by Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
Tammy, How are you? On the train from Paris to Zurich, I couldn’t help but
eavesdrop on the young English couple sitting in my 4-seat booth. She said
she was only an emigrant in his heart. He corrected her, ‘immigrant,
rather.’ Then he quickly added, ‘But you are not, you live in my heart.’
The girl, who didn’t seem very bright (I imagine you would call me
judgmental), asked after a long minute: ‘Do I have residency in your heart?
So soon?’ To which the boy answered, ‘You have a visa waiver.’ They got off
Indeed you are judgmental. But I love you more for that. You snored so much
last time when we were together. It must be the beer. I forgot to tell you
how much I like to see you eat with your fingers and lick off the grease.
What’s the name of that room in that palace, in which the emperor passed on
a flower to a maid-in-waiting. Was the flower snatched by a lark? Or was it
a magpie? And he said, ‘Just as well.’ You told me the story, following the
guidebook language mostly but you added your own flourishes. Your pauses
were impeccably timed. I didn’t interrupt you even though I had read the
anecdote earlier that morning.
Imagine how upset you would get if you found out my last message was not
sent to you, but to some random person who happened to text me minutes
before I died? Will you regret your insistence of these postcards? I buy
the cheaper ones. Aren’t the messages more important than the medium? Some
thought the other way round. I am thinking of those old postcards we leafed
through in a curiosity shop in Lisbon, their colours fading, some of the
words hardly discernible. Your latest, by the way, was creased as though
you were practicing origami. Were you?
At least your handwritten words do not suffer from autocorrection. Remember
that time you texted me? You called me your ‘previous’ and promised to read
my ‘pork’. We joked so often about you being unromantic, that you have a
romantic deficit. Your endeavor to haul our romance budget back to the
black begins here.
About the Author:
Tammy Ho Lai-Ming is a Hong Kong-born writer and editor who received her education in Hong Kong and the UK. She is a co-founder of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, the marketing director of the London-based Fleeting Books and an editor of the academic journal, Victorian Network. Her work has been published in 3:AM, Barrow Street, Prairie Schooner, among others; and her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times and the Forward Prize. She is an Assistant Professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, where she teaches literature.