Do you think of me the way I think of you? A person so essentially flawed, a cracked mirror, a reflection familiar to any face of humanity. Your calloused fingertips and their gentle touch. Your tired eyes partially hidden behind your dark spectacles. Your uneven skin, slightly hunched shoulders and that cigarette hanging off your chapped lips.
Do you remember me the way I remember you? Always with nostalgia, and a permanent soft spot for the way you made me feel.
Romanticised, perhaps, since we lived in two realities.
Hearts too uneven in weight to justify all these spilt emotions.
My birthday has always been an excuse to catch up with family/friends/familiar faces – be it over food or over text. (And occasionally get some extra cash from birthday red packets since the last time no-strings-attached cash came about would be Chinese New Year.)
This year is no exception – a sleepover with lots of love and supportiveness, a staycation with bottles of alcohol and the underwhelming World Cup as well as Karaoke sessions for days. They were all great and the celebratory weekend came and went like a whirlwind.
An absolute high that ran on adrenaline before I crashed, and my melancholic self came crawling out from under my cheerful exterior.
I love all the plans, the happy distractions and the occasional surprises people who love me do. I genuinely do, and I am so thankful for it.
The melancholy comes from the fact I was actually born.
That is the thing with birthdays for me. It is a celebration and a reason to be happy, but at the same time, I have never been happy about being born. Ever since I have been able to be self-aware and able to articulate my feelings, I always find myself going back to the question of my birth and why I am even existing. Is there really a purpose to my being given life? Do I need a purpose, even, to justify this existence? Why me? What is ‘me’ even? If I have a different name, a different background and a different culture, will I still feel this way?
“No, I regret nothing, all I regret is having been born, dying is such a long tiresome business I always found. – Samuel Beckett.”
All these looping questions, thoughts and emotions that never drown in me for good; resurfacing year after year with zero closure. I just live with it and its accumulation. Sort of like the physical habit of hoarding I guess, but I do it invisibly in my mind and my heart.
Appreciation is free, and one gesture I am proud to keep up every July of every year. Letters written and sent. The better parts of my heart given away to better places.
I might not remember all the words I write, but just know I meant every single one of them when I was writing. Moments immortalised on paper.
Thankfulness should always last forever.
Internalised judgement drives one towards madness, and I wonder how much of myself is built upon all the societal ‘norms’ I have been trying to break.
Earlier in the month, I decided that I am ready to share about sexual assault and specifically rape for a campaign AWARE is running for its Sexual Assault Care Centre. So after a group consultation of sorts, I participated in the making of a video to share personal anecdotes and some thoughts I have about the relevant topics.
There is power in placing a face to a story, and I wanted to lend that strength to other individuals who may not be able to speak as openly about their experiences. To make it more real for people who still choose to not believe. I want the movement to finally become more preventive, instead of relying on the current model of name and shame.
Some life lessons we should learn by ourselves, but sexual assault is certainly not one of them. So I want my own lessons to contribute to the lessening of this unnecessary violence and its eventual extinction.
Though truth be told, this ‘coming out’ is anything but bravery. I still fear especially since it is a video that will be rolled out and my face will be right there. Also doesn’t help that I did it after my hair got dyed pink. There are fears about future employment in the performance sector especially, where my face and body is the vessel, and if the general public will recognise my face only for the experiences I shared, forgetting about the other aspects of my person. If I need to declare this involvement when I go for auditions leading up to the video’s release. If my family chances upon it, will they be angry and feel ashamed about me. If I should be afraid of possible backlash, losing acquaintances/friends and not being dateable, among other things.
And that’s where I catch myself having internalised all the bullshit I actively call out.
Why should I be made unemployable, if it even happens, because I stand up for something I believe in? Why the hell will I render myself undateable and by extension, undesirable because of something done to me and I speak up about it?
Would these say more about me or about them, and if they choose to make these decisions about me then… Were they worthy of my time and attention in the first place?
Why do I scare myself with these rhetorics told to us again and again with the intentions of not addressing misogyny, gender politics and to avoid having productive healthy and positive discussions about sexuality and sex?
I am angry with myself and yeah, I am still scared. Worries occasionally crossing my mind but I guess my belief in what this step can do outweighs my personal fears.
And hell, I have a lot of unlearning to do.
Painting has been therapeutic and when the wall I am working on now is complete, I hope I will get to focus a bit more on portraits or more blank walls. I really need to keep up with the art-making so I don’t lose touch.
What is family and is the bloodline really of any importance?
I think about the idea of inheritance – riches, poverty, mistakes, ancestry and all the history that flows within my blood – and feel like throwing up. Why must the shade of compulsory responsibility be such a dark maroon?
Typing poetry with the Proletariat Poetry Factory has been a gift, honestly. The chance to just sit in front of a typewriter, receive a prompt at random and just type whatever comes to mind with little judgement and scrutiny has been great for me. My brain starts working and I just focus on the sounds played into my ears and let go.
Auditions. Personal project #1. Redoing of script.
Gain a rhythm and just keep going.
Betrayal, similar to grief, might just be something you never get over. You just get better at overlooking its presence, but it is still there. You learn to live with it, work around it and leave it be.
But it shape shifts and changes its form when the words used to tell it are no longer the same. Some parts hidden by choice, and others exaggerated to suit your truth. Words cannot be replaced without their intentions and nuances changing.
Would you like to see a heart break more than once?