In the cupboard are all of Nai Nai’s clothes. In the room is the smell of mosquito coil. The walls are cracked and the paint has chipped. Nai Nai’s bed is covered with pillows and a floral sheet, she says blank sheets are for old people.
Nai Nai is at the porch. She smiles at the clouds that come over us and the birds chirp to a song that only she can hear.
“I like it when it’s quiet,” she says. “You can hear all sorts of things.”
From the distant honk of cars on the highway to the crickets living in the garden, I wonder what else she can hear.
Deep down, Nai Nai knows that Mother Earth has no permanent residents. She gazes at the sky; I can’t tell what she’s thinking.
Maybe she sees the butterfly fluttering over, and is reminded of her days as a young girl like me.
She suddenly looks down at her feet and moves her toes. Is she thinking about her skin? How it has wrinkled and aged?
But Nai Nai smiles. “Isn’t this nice?” she says finally. “I can still move my toes, I’m still young!” and she laughs.
The next morning, I wake up and get Nai Nai’s medicine ready. I go to her bedside.
“Nai Nai, can you hear me? Nai Nai, wake up.”
There in her room, she lays with a smile. She already has a bed of flowers.
Nai Nai’s cupboard is open. All her outfits from years in the past to present hang there still. Now nurse Nai Nai, wedding Nai Nai, Chinese New Year Nai Nai, and college Nai Nai are one and the same.
Now they are all free.
Finally, Nai Nai has completed the song of the garden porch. She was listening to herself.
Cover image by Pille R. Priske on Unsplash. The copyright of Nai Nai’s Song belongs to Lavinia Grace Sebastian.
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