘Grandma, I miss you a lot. I wish you could see how pretty my children have become; how energetic they are; how much love they have given me.’
She began to sob even louder.
In her heart, Grandma Kitty also did wish she could remain with Mai Mai just a little longer.
‘I’ve also missed you. I wish I could live to see my grandchildren grow up – most importantly, I wanted to see my daughter grow into the beautiful woman she is now. But passing away is just another necessary step to take in our lives; to be able to face your own death with courage and grace is how we fully realize the potential in our short time here. I will be your angel to guide you on your journey – I’ll be sure to keep an eye on you from the heavens.’
She gave Mai Mai another kiss and vanished, just like the white smoke she came in from.
Mai Mai flipped the silver coin again and announced her wish.
‘I want to go back to the morning after my children’s camping trip.’
This time her surroundings accelerated much quicker. In the blink of an eye, Mummy of Four found herself back in the kitchen. When she went into the bathroom, she was happy to see a chunky sheep returning her gaze.
In the kitchen, her four children were still enjoying their breakfast. Stuffing food in the mouths, they called out and raced to her, each vying to be the first to tell their own story from last night.
They were noisy. Excessively noisy.
Yet Mummy could feel happiness and joy returning to her heart and soul again. If you were to ask her where she was now, she would say this was heaven on Earth. Mummy was sure grandma Kitty would be sharing this moment with her from the skies.