Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Today I woke up (late) with the thought that it has been a long while since I smelled incense. The smell of burning incense-sandalwood is something that has pervaded my childhood. When I lived with my grand mother as a kid, my sleep would be half broken as she got out of bed at 5 am, followed by my grand father who went out to buy bread. Soon the house was filled with the smell of incense as she did her morning prayer. I still remember her infront of Tin Ti Koung, her mala beads in hand as she recited her daily prayer. It was a peaceful day: grand mother kneeling and praying- the morning sun filtering through the window, the slow rise of the incense smoke, her voice and the noise of boiling water followed by the yummy smell of vanilla-bois cherie tea.

At home, my dad would wake up at 5 am and do his round of prayers: 3 incense sticks infront of Tin Ti Koung, 3 infront of Pao Koung and 3 next to Kwung Yin, Ti Koun and Fut Chu. They always go by set of 3 or odd numbers as my mother would say. 2 hours later, it would be my mother's turn to light up the incense.

Each first Sunday of the month would be the routine tour to all pagodas in Port Louis: La Rue Magon-Ah Fi Si, Les Salines for Tin Ti Koung and next to Champs de Mars-Amin Koo.

My dad would always use the big incenses and my mom the skinny ones. I recalled how each time I struggled to remember the number of incense sticks you had to light at each pagoda (1 or 3 for each god depending on his importance) and after a while I wanted to use the bigger incense sticks like dad because they were cooler, which I did... and ended going back to the skinny ones because it was too much of a hassle to carry 20 big sticks in your hand.

Countless number of times, I burned myself from the falling incense cinders. I would finish my Sunday trip at the pagodas with both hands stained yellow from sandalwood powder or fuchsia from the incense sticks and smoky clothes. Then off to dim sum or buy bread for lunch. These days looked like they would last forever. Every Sunday Afternoon dad would play mah jong with my cousins and a friend.

Why am I having these memories now?? Scenes from the past flashing in my mind, leaving a longing to go back home to the days where you thought the sun would always shine over the rainbow. (It still does but time is making me more cynical). Why do I remember some things and not others? What trigger these memories? Why does a part of us always long for a past long gone. Is it because what we knew is more comforting than what we don't know or have yet to know? Why do we bother with memories from 9 years ago or things said and done in the past? When do we forgive ourselves and move on. How do we choose what to remember and what to forget?

Some days I want to lie down and immerse myself in my memories like a child cuddling next to her favorite "doudou" plush toy: the familiarity,security and comfort of known things..long gone..

I ended paying $25 for the taxi which sums my taxi expenses to $ 125 this month because I had early or late work hours with no bus hours. Such a waste of money. My shift was at 7 am but in my head, I had to wake up at 6 am to take the bus when it should have been 5:30 am. Drat, deal with it now. It was a slow but busy day although a part of me was not there..

**partly inspired by "what is it" by Lynda Barry. GET IT people!

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