Tuesday, December 28, 2010

an old piece resurrected

I found this piece written from a long time ago. I liked it, but never made time and effort to polish it. Here it is in its roughness. A blast from the past as I try to push forward.


I am tiptoeing on the fine line taut between my two ears. Curled many rounds over the ridge of each ear the line is tight, is firm. I pull the line every so often to check its pitch, the sound that will reveal that no bit is slacking, that all, is fine-tuned. Taut. Firm. Tight. Where cacophony is shrill and distracting, one needs to be sound, I say. Check not once but twice and maybe…right when I wake up right before I fall asleep adjust the sound so that the quality the tightness the firmness is bearable.

Tight firm taut, sound fine

My father crossed lines younger than him at age 17. Barely 7 years old at that time, the fine line drawn between the dissected British Siamese-twin states Was tended to everyday, drawn so unyieldingly that it had a pitch so high and shrill that my father ran away with hands cupped over ears to escape the piercing chorus of “Bumiputra!”, “Malaysia for Malays!”, straight into the jungles of Brunei to participate in the workforce erecting white-washed buildings on brown earth.

As the Malaysian anthem accompanied the hoisting of a new flag into the age of Negaraku, while the Singaporean anthem rang above marching army men rehearsing training commands taught by allied Israeli forces to herald in the Majulah Singapura, their earsplitting echoes reverberated through my life in jolting outbursts.


The Buddha said that birth, death, old age and illness are of life. The first noble truth that Life is suffering, we must sit with to realize that
all that doesn’t change is change itself and
clinging on, is pain.

Yet when he crossed over from life into death,
and 4 weeks after I celebrate her delivery of life from what did not exist till 9 months before,

the fine taut line between life and death vibrated at high frequencies, bouncing off the walls of my skull: dulling my senses with the incessant reminder of its presence.

Lines in two dimensions do not reflect potential to form circles.

Moist finger pad running on thin round rims of wine glasses can make clear sounds with beginnings trailing into ends trailing


The past few days I have seen flashes of moments caressing her. I would like to clasp her hand in mine. I imagine running my fingertips on the parched spots of her skin, moisture sucked dry by the thirsty winter air. I imagine her feeling my thumb damp with lotion pressed on the flabby flesh of her arm, rubbing firmly on the hints of muscles lying beneath and knowing that tension in her body is evaporating as my thumb moves in circular motion on her skin.

These nights, I am readjusting the line drawn between my ears.
Where cacophony is shrill and distracting, loose lines leave less chance for snapping.

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