When I was four or five, my little brother got pneumonia and was admitted to a local hospital for some time. My mother accompanied him for the hospital stay.
One day, my father and I went to visit them at the hospital to see how they were doing. My father put me on the back of his bike, and together we headed off to the hospital.
On the way, we made two stops. One was at an outdoor rummage sale, where my father bought a few books for himself and got a red heart plush toy for me, and the other was at a local sweet shop close to the hospital. My father bought one Castella – a Japanese sponge cake – as a gift to my mother and brother.
My brother was staying at a small private room with my mother at the hospital. They were both very happy to see us. My little brother in particular was so excited that he became active, and my mother had to remind him to stay still since he was hooked up to an IV.
My father told my mother about the rummage sale we had been to, and I showed my mother the red heart plush toy that I got.
“It’s smooth and cute,” I eagerly explained to her as I cuddled my heart plush. “It’s my favourite!”
After that, my father took out the Castella box and opened it to serve the cake to all of us. My mother turned to her bag to look for some plates, and for a moment, both of them got busy with the cake preparation.
Delighted by the prospect of eating the Castella cake together, I sat on the bed with a happy smile, then casually turned around. What I found strange was that the bed was no longer white but red instead…
“Mommy! Daddy! Look!” I shrieked. “The bed is red!”
As soon as they saw the situation, they pressed the button of the interphone on the wall, and within no time, a nurse appeared at the door. She quickly readjusted the needle on my brother’s hand and changed the bedsheets.
Once she was gone, I asked my parents what had happened.
“The needle got removed from your brother because he moved around too much,” they replied calmly as if nothing were out of order. “But it’s all settled. Now, let’s eat the cake!”
But my concern only grew bigger.
“So, that was his blood then?” I inquired further. “The bed was all red! How much blood came out of him?”
My parents repeated that there was nothing for me to worry about and handed me my portion of the Castella cake. But unfortunately, my appetite was gone. All I could think of was that bright red bedsheet covered with my brother’s blood. Next to me, my brother was helping himself to the cake as if nothing had happened.
In my mind, Castella cakes will always be associated with the memory of that day – my brother’s IV needle incident, the red bedsheet, and the fun family time together.