65%

don’t feed her, she can only survive when and where we have forgotten to love

movements like blades

sharp

short

deliberate

carrying the weight and fierceness of a million invisible warriors behind them

she is angry

defiant

raging againsts her reality

her breathing short and shallow

she breathes fire

she is the one who starts war

she is the part of you that is capable of burning down cities

and waging war against the ones she loves

she is the part of you that hides under the surface

the part of you that surprises you when she shows her teeth

the part of you that you deny

push away

pretend does not live there

within you

she is your darkness

the one who dwells in the shallow waters of your being

she is in every one of us

she rides up from the back of the waves of your righteous egos

she feeds on the ideas that you deserve more

better

different

she lurks on the thoughts that keep you small

the notion that you have something to fight for

to reclaim

to preserve

she is the face of war

the part of us that can understand how we fight others

how we ruin our lives

how we can kill in the name of our beliefs

~An extract from “Our Warring Self” of Live Awake Podcast

she feeds on unlove, and i keep feeding her, fuelling the anger in me, an anger directed at myself.

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your thoughts pass by like traffic

one;

it’s in the dead of the night — it’s always in the dead of the night (why are you out in the dead of the night, jean?) — when your thoughts become louder than the occasional sportscar that speeds past, louder than the crinkle of the paper bag that you’re fidgeting in your hand as you try to distract yourself from the silence and the chill running down your shoulders from the absence of a warm body beside you.

it’s 3am and you’re walking back to your dorm, alone. your hair smells like kimchi and overcooked noodles, and your clothes are crumpled beyond salvation. you can feel your contacts struggling not to let go of your eyeballs, crudely put. you try not to shuffle your feet too much, but you do it anyway. the cicadas are overwhelming. can the streetlamps stop flickering? it’s creepy as heck. i could walk in the middle of the street and it’ll be okay. that’s how quiet everything is.

you hum the opening sequence of your recent favourite song to yourself. then louder, to the trees and the empty streets and the flickering streetlamps, because inanimate objects and mother nature have always been kind critics.

a video message from your room-mate. you sacrifice the last percent of your battery to listen to it. “hey roomie!! i came back and you are not in the room and it is 3am and i am very confused?”

right as you send your reply, your phone dies.


one point five;

in a way, i’m never truly alone.

(cuz there’s always some bug attempting kamikaze in my room, flinging itself against my fluorescent light the way i fling myself towards destruction without a care in the world)


one point seven five;

coming home on fridays always feel the best. i sink into my bed and its familiar smell. it doesn’t smell like home, it just smells like me. maybe subconsciously, i miss the…old…me? i don’t think i’ve changed, per se, just merely in a process of metamorphosing, one which life throws you in sometimes. the old me smells like i-haven’t-gotten-out-of-bed-in-24-hours, smells like drool and sweat and tears. in this bed i’ve binged watched dramas, tossed and turned while reading sappy mangas, slept like i’ve been deprived.

it’s been a while since i’ve had the luxury of doing all that.

which reminds me of this particular conversation i had with grace while we were wasting time on a bench.

i haven’t caught up with my dramas foreverrrrr because uni has sucked my soul 

omg i know right i haven’t read all my manga updates and they’ve been tragically piling up and i can’t even catch up on bts anymore and i don’t know what new dramas there are i feel like my entire life is just revolving around university now 

because we stay in hall and we hang out with friends until late at night or rush through homework and readings every day, so we barely have time to do those things, you know? we don’t have a life anymore lol

yeah…or do we have too much of a life?

…good point

i mean i used to entertain myself with all those things because i had nothing better to do, right? but now, we have actual engagements and we don’t have time to think of free time anymore

yeah, yeah. every second of our life is just consumed with actual activity-

i love it, but funny how we’re yearning for a certain lifestyle when in the past when i had that lifestyle i was yearning for this lifestyle, you know what i mean?

i think we’re just yearning for some comfort from the past, with all these changing climates and unfamiliar situations day in day out, it’ll be nice to find some solace in ourselves and what we used to be.


two; 

necessary lists

current commitments—

  1. monday – hall dance
  2. tuesday – cip reading programme
  3. wednesday – recreation programmes/social-emotional learning???/yoga
  4. thursday – korean classes
  5. indefinite – hall arts and culture subcomm/ hall cip committee/hall foc subcomm/wsc foc subcomm
  6. saturday – reading programme which i rarely turn up for anymore cuz im an ass

things to complete this recess week—

  1. creative writing – 3 or so poems
  2. creative writing – start on multimedia project
  3. astronomy – try to at least comprehend something
  4. literature – survey essay/intro comparison essay
  5. acad comms – academic argumentative essay
  6. also, catch up on all those readings you’ve put aside for god-knows-how-long

things i’ve learnt in the past week—

  1. we fault people for having flaws, and we seem to place heavier weight on some flaws rather than the others, when on closer inspection, these flaws simply seem less digestible to our palettes because they’re placed under bright social spotlights. in all honesty, we all have our demons, and your flaws are very much equivalent to that other person’s flaws. so stop harbouring some superiority/hero complex and accept that you’re very much as flawed at the person you’re scrutinising.
  2. fault people for their actions, but not for who they are. if your judgement is leaning into the territory of personal attacks on their appearances instead of a certain behaviour that is different from your values, then you’re just being a bitch.
  3. gossiping about others or constantly having conversations revolving around people will never end up feeling good or satisfying. (learnt that from very very good, pensive hthts with valerie and cherylene)
  4. if you gossip about other people, chances are, some other person has made some comment about you as well.
  5. meditation is so important in getting rid of toxicity.
  6. do something to improve the day of other people if you’re having a bad day.
  7. i find myself unconsciously labelling other people as “lame” or “unexciting” just because they have different levels of social activity and enthusiasm as me, and this, i admit, is a bad habit that i have to stop imposing on my own life.
  8. i love my hair. i love crazy, loud colours. i love wearing weird things, like oversized men shirts. the weirdest thing is, the very things that you think people will judge you for, actually end up being the very things that people point out in compliment of. there’s so much power in rocking something with confidence.
  9. if you’re good at something (or at least, better than others), you’ll receive more side-eyed glances and snarky comments rather than genuine compliments, and you’ve just got to learn to accept that. it’s a projection of their insecurities, it’s got nothing to do with you.
  10. focus on the present. don’t let the past pull you away, don’t let the future stop you from acting. i realised that life really does have a way of planning things out for you. when one activity is cancelled and you might feel bummed out about it, there’ll always be another opportunity, one that you might find you needed more than the previous activity. (case in point: sleepover with bp got cancelled, but because of that, i went to church with cherylene and met so many new people, opened up my connections massively, and just felt so renewed in my trust and faith in people and in myself. the talk i had with cherylene was so important in affirming so many fears that i had been holding in privately as well. thank you @ life for this transition towards something better.)

 

 

marginalia

lessons i’ve learnt in the first two weeks of university

  1. nothing good comes out of comparison and putting others down. stop obsessing over the blessings of others, stop magnifying your own flaws and stop treating yourself as less. YOU ARE NOT INFERIOR.
  2. when you seek validation from others, you will receive nothing but disappointment and insecurity.
  3. people will say things about you regardless of how cautiously you portray yourself in public, so to hell with it. let them judge, let them label you as whatever makes them happy, so long as you are clear of what do or do not define you as a human. (chances are, you’re unconsciously judging other people and making biased, often frivolous assumptions as well.)
  4. there is nothing wrong with wearing makeup and putting on contacts and dressing to the nines. more than vanity, it’s about putting the best version of yourself out there. if it makes you feel good about yourself and it kick starts your day on the right note,  then slab on as many layers of eyeliner as you desire, wear all the coloured contacts you’ve always wanted to try and strut the fuck out of those heels.
  5. on that note, remember to tell yourself that you’re still beautiful in your own way. sometimes it’s hard to remember that when you’re surrounded by people who are just effortlessly gorgeous and it seems that you and you 105% best self can’t even match up to those standards — anyway. it’s not true. refer back to point 1.
  6. don’t get swept away. back away from things that make you uncomfortable.
  7. whenever you feel overwhelmed, take a deep breath. close your eyes. zen zone and night naps are crucial. it will be okay. it won’t always be this messy, or this suffocating, or this crazy. soon enough you will get the hang of it.
  8. choose to spend wisely, whether it’s time or money or effort. opportunity cost is a real thing, don’t sacrifice unnecessarily.
  9. stop being a doormat, jean. goddammit.
  10. everybody is flawed. seek the good in them and learn to tolerate the bad sides.

he reads lang leav and speaks in sign and cries when he thinks of his ex and you (and 10000 other girls) think he’s the most beautiful boy in the vicinity. when he smiles his eyes crinkle and his teeth shine and you forget he’s three years older and that he smokes and that he likes someone else.

he’s not good for you.

but why does he make you feel so….so….good?

stupid fuckboys.


“jean, you’re too nice.”

i’m not.

stop saying that.

i’m helping others because of this insecurity that no one will want me if i have nothing to offer them. if you knew that, would you still say that? i truly wonder.

 

6/10

 

We are running against traffic, leaving elongated shadows and half-sung lyrics trailing in our wake. We are digging our feet in wet sand, mourning at the impermanence of our footprints and these magical moments. We are staring at our smudged reflections in a greasy glass window, relishing in the way ‘NTU’ stretches across our chests and brands itself into our skin.

Hugging our knees close to our chest, we huddle tightly together and speak in code names and hushed whispers and breathy giggles. With eyes wide open, the girl you’ve just met a few days ago announces, “You’ll never guess what happened at the club last night”, and all of a sudden you’re trapped in a whole web of tales that has your heart beating fast and your mind spiralling out of control.

Lying wide awake in an unfamiliar bed, you attempt to pour your heart out to your roommate, but insecurities take the form of anything and everything but words, so you can never really accurately describe that heaviness in your heart that you are feeling.

You’re trying not to lose yourself, and you don’t feel like you have. Or perhaps you’re merely evolving, or merely shedding an old skin…

Everything is foreign now, even yourself.

 

 

very short short stories by me about me

#1

“do you want to race?” the hare asks the tortoise one day.

“not really,” the tortoise replies calmly.

“yeah, me neither.” the hare confesses.

“you could walk beside me if you want,” the tortoise suggests with a smile.

“that’ll be nice,” the hare smiles back.


#2

“aren’t you lonely?” the shadow asks the little girl in the empty hallway.

“no,” the little girl says, and her voice echoes across the length of the corridor.

“but you’re all alone,” the shadow says dumbly.

“not true,” the girl answers, shaking the head. “i have you, and my echo too. that’s quite some company.”

“but we’re both just…made up of you!”

the girl smiles warmly. “exactly.”


#3

“you’re here a lot lately,” the eyes say to the tears.

“is that a problem?” the tears question.

“yeah,” the eyes snort. “you’re in the way of my line of vision.”

“i see more than you do,” the tears tell the eyes calmly. “i’ve always seen more than you.”

“what are you talking about,” the eyes deadpan, rolling itself in annoyance. “my job is literally to see.”

“before i became tears, i was morning dew. and rain. and a part of the sky, and a part of the ocean.” the tears explain. “i’ve seen a lot before you even could see, and i know that my presence is very much needed in the grand scheme of things. for your owner, and for the universe.” the tears pause for a second, clings onto the underside of the chin as it shimmers with brightness. “and for you, too. because of me, you’ll be able to see more clearly now, right?”

the eyes blink, and indeed the tears were right.

and before the tears let go, it gives a little wave, and it tells the eyes. “the next time you see me, i’ll be in the ink of a bestselling novel. good luck!”


#4

WEATHER REPORT: TEMPERATURE REACHES NEW HIGH! WIND EVADES US! SUN IS SCORCHING HOT!

the wind: i’m sorry i’m so distant i’m just really uncomfortable with physical touch and also i need some space too; are words of encouragement okay?

the sun: i’m sorry i’m too much; i’ll try my best to tone it down.

people: we don’t care! you gotta fit into the standards of society!

 


#5

“she’s probably forgotten all about you,” the wall says to the lost thing that is tucked in a corner, collecting dust.

“no, she’s still looking, i’m sure.” the lost thing replies reassuringly.

“she’s stopped trying,” the wall says, a little more forcefully.

“well then,” the lost thing says with a nonchalent shrug. “now i can look forward to her look of happiness when she does find me someday.”


#6

“what are you supposed to be?” the paper asks the dot, squinting at it sceptically.

“for now, i’m a dot.” the dot says.

“that’s boring,” the paper says. “maybe you’re not even meant to be here.”

“maybe,” the dot replies. “or maybe i’m meant to be something more! i could be anything if i took off from here! isn’t that simply exciting?”


#6

“yo,” the face says to the zit. “she hates you.”

“what are you talking about?” the zit says. “i’ve made her life so much more colourful!”


#7

“hello, i’m new.” the pencil says to the contents in a stationary box.

“hello,” everyone greets back happily.

“wait, there’s no correction tape in here?” the pencil says, shocked. “and no ruler?”

“nope,” everyone replies. “our owner is a big fan of having her mistakes as reminders and embracing crooked lines in her life.”


#8

“this is my dog,” the girl tells the boy as she points to her dog.

“and this is my cat.” the girl continues as she points to her cat.

“so which one do you love more?” the boy asks.

“what do you mean?’

“are you a dog-person or a cat-person?”

“pfft,” the girl laughs. “i’m simply a better and happier person.”

“huh,” the boy breathes, taking in her words. “so what’s their names?”

“the dog’s Motivation, and the cat’s called Chill. they balance me out just right, and i love them equally.”


#9

“oh my god!” the girl gasps. “you’re the boy of my dreams!”

“oh my god, aww! that’s the sweetest -”

“yeah! you’re not real! thank god!”

“oh-”

poof.


#10

girl: omg the smell of new books!

girl: omg the smell of old books!

boy: wtf girls are so confusing?!

girl: um, im hinting that u stink and i only need books in my life???? omg boys are so dumb its unreal.

boy poofs for the second time.


ps. i died writing number 10.

pps. i conjured all 10 stories during my most recent trip to the showers. go figure!

ppps. very politically and grammatically incorrect which are both true reflections of me.

solo te haces menos

0.1

solo te haces menos. 

“do you know what it means?”

“it’s spanish, i know. but i don’t do spanish.”

“it means that it’s not other people who make you feel like you’re alone. you do it to yourself.”


0.2

a mother.

in my memory, my mother never had a face. i remembered with vividness the clothes that she wore to work, especially this zebra-striped blouse that was slightly silky. i remembered her cologne when she hugged me close and said goodbye. i remembered my feet dangling from her queen-sized bed as i held onto my stuffed bear and watched her put her face on.

but her face, that i don’t remember.

i kept my aunt’s passport photo in my wallet and told other children in my class that she was my mother because, at that time, i had thought that my aunt was prettier.

in truth, it was because i never truly bothered looking at my mother’s face.

i think my mother knew the word sacrifice well. when she quit her job, in spite of how painstakingly hard she slogged her guts to reach the top, that was sacrifice. when she learned how to drive, in spite of crying silently in trembling anger because the instructors were masochistic shits, that was sacrifice. when she gave up her childhood to be the surrogate mother for her younger siblings because my grandma was working hard to earn a second income, that was sacrifice.

now, when i look at my mother, i think to myself: all this while, the past nineteen years, how could you not see her beauty?

maybe, the real truth was that she was always too beautiful to look at.


0.3

my great-grandmother beckons me over and makes me sit beside her. i don’t actually fancy physical affection very much, but she’s the exception.

i sling an arm over her shoulders and i feel her bones jutting into my skin. she’s getting more fragile with age and it pains me to even think of that.

silently, she holds out my hand and stuffs two ten-dollar bills between my fingers. “shh,” she whispers conspiringly. “i won forty dollars in the lottery today. this is your share.”

“this is my share?” i chortle. “i haven’t done anything.”

i wasn’t totally ok with the gambling thing, but it makes her happy, so.

“you ask too many questions, just take it.”

“thank you,” i squeeze her tightly, then lessen my hold a little, because i’m genuinely scared she might break.

“the past few days, you’ve been busy?” she asks me.

“yeah, going out with friends for dinner.” i say, flashing an apologetic smile.”

“because of you, i’ve been walking around with dollar bills tucked in the waistband of my pants for four days straight.”

i laugh, but my lungs feel kind of blocked.

“i’ve missed you a lot. come see your old great-grandmother more often, okay? when i die, i won’t be able to see you anymore.” her blue eyes are swimming a bit. i’ve always been very fascinated by her eyes, but that night i couldn’t bear to look into them.

“don’t say that.” i scold, and tears well up uncontrollably in my eyes.

i still feel like crying whenever i think about this.


0.4

i confess to my friends that i’ve never been very good at dealing with sadness. not my own, definitely not with the sadness of others. feelings are kind of like hands. you never know where to put them.

there are so many sad people these days.

but sadness is too personal and trying to interpret them in my own terms seems almost illegal, like i might misunderstand or mistranslate and make things worse.

after all, i look back on my past posts in my phase of sadness, and i still can’t figure out what overwhelmed me at that point of time.


0.5

we’re sitting in a far corner in the library, reading to each other children’s books in our best storyteller voices.

i feel so, so light, like i could just jump and i would float to the ceiling. it’s truly an amazing feeling. i’ve been feeling a lot of this lately.

is this what it feels like to be on a permanent high? i’m digging it.

sleeptalk 

“what time did you come back home?”

“2.30pm-ish.”

“and…you’ve been sleeping all the way since?”

“yep.”

“why? are you very tired?”

“…not really. it’s just. i really like it – sleeping, i mean. it’s kind of like a hobby now.” 

“sleeping as a hobby. wow.”

“ok, more like, dreaming as a hobby. there’s something amazing about what dreams make you feel after you emerge back in reality, you know? this slightly lightheaded, detached feeling and the blood just sinking back to your limbs from where it had just been in your head, and they kind of feel like a golden rush settling into your bones. i don’t remember my dreams, but i do know how they make me feel, and that satisfaction is akin to what you feel after spending time on a favourite hobby. yeah.”

“that’s the biggest bullshit anyone has ever pulled on justifying their laziness.”

6 months in

/screams into a void/ WHO IS THERE TO DOCUMENT MY GROWTH? WELL, DEFINITELY NOT ME!!!??? 

Here is a flimsy effort to salvage the past 6 months of swimming consciousness.

  1. Reads:
  2. Movies:
    • Favourite Japanese Movies: My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday, Your Lie in April
    • Favourite Western Movies: Big Fish, Little Miss Sunshine, The Edge of Seventeen, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    • Favourite Animation: In This Corner of the World, Only Yesterday, Wolf Children
    • Favourite Korean Movies: Miss Granny
  3. Films/Documentaries/Videos:
  4. Things that don’t really fit in anywhere:
    • Scotland. Just…everything about that place. It’s magical.
    • Brunswick Cottage, Bath. We stayed in there for 2 days and I’m still feeling “homesick” just thinking about that place. It’s the closest I can get to my imagined dream house set into reality. Absolutely gorgeous and quirky and wonderful.
    • This reddit thread about gay penguins stealing eggs and replacing them with rocks to fulfill their innate desire to raise children. I love it.
    • Korean makeup??? I’ve been really into the Peripera Airy Ink Velvet and the Etude House Contour Stick Duo and the Innisfree No Sebum Powder. Life savers.  I’ve also really been into makeup tutorials like these.
    • Wicked, the Musical. I cried when it was over.
    • Color Club. I love her style!
    • Wholesome Memes!!!
    • I’ve been preferring sketching to writing. Sad, I know. But equally cathartic.
    • Socks! And headbands!
    • Indomee~
  5. Music
    • All in this playlist. I named it 4:35 because that is the time of the day where I feel everything is the most surreal. The air a little bit thinner, the sky a little duller, gravity a little less forceful, and the mind in a hazy, dreamlike state.

It’s sad that I have to resort to a bullet-style form of blogging. I have a nagging sense that I’m missing something (like I do remember having this photographer/artist that I really adore, but his/her name escapes me?) so for now, this will do.

epiphanies

the thing about epiphanies is that you get them all the time. small ones, big ones, stupid ones, ingenious ones. you’re constantly realising things, discovering more about life and about yourself and about the way the world works, which can be a comforting feeling or a distressing one, depending on what clicks.

just the other day i had the “epiphany” that my grandma had lost her youngest brother when my uncle died. all this while, in the entirety of my nineteen years, i had always viewed my uncle’s suicide as an uncle that i had never seen before lost or a father lost or a son lost but when his name was casually discussed on the dining table, along with other phrases like “visiting his grave since it’s that time of the year”, hearing my grandma call him “my brother” just shook me to the very core.

disturbingly stupid, i know. perhaps its just me being thickheaded and unable to connect the dots, but such epiphanies do send me reeling from time to time, for inexplicable reasons.

in my two weeks travelling around united kingdoms, epiphanies do come knocking on my door quietly, and most of the time it’s a heartwarming visit. we have nice chats, and i feel good for an hour after, just having monologues with myself and unwrapping the gift which the epiphany had presented to me.

and then i forget.

just like some people have this habit of not finishing their entire glass of water because they believe that the water accumulated at the bottom are mostly just spit (i laughed at this), i have this stubborn belief that moments of epiphanies must be fully revelled in. i’ll soak in every emotion and thought and enlightenment that this moment of realisation brings me, regardless of its lightness or darkness, focus in the way it sends ripples, vibrations, tingles, within me.

by the time this experience is over, i find that penning down these thoughts become very much futile as i have failed to capture its very essence and the words that i have jotted down seem dull and meaningless and empty.

it annoys me to a great extent that this is the case because i do want to remember these epiphanies, to remind a future-me of how past jean’s mind is wired. but then again, future/present jean has never had a penchant for reading anything she’s written previously. (the cringe attack and secondhand embarrassment take over before nostalgia can).

hence, i can only take solace in the faith that these epiphanies have rooted itself in some part of me, subtly altering some fundamental part of me without me even realising it.

shrinking voids.

I.

The bubbles forming above my haphazardly-placed laptop stickers remind me too much of countless tears that can’t be wiped away. The variation of alphabets on my result slip remind me of efforts wasted and motivations lost and dreams misplaced. The restless buzzing in the still air reminds me of the solitude that is far too loud on a chilly night.

And you will consciously learn to forgive these misgivings, because every second spent dwelling on them is loss, surreality, a shadow creeping over the moon’s shine.

You will learn to unlearn the way you make judgements, the rhyme and reason of the world. You will decide for yourself what is valid and relevant, and you will fight for them. It’s a tough battle; when logic and boundaries are pressing in against you, and you are defenceless when tears suffocate your only weapon – your words.

You tell yourself it’s okay to believe in what you believe. It’s fine to hold onto these blinking half-truths you weave for yourself, because it keeps you safe, and it doesn’t hold any dangers to others. And everybody else is screaming CODE RED, and the more they do it the more you shut them out, like a body that starts to reject painkillers when the dosage gets too high.

Self-destructive, that is what you are. Bitter is the medicine, but oh so necessary. You should know better that too much candy will cause tooth decays and type two diabetes, but for now, you just want to wait until the cherry mint dissolves entirely, held between your tongue and the roof of your mouth.

II.

My eyes follow the moon the way the moon follows the car the way my heart follows my childhood beliefs. For just that moment, I am invincible. The moon chases after me because I am worthy of chasing; because it finds something in me that’s worthy enough to seek out.

III.

In a white coat of purity, I plant myself in loose soil. I make roses bloom on my cheeks and tinted lies grow on my lips. I am the In-Between, the Neither-Here-Nor-There. The thoughts flourish, and the emotions ripen.

The beauty of youth is so fleeting, and the people around me have weathered three decades of elapsed seasons. Bittersweet like the Winter, Fresh in Spring, Passionate Summers, and Perpetual is the Fall. Somewhere deep in them, they’re wishing they can bottle up this miracle essence, but it has long passed its expiry date. They’re now emptied and filled with new contents, repackaged and branded anew: Mothers, Fathers, CEOs, Retired, Menopause, Grey Hair.

But in this habitat, they are immortal. I see these adult men morph back into the young boys they once were, with their pants tucked high, their gangly legs with knobby knees, thick golden rimmed glasses, and glossy hair parted 50-50. Their smiles are still the same, just with less yellow and wistfulness. They’re hiding in rental bookstores, holding in laughs as they read scandalised content under the blushing light. They’re flailing around with badminton rackets in empty carparks. They’re enjoying the night breeze on the school rooftop, singing off-tune to 70s music to amateur guitar plucking. They’re crushing on girls who will eventually become their wives.

It’s heartwarming, and I love to sit on the sidelines and watch these interactions unfold. I like to imagine the past in which I do not exist in.

That way, I become lightweight, like a dandelion seed that floats away with a breath holding a wish, a promise. No longer grounded.

Watch me fly.

IV.

This is the fluorescent light that flickers for a good few seconds before burning bright. We used to pretend it was a disco ball, and we would dance crazily to the flashes of white-black-white-black, giggling breathlessly as the whiplash hit us like the canings we received after.

This is the bed that was able to fit all six of us, big and small. We would play rock paper scissors to decide who would sleep by the edges, and who would sleep in the crack dividing the two beds. We would fight for an inch of the blanket, and we would engage ourselves in made up stories until the door opens and the light floods in and an adult head peers in. Someone would be kicked off the bed by morning, and someone else would be half slotted in between the two mattresses with numb limbs and a sore waist. Now we are all big, and now there is only me, and this isn’t my bed no longer. But the smell remains the same, and it smells of security and home.

This is the hand that used to stroke me to sleep. Calloused and thick and firm, rubbing patterns and giving pats on my back until my breathing evens.

This is the radio with the antennae bending out towards the window the same way the plant beside it reaches out towards the sun.  The voice that filters out is crackly and monotonous as it reads out lottory numbers, followed closely by screams of distress from  my ancient great-grandma as she mourns over her loss and could-bes, and it is almost strange to see her upset, when she has witnessed losses greater in breadth and depth than this.

This is the deck of cards that has been shuffled countless times as the elderlies entertain themselves with solitaire and blackjack. This is the deck of cards that has taught me how to add two numbers to make ten, and the deck of cards the kids used to pretend were currency.

These are the familiar voices I will never get tired of. As I pretend to sleep, I listen intently to their conversations involving me, and I smile discreetly to myself.

This is the smell of dinner. Garlic and onions in the pan, roasted chicken in the oven, painstakingly brewed soup over the stove.

This is the sound of the gates swinging open and clanging as it closes. It is never locked, and I used to sigh in frustration as I had to waddle through the sea of shoes till I reached mine, but now it is a heartwarming sight.

This is the apartment I grew up in. It is the noisiest one in the hallway, the brightest one in the night, and it is filled to the brim with love and warmth and I will always be in love with every corner of it.

V.

Step 1: “Wonder at something.”

Step 2: “Invite others to wonder with you.”