It’s a peaceful summer night, and I’m upstairs in my room alone. There’s the sound of the dishes being washed downstairs, tennis on the TV, crickets chirping and the occasional cluttering sound of the blinds as they hit against the window because of the breeze. But I hear this occasional, unfamiliar whirring sound, right outside my window. I stop to listen to it, but then it stops. And then it comes again.
I stop what I am doing, just to quietly check and see if I can find out what it is. As I carefully move my blinds aside, I’m shaking slightly, realising it’s from the irrational fear of what I might find outside my window— upstairs, with no trees around the building. I’ve always been scared of windows at night, especially after witnessing a brick smash through one, one night at home with only me, and Mum, years ago. When I was just a kid. It was terrifying.
As expected, I find nothing and almost sigh with relief. But then the noise is also gone, so how can I tell if it really was ‘nothing’? So I stay and stand there, at the side of the window pretending I’m not there. The veil-like curtain kept opening just far enough for me to fit in, almost inviting me to stand there at the window.
Maybe it, the wind-up bird, or whatever is making the noise, knows I’m there? Maybe it can smell the gentle scent of the body butter I’m using, through the thin mesh between it, me and the open window. Maybe it already saw me? Maybe it just knows I’m there. But I stand there for a while and realise there’s a scent like those flowers with the pretty scent my brother used to show me, and pick for Mum because she likes the scent. The flowers near that one train station I haven’t been to in a while. Those flowers that Dad calls ‘night scented flowers’ in Chinese, even though I can smell them in the daytime. Even though there’s no bushes of those in my street that I know— and even if they were, you have to be close by to smell them.
I gave up after five minutes thinking it could be some kind of odd-sounding frog, or maybe the way the wind carries the sound of the crickets or something… I know the bird is fictional, and it’s just funny how the novel made such an impact on me and how much I love thinking about it (and any of the books of his I’ve read), although this particular one didn’t seem like this big of a deal at the time…