Monthly Archives: September 2014


A vignette.

It’s all quiet when I wake up after the procedure. The room is blush pink, like my hospital gown, like my skin. Light filtering in from the window makes the whole room shimmer gently. I smell coffee – there’s a cup steaming on the table, filling the pink room with a roasted scent. Allie is snoozing on the sofa, the sun dances on her long brown hair.

Allie rouses, brushes my forehead with the back of her hand, and gets her coffee.

There are plasters all over my arm – the places where the needles went in. I feel like a ragdoll, all stitched and patched. I feel a pang at the thought because there’s something rather disconcerting about describing yourself as a rag doll. It devalues the body, reduces it to biological mechanics in skin. The shimmery pink air tells me that everything inside me has been put in place – all the pumps and hinges, veins and wires. But is there a use in keeping a body that’s straining to fall apart? If every needle, every clip, every stitch is merely an artificial means of extending the life of the organs for a few more years beyond their natural time, then how different is the final reconstructed vessel from a robot?

I ask Allie what is the difference between being fixed and being healed. There is something richer about the word “healing”, I say. It’s something about the way the vowels ring in your temples and slip honey-like over the roof of your mouth. The word “fixed” sounds like cutting.

Allie makes a remark about how terribly philosophical I am after a surgery. Words have meanings in and of themselves, she says. Their meaning is in their sounds, and how the sounds make you feel.

“My great-grandmother was a nurse,”she told me. “You know what she said? She said that people think the heart is the last thing in the body to die, but it is in fact the first. It is always the heart that first languishes, before the body begins to fail.”

“What is healing, Elle? Healing must be what happens in your heart that gives life back to the body and gives it strength to fight.”

“And how do you heal a heart?” I ask.

Allie is quiet. She sits on the edge of the sofa, coffee cup in her hands, her dark eyes reflecting the sunlight into my own. The shimmers seem to stop dancing, Allie’s coffee ripples, and I can see the sounds of my words are rippling slowly through her mind.

“The question we all want to ask,” I say, “is where can the pain go?”

The light from the window is rosy and orange. Allie opens the curtains and breathes. Her face glows. “Things that are spirit, must be healed by spirit,” she says. “That is what I think, at least.” I imagine at that moment Allie’s sadness flying up to the sky like a flock of birds, looking for a place to disappear.

We watch the light turn to a flaming orange, and then salmon, and then go dark. Allie curls up on the sofa with her computer and a blanket and types away. I go to sleep soothed by the sound of Allie’s typing – the sound of her fingers building words upon words that reverberate in her mind only.


A bit of 40mp music to start the morning

40mp is a vocaloid producer universally loved by vocaloid fans for his catchy, heart-warming songs. This one I am listening to this morning over coffee. “Right now I am singing to the sky, thank you for always being by my side”

A few years ago he married the singer Chano, who has a lovely tender voice – this song, “Avenue”, is heartwarmingly sweet. And incidentally, 40mp actually means “40 meter path”.

Soon after their marriage, they had a baby boy, and 40mp made this adorable children’s song. 40mp fans will appreciate all the references to his previous songs – those about happy things, and about sad things. The message being – life can be sad sometimes, but lets hold hands and smile together.

My favourite 40mp song has to be this one – “Haru ni ichiban chikai machi” or A Town Nearing Spring, and this version by Chano, from their album Caramel, is lovely.

“As I was wrapped up by the soft wind

I counted all my goodbyes

Reaching out my hands to the faraway sky

In the spring sunlight, a tiny flower bloomed

And soon in your town too

A pretty little flower will bloom”

Have a good weekend everyone (:

A poem for small days

Dear diary, I must tell you this

And maybe you can tell me if I have judged amiss

But I feel like I’ve been making so many mistakes

I feel like life is more than I can take

As I was scrambling to find my clothes, I didn’t realize

That mother did not appreciate the drawer’s banging noise.

Riding my bike across the bridge, I ignored the “dismount” sign

I was in a hurry, I thought it would be fine

An old lady stopped me with a big frown

“Can’t you read?” she asked. And in dismay, I got down.

Coming back with my sister, she was riding a faster bike

And went on ahead without me, leaving me behind.

My brother told me, unhappily, could you please put things back where they belong

I didn’t realise I had been making a mess for so long.

Crossing the road, I almost got hit by a car

The driver’s words, if I transcribed them, would contain a lot of stars.

I called for technical support, and the person many times asked me

“You don’t know your phone’s identification number?” rather impatiently.

In the library, deep in thought,

I really didn’t realise I was clicking my pen a lot.

Until the bearded man on my left faced me and said

“You’re being really annoying”, his fuzzy face all red.

You know, dear diary, I really don’t want to be naughty

But often I am, and it really feels like no one really wants me.

I wonder, dear diary, if perhaps in all I do

I am a nuisance and a bother to everyone but you.

And oh dear diary, I think you will tell me this

That everyone makes mistakes, life gets easier with practice.

But now, if someone says a firm “excuse me”, on the street

Something inside me just crumbles and breaks.

And I know I make no sense, but I just can’t fight my feelings today

I feel perhaps, that I ought to vanish and go away.

Dear diary, I think no one can understand me but you

I feel so small, so worthless, so blue.

I don’t really want to go out there

To face the frowns and sighs and glares.

So dear diary, won’t you just indulge in me today,

And inside myself, let me stay.

Let’s just huddle in this quiet space together

And go to sleep, which makes everything better.


On Leaving London

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been writing here, and I dare say quite a bit has happened.

After a month of summer break spent at home, I decided that I would drop out of my Psychology course in London, and remain in Singapore to enter law school. The details about my course change are tedious, and perhaps I will get down to talking about them slowly, over the next few weeks. While I do not regret my decision, there are moments where I miss London quite a bit.

There are a lot of things which I could say I miss, but I think what I really long for is just that sense of space – whether it was rolling in the daisies on warm spring afternoons or tugging at my coat as I walked down the streets in the frigid winter rain, I just miss the feeling of not having anywhere to rush to, no one to account to.

There’s something about London that opens you and subdues you at the same time. It can feel rather like being submerged in water, where you’re made suddenly aware of your own presence by being aware of what is around you, those unaccountable feelings, presences, absences. It’s a little overwhelming, a little hard to breathe, and you feel like you’re seeing double in everything. But you are soothed just as you are suffocated. The environment seemed to facilitate a lot more introspective pondering, along with impulsive adventuring, cathartic writing, and quiet being. Our conversations often had a surreal quality to them that they never had back home. And I would often sit at my desk and stare at the words of a poem, and just feel the words resonate and ripple through the room.

London is strangely vivid still, in a way that my memories usually never are. Strange how a passing episode of your life can feel more like reality, and real life becomes a dream.

 “There are so many things, he said quietly, that we can’t see but that we believe in, so many places that seem to possess an unaccountable feeling, a presence, an absence. Sometimes it takes time to learn this, like a child who suddenly realizes for the first time that the ball he threw over the fence has not disappeared.”
― Anne Michaels, The Winter Vault