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Sunday, Feb. 20, 2005 - 11:55 a.m.

He is midway through his bowl of Pho when he realizes that this was her favourite restaurant. It is a little Vietnamese place behind Victoria street and they used to come here all the time before they broke up. Three months ago, she was sitting opposite him, laughing at his re-telling of his university days, while the lunch hour traffic roared by on the other side of the glass. He did not know then, that he would be sitting alone in the same place three months later. He had just ended a meeting with a client nearby, and had unconsciously walked in here, sat down, and ordered a bowl of noodles. It was surprising that it took him so long to realize where he was. And then in a very quiet moment he discovers that the hurt of her absence had already left him. It had been leaving him day by day in small pieces unnoticed, like the departure of a cloud, only to be replaced by another kind of sadness - the loss of not hurting anymore.

She is clearing her drawer when she finds a lucky draw slip with his name written on it. That was three weeks ago, before the relationship ended. They had been walking outside Takashimaya when they were accosted by some adolescent tout selling the tickets for charity. She looked at the slip, which had his full name, including his dialect name written on it. She always called him by his English name, and so did all his friends; she had never heard anyone use his Chinese name before. As she re-reads his dialect name, her mind automatically translates it into two unfamiliar sounding Chinese characters. She repeats the characters a few times, but they do not evoke the same mental picture of him. It is as if they belonged to a second person. But then it becomes clear, because it feels exactly that way, that she was hurt twice by the same boy.


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