Saturday, January 30, 2010


I am watching two birds perched on the window ledge opposite mine. Chattering. One struts back and forth, looking busy. The other stands stock still, looking resigned. They look like little mechanical toys from this distance.

I remember, back in high school, we had an audition for a musical. The coveted role was that of the bird. And our dance teacher gave us specific instructions to study birds carefully, so that we could mimic its actions.

I remember, standing at the bus stop, staring at a little sparrow. The way it thrust its chest forward, the way it moved its head quizzically, the way it hopped from one spot to the next – I was completely mesmerized. I am almost sure we swopped our souls for that moment.

The auditions came and went. The grace and dexterity of being a bird eluded me. I was cast in the role of a rabbit instead.

But I will always remember that day, standing at the bus stop, looking at the little sparrow, and seeing myself fly.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


In the grand scheme of things, I need to know where I stand.
In the stories that life brings, I need to know the beginning and the end.

I need someone who can read the lines on my hands and the creases on my face.
I need someone who can be my friend together in the safe place.

Who can be my friend?
Who can be with me till world’s end?

Maybe my assumptions have been wrong.
Maybe I’ve been playing the wrong track, the wrong song.

I once believed in eternity.
In everlasting love, in you and me.

Forever is an illusion.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


There I sat, willing it to appear. My mind kept sending up prayers, while my eyes stay trained at the number counter. Every few seconds, I would look at it compulsively; checking, double-checking, and re-checking. All I needed was for it to move from zero to one.

I am waiting for something. It should be here. But it hasn’t arrived. And I am worried/ distraught/ panicking/ terrified. What happened?

A hundred and one scenarios run through my head, all of them unpleasant. It’s like my brain is hard-wired to think of the worst in every situation. Lost along the way? An injury? An accident? A death?

It takes little to send my mind into a frenzy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I don’t deal well with disappointments. I take it as a personal affront to me, to my being. Even if it wasn’t meant to be that way. Perhaps I read too much into things. Perhaps I harbour unrealistic expectations. Or perhaps I am blind-sided by my own pride, believing that the world revolves around me and only me.

Take for example having my dinner plans cancelled. The fact that my friend has urgent work to attend to does not seem to matter to me. We had made a mutual agreement to meet, so it baffles me when it has to be called off. Perhaps I have a lot to learn in graciousness and forgiving. Or perhaps I should just hang loose and chill out.

Do not lie to me. It hurts.

cURioSiTy ThRew A fiT

For some reason(s) which I don’t remember, I am extremely curious to find out how the interior of an ambulance looks. Like little boys and their fascination with fire engines.

Unfortunately, the only time I was in an ambulance, I was unconscious. I had thrown a fit, literally.

One moment I was in a meeting talking to my colleagues, the next I woke to a throbbing headache, someone shining a bright point of light into my eye, and a thin transparent tube with a needle at one end jabbed into the back of my hand. That someone kept asking me for my name and whether I knew where I was (presumably to check if I was disoriented, which I was, terribly disoriented).

My memories of those two days in the hospital are very very vague. What little I know is gathered from various eye-witness accounts which I have pieced together to try to make a coherent narrative. And even that is sketchy at best.

The story goes that I had seizures while in office and had to be carted off to the emergency department in an ambulance, where I was made to stay overnight for observation, and whisked away for CT scan and MRI and blood tests. All of which were inconclusive, so I was released home the next day.

I remember sustaining bruises from my fall (as well as during my transfer from office to ambulance). I remember my shock as I woke up to discover that someone had changed me into the hospital get-up without my knowing it, wondering if my modesty had been outraged(?). I also remember sleeping a lot, and still feeling extremely tired (wondering if the exertion of seizing had exhausted me?).

But what I remember most is the awkwardness of having a gap in my memory. That chunks of time had been stolen from me. That there was (and still is) a discontinuity, a disjoint in my being. It’s strange actually, because we lose consciousness while we sleep too, yet there isn’t the sense of having “lost” something. Is it because we can consciously choose to be unconscious that renders sleep non-threatening? Is it the lack of control, the lack of predictability we have over fits that make them scary?

For a while now, I have been a little worried that one day I might fall down somewhere and start seizing, or I might start seizing and fall down somewhere. If that happens, catch my head and turn me over on my side.

Thank you.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I have been waiting, for a long time coming. Waiting for some word or sign, from you. I anxiously look behind me, wondering if I might have missed it. I nervously peer into the future, wondering if it might be too late.

When I realise, all we have is now.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

bLoOD tEst

I had my blood drawn yesterday to check my liver function. The nurse or lab tech or whoever she was must not be very good.

Today I have three puncture wounds and a very bruised vein!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


A little over three years ago, I was given a label. By two very dear friends. I still carry it with me now, and I suspect it’s going to stay around for the long haul. It is not a glamorous or honorary label. Neither is it a derogatory label. It is simple yet dependant on a complex web of the past, more of the past, and yet more of the past. Despite that, it is, in essence, just a label.

If there is anything the label did, it was to bring clarity to a darkly confusing turbulent time. It made the world make a bit more sense. It pulled the rug out from under the shadows lurking, bringing the pair to light. It gave us a clue, to how much damage was done.

While it is not exactly burdensome to be carrying the label, I do sometimes feel the weight of it pressing against my conscience. It seems I have not exactly gotten used to the label and its relationship to me, strange bedfellows are we.

So even as I accept the label I have been given, I will not let the label define who I am.

Monday, January 18, 2010

i GoT tHis iN my EmaiL...

May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships
So that you may live deep within your heart

May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression and exploitation of people
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace

May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and
To turn their pain into joy

May God bless you with foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor

Sunday, January 17, 2010


There are some skills I don’t remember picking up. Like how to clip the fingernails on my right hand with my left hand (I’m right-handed). Or brushing my teeth in the systematic way that I now brush my teeth (ten counts up, ten counts down for every tooth). Or even typing on the qwerty keyboard. Someone somewhere must have taught me, except that I have no recollection of those lessons.

Then there are some skills I probably won’t ever pick up. Like roller-skating. Or riding a bicycle. Basically, anything that involves me gliding in a near-frictionless environment is just not my cup of tea. This, despite the best efforts of my parents to try to make learning less painful by tying small pillows on my elbows and knees.

Don’t laugh, but I’m trying to fly.

Friday, January 15, 2010

SepARaTioN anXieTy

If leaving means I won't get to see you ever again, I don't want to go.


I guess reality has sunk in. Finally. I am going to pursue my studies in Speech Language Pathology. Finally. It has been a good two years since I last applied for the program in a local grad school and was rejected. It has been two years of self-doubt, of second-guessing, of wandering. Two years for my brain to get blunt with age, or perhaps, two years for my brain to grow sharp with experience.

It’s a bit hard to describe my feelings now. Equal parts anticipation and fear, feeling joy and feeling wistful. After fighting for so many years, it’s actually difficult to leave the old and start anew.

They all say, “Take care.”

I will.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


The older one grows, the tougher it gets to cope with change. All the years of familiar habit and routine get upturned. What kept you safe and comfortable may not keep you safe and comfortable any longer. And you are left with that sense of being lost, being alone.

As I prepare to go away, I am struck by what I have accumulated over the last 10 years. Things. Many things. Big things. Small things. Important things. Irrelevant things. And people. School friends. Work friends. Friends who picked me up along the way. Friends with whom I have developed such a close bond that saying goodbye, even if temporary, chokes me.

Leaving the second time round feels much harder.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


"You must be the change that you want to see in the world."

(Mahatma Gandhi)

Monday, January 11, 2010

HeLLo & goOdByE

I had a blast of a reunion with some of my friends last night. We used to work together in the same place, but we’ve since moved on to other things. One of us has gone to the US to further her studies, another has left for China while yet another prepares to go to China, and I’ll be leaving soon.

Social mobility is one of the striking trademarks of our generation. While modern technology has shrunk the world into a global village, it has also managed to pull us further apart than ever before. Leaving home and building a life somewhere else is becoming easier and easier.

Yet sometimes it seems to me like we are forever playing a game of catch. We say hello, only to find that our goodbyes should have been said yesterday. We say goodbye, only to wonder when our next hello will be.

It is interesting how one leaves to come back to watch another leave again.

Friday, January 8, 2010

sEReNitY PraYeR

Grant me the serenity;
To accept the people I cannot change;
Courage, to change the one I can change;
And wisdom, to know it's me.

(Author unknown)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

WeLcomE hOMe

We settled into an easy conversation, without the need for pedestrian how-are-yous. Two friends, catching up. We haven’t seen each other in a year. So much has changed, and yet so little.

You had your crisis, I had mine. You helped me out when I was stuck. I only hope what little I had to offer back then gave you some measure of comfort too.

Perhaps, we’ve both emerged a little wiser. A little less naïve. A lot more accepting of the imperfections that make us who we are.

It seems fitting, our reunion in the new year. I hope your path of Zen is filled with pleasant surprises, good food, meaningful relationships, and peace. I know you wouldn’t want it any other way.

Friend, I have missed you, and I am glad you are back.

Monday, January 4, 2010




Sunday, January 3, 2010


I had many dreams when I was growing up. I wanted to be a ballerina. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be a farmer’s wife. Not only that, I wanted to be a world-class ballerina, a Nobel Prize-winning writer, and well, the best farmer’s wife one can be.

With time and age, my expectations have mellowed. I will not likely get a Nobel Prize in Literature anytime in the near future. It is even less likely I will be a principal dancer anywhere at my age. And close to impossible to find myself a farmer who would want me.

Now, I am content to have a chance to blog. I am happy when I am able to keep up at ballet classes. I cherish the opportunities I get to play with animals.

Paradigm shift.


Chance encounters can make me deliriously happy. Like bumping into an old friend. Or witnessing an act of kindness. Or coming across a beautiful flower. Or hearing a moving piece of music. Or a whole range of endless possibilities.

Chance, provides certainty.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

FeaRinG PaRis

Suppose that what you fear
could be trapped
and held in Paris.
Then you would have
the courage to go
everywhere in the world.
All the directions of the compass
open to you,
except the degrees east or west
of true north
that lead to Paris.
Still, you wouldn't dare
put your toes smack dab on the city limit line.
You're not really willing to stand on a mountainside
miles away,
and watch the Paris lights
come up at night.
Just to be on the safe side,
you decide to stay completely out of France.
But then danger
seems too close
even to those boundaries,
and you feel the timid part of you
covering the whole globe again.
You need the kind of friend
who learns your secret and says,
"See Paris first."

(Marsha Truman Cooper)