Tales of one Paper Butterfly

21 Jan

Have you ever seen a paper butterfly? Or be touched by one?

I have! And this is my story…

This little wonderous gift was given to me by an uncle who quite literally nearly SAT on me on a bus yesterday!  (It was an accident and he was sincerely apologetic.)

Uncle Butterfly was probably in his late 60s and taking the number 12 bus with me towards Chinatown.  He got on the bus near Victoria Street and wobbled towards the back of the bus where the person beside me just got off.  He had a full head of white hair and a friendly smile (which was tinged with a little bit of “pai-seh”ness because he tripped on me). After he sat down, I noticed through the corner of my eye that he was flipping through some brochures from his little sling bag.  OK, maybe he was working part-time giving out brochures or something….

He took one piece out and started to fold it.  Curiosity stirred but I sat still.  Maybe he was folding some paper hearts for the Singtel charity drive where they donate $1 for each origami Red Heart you do.   That settled, I proceeded to mind my own business and resumed ruminating on my to-do list.

To my surprise, a paper butterfly suddenly floated into my vision.  I stared at it, a little wary and a lot transfixed.

“This is for you.. you see, the wings can move.” Uncle said, smiling while showing me how the paper can be moved. “You pinch the corner here and then move this part here to make it fly.”

“Oh! wow…er.. thank you.” I said, slightly dumbstruck.

“Come, i teach you how to do it, it’s very easy.”

My jaw dropped slightly and I turned robotically towards Uncle, unblinking and flapping the butterfly tentatively in my hands, a little uncertain how I should react.

Uncle rummaged through the contents of his bag and skillfully drew out another piece of red brochure paper. I see now that it was filled with brochures, the ones that banks give you with your credit card statements every month which I always toss away.  These pieces of paper were given a second life in Uncle’s wrinkled but nimble hands.  What a brilliant way to recycle paper and make art!

Uncle deftly folded a corner of the paper and tore it into a perfect square, pre-creasing it to form the rudimentary structure of the butterfly.

“I learned this from someone… so now I fold for children and sometimes, if their mommies also want to learn, I also teach them.” Uncle continued.

“Oh, that’s very sweet of you Uncle, I’m a little too old to be considered a child though…” I said, laughing a little awkwardly, still uncertain how I should react.

He was concentrating on folding the paper and didn’t react to what I said. I figured he didn’t care how I reacted.  He was doing what he wanted to do.  It really gave me the impression of a master hard at work, pouring all of his attention into what he was doing at that moment.

He took out a pen and started to draw little numbers and symbols onto the paper he was folding, explaining …

“You fold 3 quarter like that… and then fold here… and then push with your finger here, don’t press down like that, a lot of people do that, then the butterfly cannot fly… and then… you just cut the wing shape and finish!” Uncle beamed,  pushing the partly finished butterfly cum instructions to me.

“Thank you Uncle!” I said, receiving the butterfly with a sense of wonder and gratitude.

Without really pausing much, Uncle turned his attention back to his bag and began to dig for something again.  At this point, I was two busstops away from my destination.  I mentally willed the bus ride to drag on so I could stay and see what other surprises beheld me.  Like a kid in a candy store!

Uncle whipped out a red folded crane.  “This one more difficult, I cannot teach.” Uncle said as he placed the flapping crane to rest in my hands. “This one give you also.”

“Oh my… Thank you Uncle! Wow… erm… I’m getting off soon. Thank you Uncle… This is very nice.” I said, admiring his handiwork while I stood reluctantly to alight.

That was how I met Uncle Butterfly and how one paper butterfly (and crane)  made my day.  I got off the bus feeling really energized and inspired.  Or you could say, I am just easily impressed…. whatever it was, it was a special moment shared by 2 complete strangers.

I wonder if I was meant to pass it on…

Well, here’s to wishing that you would one day feel touched by a paper butterfly too. 🙂

Bye bye Butterfly!

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2 Responses to “Tales of one Paper Butterfly”

  1. Emily January 21, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    A strange encounter, but definitely something worthy to share. That shows if you just willing to spare a bit of your time for others, you never know what surprise you may get. And also there’s also friendly people around here, just whether we want to acknowledge their presence or not :).

    • 宇晗 January 23, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

      Thank you! I’m glad to be able to share something positive with my friends… 🙂

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