By Judith Huang
It had been six years since her last relationship, and Kimberley was starting to wonder if she would ever be kissed again. It wasn't something that had bothered her that much most of the time, but every now and then, she wondered if she even remembered how to kiss anymore, what it felt like to taste someone else's lips.
And then she met Ren, with his low ponytail, nerdy, wire-rim glasses and insouciant black T-shirts and jeans. He was a documentary filmmaker with Discovery TV. He was from New York but was posted to Singapore on rotation, and had been hanging around the department filming the engineers at Singapore Institute of Technology, where Kimberley worked. The moment she saw him Kimberley knew she had to try to chat him up.
It took a whole week to work up the courage to finally do it.
"So, when will the documentary air?" she asked, as casually as she could.
"Oh, it'll probably take a whole year of filming and editing in post," said Ren. "You know what filmmaking is like... it's not exactly the speediest!" he flashed her a lopsided grin.
"You're, like, going to follow us until we actually finish building an avatar, right?"
Kimberley could feel a slight fake American accent creep into her voice, like the one Singapore radio deejays had, and hated herself for it. She tried to modulate her voice to sound more "local" so it wouldn't seem like she was trying to suck up to the American Born Chinese, but she couldn't help it. Besides, she was already keeping herself from sweating while keeping the conversation going despite the blast of the air-con in the office.
"Yeah, that really would be the best thing, if we could get it down on film. If someone volunteers to have an avatar made of them. Then we could document the whole process, and show what the technology can really do. You guys have any volunteers yet?"
"Um, we're trying to find someone…we're still working on the prototypes, so it'll be a few weeks still. By the way, where can I see your work?"
Ren reached into his bag and pulled out a card case made out of what appeared to be recycled subway maps. "Here's my card, you'll find my portfolio on my website," he said.
When Kimberley got home, she found Grandma, who was busy top-and-tailing beansprouts at the marble kitchen table.
"Grandma, so you know my office has been working on avatars, right..."
"Huh? Don't expect me to understand that kind of thing! You know I have enough trouble trying to use that handphone you all gave me last year."
"Oh, don't worry, I'm not asking you to use it. It's just that, we're looking for a volunteer to make an avatar of. It's like a 3D film of a person, and other people can interact with it and ask it questions and stuff, and it will respond just like you would."
"Well, I was just wondering if you would be OK with us making one of you."
"Me?" Grandma looked taken aback. "Why me? You should go find some movie star or a famous singer or someone... not someone like me? Some more, I'm so old already."
"That's exactly why we want to make one of you, Grandma. So we can remember you better when you're... you know, when you're gone. It's not that different from writing a letter or making a video recording of yourself for your children and grandchildren."
Grandma could tell Kimberley had been working her way up to asking for something really important to her. She had that look in her eyes that she recognised from when she was a little girl, asking her parents for permission for a sleepover at her best friend's house during the December holidays. The look that said, I've been very good for weeks, did you notice?
"Hm, let me think about it."
"We're thinking, the tech can be used in museums and stuff for people to interact with people who have gone through important historical events. It can help us all remember."
Grandma pursed her wrinkled lips so dark lines formed around her mouth. "You should capture people at their most beautiful, like you, twentysomething," she said, stroking Kimberley's hand on the table in front of her. "Not when they are all old and wrinkled like me, lor." She looked down at her own liver-spotted hand covering her granddaughter's smooth one.
"Think about it, OK?" said Kimberley. "It would really help my career." She gave the wrinkled hand a squeeze.
Ren was in her house! Her actual house – sitting on her sofa! Setting up his equipment in her living room!
Kimberley had gone to Ren's website and watched absolutely everything on his Vimeo account, even the student documentaries he had made as an undergraduate. The man was brilliant. His documentaries were incisive, moving, and hard-hitting. His expose of New York start-up culture made her cringe in all the right ways. His exploration of government secrecy sent chills down her spine. As she hit play button after play button, Kimberley could feel her crush turning into a full-blown infatuation. And now he was actually in her house!
The equipment for capturing the avatar was enormous and clunky. A sphere of cameras had to be arranged around Grandma like a giant bucky ball, with a camera on every node pointing towards her from every angle. Grandma looked like a human-sized hamster in the middle of a very high-tech, very expensive hamster ball, and that was just to record her image.
For the voice recording, Kimberley pinned a range of tiny cordless microphones onto Grandma's blouse. Each had two tiny, sharp pins in it.
"Careful, ah, it's like a vampire," she said, as she pricked a couple of holes in the pale cream polyester material on her grandmother's sunken chest.
Grandma blinked a little uncertainly. "Where do I look?" she asked. "There are so many cameras."
"Just look straight ahead, at me," said Kimberley. "Just pretend all the cameras are not there, and talk to me normally, OK?"
Kimberley looked at her grandmother. She seemed to shrink a little into the sofa.
"No, no. Sit up straight. Don't lean." she said. "We want to capture you, 360 degrees."
Grandma sat up a little straighter.
"OK. Tell me about the earliest thing you remember."
"I was born just before the war started, so when the Japanese occupied Singapore I was one, and when the Japanese surrendered, I was almost four. I have barely any memories of those years, except that our father moved us to Kelantan, where we could still trade for goods across the Thai border. So we didn't starve.
"I do have one memory of when a bomb went off along the road when I was walking home with my sisters. We ducked into the longkang and kept our heads out of sight for a long, long time. The explosion shook the air, and there was plaster everywhere. It made our hair white.
"When the British finally came back to Singapore, they distributed dark chocolate to the children along the streets. It was the first time I had ever tasted chocolate, and that is why I still love dark chocolate. I don't like any of the other kind. To me, it tastes better than other kind, because it was the taste of peace.
"You never really think you need to record these things down for your grandchildren, especially when you live with them. You know, when I first saw you, the first time I held you in my arms, I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
"No, no, of course, when I saw my own children that was how I felt too. But with your grandchildren it's different lah. It's just different. To know that someone down the line is carrying on your life for you.
"Hiyah, where was I? I was talking about the war. Yes, and then when peace came, we moved back to Singapore.
"When I had my own children and grandchildren, I didn't let them eat too many sweets. You know children love sweets, but they're not good for their teeth. But I always let them eat chocolate if they wanted. I just think back, how for the first three years of my life, I didn't know what chocolate tasted like. So I always let them have a bit of chocolate if they want."
"Cut. Good! We'll have to download the footage to see if we managed to capture every angle, but that was really good for a first shoot."
Kimberley powered down the cameras recording her grandmother's image from every angle and wiped her brow. The lights were hot, and she could tell Grandma was feeling it too, from the beads of sweat forming on her forehead.
"It's just like writing a letter to you all, right? Something for you to remember me with."
"Yeah, except that we'll be able to ask it questions, and you'll – I mean, it – will be able to answer. And it'll look just like you."
Grandma picked at the tiny microphone attached to her shirt.
"Oh, we'll remove that in post," said Kimberley. "That means, they'll be able to erase that."
"You know, if you had made an avatar of your Gong Gong, I wouldn't know what to say to it."
"Nonsense, I'm sure we would consult him all the time!"
Grandma smiled indulgently. The truth was, if she had an avatar of her late husband, she wouldn't really want to talk to it. It would be too painful. But because Kimberley had asked her so nicely, she wanted to do this for her.
"Yo, Kim," said Ren. Kimberley whipped around at once.
"Do you have something to eat? Like a snack or something, I'm kind of hungry."
"Oh, sure! Let me check what we have in the fridge." Kimberley leapt up and made towards the kitchen, and emerged a couple of minutes later with a couple of bars of chocolate.
"This is all we've got, I'm afraid."
"Oh, no, that's cool. Everybody likes chocolate, right?" Ren strode over and took the bar from her hands. He broke off a piece.
"Mm...Lindt 100% Dark. This is good stuff," said Ren, unwrapping more of the chocolate so the tinfoil crinkled as he tore it open. "Your grandma has some stories, huh!" he said.
"I'm sure your grandparents have lots of stories too," said Kimberley. "How'd they get to America?"
"Oh, it's a long story. My great-grandfather was an indentured labourer who went to Hawaii from Canton. He kind of saved enough money to open a Laundromat. Typical immigrant stuff, you know."
"And so your grandparents were born in America?"
"Yeah. By the time my parents were around, they'd moved from Hawaii to San Francisco. But then I decided to go East for university, so that's why I'm based in New York now."
"You're based in Singapore, no?"
"Oh, yeah, that's right. But I still kind of think of myself as a New Yorker, you know what I mean? I lived there 10 years after all. After a while, you don't feel like you could live anywhere else."
"So you're thinking of going back after this?"
"Oh well, I don't really plan that far ahead. My posting with Discovery is here in Asia for now. There are loads of really interesting stories to tell here. So I'll probably be here a while. Who knows, I may fall in love with it." Ren looked meaningfully at Kimberley. Or at least, what she thought was meaningfully.
"I've been to New York once," offered Kimberley. "Just for holiday. With my parents and my sister. We were still teenagers then. We saw the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero. It was still a hole in the ground then. Hey, were you in New York during 9/11?"
"Oh yeah. It was my freshman year at NYU. It was super traumatic. Everyone was crying, everyone on the subway was asking each other if they were OK. It was so different from how New Yorkers normally interact with each other."
"You know, when I went to Ground Zero, there was this crazy guy who spent every day talking about 9/11. He had these plastic folders of photos of what the twin towers had looked like before they went down, and he kept telling us about all the illegals who had been in the towers whose names weren't in the final death tolls."
"Oh yeah, I know that guy. Yeah, he almost got killed during 9/11, so it really changed his life. A lot of people were like that."
Kimberley was silent for a moment. "Maybe they should make an avatar of you," she said.
"Haha. Nah," said Ren modestly. "I wasn't even an eyewitness. The first plane crashed into the first tower before I even got out of bed that day. I rarely got up before 10am for classes when I was in college."
Kimberley wondered what to say next. She felt if she could keep him talking, maybe he would ask her out or something.
"Oh whoops, looks like I just finished all your chocolate," said Ren, a little embarrassed, the crinkled tinfoil in his hands.
"Oh, don't worry about it. It was just getting old and white in the fridge anyway. It's better if someone eats it."
"You sure? I can replace it if you want."
"Oh no, don't worry about it."
The next week, in the corridor outside her SIT lab, Ren came up to Kimberley bearing a couple of bars of Lindt 100% Dark Chocolate.
"I'm sorry I ate all your grandma's chocolate," he said. "I felt bad so I wanted to replace it."
Kimberley blushed. "No need, no need," she said. "It's no big deal. We have chocolate in the fridge all the time and my grandma doesn't even eat it that often..."
"No, really, I felt bad after hearing her story about how the Brits brought the chocolate to them when they came back to Singapore after World War Two."
"You're really sentimental," she said, daring to look directly into his eyes. They were a dark mahogany behind the wire-rim glasses. They looked at each other for a few seconds, then Kimberley felt something leap in her chest, and before she knew it, she had leaned in for a kiss.
Ren seemed as surprised as she was by her boldness, but relaxed into it and opened his mouth a little, so their lips pressed together softly. Then he went in for a deeper kiss, his hands encircling her waist.
This was it, thought Kimberley. My first kiss in six years, and she hadn't forgotten how to do it. In fact, it was pretty good.
Ren and Kimberley didn't actually really go on dates. They just started staying back later from work, or when Ren came round for the filming sessions at Kimberley's terrace house. She just walked the too-short distance between her house and the bus stop with him, where he would sit with her for a long time, chatting as the sky turned from pearlescent salmon at sunset to an inky dark blue with the occasional star, and the crickets started chirping in the patch of forest behind the bus stop.
Then, after making out for half an hour or so, he would finally hail a taxi and bundle his equipment into the cab to head home. Kimberley was too happy that the cool guy from New York liked her back to mind any of this at first, but after a while she started wondering if it was all a little too convenient.
They talked constantly about New York, but never about Singapore. In fact, Ren was rarely in Singapore on the weekends. He was always off to somewhere like Phuket or Bali with his other expat friends. He didn't seem to have much interest going to the malls and movies that Kimberley used to go to with her last boyfriend, though that was ages ago, and she didn't really have that much experience dating outside of that relationship, so what did she know?
Maybe she was participating in what the Americans called "hooking up." But it wasn't like they just made out without talking. They talked. Kimberley had the sense that Ren was really homesick. Soon she felt like she knew a little bit about all the boroughs of New York City, even though she had only been there once, and had definitely not seen all the boroughs that one time.
"Do you notice that your grandma is getting a little... vaguer than before?" asked Ren one day at the bus stop.
"In what way?"
"Oh, she talks about her childhood memories in incredible detail," said Ren. "But the other day, in the middle of shooting, she suddenly asked me what I was doing there."
"Really? I must have been in the bathroom or something."
"Yeah, and then she got really confused with all the cameras and tried to detach the microphone from her top."
Kimberley frowned. Ren wouldn't be making this up, of course, but she felt disturbed that he, the stranger, the interlocutor in the house, was the one implying that her grandmother was showing early signs of dementia, when she and her family hadn't noticed.
"I'm just saying, maybe you want to get her checked out before it gets worse, you know?" said Ren, brushing back a piece of Kimberley's fringe from her forehead.
"It's probably nothing," said Ren, hurriedly. "All old people are a little forgetful sometimes. But you know, just to make sure?"
Post-production took more than half a year. Because the lab computers were not that powerful, the rendering job on Grandma's avatar was painfully slow. This was probably the most tedious part of the project, and Kimberley and her teammates took turns staring at loading bars on their screens, playing on their phones to while away the time.
Meanwhile, Ren and Kimberley had progressed from making out at the bus stop to weekly sex in his studio apartment in Tiong Bahru, which at least gave Kimberley the sense of being his girlfriend, of a sort, even though Ren never actually asked her to be his girlfriend in so many words.
But he more than made up for it by being charming and brilliant, introducing her to more and more obscure documentaries and art house films that they watched together on his projector at his apartment after they'd had sex. Kimberley hadn't really watched that much art house or documentary fare, since most of the movies showing in Singapore's chain cinemas were blockbusters from Hollywood or Hong Kong, and it was like discovering a whole world she hadn't suspected existed. She soon acquired a taste for Werner Herzog, who was Ren's favourite.
"He's so real," he said of the auteur. "You know when he films pulling a boat across a continent of jungle, he's really pulling that boat over that jungle. Nothing is fake, unlike all that green screen stuff in Transformers or whatever."
Even as Grandma's avatar neared completion, Grandma herself seemed to be fading away. Now that they were no longer filming, she wasn't in the living room as much, keeping mostly to her bedroom, except when she cooked in the kitchen.
Then one day, she forgot she was cooking halfway, and left the stove on, wandering off to fold her clothes, and it was only by chance that Kimberley's father smelled the vegetables burning before anything else caught fire.
After that incident, Kimberley's mum patiently explained to her mother that they were getting a maid to do the cooking and to look after her. Grandma absolutely refused to talk to the Filipina maid when she arrived.
"She won't know how to cook Hokkien," she said, crossly.
"She will if you teach her, Ma," pleaded Kimberley's mother.
"She still can't do it my way," insisted Grandma, her lips pursed into a tight line. "Ma, you don't understand. It's dangerous if you leave the stove unattended!" Kimberley's mother was almost shouting.
"So I'm old and useless already," muttered Grandma. "I might as well die lah!"
"Ma, that's not what I said, OK! Don't put words in my mouth."
"Who is that?" said Grandma sharply. "What is that girl doing here? I don't know her!"
"That's Alti, Ma. That's the new maid, she's here to look after you, remember! You met her weeks ago!"
"I don't know that woman," muttered Grandma, before retreating to her room.
She emerged less and less, even deciding to take meals apart from the rest of the family, as she often forgot to come out to eat, and the Filipina maid couldn't persuade her to.
Soon Kimberley would spend entire days without seeing her at all.
"Mei, come here and help me pluck towgay," said Grandma to Kimberley.
"Mei is your daughter," said Kimberley. "I'm Kim. Kim, your granddaughter. I'm Mei's daughter."
"Mei, come here and help me pluck towgay," said Grandma again, as though she hadn't heard Kimberley at all.
Kimberley sighed, and sat down to top and tail the beansprouts.
"Yes, these are good for poh piah," said Grandma. "The best poh piah used to be sold down the road from here. But the store closed many years ago so now I have to make myself."
"But Grandma, Ma told you you have to stop cooking in case you hurt yourself or burn the house down."
"Don't say that, Mei. Nobody makes poh piah like me, OK? You have to fry the vegetables on very low heat otherwise it won't be nice."
"But if you fry the vegetables on low heat, it will take a very long time and you may forget about it. Just like that time."
Grandma shook her head. Kimberley wasn't sure if she was denying what she had just said, or if she was just disapproving of everything in general.
Kimberley was getting increasingly frustrated with Grandma. Grandma didn't call her by her proper name anymore, and sometimes, she would just stand in her bedroom muttering curses to herself. She got especially unhappy when Alti came to her room to move things around so she could clean it, and cursed her under her breath. When Kimberley or her mother reminded her not to do certain things, she ignored them and did them anyway. It was as though she were turning into a petulant child.
"Remember to take your gingko pills," said Kimberley to Grandma. "But don't eat too many of them because gingko is poisonous if you eat too much," she warned.
"I only take them in the evening," said Grandma. "Don't worry."
Kimberley hoped the gingko pills, which she had got from the health food store in nearby Clementi Mall, might help her grandmother remember who she was. She kept confusing her with her mother, as though she had forgotten Kimberley had ever been born. As for her mother, Grandma thought she was one of her sisters, who had all died years ago.
But the gingko pills didn't seem to help much, and Grandma was deteriorating in front of her own eyes.
Two months after she started taking the pills, Grandma stopped speaking unless prodded. She would open her mouth to be fed, but she no longer even picked up the fork and spoon or chopsticks to feed herself.
She now accepted Alti's presence uncomplainingly – it was Alti who fed her now, with a ceramic soup spoon. It was Alti whom she depended on throughout the day, who helped her shuffle her way to the bathroom and back, as Kimberley and her parents were at work, and only Grandma and the maid were alone at home.
Sometimes, she made things difficult for Alti by spitting out the food she had already eaten, letting her mouth hang limply open so globules of food fell onto the front of her blouse. Alti would cluck helplessly, and feed her another spoonful of food, only to have her spit it out again.
Grandma grew thinner and thinner, as though she were determined to disappear completely. The bones of her wrists became very prominent, so you could see their shape under the skin. Her cheeks were sunken, and her hair, grey before, turned wispy white, almost transparent. Her eyes turned bluish grey, as though the very pigment in her was retreating deep into her body, leaving nothing but a ghost behind.
They finally installed the avatar in the living room.
Ren was there during the set-up, of course. He wanted to record the family's first reactions to the avatar.
"Here goes," said Kimberley, turning the avatar on. A holographic projection of Grandma from six months ago, looking focused and alert, materialised on the brown sofa behind the coffee table. She blinked once or twice, then smiled at Kimberley.
"Grandma?" asked Kimberley nervously.
"Yes, Kim?" said the hologram in Grandma's voice, though of course the voice was coming from hidden speakers that had been installed in the living room. But somehow they seemed to be emitting from her mouth.
"Grandma, is that you?"
"Yes, dear. It's me."
"How are you?"
"You remember me?"
"Of course, I remember you, Kim. When I first saw you, the first time I held you in my arms, I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen."
This wasn't really her Grandma. And yet, it was. That was exactly what she had always said about her.
The camera was rolling. Ren was focusing on Kimberley's face, the look of longing reflected in her eyes.
Just then, there was a creaking sound from the stairs, and Kimberley looked up to see a much frailer Grandma descending the stairs to the living room.
"Who's that?" asked the real Grandma.
"Who's talking? Who's in the house?"
"It's your avatar, Grandma," said Kimberley, reaching to adjust her black-framed glasses. "Remember we made an avatar of you?"
"An... avatar? What are you talking about, Mei? How come you make an avatar of me?"
"Look..." Kimberley pointed to the Grandma on the sofa, who had turned her head politely to look at the Grandma on the stairs.
Grandma screamed. It was a wild, animal scream, unlike any noise Kimberley had ever heard Grandma make before, and something totally unexpected – like a rabbit's scream splitting the air after years of complete silence.
"Turn it off – turn it off!" cried Kimberley, as one of the techs from her group flipped the switch and the holographic Grandma blinked off.
Grandma had collapsed on the stairs, crumpled up at the bottom, totally prone and sobbing with fear.
Ren pointed his camera at her. He was still following the reactions of everyone in the room. Kimberley ran towards Grandma. She put her arm around her, and tried to calm her panic-stricken sobs.
"It's OK, it's just a computer," said Kimberley. But even she wasn't entirely sure. The holographic grandma had seemed totally intelligent and autonomous. It didn't seem like the projection of a machine. It seemed like a person – more like a person than the shell her real Grandma had become.
"Stop filming!" said Kimberley, suddenly turning on Ren, who was aiming the video camera at her terrified Grandma.
Ren didn't stop. The red light on the camera was still on. He turned the camera to face Kimberley.
"Stop it!" Kimberley said weakly, lifting her palm towards Ren and wiping her own tears out of her eyes with her other hand.
Ren kept on filming. He turned the camera towards Grandma.
Grandma's sobs had grown softer. Kimberley turned to her again.
"Alti!" shouted Kimberley. "ALTI!" Alti appeared in the doorway to the kitchen. She had been preparing dinner and hadn't heard the commotion.
"Take her to her room, Alti," said Kimberley.
Alti hurriedly pulled Grandma to her feet, and, supporting her weight with her tiny frame, walked her up the stairs.
"STOP!" cried Kimberley, this time shouting at Ren. Tears were falling fast down her face, and she knew she looked terrible. "I said stop!!!"
Ren finally lowered his camera, but he didn't look sorry.
Kimberley knew it was only a matter of time. Or did she? She had known deep down inside that Ren wasn't going to stay. But she had still deluded herself into thinking he would. For her, or that, somehow, he would ask her to follow him to New York. She was stupid like that.
Ren had filmed all the footage he needed for the documentary. He could edit anywhere, he said, and his production team was in NYC. Besides, he was homesick for that city, for its indie filmmaking scene, for his friends.
The thing that infuriated Kimberley was that he didn't even say he was sorry. He didn't seem to think he owed her any explanation, except for the fact that he had always belonged over there, and not over here.
He didn't even tell her he was booking a flight back until he had already done it.
"So, I'm leaving on the first of September," he said, when they were in bed together at his apartment.
Kimberley sat up and stared at him. "What, for good?"
"Well, yeah. I thought you knew," said Ren, looking at her hurt eyes.
"But I thought… What about us?" asked Kimberley.
"Well, I dunno. What about us?" parroted Ren.
"Will you be back at all? Will I ever see you again?"
"You can always come visit me in New York," he said, but this was the wrong thing to say.
Kimberley was getting dressed in a huff. She snatched up her things from the floor and made her way out of the apartment, almost tripping over her discarded heels, even though it was already 1am and the only way to get back now was a cab or Grab or Uber.
Kimberley hated herself. She hated herself for having thought this was a thing, that she was Ren's girlfriend. She hated herself for still sleeping with him even after he didn't stop filming Grandma. She hated herself for hoping that she was enough to lure him away from the Big Apple, the city they always talked about instead of the city they were in, the city they had shared. She hated herself for having used Grandma to get him to come to her house in the first place. And all for what? All for a kiss.
The next day, Ren turned up at her lab with two bars of Lindt 100% Dark Chocolate and a lame apologetic smile.
She refused to take them, but he stuffed them into her bag when she wasn't looking, and when she found them two days later they had gotten all melted and misshapen. She threw them into the fridge to solidify again, because no matter how mad she was at him she couldn't just throw food away.
She wasn't speaking to that bastard again. And to think she had made her own grandma get that avatar of herself, which had so terrified her, so she could spend more time with that jerk.
As she pivoted away from the fridge and entered the living room, the avatar flickered on.
The ghostly Grandma materialised on the sofa.
"What's the matter, Kim?"
Kimberley couldn't bring herself to tell this simulacrum of what her grandma used to be the truth. She couldn't meet her eyes.
"The chocolate…it melted," she said lamely.
"What kind of chocolate is it?"
"It's dark chocolate, Grandma."
"Ah… dark chocolate. It's the only kind of chocolate I eat."
"Why, Grandma?" she just wanted to hear her say it.
"Well, you know, I grew up during the war, and I had never tasted chocolate until 1945, when the Japanese surrendered. When the Japanese left Singapore, they distributed dark chocolate to the children along the streets. It was the first time I had ever tasted chocolate, and that is why I still love dark chocolate. I don't like any of the other kinds. To me, it tastes better than any other kind, because it was the taste of peace."
Kimberley looked into the face of her Grandma, that kind, doting, patient, beautiful old face, and tears fell down her cheeks, splashing onto the floor.QLRS Vol. 21 No. 4 Oct 2022