in silence

Month: April, 2017

reading period

i stare my body down in the mirror and ask myself if i am strong enough.

some days i tell myself i’m done, i’m out, i don’t have to do this. other days i ask myself what is it all worth if i leave so easily? those days i tell myself i’ll stick to it till the point where i think it’ll really really wreck me to stay on. some of those days i tell myself i’m just being dramatic, that things are not how i see it.

i feel like i don’t know whether or not (or how??) i should trust my mind anymore.

the crumbs we settle into

if I have a child, I will teach them the wrong words for the quietest of things. I will point to the soft red bump at the end of a pencil and say “dice”. I will trace their fingers through the winding tracks of their shoelaces and christen the plastic loops “hurdles”. I will let them watch the way skin folds – the ripples on their belly, my eyes amidst their laughter, their cheeks when the sky glows on its way to sleep; I will call those … “crumbs”.

my mother is a teacher. a strict one. my best friend and my boyfriend commiserate over how they are both slightly afraid of her. one of my sister’s favourite stories is how my mother would use her “teacher face” and “teacher voice” to get all the teens crowding the front of the public bus to form orderly clumps at the back. she was the woman who would ask her students using “vagina” as a cuss word in the hokkien dialect if they needed a lesson in female genitalia. all the false bravado that a 17-year-old boy had painstakingly amassed? it never stood a chance against my mother.

one of her favourite lines is, “I taught you everything you need to know in kindergarten”.
at the age of 4 I learnt that in order to make the rain stop on your father’s hour-long drive to work, you must stand at the edge of your balcony, mouth peeking through the bronze grills, singing, “rain please stop please stop please stop, rain please stop please stop please stop”. repeat as many times as necessary.

at 5 I discovered the words cocoon, pupa, moth, butterfly. i plucked so many caterpillars from their homes on bushes before I learnt that a butterfly’s wings emerge damp after its slumber. there is an endless patience that must be learned before attempting flight.

at 6 i learnt that, to make and keep the best memories, open the back of your hello kitty film camera before you’ve wound back the film. let all the light in. maybe you’ll never hold in your hands the geysers where, hoodie on backwards, you avoided the sulphur; you’ll never see light fall once more on the field of daisies where you whimpered for every petal trampled upon; nor the train set that you split your favourite bunny sweatpants trying to build. but your mother’s laugh, the “you did what?”, the realization on her face that hers was a child with aperture eyes but amateur hands, that, that you will never forget.

if i have a child, i will teach them the wrong words for the quietest of things. I will stand with them by the tembusu tree, let them breathe in glimpses of early morning school bus runs in between the tree’s once a year siren song, I will tell them this, this is “family”. I will run their palms over the bead box from many arguments ago, the crack down its centre its spine, and whisper the word “patience”. I will touch their two fingers to my throat and another two to my grandmother’s, let them feel the vibration of our voices, hands over our mouths, the way tongue, cheek, teeth, lips pronounce codes foreign to each other, I will let them feel, I will let them feel, I will call it “time”.

If I have a child, I will teach them the wrong words for the quietest of things. Mostly to laugh at the day they look towards chance to solve a mistake, tell a friend that they can’t get their shoelaces through the hurdles, or think about how they really like the crumbs on their mother’s face. but when the air is too cold, the noise too much, I remember a world where clear skies are a prayer, where metamorphosis means to wait, where memories come of erasure. it is then that I realize I will teach them our blundering code so they will always have the language to phone home.

good morning!!

it is 10.47 am and here is the peace of the morning. i can’t decide if i am a morning person or a night person – i think i like both and i think i care far less about the mid-afternoon. just yesterday i was sitting on my bed past midnight telling my roommate about how calm the night felt. how there was no longer any need to think about a place you had to be in two hours or a meal you should take within the next three.

i woke up today and worked out for an hour before taking a shower and starting on my day. i always forget how much better that makes me feel. i feel so at ease and ready to take on the day now. was looking at my arms, my body, in the mirror and thinking about how glad i was that i’d begun to do lyra. i’ve always been kind of self conscious about my arms/ my shoulders (i have pretty broad shoulders). working out and getting stronger arms was always a thing of tentativeness for me – i wasn’t sure the added muscle was something i wanted. but, having started lyra, i’ve found that i can look in the mirror, see myself getting more muscular and genuinely feel at peace and really excited about that. it’s no longer just about what that looks like but about how i feel closer to being able to do a pull-up onto the hoop, how i feel closer to holding my chopper, how i’ll feel more stable in the air.

i feel like i’m in a good place with the person i am and the person i’m becoming. it’s a nice way to feel, i’ve missed feeling like that for a bit. counting down the days till i’ll be home but i know i will miss all of this when i’m back too.

the sun sets over harkness today; the eggplant-purple, the pink we didn’t quite like as children, the marmalade orange (the orange that so often cloaks the other hues).

“i thought the sunset was really beautiful and really wanted to share it with you”

“thank you, it is really beautiful”

we look within ourselves, pause, draw out all the parts that could be faulty and lay them out across the table. we miss the warmth under our soles, the sticky wind across our faces, the saturated drizzle of home.

we stick our tongues out only to taste the cool dry air.

here is the growing up, here is the striving to be good for each other (alongside the striving to be good for ourselves), here is the yearning, here is the sorrow. we sit outside on a bench because, for the first time in a long time, the wind is not an assault on the skin. we feel the shudder of our bodies; i feel the heaving of my chest then the slow calming of my breath. there is laughter too, there is laughter amidst all of this.

after it all ends i get an email from my father that reads “in one month time”.

in one month time.

in one month’s time i’ll be home.

i miss the feeling of home.


hoops & tarot cards

i’m breathing and there are days, moments, where the world is so startlingly beautiful. we did tarot card readings at teeth the other day and it was somewhat consoling and encouraging to feel like the world was throwing me signs to remind me that i was working in the right direction, that i am capable of so much and that i will remember what it feels like to be myself again. however, something i’ve been trying to remember is that all this, all the gravel beneath my feet, that is me too – it is a path i’m working through but while it is heartening to know that i want to and can do more, it is impossible to live without remembering that the struggling parts of myself are, too, sincere elements of who i am.

i went for lyra class yesterday and it was just one of the best feelings, thinking about nothing else but the movement of your body on the hoop, thinking about where to place this arm, that grip, that foot. what to catch on, what to let go. the strangest feeling was being upside down, suspended in a split by my ankle, calf and hip bones while feeling like if i let go of my hand grip  i would surely fall. yet, when i did let go, i found that everything else felt exactly the same, only that I now had my hands to use.

“a lot of people use their arms to pull themselves up into that position, so it feels like you can’t let go. but once you actually let go and sit into it, you find that you are perfectly stable.”

it feels phoney to make these comparisons between a lyra class and the other, broader, aspects of my life. but perhaps these are merely parallel threads running through my life at the moment. lyra class isn’t teaching me to let go (i worry too much and think too far ahead for that) but, slowly, in my life, for mostly unrelated reasons, i’m seeing what i’ve thought of as my safety nets fall away, and i’ve been finding that i’m okay. that i’m happy, i’m beaming, which is so so freeing.

i am tired, that is certain, i can’t wait to return home, that too is true. but it is also true that i believe i have enough strength in me to make it through the remaining weeks of the semester positively, that i really really can do this.

give me even the autumn leaves

everything is tense, i’m struggling to remember what i have been or could be, we’re struggling to remember and to be what we know we could. i don’t know how to find a way out, i don’t know which way is out, it’s harder trying to do this on my own but i think i need to recognise that we need to be able to do this on our own.

we were born in the summer heat.  that sticky, tropical glow, perspiration beading at our foreheads, staining the back of our shirts, lining our palms – this was not nervousness, only biology. we were born in our bid to catch the last traces of time, we fought the transience, we thought we won.

the seasons bleed into each other, i no longer remember what it feels like to be warm, to feel confident enough to walk outside without a coat in the knowledge that the world will not feel like an assault. even sunlight does not bring the same joy when it doesn’t know heat. the trees have been bare for so long, and i am waiting, waiting, waiting on the spring to come.

i don’t know whether to grit my teeth and pull it together (i don’t know if i can) or if i should reach out and ask for help. i’m finding it hard to see how anyone else could help, i’m trying to convince myself that i have what it takes to figure this out on my own, that i’m stronger than this, that i need to be able to do this. i know i need to give you the space to sort through yourself before you can come back to me again.

i miss so many people back home, i miss alysha, i miss regine, i miss jon, i miss my sister, i miss my parents. i just want the semester to be over so i can be home. i so dearly want to be home.

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