If anyone ever had experienced anything like I had that fateful day, I don’t think they would forget it. Ever. Details of that day still cling to my memory, fresh as dew on the grass in the morning – it was a hot afternoon, the sweltering heat generating waves over the roofs of the cars along the street. It was a Wednesday – I cycled to school for netball practice, which also happened to be part of my school’s co-curricular activities. At 4 p.m., I reached the gates. Tossing my things aside after securing my bicycle to the bicycle stand, I joined the rest of the team to warm up.
We practised for two hours, improving our skills. By the time we finished, at around 6 p.m., all of us were sweaty, tired and thirsty. As with any athlete who had just practised under the unrelenting sun, I had a strong desire for something cold to drink. My mind was already pondering the options that I had at the moment, even as I gathered my backpack and wallet and took to the road on my bicycle. On the way home, I was suddenly reminded of my favourite dessert, as I passed by a drinks stall – “cendol”! There was a famous stall, which belonged to Pak Mat, near the roundabout that led to my house. I could already imagine my potential bowl of “cendol” – deliciously sweet, complete with thick coconut milk, brown syrup, with the addition of red beans and groundnuts.
Fifteen minutes later, I reached Pak Mat’s stall. Too late, it seemed – at this time of the day, the stall was crowded with customers, some in line, others already enjoying their desserts. The sight of them enjoying their “cendol” with such obvious pleasure made me realize just how parched and dry my throat felt. At once I queued up for my bowl of “cendol”, patiently enduring the press of bodies and the oppressive heat as the crowd bustled about me. It was a long wait, albeit a rewarding one, because by the end of it I finally reached the counter, salivating as I waited for my “cendol” to be...