Who follows you when you travel?
All those times I travelled alone, I was never totally convinced that I was entirely by myself.
I heard my mother’s voice when I was in Beijing in January ’05. It was the height of winter and temperatures were minus something or other and I was thousands of miles away from home.
Early one morning I heard my mum call my name, very softly. That was all she said. I opened my eyes and saw that it was still dark and that I was still in China; I was nowhere near home. O-kay, I thought, and went back to sleep.
The next day, my mum woke me up again at 4am. This time I listened to her and got out of bed, which was a good thing because I had to be up by 5 for a hike.
I heard my mother’s voice again on the overnight train to Xi’an a few days later. Once again, it was still dark, only this time I was in a moving train. I didn’t mention anything in my text messages back home.
In Xi’an I heard my dad’s voice, gently telling me to wake up. The two of them seemed to have divided their duties between the two cities. While I needed to hear my mother’s voice several times to get up, I woke up instantly when I heard my dad calling me.
So this is how they keep tabs on me.
It was only when I returned to Malaysia that I told my parents. “I heard both your voices in China, saying my name and telling me to wake up,” I said at dinner, two months later.
“Well, we were thinking of you,” my mother said.
“At 5 in the morning?” I laughed.
“Something like that.”
Are we really alone when we’re far away, or do the ones who love us tag along for the journey, just to check up on us?
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