The road by the mall is jam packed and so are the sidewalks. The whole area is bustling with activity. People in their cars are furiously banging their steering wheels, their honking not reaching the others’ deaf ears. Other drivers have their windows down, stereos on at full blast, almost drowning all of the honking. Pedestrians who are trying to talk to each other and on their phones involuntarily raise their voices trying to supersede the existing noise. If sound had colour, the whole place would have been a two-year-old’s canvas.
I look down at my little sister. She has both her hands over her ears. The mall was quieter, but after we exited the mall, the noise from outside had hit us like a bomb. The plain black jacket over her pink t-shirt and blue skirt she is wearing looks cute on her. She has the “Kitty-Kat” bag we bought slung over one shoulder, and a “Kitty-Kat” notebook tucked away under her jacket. For some reason my seven-year-old sister does not want to put that in her bag. Keisha looks up at me, her hands still over her ears and her brown eyes emanating irritation. Her lips are in a frown and her cheeks are slightly red. A tiny breeze waves her long hair and skirt gently. As sad as she looks, I can’t help but snicker a bit. I gently nudge her in the back, telling her to suck it in and go on. Her irritation seems to increase, and she sticks her tongue out at me before hopping up to the sidewalk.
As I see her skip along, I wonder if siblings with an age difference like ours actually exist. My seventeen-year-old self finds it pretty awkward. She barely comes up to my hips, she could be my daughter. Well that’s just something I have to live with, I think as I follow her into the sea of humans on the pathway.
She is walking pretty fast as she manages to slip through the tiny gaps between the people with her lean body. Every time I shout at her over the commotion to slow her down, she stops for a few seconds, glares at me while she does so, and continues to weave through the crowd at the same pace. At the inconvenience of a few people, I catch up with her and firmly grasp her jacket. I must look really angry, because her eyes start to well up with tears. Not wanting to attract the attention of those passing by with her crying, I stand up, pat her head in an attempt to calm her down, and hold her hand softly. We continue to walk on after that. The only comforting thing I can derive from amidst the crowd and noise is the weather. The whole atmosphere seemed to have changed after my last day of school two days ago. It’s like the climate is congratulating me for tolerating my ordeal of twelve years.
Next to the first intersection I bump into someone pretty hard. I turn around to apologise and stand still with my mouth open in an incomplete apology. Celine, the prettiest girl in our batch is standing in front of me (along with some other girl). I close my gaping mouth to her bewildered stare and take to apologising to her. She laughs it off like it’s nothing. Then I realise that she’d never met my sister before, and consider the opportunity to introduce her to my cute sibling. I rehearse the next sentence in my head once quickly.
Have you met my sister yet? This is….
I look down at my hand and my heart skips a beat. Instead of a tender hand in my grasp, there is nothing but air.
Suddenly all the noise around me drowns out like as if I am underwater. My vision is blurring, my breathing is becoming faster and my heart is pounding against my chest.
Where did she go? Wherewherewherewhere…
I snap my head around, my eyes try to scan each and every inch of my surroundings in one shot. I feel like I would explode. Before I go crazy, I spot a pink bag across the zebra-crossing on the other side of the intersection. I focus on it, and find long hair flowing over the bag and the lean body it’s on. As the girl turns her head around, I find Keisha’s face. Oh, Thank God! I feel myself revert back to normal. Gaining my senses I find an expression of concern on Celine’s face. I smile at her to let her know I’m OK and ask her to wait for a minute. I tend towards Keisha and my previous panic comes flooding back into my body. Who is that man standing next to her?
I scream for her at the top of my lungs, but my voice can’t carry through. I reach the intersection. The signal is red but I have no time, the man has his arm extended towards her and she has the most shocked expression I’ve ever seen her have. What is he telling her? She begins to cry and I can’t wait. I jump onto the road. Horns start blaring all around me and pedestrians shriek in surprise. But I pay no heed and charge on. A car swerves in front of me and blocks my view of them. After the car screeches by, I take in smaller details of the man: his grey hat, his beige coat and his shining black shoes. But I can’t get a look at his face. I stop in my tracks and lunge backwards to avoid a speeding biker. I look back at them. He is now holding her hand and walking away with her. My mind is screaming along with my throat. I’ve never screamed this much in my entire life. The commotion around me is escalating. The horns are turning into crashing, the shrieks are turning to warning. But my eyes are set on only the man and my little sister. I run forward, dodging the oncoming vehicles and screaming Keisha’s name over and over. It’s as if she is deaf to my voice. Then suddenly, a bus appears mere inches in front of me. I crash into its side and am launched into the air spinning. I land hard four feet to my left.
In a hurtful daze, I look around me. The whole world has gone quiet. The traffic is still, the people have fallen silent, but my head is filled with a ringing sound. I stand up and shake my head in an attempt to clear it. What happened?….. Keisha! My eyes widen and my head starts throbbing. Slowly I turn towards the other end of the intersection. All I can see is a bag with a “Kitty-Kat” logo on it, lopsided on the pavement.
Tejas Harirajan Radhakrishnan