diary of a beautiful girl

I have a cracked reflection of things beautiful.
I lost the wonder beneath the things that once were.
Standing in the middle of my room, I begin to cry
Because of who, no, what I saw in the mirror.

I hate to admit this but I’m going to anyway. Realization is the start of discovery and maybe I’m hoping that by being honest, with myself, with you dear reader… I will start on the road afresh. I’ve been sitting by the side, wallowing in the dirt, heaping condemnation upon condemnation on my head. Not anymore.

Since a year ago, I’ve piled on the pounds. From a UK8/10, I now have to buy clothing in a size 12. It may not seem much, but it’s been enough for me to enter a state of horror and frustration because for the first time in my life, there’s nothing I can do about it.

I tried dieting. I tried exercising. I tried giving up. I tried to not care. I tried believing. I tried speaking. I, I, I. And each time I try something and it fails, I enter a deeper realm of self-disgust.

You’re pathetic, I said to myself. Others have more serious challenges to deal with, you have more important matters to concern yourself with. But faced with a closet filled with clothes I can no longer wear, comparing myself to the world’s lack or beauty only fuels the downward spiral.

‘I don’t think it’s just the weight,’ the Mother said. ‘When did the weight start to affect you so much? I remember when you first started putting it on, you were happy! You were fit and ready to do anything! You had a healthy self-image. You were running, and trekking, and going to the gym…’

‘I don’t know. I think it started in June. I have no inspiration to get out there, to care for myself anymore.’ I muttered at the computer screen. We were conversing via skype. ‘I don’t even write anymore. I don’t listen to music, I don’t read. I’m just… existing.’

‘It sounds like you’re mildly depressed,’ Mother said. Mildly depressed?

‘Was it after I left?’ Mother asked quietly.

‘I don’t know…’ I looked away because the tears were threatening to spill.

Mother was right. Ever since she left, I feel more alone than ever before. Yes, I am surrounded by love but nothing can ever substitute Mother’s caring for me.

And that’s when it dawned on me – I’m not facing a problem with my weight. It’s just a symptom.

I’d been eating to fill the hole inside my heart. I would walk to restaurants, just to order something that reminded me of her. I’d plan dinners that she used to plan. And every morning I’m alone, I’d sit at the dining table (where we used to sit together) and eat, eat, eat…

The oddest thing is, no one around me seems to understand how hard this is.

‘I miss my mom,’ I’d confide in my close friends. And after a nod, they’d change the subject to ask me how she’s doing.

Perhaps it’s hard for them to empathize with me. You see, it’s not just a mother-daughter relationship I have with Mother. She’s my best friend. She is my confidante. She’s the only person who senses my mood changes and is gutsy enough to go for the jugular and meet me heads on to question my belief system. She makes me a better person.

And without her… maybe I didn’t feel that good a person anymore.

‘You know I’m still here,’ she said. ‘I’m always here. You’re my daughter and I’ll still step in to help if you’d let me.’

And therein was the clincher. After she left, I thought I needed to be independent. I stopped updating her about everything in my life. I did my best to be her, to be like her as I handled the household affairs and family relationships. But I’m not her.

Deep inside, I was also struggling because I know why she needed to leave. I am in total support of her decision and at the same time, the selfish part of me was angry that she had actually left. That for the first time in my whole life, I had to face life without mother by my side.

‘I love you.’ Mother smiled at me, her face out of sync with the video feed. ‘I’m always here.’

‘I love you too.’ I whispered back, before logging off from skype and crawling into bed.

*

Something changed after that.

This morning, I looked into the mirror waiting for that sense of disgust to well up but it wasn’t there.

I had time to meet up with friends, enjoy a funny movie with the family and for the first time in months, lunch and dinner passed without the strange appetite I’d been fighting against.

At night, I walked over to the mirror and, summoning all strength into my articulation, I worked my lips and tongue to shape words I hadn’t said to myself in a long time.

‘Hello beautiful.’

*

Thanks mom, for loving me even at my ugliest. I love you… with all my heart.

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th.ink

‘Do you ever stop thinking?’ I asked Jap Girl & Crazy one day, after a shoot. We were seated in a lovely Japanese restaurant, out little treat after a tiring day.

‘Yeah, all the time,’ Jap Girl replied. ‘Sometimes, I find myself doing it in the middle of a meeting or discussion, and I realize it’s kinda bad because when I start thinking again, I’ve lost my place in whatever has been going on… so I’ve been trying to get disciplined about my habit.’

‘You’re kidding, right?’ I was amazed. ‘How do you not think at all?’

‘It’s easy,’ Crazy said. ‘You just don’t. Your mind is blank. It shuts down, that’s all…’

‘You can’t just stop thinking…’ I shook my head in disbelief. ‘I mean, it’s more a sense of self-awareness, right? Like maybe you aren’t aware that you’re drifting off and thinking about other things like a nice wall, a pretty font, how the lady looks weird…’

‘Well, see… I never thought about that. I just don’t think in those blank spaces.’ Jap Girl looked puzzled. ‘You mean you think all the time? Don’t you ever run out of thoughts? Or get too tired to think anymore?’

‘Well, when I run out of thoughts… I think about why I have no more thoughts. Or that I’m too tired to think, and start to think about why I’m so tired, or how I can be less tired. Or ask myself why I have reached a place where thoughts are no longer pleasant… I have never stopped thinking. They aren’t all serious thoughts!’ I added, seeing their worried faces.

‘They can be random. But I’m aware of what inspired those random ideas…’ I paused. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever been in that place where thoughts don’t exist.’

‘I wonder if that’s a good thing or bad…’ Crazy said.

*

If my life was measured by the number of thoughts that cascaded through my mind, I have lived more than 2 months in the past 2 weeks. Staying awake for too many hours left too much time for reflections, assumptions and summaries.

If, however, growth was measured by the number of times my thoughts were corrected, altered and changed (to adapt to a new perception/understanding), then I have sped through a year in 14 days.

And what have I learnt?

  1. Perfection is an illusion, as long as it’s based on man’s performance.
  2. There is always more to meets the eye in any situation. There is always a story behind the actions of every person you meet. And there is always a different way of looking at things.
  3. Value is an intangible quality, too often measured by tangible qualities, which oversimplify its true worth.
  4. Purple cows can only be found in fields where it’s possible to reinvent what people expect.
  5. My position is a role. Not an identity.
  6. Leap, and the net will appear.
  7. Everything. And I mean everything… is temporary. Hold all things with a loose hand.
  8. Real creativity requires significant work.
  9. Love is the ultimate idea generator, the propelling force, the beginning and end of everything.
  10. I need an ‘off’ switch built into my brain.

*

And now, I sleep.

Goodnight world.

*

PS. I don’t think my posts qualify as a post-a-day anymore. More like a post-whenever-possible

with friends | shine on

‘A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.’

– Leonardo Da Vinci

*

I scrolled through the text messages on my phone and pondered a while on the conversation that had just taken place. So many questions, so many statements, so many emotions underlined the simple words exchanged and I couldn’t help it. I needed to do something. Anything… that could possibly help the other person.

Have you ever been in that same place? Where you want to extend a hand but haven’t the faintest clue as to what your extended hand of friendship could possibly offer?

*

I recently found myself on the other side of the extended help.

In the centre of several productions that were beyond what I could cope, I had to pull together a storyboard, a detailed list of shots, shooting schedules and a whole new crew on my own. Then I had to fill in the director role. It was overwhelming. I probably teared once every day in silence, as I sat and stared at my computer screen. The tasks were simply beyond me. So much depended on these videos… too much depended on me.

I’d already asked Mr. Black to help with the edits and he willingly agreed, on top of his own productions. So I knew what was going to happen after. But during? With a heavy sigh and heavier heart, I picked up the phone and texted DigiBoy.

‘Hey… do you think you could help?’

I paused for a few moments before hitting send. My reluctance was largely due to the fact that he was already maxed out with work, had recently gotten married to a really good friend, and rarely had days off to relax. Calling on him was something I’d avoided as much as I could. Until the moment I knew I couldn’t go on.

And when he replied that he’d help, I teared a little again.

I can’t explain what it feels like when a friend puts aside his life to help you get on with yours. And when his wife offered to be on set too… I fumbled with the phone. Where could I start to say thank you?

*

And still the encouragement came pouring in.

Kitty baked some lemon tarts and GuitarMan’s wife bought me a box of macaroons.

‘Hope this cheers you up!’ they both said. And it did.

*

I’d been looking forward to some rest and was ready to work a little on my days off. But what I didn’t anticipate was coming home to a major family ‘situation’ where one of my full-time helpers has to leave with immediate effect. This throws a kink in my work schedule as the replacement will then need to go through several weeks of training (to care for my handicapped sister) and I cannot imagine where that time will come from.

I already have two scripts due this coming week, storyboards to complete, yet more crews to assemble, two videos to edit with Mr. Black and if that’s not enough… Both my son and I came down with the stomach flu today. Throwing up was never fun.

‘Typical story-writing technique’ I said with slight sarcasm to Kitty. ‘Just as the chapter ends, a new twist creeps in at the end and you find yourself reading on.’

‘I’d read that book,’ Kitty quipped in reply. So would I, actually. Just that I can’t as I’m too busy living it.

I was all ready to curl up in bed and whine to my pillow (a pathetic replacement to Mother) when Mrs. Couple texted me.

‘If you need me to come over at times to supervise things at your home, I can. Don’t be shy to impose okay? I’m just a drive away.’

What can I say? I could choose to complain about my work (which by the way, I love) but have decided instead to feel the comfort of my friends. Because in the past few days, I’ve been loved by some of the most amazing people on the face of this earth.

*

Shine on.

That’s what I’d tell the friend I had the earlier conversation with.

Because while it’s true that there are so many genuine factors that give you reason to sink deep in frustration and anger (I know I would if I were in your shoes), there are more reasons to lift your head up and walk proud.

Not for the work that you’ve done in the past – you aren’t defined by old accomplishments.
Not for the truth your life could tell – words are as flimsy as the people who hear or repeat it.
Not for the future you know you can shape – you aren’t the sum of your potential.

Stand tall and unafraid because like the moon, your light is a reflection of a greater power. You are untouchable because no man can rewrite your story – the past, the present, the future. How can they when the lines in your book was written before they were born? When the ink that shaped the words came from His very own veins? When the very idea of you was personally created by the Dream Maker?

No man can pull down what has been placed to shine in the sky.

Shine on.

letter to mom



Dearest Mommy,

Today was the first day in many years that we didn’t speak with each other.

You were always there, seated at the dining table in the mornings. You were there when we traveled to work together. And even through the weeks when I was working so hard I knew neither day nor night, your presence was always felt. You never failed to send me a text message or email, asking if I was having dinner at home or staying back at work late. Back then, I thought you were just ‘checking’, like all mothers do. Now I know, it was your simple way of reaching out to me, without being intrusive.

I still have to resist turning my head towards your desk, when I walk into the office. And for a split second this morning, I thought I heard you in the dining room… that’s how deeply ingrained you’ve been in my life. I’m not sure how many other daughters get the chance to live and work with their mothers. Some might scoff and shudder with that very thought, and if they do, I wish I could lend you to them to show just how sweet and rich a mother’s presence can be in a child’s life.

And we all are someone’s child, aren’t we?

Today, I sat in the office during my lunch break, wanting to be alone for a bit… when a scene flashed across my mind.

I was about three years old, seated on our old kitchen table, reading a book that you gave to me. It was a favourite of mine, I think, because you read it to me every single day. And on that particular day, I was proudly reading back each word to you… the sense of accomplishment thrilled me.

‘Mommy! Mommy! See… I’m reading all by myself! Are you listening?’ I remember saying as you busied yourself with the cooking. I didn’t know then the mental struggle you were going through because Father had left the family. Neither could I even begin to understand how much pain you felt each time you had to leave me with the babysitter’s when you went to work.

All I can remember is that you turned around, looked me in the eyes, and smiled.

‘I’m listening.’ You said.

And you were telling the truth. You never did stop listening, even when years later, as a teenager, I refused to hear you out. I would rant, shout my frustrations, cry because I thought no one understood me… and still, you listened. It came to a point where I didn’t want to talk anymore and determinedly shut the world – and you – out of my life.

Yet you waited, your ear inclined to me.

I sought the comfort I once knew with you, from my friends and other worldly fillers, but there were no replacements. The harder I searched, the lonelier I felt. That’s when I opened the door to my heart… and found you there.

There was no repayment that needed to be made. You picked up right where we left off, as though my wandering years didn’t happen.

And like the child who sat on the kitchen table, who read back the words you once read to me… I began listening to you as your stories unfolded, because mommy dearest… the seeds you planted in me were never lost.

‘You are my mother’

And though we are many miles apart, I just wanted to let you know…

I am so proud of you, and what you’re doing over there in Japan. I’m always here for you – whenever, wherever – so please don’t ever think you’re intruding or that I’m too busy. Because no matter what happens on my side of the earth, no matter how chaotic my hours might be, as long as you ask me, ‘Are you listening?’ My answer will be consistent, just like yours always was.

‘I’m listening.’

We will get our perfect endings, not because you’re a perfect mom or me, the perfect daughter… far from it. It’s simply because we know the Dream Maker wrote our story. And well, He likes happy endings.

Love you so much,

Your daughter.

 

 

the blank space

Been staring at this blank, white empty space for a long time.

I feel much. But my mind is like this void, which I don’t know what to fill with.

Random thoughts.

Sudden tears.

Breathe. Normal again.

Get busy.

And the cycle repeats itself.

*

‘How have you been?’ the Amazonian texted me just two days ago.

‘Well, I discovered something new today.’

‘Which is?’ she asked.

‘It’s very difficult to brush your teeth and cry at the same time…’ I replied.

‘Shit. I felt that,’ the Amazonian texted back.

*

‘How are you?’ the Sister asked me.

‘Aside from breaking down at weird moments for no apparent reason? And being a total emotional-ass? Pretty good,’ I replied.

‘Me too… darn it! I’m starting again,’ she said.

*

‘Hope your mom is good and well,’ the Visitor texted me.

‘She’s good…’ I answered, and began detailing her travel plans, before ending it with, ‘I miss mom.’

‘Even after all these years, I still miss my mom,’ the Visitor said, explaining that his mother had passed on years ago… and this time… I felt it…

Reminding me that we both are our mother’s children… and what we miss most about them, their strengths and unique abilities, are what we’ll find surfacing in our lives, over and over again. Truth is, they aren’t ever that far away from us.

*

‘I’m doing my best to encourage myself,’ Mother wrote to me. ‘I was having a conversation with Obachan and to tell me something, she took me from the north pole to the south pole, to Timbuktu and Iceland… and I got lost somewhere. I miss living with you all.’

And all this while, I thought Mother was doing fine without us. Little did I know…

‘Did you cry?’ I asked her during our skype conversation today.

‘Yes… on the plane. I did.’

And from that point onwards, we could barely make out what the other was saying amid the sniffles and shaky voices.

*

Standing there during the service, it was hard to raise my hands. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to. No. I was afraid that if I allowed the words to enter my heart, to sing with abandon like I usually do, I would crumble. I didn’t need to let anyone else see how messy my insides were.

‘But you understand, don’t you?’ I asked the Dream Maker. ‘I mean no disrespect.’

‘Yeah, I do,’ He said. I felt His hand gently hold mine that were tightly clasped together. The love almost made me start crying.

‘I’m losing it!’ I whispered to Him through gritted teeth.

‘Right,’ I heard Him laugh softly.

*

‘What did the Big Boss say?’ the Mother asked later.

‘There was so much! Hold on…’ I grabbed my notebook and began reading out the lines I took down. Oddly, after letting the words pass through me again, I felt better.

Ahhh… I gotta go. Obachan got up and says she’s hungry. Tomorrow?’ Mother asked, Obachan’s voice beckoning in the background.

‘Tomorrow.’ I replied with a smile and shut down the connection.

*

‘I made you some lemon bread… and lemon bars,’ Kitty smiled a little bashfully.

‘Oh my… thank you so much,’ I replied. She knew that lemons were one of my favourite fruits. And I was always griping about how it’s hard to find the perfect lemon-y tart, cake, bread…

But it was more than a lemon-y thing that Kitty made. I felt her hug through the items she made.

‘I’m just glad they made you smile…’ she said.

*

Then there was the newly-wed couple who were just there. Knowing, and ready to be, well… there for me.

Spike who didn’t want to ask too much, but who wanted to show he too, understood.

Cutesy and JapGirl who took over my work while I was gone.

The Husband who sat by my side, quietly, patiently watching over me even when I wanted to be alone.

The little boy who climbed onto my lap and cried with me.

The little girl who held my hand, committed to being there for me.

Signs of love written on the wind. They were every where I turned.

I am not alone.

*

‘Well, at least this shows things are getting better. CNN/BBC etc are all reporting on other news now, like robbers and politics,’ a fellow Japanese twitter-er posted. He was of course, referring to the deluge of Japan-related news that dominated the headlines of every news agency the past week.

And all I can say is, I am likewise doing better.

I know it because the blank space that imprisoned me for the past few days isn’t quite so blank anymore.

Life is interesting again.

*

Thank you dear friends for just being there.

For sharing your stories.

Those few minutes helped. More than you probably knew it.

And the Dream Maker? He never stopped reaching out to hold me.

the hurting world

15 minutes late for work, I got off the train at my usual station and joined the mob rushing towards the escalators. I had just turned my head to check my card, when a shadow at the corner of my eye made me look up.

Swish, swish, swish… He was a cleaner I hadn’t seen before.
Swish, swish, swish… Elderly, hunched and quietly doing his job, I’m not sure why but I was entranced by his lone figure.

A few minutes later, the crowd was gone but I was still standing there, hidden by the station’s signboard, watching him. My mouth was filled with words, but I was afraid to give them voice. My intellect didn’t quite know what to make of my heart’s odd behaviour.

I walked away.

*

Just as I reached the lift lobby, another cleaner walked past. He had a hole in his throat.

‘Throat cancer,’ the Mother said to me. ‘And because of the operation, he now has to breathe through that hole.’

‘How does he speak?’ I asked.

‘He doesn’t… well, not the way you and I do. He had to learn how to articulate through that hole.’

*

Walking through the corridor towards my desk, I passed by Crazy. She was a video editor that I worked regularly with.

‘Morning!’ I chirped but was completely ignored. Something’s not right…

I saw JapGirl and immediately asked her if she’d noticed anything about Crazy.

‘She’s going through something, but I’m not sure what,’ she replied with a sad smile. I understood that look. Crazy was one of JapGirl’s best friends.

‘Should we say something? Do something?’ I asked.

‘I’m not sure. It looks like she wants to be left alone.’

So I left her alone.

*

‘I am so sorry I’m late!’ the Dancer exclaimed as we sat down at our favourite eatery for lunch. ‘Things were just mad at work and I couldn’t get away.’

She was an hour late but it was fine with me. I had work to finish too, and truthfully, I was a tad reluctant to leave the office.

‘Don’t worry about it,’ I smiled as we tucked into our beef goulash. ‘So how have you been?’

And it all came pouring out – her problems with a team that she’d worked with for years, a horrid misunderstanding still unresolved, the sleepless nights that left her tired, the frustrations with her inability to dance because of her injury…

‘i just don’t know what to do!’ she wailed.

‘Then you’re in a safe place,’ I said. ‘You’re an accomplished woman. You’re famous because of what you’ve done in the past… I mean, come on! I can google you! How many people can I do a google search for information on credentials and history? But now, you find yourself in places where you can’t be strong… and while I know it’s frustrating, maybe this time, it’s about the journey, not the end-goal. Can I ask… what was your deepest desire when you first came in to church?’

‘I once asked myself that,’ she slowly stirred her cold soup, ‘And I had no answer. So I took a pen and began to draw. For reasons I didn’t understand then, I found myself drawing trees. Big, strong trees. One after another, till they became a huge forest. And then I got it. I wanted to grow people, to see them become strong trees, to help others who can’t do whatever it is they want to do.’

‘What do you think you’re learning, from all these things that are happening around you?’ I pressed in a little more.

‘I’m not sure… I just feel so out of control.’

‘Maybe that’s what you’re supposed to be learning,’ I smiled. ‘To let go. To not be in control but to let another greater power work through you instead.’

‘I think you’re right. I’ve never felt this way before…’ she said. Then with a loud wail, ‘But noooooo… it’s so difficult!’

We laughed and then I had to run. I was 30 minutes late for my next appointment.

*

Back-to-back meetings and coping with a shoot that was scheduled at the last minute, the day passed by and before I knew it, it was 8pm. With a sigh of relief, I packed my things and turned off the lights. Walking out, I passed by Crazy again but she looked no better from the morning.

‘Love you…’ I texted her but hours later, hadn’t received a reply.

*

Hurting people with untold stories. When do you leave them alone and when do you intrude into their world?

See the woman on the train, the man driving the cab you’re riding in, the guy seated at the bus-stop, the colleague beside you… there are hurting people everywhere.

‘Is there a reason why I was placed in this precise spot on earth?’ I asked the Dream Maker. We were watching the non-existent stars in our night sky.

‘What do you think?’ He asked.

‘I think there is. But how do I help anyone?’

‘Love them.’

‘But how?’ I wrinkled my brow.

‘Smile. Look at them in the eyes. Let the love be genuine. Sometimes, that’s enough for the day.’ He said.

‘That’s enough?’ I didn’t get it.

‘Build it daily, one brick at a time. You’ll know what to do when the time comes…’

‘Easy for you to say,’ I laughed, chucking Him on the head. ‘You’re God!’

‘And you’re Mine. What makes you think you won’t know otherwise?’

*

This time, I’m writing out the plan in them, carving it on the lining of their hearts.

– Hebrews 10:16 (MSG)

 

in transit

‘In the space between chaos and shape there was another chance.’

– Jeanette Winterson

There he sits, surrounded by a group of people he barely knows. Every part of his being longs to find family again but he doesn’t move. Instead, he listens, his senses alert to the new language they speak, the visions they see… He’s already moved on and is now poised to enter the new.

This is where it all begins.

*

She counts the months down to the day she’s leaving. This country was home… may still be home years later, but she doesn’t know yet. One never quite knows how much a part of family you are, till you leave its safe confines.

‘I need to do this. I don’t want to look back with regret wondering… did I miss a chance? Was I too scared to move on? I want to know that I can be on my own, to finally be defined by my present and not by my birth.’

*

He leaves the office, last, as usual. It’s dark out and he stops for a coke at the nearest convenience store, hoping to quell the hunger pangs. Mulling over the piece of work he just completed, it bothers him that it still feels… unfinished. A little like the many things he has to do before he finally moves on from the familiar.

Throwing away the now empty can, he stops thinking about the work and goes in search of someone to have tea with.

Some problems are easier to solve than others.

*

He stands at the railings, looking out over the vast ocean.

War.

What once was a dream, is now his future. He isn’t quite sure what to think but he knows he doesn’t want to be anywhere else. This is what he was made for, the reason he didn’t give up through the months of training.

He is ready.

*

Her room is in disarray. Less than three weeks to go and she hasn’t managed to pack her life into two suitcases. I enter her room and sit on the floor, pulling out random objects from her chaotic piles.

‘Don’t move anything ok? There’s a system… ‘ she warns.

‘System?’ I raise my eyebrows. It hardly looks like any form of organization I’ve seen.

‘You’re looking at a work in progress. Don’t comment now, save them till later,’ Mother smiles.

And inside, I weep.

*

Transitions.

The passage from one form, state, style, or place to another.

It exists in the very words I write on this post. It brings music to a higher state. It’s a problem, a challenge or a creative slant in productions. It’s the moment a team playing defense chooses to play offense.

I used to love transitions. I loved the passage of travel – getting from one place to another, cherishing the time I was left on my own to think. But like my friends whose stories I wrote earlier on, it was always a choice on my part to enter the transition. This time though, I find myself pushed onto a train that’s already gathering momentum too quickly. A train, which destination, I’m not sure of.

And it’s unsettling.

*

I look out the window and all I can see is the past, flashing by. With a deep ache inside, I begin to sniffle. I’m not ready to say goodbye to Mother. I feel small. Insecure.

And that’s when I see His reflection.

‘You’re here!’ I gasp, turning around to look at Him. I stare at His face, drinking in the comfort of His scent. It’s almost unimaginable, the falling away of all pretense at strength. ‘You’re here…’ I begin to cry.

He holds me close.

‘I’m always here.’ He says. ‘Always.’

 

 

living | now

She lies there on her bed, in a room where all is quiet. It’s been two hours since she opened her eyes but she hasn’t moved, save to clumsily stretch out towards the bedside table, hunger propelling her hands to pick up a biscuit. It takes her ten minutes to finish her little meal. Thirsty, she ponders on her ability to get some water but she knows it’s not something she can do, not now.

Closing her eyes, sleep escapes her. She isn’t tired. Her ears perk up whenever someone shuffles past her apartment, but it will be another hour before someone walks through her front door with lunch. It’s interesting how the body becomes sensitive to the slightest pressure, when forced to keep to one position for long periods of time…

She thinks about the pain. It’s a welcome relief from the tormenting thoughts that demand entrance into her mind. Not much longer… she tells herself. I can wait. I can do this.

*

‘I’m flying back to Japan tonight,’ Mother said to me.

‘What time’s your flight?’ I didn’t need to ask why. I already knew. Still, this was a departure grossly accelerated.

‘10.45pm. Enough time to head home after work, pack, and reach the airport for check-in.’

Earlier that morning, Mother told me that an email had arrived from Obachan’s care manager. Obachan lives in an elderly care estate and while it’s stipulated in their contract that all occupants must be able-bodied, Obachan was completely immobile. Two weeks ago, she hurt her back and since then, had been confined to her bed.

‘Why won’t she hire a full-time nurse?’ I asked.

‘She’d rather be alone than to have a stranger in her apartment the whole day. She’s obstinate that way.’

Obachan did have a full-time helper for a while, but a week ago, fired her. They had been quarreling and she was tired of being told what to do.

‘She’s only comfortable with a nurse coming in at lunch and dinner, for an hour each visit. That’s barely enough time to feed her, clean her and tidy things up.’ Mother sighed. ‘And this morning, the care manager wrote to me saying that it seems she’s starting to become a little delusional. Can you imagine lying there for the whole day? Unable to do anything but think? Anyone in her position would start having weird thoughts. And she’s talking about darkness and oppression, being unable to breathe at night…’

‘When will you be back?’ I asked.

‘A week later. I’m just hoping to help get her eating again and well enough to manage things on her own… at least till I return to take care of her for good.’

I nodded, refusing to let the tears fall.

But after Mother left, I did cry.

For my grandmother who’s fighting for her life.
For my mother who’s trying to stay strong and positive.
And for me who’s trying to say goodbye.

*

‘I’m not ready for this,’ I marched up to the Dream Maker. ‘Seriously, this is all too rushed!’

I had plans to visit Obachan, to take her stories and document them down in a book for our future generations. These were stories that needed to be told – stories of her courage and commitment, of living through the war and raising up a family amidst poverty, of a life that today, doesn’t exist anymore – there is still so much to learn from her. And I wanted her to see that.

I didn’t have the chance to celebrate Mother’s birthday either. We were planning on taking her out with the family to do everything that she wanted to do…

‘What is going on?’ I sobbed angrily.

‘Are you crying for yourself or for them?’ He asked.

‘For all of us! We had plans… but now, it feels as though we’re barely able stay above the tidal waves, there’s no chance to breathe in deep nor think clearly…’

‘There is only now.’ He replied. I glared at Him in frustration. What kind of one-liner was that?

‘You are angry because the future doesn’t line up with your plans. You feel guilty because you know you could have done more in the past. But both don’t exist. And that’s why you’re frustrated. You aren’t where you’re supposed to be.’ He continued.

‘Now? And what can I do with now?’ I shot back.

‘What would you do, if that’s all you have?’ He asked.

I kept quiet. I thought about the Mother… perhaps she’d appreciate it if I sent her an encouraging email. And grandmother? I could do a video recording of the family telling her she was in our prayers… that we loved her and were looking forward to seeing her get better.

‘The future is for Me to handle…’ the Dream Maker said. ‘It’s what I’m here for. And I am faithful.’

For a split-second, I thought I saw a fiery glint in His eyes. Then bowing my head, I nodded.

*

‘And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.

But the greatest of these… is love.’

– 1 Corinthians 13:13

 

\re\

We got re-wired today.

The internet connection now is faster than I’ve ever experienced (fibre-optics, anyone?) and I’m blissed out with the fact that I don’t ever have to wait for another youtube video to download again. Then, a niggling worry began at the backside of my brain…

‘Does that mean you’ll get used to never having to wait?’

In a world filled with queues… That is not good news. You see.. waiting taught me to slow down, to breathe, and most importantly, to limit the number of pages I wanted to load at one go. Now, I’m not hindered by anything other than my physical limitations. Ahhh… But that’s a worry for another day. In the meantime…

*whee*

*

‘Give me something new…’ I snuggled up the Husband. It was time for a re-load. Music-wise, that is.

‘What do you want?’ He scrolled through his massive iTunes database. The house was finally quiet and we were in bed, his laptop glowing softly in the darkened room.

‘Oh… I don’t know. I’m in the mood for some good song-writing,’ I replied. ‘I don’t need to explore post-rock music for now, I think I have enough of those… but something that you know, grabs you. Makes you listen. Makes you feel. Makes you… identify with the singer…’

‘How about John Grant?’ He asked. ‘His album is a little sad but it made me feel…’

I raised my eyebrows with interest. It’s rare for The Husband to connect emotionally with a song and if something hit that heart-nerve, I was interested.

‘JC Hates Faggots? Queen of Denmark? Chicken Bones? Erm… he sounds angry.’ I said, scanning the album titles.

‘Well… he is gay. Maybe he’s been hurt before by the religious folks. Or his dad.’

I got that album and spent some time reading through his lyrics. The Husband was right… it was all dismally sad, angry and sarcastic. But more than that… it brought me in to the singer’s journey in this world. And I realised that there is no difference in one’s sexual makeup.

 

‘I wish that confidence was all you could see in my eyes, like those interviews in locker rooms with talented sport guys. I wish I had no self-awareness like the guys I know float right through their lives without a thought. And that I didn’t give a shit what anybody thought of me. That I was so relaxed you’d think I was bored. I’m sorry that they didn’t hand it to me on a silver platter, like they did to you. I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to become the man you think I should aspire to.’

– John Grant

 

We, like Grant, are just looking for two things: acceptance in a world that divides itself with thick black lines, and… love.

*

When you have everything at your fingertips… what do you choose to listen to? What do you fill your eyes with? What do you want to taste? What do you want to feel?

Walking to the train station this morning, I was busy scrolling through my music when I realised I wasn’t alone.

‘Come away with me…’ the Dream Maker said.

‘Where to?’ I asked.

‘Does it matter? As long as we’re together…’

I smiled. And followed Him.

It was time for me to hide myself in His arms.

It was time for a spot of re-loving.

I don’t want to forget that language again, ever.

*

‘Every morning you wake up, He’s there, waiting to affirm you. To be the voice of affirmation. Because it doesn’t matter how many times you hear others compliment you… once you hear a negative remark, there’s something in our psychological makeup that causes us to hear that negative voice louder than anything else. And that is why we need to hear Him again, and again. We need to be reminded of how much we’re loved, every single day. We need to be reminded how much we’ve been made accepted…’

– The Big Boss, Jan 9, 2011

And within His book of love letters to me lies the greatest treasures – the story of His love for me, detailed page after page. Unabashed at His devotion, unashamed of His sacrifice for me, unhampered by what others might think… the Dream Maker seeks me out to tell me what I need to hear, again and again.

And oh, how I need reminding.

hating & loving. me.

I hate it when I lose it.

I hate it when I behave in the precise manner I dislike being treated.

I end up hating myself.

*

Today, I lost it – straddled between managing the schedule (we were one hour behind time) and cramming in as much cues and lyrics as I could into my puny mind, before the start of the event. I didn’t think I was actually stressed out but I was. When the furor of the rush died down, sometime before the event began, I walked over to Scooter Girl.

‘Hey, I’m really sorry for responding to you that way,’ I said. ‘It was inappropriate of me.’

She shook her head and murmured, ‘It’s okay.’ But I knew deep inside, it wasn’t.

I felt like a huge, deep sigh. I’d hurt someone with my emotional outburst. I’ve got to make amends somehow…

*

Why do we treat people the same way we dislike being treated, when we’re pushed in a corner? It’s really a case of the things I want to do, I don’t. And the things I don’t want to do, I do. What a massive conflicting state. I see some people around me who are constantly wrapped in love. They do wonderful, little things that touch lives and always seem to able to reach out to those who pass by, if only to bring a little sparkle into their mundane day.

I want that.

I want to sprinkle a little stardust into the lives of the people around me so that when they walk away, they’re shining.

Tormenting myself just as the day ends won’t help matters though. Tomorrow is a clean slate, one upon which I’ll write a new story. I’ll try.

*

‘I don’t like me,’ I complained to the Dream Maker.

‘When you look at yourself under such microscopic lenses, who do you see?’ He asked.

‘I see a girl who tries… but is always falling short,’ I said.

‘Do you see Me?’ He cupped my face in His hands.

‘You?’ I shook my head, but I knew where He was going with this.

‘You no longer exist, I do. Can you see Me in you?’ He pressed on.

‘Well… sometimes, I forget…’

‘All things old have passed away, I’ve made you new. All that you are, is now wrapped up in all that I am. Who am I?’ He smiled.

‘You’re everything I want to be,’ I began.

‘Ah, but you already are that person,’ He interrupted me. ‘You only forget. When you stop seeing Me, you’ll only see all that you are. But that’s a shadow of things that have passed.’

*

I think I’ll buy Scooter Girl a peanut butter chocolate bar. I heard that’s her favourite.