Hot Pavement

I ran as fast as I could on the on the hot pavement, being careful to try and not step on any stones. I had to run fast, the baby was coming. I could see the temple so I knew it was not too far. The pavement seemed hotter with every step, I wish now I had put on my sandals, but I thought they might slow me down, as the back straps did not attach. I turned right quickly at the street with my father’s coffee shop on the corner, I zigzagged past the vendors with fish, rice, laundry and fruit. Past the ice vendor. I couldn’t help but think about how good an ice would be right now. Just last week Mother had given my brothers and I coins to get an ice on the way to school. It was a hot year even for Singapore and mother took pity on us, walking in the heat. I picked coconut juice to flavour mine, I watched old Shin shave down the ice from the block that was melting rapidly. He used a large metal scraper and the ice fell in folds into the paper cup,fresh squeezes of coconut juice over the top, and then he handed me the ice, it was running down my arm instantly, but I didn’t care, it was cool and refreshing. Koon chose plum flavour, and Ping chose sugar, we slurped and sucked silently all the way to school.

“Slow down” yelled auntie from the alley,” you will knock over my tea cart” I turned and yelled that I was sorry, but that mother was having the baby, I had to get the midwife. Run, run she yelled, your mother had such pain with you, I don’t want her to suffer, I will bring tea later…..Ow a stone on my middle toe, almost there. “Auntie, Auntie” I yelled “the baby is coming, it is coming fast.” A small black haired head peaked out the window and down into the alley where I stood panting, barefoot and sweaty. She nodded and slowly moved away from the window. I stood against the wall and tried to cool my feet on the bricks that were shaded by the buildings. I wanted to yell again that my mother was waiting, but I suspect that would have only made her move more slowly. As with my brothers births, I didn’t think she would ever arrive on time to help deliver. Finally she appeared in the doorway. “What, no rickshaw for my old feet”, she yelled at me. “I can not run through the streets as you have”. “I will call one right away Auntie”, I ran to the end of the alley and looked quickly around… ‘Uncle”, I called, “I need your service”. He came over quickly, with his old but colourful rickshaw. Good I thought it is one of the young ones, he will be quick. I jumped in, helped Auntie up and pulled the rock out of my toe on the way to my mother.