An Autumn Window in Illinois

What seems like a sad sky, displays gloomy daytime. At times, at midday, for a little while, here and there; the sun manages to sneak past the greyness, to shine brightly. Just for a little while, as it is engulfed once again by the greyness. Did the sun move away? Or was it switched off? Only the sun can answer that.

The un-leaved, naked branches, dried bark trees, shivers when the strong winds blow. Yet they stand tall above the rooflines in the homes of many.

Just past the walkway, the cobble-stone paved street is disturbed from its slumber with the rumbling noises caused by the rubber tyres of vehicles as they drive across it. No long, peaceful rest for it.

In the not too distant distance; a gigantic, steroid-muscled goods train can be heard blaring its horns, awakening the silence; as it effortlessly pulls hundreds of goods carriages along its railway tracks. As it pulls further away from here, its bull horns can still be heard for miles.


Far away from home…delighted to have Kopiko coffee sweets (candy, now that I am in the U.S.) to keep me company. We (Jeannie and I) brought these sweets over for our daughter, Laura. But I have already had one too many. Not complaining. Just saying.

I would be fibbing to say that the countdown to our reunion just started a few days ago. No, the countdown began 7 weeks from the time we would be at the airport. Our Emirates flight was at 1.45am on Dec 1st.

As the weeks wound down to our flight departure date, Jeannie, Laura and I were calm, cool and collected.

All our usual monthly errands were done in advance. Our bags were packed, Laura made arrangements for Jeannie and I to be picked up at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. So, we were set.

We were down to the last 3 nights before the flight. We were on “eagerly couldn’t wait” mode, as though we had a choice to hurry time up if we could.

Our good friend, Richard Kok; drove to our place at around 6.00pm to give us a lift (not fetch us) to the airport. We grabbed noodles dinner at New Apollos, our neighborhood restaurant (used to be known as “coffee shops” before the ’90s). Our last local, Malaysian meal before our flight.

We arrived at KLIA airport at 7.45pm on November 30th. Just thought we’d get there early to avoid any unforseen traffic jams.

Our two Emirates flights, first to Dubai, then, onwards to Chicago; story may be told soon. May throw in bits of the SUV ride from Chicago to Decatur, too.

Thursday, Dec 1st., our REUNION. The feeling was “1“. We did not say much, but a trillion or more volts of love and joy passed through us.

At Tabor School.

Laura got me to work, almost right away. She handed me a book, “What Money Can’t Buy” by Michael J. Sandel; asked me to read it within 3 – 4 days, and tell her what I think of it. She knows that I am into this type of literature and at times, have unconventional views.


I have some new essay start-up ideas, which I am considering putting up. One of them is about implanting a microchip in a human brain. Something to think about..

Where’s Cleopetra? She got stuck in Dubai – something about wanting to ride a camel.

Decatur gets a lot of the Chicago winds, I think. And, you would have to have a weather temperature thermometer on the go, as temperatures can be fickle. One moment it can be barely bearable, on the other; there will be a whole lot of shaking going on. Then, the next, the sun is fully up in the sky. Yet, Laura can be seen with her frayed pants.

Laura and Jeannie, preparing a local dinner

Laura has turned out to be quite the chef. She has entertained her American friends with nasi lemak – a favourite Malaysian meal. Included in that meal were 4 different levels of spicyness of sambal (chili side dish). I’m not sure if the word “spicyness” exists. If it does not, make sure you tell them you saw it here first. She included a plate of fried anchovies, served separately. In a short span of time, she has built up a menu of food offerings, both Malaysian, as well as American.

Laura has involved herself whenever she can, with community work.

Laura, with a group of friends, “gotong royong” picking trash up around the neighbourhood.

The time is about 5pm. The autumn window of Illinois goes dark as nightfall takes over. Another goods train sounds its horn as it rolls along its tracks to its next destination….

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