I was sitting in a dingy room with my right knee on a stool.
A metal donut thing was pointing to it, generating heat.
I just finished seeing a Chinese doctor.
That was my treatment after a barrage of advices such as:
‘ You drink too much cold water. ‘
‘ Stay out of air-con room. ‘
‘ Your knee hurts because of your lower back and your neck. ‘
‘ Every sickness starts from the kidney. ‘
And my favourite:
‘ Don’t drink water right after exercising. Your body is a hot engine, you can’t just pour cold water over it. It will smoke and explode. ‘
You see, I used to come to this Chinese clinic with my dad when I was young.
He was (still is) an avid golfer.
And being a golfer means your shoulder gets screwed up and he’d drive all the way from our small town 200km away to see this doctor.
I ‘d see my dad get stabbed with tiny needles, yet no blood was coming out.
Some herbal thing boiling in the corner, medicine I thought was for drinking, ended up being mixed together with the bandage, and vice versa.
The smell was a mixture of wet grass and mud.
It didn’t make sense to the child that I was.
Why am I doing this now? In Ipoh, of all places.
Because, oddly, this was the only place that made sense to me in 2014.
I thought I remembered Ipoh. But I didn’t.
Take away the food and landmarks, I didn’t recognise a single thing.
I didn’t even notice that my hotel room is just right across this Chinese clinic.
But Harvard, that’s what being a tourist is about. It’s called ‘travelling’.
I know. Of course I know.
But you have to understand, I used to know this place.
It’s like visiting an old friend, and everything you knew, believed, and trusted was gone.
Gone for the worse.
In fact, the whole Malaysia trip was some sort of a selective nostalgia.
Everything is different; everything is still the same.
Different because I’ve changed; same only because of my sentiments.
So before we left Ipoh for good, I selfishly requested to see this doctor.
Even though I didn’t really trust that my knee pain can be fixed from one session.
I just wanted an experience that reminded me, of me.