Her face was ashen. Almost grey as she came to a stop along the slope at Braddell. Clad in a bright neon green polo, leaning on her walking stick, I could see she was finding it hard to catch her breath.
I had my handbag, and two huge boxes of Old Chang Kee curry puffs in my hands. Already a little winded after my meeting, getting drenched in the rain, and a very strange episode of heart pains that left me absolutely breathless from the debilitating viselike pain that radiated from my chest.
I checked my watch. It was 5 mins past the time the office party was due to start. But I couldn't help it.
"Hello Aunty.. are you ok? Can I help you walk to where you are going?"
Without hesitating, she threw her bag off her shoulder and handed it to me, and another plastic bag she held in her right hand.
"Thank you so much miss," she said in Mandarin as she immediately took my hand and leaned in.
"Where are you going Aunty?"
"I live just there, Blk 105," she said. As I observed her breathing that came rather laboured. Worrying me a little.
"Ok Aunty.. I'll walk you back."
We spent a few quite minutes as she caught her breath. And despite my perilous heels, I was grateful I was wearing them. They slowed me down so my pace matched hers.
"Where were you aunty? Have you eaten? What were you doing just now?" I asked, hoping that I would at least get some infomation so that if anything happened, at least I knew something.
Her name was Aunty Ng, two kids. Both moved away, and she has been living the last 20 years by herself in a one room flat at Toa Payoh North. A small rental.
She had been exercising earlier.
Suddenly, she looked at me concerned, "Aiyoh miss, were you going to work?"
"Yes," I replied.
"Then you better go. I don't want to make you late!"
"No, its ok aunty, we have all the time in the world. Take your time. Let's get there slowly."
I walked with her as she leaned in. Talking when she could. "I am more than 80 plus. But so sorry. These days, whenever I walk. It's like that. Like I'm about to die," she said, with a wistful smile.
It stabbed at my heart.
We finally reached her house. Small. Clean and neat.
A mattress to the left of the entrance, with a purple flowery batik sheet. A blue plastic fan on top of a plastic chair provided ventilation.
I could see further into the flat that was probably no bigger than 100 sq ft, that she had a fridge in a small kitchen, and had a few clothes on poles in the kitchen, drying.
"Aunty.. do you have paper?" I asked.
I wrote down my numbers for her, and my name in Mandarin. Since she found "Sara" hard to pronounce.
"Aunty, if ever you go for your exercise again, and you need help to walk back. Or if you need help at all, just call me ok?"
She gave me her home number. I gave it a call to make sure it was the right one.
The cute little Auntie went to the phone and picked it up.
"Hello?" she asked, looking like this was the most excitement she'd had in a while.
"Hello Auntie, its me!" I said, my phone,cradled to my ear.
"Who is this," she asked again.
"Auntie its me, turn around," I chuckled.
"Aaah. Oh its you ah. So the number is correct ah," she said, still talking to me on the phone as I stood, barely a metre away.
I smiled. Yes, Aunty. Call me any time you need.
"You are such a nice girl. Thank you so much." Aunty Ng said as she closed the door, waving to me, " I will rest a bit, and probably will feel a bit better later."
I waved and walked back to work. Sweating now. About 20 mins late for my office "belated NDP party".
I wanted to call you. Get a virtual hug.
But I couldn't. Can't.
7.21pm now. About to leave the office. And am supposed to head to Paragon for the opening of the Burberry store.
I think, I am going to pop by Aunty Ng's first. Make sure she's ok.