I’ve always kept you in my heart as a milestone just to measure how far I’ve run.
It started out in primary school when we were in the same math class. We were segregated into tables depending on our abilities – I was in the lower tier and you were at the top. It did not matter that we were both in the top set: my mind was set on competing against you and the rest of your table. My tender little heart probably trembled to be a little closer to where you were.
It shook violently when I caught my English teacher consult yours just to hear them agree I was eligible to move into your set. I admit now with a little embarrassment that I desperately wanted to be as good as you (and up until now I still do).
Before I moved away I remember my teacher writing on my math report that I “made good progress with my numeracy skills” and that I “could use my calculator comfortably.” It did not mention the things which indicated my steady progress to your level of aptitude. What I wanted was for it to note my prodigious competency as a young mathematician, who would make an excellent candidate for a spot on the “top” table of our first-set math class. It did not say that because I had difficulty with multiplying and dividing fractions. Problems using more complex compound operations overwhelmed me so easily.
Several years later we would reconcile, although we would remain distant (much to the dismay of my ten-year-old self who still lives and breathes within me). The old competitiveness of childhood has been rekindled, but in the years when we were apart you’ve surged forwards devouring new experiences and finding your passions in enviable fields like a storm. When we were apart I was too busy vacillating between the arts and the sciences and battling my lack of faith in myself. When you are near I silently try to match myself up to you, though this deed is ineluctably futile. Your mind has always been extensively sharper than most of those in our age group. When we walked together your strides had always been further and bolder than mine.
You would never see me as a competition, so when will I stop comparing myself to you?
I am still learning to fathom that I am enough growing at my own pace.
kirugon; some snippet of a short fic I wanted to write
Surely, Gon was there. His black hair hung limp like seaweed on his head and he was already wearing his green shorts. He hugged his knees with his chin resting on them, and was writing something on the damp sand with his index finger.
When he saw Killua his face immediately split into a grin. He started waving his arm rapturously and calling out his friend’s name, in case he failed to spot him even as he rose above the shallows.
“There you are, Killua!” Gon laughed. “I was scared you were carried away by the sea or something! What took you so long?”
I’ve never learnt how to piece stars together in a constellation,
the universe is a natural mess.
My poetry has no purpose, I am parched and have been left
shivering in the sun for too long and everything is
the opposite of what it should be: stars in the lake;
left foot first; stray individuals preaching peace
with blood; children raising their hand at their mother;
too much control leads to war.
It occurred to me that, at some point, I had stopped referring to this living (blooming, aching, weary) build of flesh and bones granted to me as ‘my body’ and instead of as ‘this package’.
I meant like a cardboard parcel. Human-shaped. Easily flattened out, has to be handled a certain way up otherwise the contents would be jostled terribly. Things might start breaking. A pandemonium quiet and tumultuous in the way it is concealed.
A bruise which sprung out of nowhere on my shin I remember referring to as a sudden indentation on my given shell, as though my actual self was something else completely and remained intact, untouched. A paper cut and a scrape against a table’s corner. Trivial incidents that serve as small, stinging reminders of the ineluctable fact of our mortality with which our brittle bodies have been crafted so tenderly - how muscle sinew and calcium bone snap and shatter under the right amount of stress. Red iron sap leaks from lacerations etched deep enough across our layers – some so filigree fine we don’t notice beads of red forming until we pour salt on the wound. Or lemon juice. We fall off our bikes, we skin our knees, we bleed. We can be emptied this way.
(“Why do we move?”
“Because we are limited by space.”
“Why do we age?”
“Because we are limited by time.”
“Why are we so vulnerable to damage and pain – and death?”
“Because we are limited by material.”
“What would we be if we weren’t limited by anything?”
Without skipping a beat came the response:
feel free to give me prompts and requests!
HAHAHA YEAH IT WAS REAL HECTIC FOR THE FIRST LIKE 4 OR 5 HOURS but it went smoothly afterwards alhamdulillah yuy now we can truly empathize with the pemudiks on their journey home what an experience……
a two hour drive turned ten
my sister’s head on my shoulder for a pillow, bone against skull
the skull wins.
denim knees plastered together
folded, packed, cramped
knotted limbs, last flicker of patience
sanity dissipating silently
to somnolence; God save the driver,
my father who will deliver us from
this turmoil of a traffic (God willing) and to
our uncle’s lodge in Lembang, our Promised Land,
where we shall rest
for at least half a dozen hours before braving
our migration back to Bandung. Amen.
your soul is air, your being light
escaping from the gaps between
my hungry bone fingers
which were designed to hold jewels like you
the way a sieve is used to haul water from a well.
you know what i mean.
the ones that slip easily between
the bars of birdcages and into the sun
leaving me behind to watch in the prison
of my own rib cage, pining for a taste
of your sweet light once more,
and once more after that.
neon shirt, like the wind
that stirs the sun-soaked leaves to dance
your free spirit frees me.
How comfortable it feels to be in a room with a hundred unfamiliar faces and notice, among the various congregations of friends and social-gatherers, a handful of lone souls unbound to any other - how detached, physically, from the lot of established and cozy social circles apparent. In each one of them I find myself.
Let’s busy ourselves pretending to be completely engrossed with our cell phones together! Let us occasionally exchange fleeting eye contacts, only to avert bashfully our gazes, as though it were an accident that we were casting pining glances across the room as we ache to speak with certain anybodies. We can pretend not to acknowledge the unspoken yearning written on each other’s faces, masked well behind a bored, nonchalant facade (mastered by people like us, see, the ones who often find themselves wandering aimlessly by the punch bowl wondering whether to have thirds or fourths, then go home), to close the distance between two strangers and spark sweet small talks.
We are on opposite sides of the room, but I don’t mind that you never take the initiative to approach me. Your reason is perhaps your lack of interest - I don’t blame you - and mine the absence of courage. But that’s okay, let’s stay this way, I take comfort in imagining that we are alone, but we are alone together.