“You know, I know a little bit about Brisbane. I used to stay there during my school holidays.” The lady on the other end of the phone line was called Usha. We had been introduced to each other by some writers in Malaysia and the plan was to collaborate on an online writing project. I’d insisted on speaking with her before we even started. We’d already sorted out the preliminaries when I decided to tell about the people I’d once stayed with in Brisbane. After all, the Malaysian community in Brisbane was quite small. And the first thing a Malaysian will often do in a foreign country is find another Malaysian.
“Oh, where in Brisbane?” Usha sounded chirpy. She had already told me how happy she was having made Australia their home years ago.
“Somewhere called Kenmore.” I answered, not expecting her to know the place. After all, Australia is a vast place and Brisbane was big city – by Malaysian standards, at least. I mean, if you come to KL and ask me about Puchong, I would be lost. I know about Puchong and how to get there. Beyond that, I’m lost.
“Ah. We live there,” Usha replied, surprising me.
“Let me think.” I scratched my head. It was more than 15 years since I’d stayed in Brisbane. Could I even remember the address?
“Ah, yes. I remember. The address was 25 Mabb Street.”
I was so impressed with myself. I could remember the exact address after all these years. It took me a few seconds to realise that Usha was completely quiet.
“Hello? Usha? Are you there?”
“Err… Yes.” There was something strange in her voice. I detected a smidgen of shock in it. “How do you know that address?”
I replied, nonchalant. “I told you. I used to stay there during my school holidays. With some family friends. They are called the Menons.”
Again, there was no response from her. I was getting worried. Had I said something wrong?
“Usha? Are you there?”
I could hear her take a deep breath. Then she said, “Aneeta, we bought their house. We’re now living in that house.”
Is this what people mean by a coincidence? Have you had such coincidences?