That gnawing feeling…

     Yesterday, I was coerced to say a few words at a memorial service.

     Perhaps “coerced” is too kind a word. I was late for a memorial which I wasn’t scheduled to attend. I attended because the Big Boss called in sick.

     I arrived at the funeral parlour towards the tail-end of the memorial service; the part where friends and colleagues were expected to deliver a eulogy. All eyes were on me when the Pastor asked if anyone else would like to say a few words; someone from the office, perhaps.

     Totally unprepared, I started with the same old tired line: “I have known … have known…hmm…”

     The Pastor sitting near me piped, “Irene”

     “…Irene..for quite some time.” 

     “Irene and I worked together on M & A projects.  We spent many good nights arguing over valuations, complained endlessly over unreasonable timelines and cry when deals fall through?” 

     I knitted my eyebrows and tried my best to talk about a generic occasion or setting where Irene and I would have worked together; because frankly,  I can’t for the life of me even recall working with an Irene previously.

     Someone sobbed loudly.

     I looked up and saw a lady in the front pew, carefully drying tears off a shiny new gold-coloured smartphone with a balled-up tissue.

     Not knowing what else to say, I decided to end my eulogy by offering my condolence to the family.

     When I got back to my seat, my colleague leaned towards me and whispered, “I think you have got the wrong Irene. This is Irene, the office tea lady.”

Caution: subconscious at work

Sometimes one’s subconscious does funny things, like:

first, you innocently pick up to read Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen, before finding yourself propelled to Anne Tyler’s A Beginner’s Goodbye. By then, you would have decided, what the heck! let’s make it 3 out of 3; and you finish off with Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking.

What’s the common thread that binds all three? you might ask.

Grief, I would reply. Grief and mourning and moving on without really moving out.

That’s the subconscious at work.

A mischievous little fella he can sometimes be.