The kids were playing on the road, in front of their terraced houses and stepping aside each time for oncoming cars returning home from work.
A girl, Wen Li, noticed an old lady neighbor lying on the floor of her car porch. “Popo*, why are you lying on the floor?” as popo’s hands weakly beckoned her.
“Mom, mom, popo is lying on the floor and unable to move!” Her mother, Li Na tried to open the gate while some kids had already climbed over to see her. Just then, the old lady’s children arrived home from work. She was sent to hospital that evening… but never returned.
A month later, was Wen Li’s birthday. After singing and blowing her birthday cake, she sat pensively, looking out of the window. Li Na noticed and went to her, “a penny for your thought?”
Her lower lip jutted out, “I don’t want any more birthdays.”
“Because, when I grow older by one year, mom and dad will grow older one year, too. When we grow older every year, my own granny will grow older, too. And she will die!”
Caught unaware on how to answer, Li Na pulled her close and hugged her.
*Popo means old lady or granny in Chinese.
Chen S.P. @T.P. Tan, 2 Jan 2021