She shuffled slowly to the door and spoke to us in clear loud English. At 73 years old, she told us that she has stopped working as her health isn’t very good. Her husband, 10 years younger than her, is still working. He’s much younger than me! By 10 years old!
She sighs and lamented that she’s old and useless, not able to work now. I assured her that she’s working by looking after the house. My husband works too! Sometimes he mops the floor before he goes to work. He doesn’t like me working.
I could see why, as she slowly shuffles to the back of the room to retrieve her phone number written on a small post-it stuck to a case of cards that included credit cards and her I/C number. “I can’t remember my phone number”, she says. Her mobility isn’t very good and she can’t afford to fall at her age.
She flipped through her cards. There was a passport photo of a man in his late 40s. That’s my husband she said, with a tinge of pride and affection. I glanced at another passport photo of a lady also in her late 40s. That must be her. I wanted to say that they looked like such a handsome couple, even in their middle age. But the words got caught at my throat.
He works in Toa Payoh, she said. In a goldsmith. He starts work late in the morning but reaches home late too. Around 10pm. He needs to take the MRT from Toa Payoh, she says. It’s a long journey, I sympathized. But no choice, she said, he has to earn money to take care of an old woman.
As we departed, she wished us very well.
I imagine him coming back home a few hours later, and them sharing precious time together.