Every night, the moment my wife slips out of my embrace is the moment I am briefly woken up, if I am asleep by then. That happens all the time because living beings do not stay still when sleeping. Do they? One time, I observed my dog back in Hong Kong. I think he dreams. He would snuggle into a heap of blankets mom and dad have put together, feeling all comfortable on his bed. Another moment, he would sleepwalk to my dad’s bed, rest his body on the cold hard floor, and closed his eyes falling back to sleep. Once in a while, he would wake up, walk to the front door, make some scratching sound, growl a bit (someone outside?), and then head back to his corner of the living room, sip some water before returning to his heap of blanket – just like I do. Not the scratching and growling bit, but the drinking bit, and perhaps the peeing bit.
Cynthia often tells me that I do spring out of the bed at times, make some strange body motions, and speak some random words before heading back to bed. I often deny such absurd behaviors of mine. Like she often denies the fact that in extremely rare occasions especially after a long tiring day during our holiday, she is capable of snoring, however light and gentle, barely inaudibly and certainly adorable her heavy breathing may seem. Lucky for me, I have once recorded her dreamy symphony. The next morning, I played the recording back to her. And we had a good laugh. She has yet to have caught me doing such weird stuffs on camera. Hence, for now, such a claim is still a myth.
Fish do not stay still when sleeping. When I was young, our family was used to have a huge water tank full of gold fish. I cannot recall if fish sleep with their eyes closed. I have this fascination with fish inside a fish tank. Fish mating is one of the most beautiful things to see on earth. I could stare at fish all day long. I could trick my fish to kiss my fingers thinking that I was showering them with food. And when I did shower them with food, some got so excited so much so that they would leap out of the water. Heck. My dad’s friend could trick my fish to surface and he would then exhale cigarette smoke onto the eagerly opened mouths of my gold fish. Then inhaled his cigarette and let go a long slow stream of smoke into the sea of open fish mouths. Rinse and repeat. What does nicotine do to fish? I do not want to know. Cynthia does not have the same level of fascination. People say that opposite attracts. Since I am not a dog lover, I think that makes us even.
Turtles, on the other hand, sleep motionlessly, to my best knowledge. So motionless that one of them died in my home because none of us remember to feed him with food and water, after his long hibernation. We were used to keep birds too. Birds are so active that I am unsure if they ever sleep. I have seen them dosing off. That was about it. I could not tell if a caterpillar sleeps. It either eats or stops eating. When I was young, my dad would bring home some caterpillars found at the rooftop of the cinema he worked in. He would then breed the butterflies using his Japanese doll glass container – a wedding gift of my parents (that Japanese doll to be precise). It was magical to see a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. My sister and I would hold the butterflies in our hands and we would release them from our seven-storey tall apartment.
Dogs, fish, turtles, birds, and caterpillars. Some move during their sleep. Some I do not know.
Last night, the moment my wife slipped out of my embrace was the moment I was woken up, quite permanently so, at least for that night. I tried to go back to sleep but I could not. The noise from the street seemed to have magically amplified, as the time entered deeper into the early morning. Not a single moment of silence. I thought of renovating my home with thick soundproof windows; I thought of renovating my home with new cabinets and a fresh layer of paint; I thought of the dust we have to deal with and I have to clean up; I thought of the what, when, how, and soon, it became more tiring trying to sleep. I thought of moving to a new home that has complete serenity. But where in Singapore do we have such serenity? I got out of the bed, retreated to the living room, and now what? I pictured myself inside a plane, like I was a week ago. Now what?
I finished reading a book recommended by one of my blogger friends. The book is about a Jew’s interpretation of the biblical story of Samson. While as a Catholic, I do not disagree with the author on theological ground, I must say that his interpretation borders on being imaginative at best and far fetched at worst. Maybe he is right, reading the scripture in his perspective. Maybe the word ‘came’ in Hebrew does have a sexual connotation. Hence when the angel came to Samson’s supposedly barren mother, his mother was in fact impregnated by a stranger. Maybe the word ‘grind’ in Hebrew also has a sexual connotation. Hence when the blinded Samson was imprisoned, the locals offered their wives to him hoping that he could perform the miracle of getting them pregnant, treating Samson like a ‘stud bull’. Maybe it is also true that when Samson was called to entertain the crowd in the temple, he was asked to perform sex acts. Who am I to argue with a Jew who reads the bible in Hebrew?
After reading, I tried to sleep again. But my mind was filled with a film staring Samson in a Eyes Wide Shut style, with my eyes wide opened. To be honest, I spend more time reading the New Testament than the Old Testament. To the Christians, Messiah has come. Old Testament is there to foretell the coming of Christ and Christ is here to fulfill the scripture. To the Jews, the Messiah has yet to come. And our New Testament is not at all relevant. Still, the Jewish author’s interpretation of the story of Samson has kept me awake. I got out of the sofa, dragged my tired body to the bookshelf in another room, and dug out the Catholic Study Bible. I read in depth the writing structure of the Old Testament and how the books were organized, the theological value of the Book of Judges (judges are heroes who were significant in the Israel history before the era of the kings), and in particular, the chapters on Samson. I read the Bible slowly, and in greater detail, including the study notes. Fortunately the story of Samson is not long . I sought peace in my faith and peace has fallen upon me by four in the morning.
Do you believe in spiritual food? I felt so refreshed after meditating on the scripture. One friend of mine once told me that he meditated one hour in the morning every day before going to work. I used to think that such action would put any sane person to sleep, unless you are a saint. Come to think of it, maybe spiritual refreshment for the soul works with the body too. Not during wee hours, for sure. Perhaps during daybreak.
I still could not sleep so I pondered: What would I have done if I was on the plane? I have got another book to finish. But the topic is heavy. It has something to do with psychology and how our brain works. Cynthia would have switched on the in-flight entertainment. I took out one of the Blu-ray discs that I have been wanted to watch. It was a Cantonese movie, a two-hour show. My reasoning was that I could get bored and tired watching a movie and however little the number of hours left before seven, I could at least catch some. Besides, I have so many unwatched discs that are no longer funny. Why do I keep buying when I am unable to consume them in time?
I was wrong. The movie was engaging, heartwarming and wrenching at the same time. The movie is called “Break Up Club”. I bought it during my previous Hong Kong visit because Fiona Sit is staring in it. It is extremely hard to find good and recent Cantonese movies in Singapore. I miss my mother tongue immensely. How the actors behave on screen, all the little quirky movements, the dramatic dialogs, and the facial expressions, they struck my inner core like no other languages do. I laughed and cried with the actors. I was more awake every passing minute. Despite the fact that it is not a perfect film, it perfectly warmed my heart. And it perfectly failed to put me to sleep.
By six, I retired to the bedroom, where Cynthia was fast asleep. I might have caught half an hour of nap before the alarm clock rang. Added to that half an hour of nap before my wife slipping out of my embrace, I had one hour of rest and a bunch of activities in between. Insomnia is a strange experience. Some time during one to six, I felt as though my consciousness has left my body. Will I be rewarded with a solid eight hours of sleep tonight? I will have to wait and see.