As published on FB today: When I was a kid, at least once a week was Comics Day, where dad would drop me off at Penang Plaza to collect my pre-reserved stash of UK comic magazines (Buster, Whizzer&Chips, etc). To this day, circa 18 years since the last time we carried out the routine, I still have recurring dreams that I'm being dropped off at the Plaza, and I'd hurry towards the escalator to the bookstore but the escalators would be out of order, or (as dreams go) they never led me to my destination. But sometimes I'd dream of being in the bookstore and lo and behold, there's my stash of comics!
I think I keep dreaming of this place because it was a happier, less complicated time (in contrast to the recurring bad dreams about the boarding house!), and somewhere in me I still wish I were back then when Comics Day was joy; and maybe I'm also wistful because I cancelled my subscription rather abruptly and unceremoniously in 1998 - after more than a decade of being a regular customer and British comic book aficionado - to head to Sydney (during which I was introduced to the source of the infamous boarding house dreams).
Anyway. This is the bookstore that has replaced the Times outlet that used to reside here. Whenever I come back to Penang I try to pay it a visit, not just because it's nostalgically affecting, but also in the hope that, gradually, the recurring dreams about Comics Day will stop. Because no matter whether or not I get to the comics counter in the dreams, wistfulness can be saddening. And sadness isn't necessarily the way one wants to wake up.