THE FLICKER


THE FLICKER

 

Jing is not a boarder. She shuttles between home and school daily. At dawn she heads for school. Lunch is available at the cafeteria, so she needn’t come back for it. Around 11 pm she gets home. After a quick meal and a shower, she still spends some time sorting out her homework before hitting the sack.

 

The tower block of which her flat is a unit is situated just along a lane. The lane was lined with tall leafy trees as far back as Jing’s memory goes. In the first two years of high school, she noticed through the foliage a light flickering even deep into the night. Sometimes when she got up for the toilet during the night, she found the light still on. She knew that in the community across from her tower block lived a schoolmate, who was said to be one of the high achievers in the grade. Though she had never met the boy before, she idolised him. Since the light kept burning deep into the night, she reckoned that it must be the boy who was working into the wee hours. “No wonder he is a top student,” Jing sighed.

 

Then the trees in front of the building were felled some weeks ago, yet the light that Jing saw is still there. It flickers less with the leaves gone. This term she is doing her last year of high school. The parents’ expectations exert great pressure though they try to make things easy for her. Thinking that the boy burns the midnight oil night after night though he is academically better, Jing decides she will follow suit. After she comes home from school around 11 pm, she sits down at the desk and pores over her test papers.

 

The other day on the bus she brought up the matter while chatting with a girl passenger, who is a student at the same school. The girl kept giggling after Jing told her about it. She explained that the light is actually from a street lamp and that it is on throughout the night, from dusk till dawn. She laughed also because of Jing’s lack of common sense. In the beginning, Jing did not believe her. That evening, after she got home, she drew the blinds and opened the window, and checked on the light. “Lord, it is really a street lamp,” Jing exclaimed.

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