On one holiday trip to Singapore visiting a favourite aunt in the 1970s, EJ spotted a cute wind-up plastic baby turtle displayed in a shop and promptly bought it. And have kept it ever since.
EJ was born at home by the beach. The beaches were clean, the waters crystal clear and the air was fresh. EJ's driver was a trishaw man.
As a child, EJ grew up on turtle eggs because EJ loved eating it. There were lots of turtles then, including eggs.
Afraid to be chided by the grownups for eating too many eggs, EJ would carefully pinch off the soft shell making as tiny a hole as possible, slowly suck the contents out and then gently blow air into it to puff the soft shell up before placing it back in the pot.
The last time EJ ate turtle eggs was when EJ was twenty plus visiting the aunt who moved to Singapore. Being the aunt who brought EJ up, she knew how much EJ loved turtle eggs. She brought EJ to the wet market and insisted on buying. EJ could not turn her down out of respect but EJ asked one question as to where the eggs came from. The seller, an Indonesian, replied that it was from Indonesia. Secretly, EJ was relieved.
Then EJ's aunt proceeded to cook, presented the eggs and sat down to watch EJ eat.
EJ had a tough time!
Those eggs somehow looked rather small and unappetising unlike the ones from the hometown. It was extremely difficult to swallow as EJ felt as though baby turtles were trying its best to crawl up the throat. Could it be imagination or guilt? EJ had to act like enjoying eating those eggs when in actual fact EJ was suffering. And EJ kept self-consoling silently that the eggs were not from the hometown and these would be the absolute last in life.
And it was!
A little over 10 years later, EJ went back. This time to the islands and there EJ was absolutely happy.
On one of the many trips there, EJ had the opportunity to play with hundreds, not one or two or three but hundreds and hundreds of newborn turtles in a turtle sanctuary.
It was pure bliss.
By then EJ was already a vegetarian -- absolutely guilt free!