Red Pill Decision


The weather continues to be pretty ordinary. The forecast for the weekend was that it would be wet and cold. This, about 10 days out from summer.

There was a dry window from around 9am Sat so we seized that opportunity to tidy up the outsides – trimmed the huge James Sterling on the eastern side, mowed the lawns and swept up the pavement and driveway. At about 12.30pm, we headed to the Chase and did some grocery shopping and had a quick lunch. Tress had a LinC AGM at 2pm, and I was headed for Box Hill for a St Alf’s Men’s Group talk by Jeremiah Paul, a former Pakistani muslim who is now an ordained minister in Dandenong North. Some 50+ men turned up at the backyard of the Hamers’ home. The rains held out for the most part but it was blowy and a touch cold right through.

I got home a bit after 4pm. We walked the little guys and then headed out to Caulfield/Malvern East to catch up with YC. YC is an old friend from Klang and she has been coming to Melbourne to be with her kids who had come out here for uni. The younger one, has had some challenges in his course. We listened to her talk about his journey, chatted and caught up generally, in a modest Korean restaurant near Carnegie station. After dinner we sat outside a cafe in the shopping center to catch up some more. It had been raining and when it stopped for a bit we took a walk to the shopping center as our car was parked there. We also bought some donuts from a famous donut shop (Daniel’s) for YC and her “kids”. As we chatted on, a little boy of maybe 8 or 9, came up to us and started talking in Mandarin that is thickly coated in a Shanghainese accent. We struggled to understand what he was saying. YC, who had a primary school Chinese education, had to slow him down. His mum was just at the table next to ours and they looked like they had just come in from the rain.

That little boy and his mum had just arrived in Melbourne 2 months earlier. He’s enrolled in a primary school in Malvern East and she’s here to be with him. They spoke next to no English and it must be a real struggle for them. The mum went into the Woolies supermarket and the boy stayed with us and kept talking. He sounded like a precocious and smart kid, and even aired some dirty laundry about his dad having another family on the side. He must have had some weird ideas (that bordered on misogyny) drummed into him, probably by his dad. Amazingly, when we asked his name, his name was remarkably close to mine. My Chinese name is Teh Thian Hwa, and only the Hwa is different to that little boy’s. It felt like I was talking to my “little brother”. We eventually left, dropped YC back at her home in Malvern East, and headed home.

It was raining heavily as we drove home and I said to Tress even though we were only 20-25 minutes from home, it felt like we were somewhere we hadn’t been and the rain made it feel like we were returning from trip of sorts. Our routine has been within a 5-10km radius. That is how settled our lives have become. In turn, that is what makes the Murdoch Children Research Institute escapade feel like such a red pill proposition.

The next morning, as I took the little Padawan for a walk, I felt a bit under the weather. I sneezed constantly and the sniffles kept up and refused to go away. Tress and I were on communion duty but I decided to text Rene who was to conduct the service that morning, and said I wouldn’t be able to proceed. I stayed home while Tress went to St Alf’s. That allowed me to rest a little and I felt a bit better again. The rest of the day returned to the familiar.

We had had a wonderful catch up with A Hooi/U Marloney and Jason/Mel on Friday night too. We hadn’t caught up with then together as a group, for a little while now so that was a bit special. For most of the weekend however, I was thinking about Jeremiah Paul, my “little brother” and MCRI. All involved sharp inflexion points. Like the Red Pill.

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