Happy Valentine’s Day!

Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.¬†

Today I am full of love for myself and my family. I worked out in the morning because I could and because I loved my body. I am showing appreciation for my friends, and I am accompanying my father to church because I love him and I love god. Today my goal is to show everybody I meet with love, and to give love as much as I can.

ūüôā

Born To Be With You

Not having yet been blessed with an individual whom I can call my soul-mate, I think the one person I love best in my family is my father. I love my whole family equally, but I would say I spend the most time with my dad.

My father gives me lifts to school almost every day even though he has to travel back from the far west to home again, then back out to work. Sometimes, after he drives me to school, he drives my mother to work then goes to work himself. He loves his car and has been driving ever since he was 17.  Public transport worries him because there are too many people on it and he does not know what to do.

In the car, he will ask me about the events that are going on in my life. Somehow, he always directs the conversation to the friends I have and whether they are boys. I do not tell him that my closest friends are guys because he will treat all of them as potential boyfriends. I get irritated because it seems that he is prying into my life. Boys can just be my friends. They do not need to be anything more. He wants me to get attached as soon as I can. He also wants me to go out and earn money to pay for the house or to help him with financial matters.

It is always pressurising to hear these things from my dad. I sometimes wish that my family was rich and that we did not have to deal with the problems we have now. But I know that it is always so easy to complain but hard to appreciate what we have.

I tell myself that I am already very lucky.

We eat breakfast together at the same place before school. He parks on the ground level and we walk up some flights of stairs to the coffeeshop. One time he decided to take the risk of not using a parking coupon. He ended up getting fined a sum of money and he kept complaining about it. I told him he was setting himself up for a fine if he made the choice not to use a parking coupon. If he did, it would not have happened. He remembers this and has used a parking coupon ever since.

This coffeeshop is 90% filled with old people in the mornings because it is in an old neighbourhood. I observe the old people there sometimes. They sit alone and slowly drink their coffee and eat their noodles, but some are in big groups of 15. They must have met in a community centre or something. It would be nice to grow old with people even if you have to prepare yourself to wake up one day and not see one of your friends at breakfast.

The coffeeshop is somewhere near university and the aunty who sells drinks recognises us now. She does not mind if we do not pay straight away because we are frequent customers. One time, she gave me Teh Peng in an exceptionally large cup and this made me happy. I do not like when the coffeeshop aunties ask me to add up the price of the drinks though. My math has never been good, especially in the early mornings.

Dad used to always buy fish ball noodles for breakfast. But now that his gums are hurting, he opts for Chee Cheong Fun. I feel sorry for him because food is his favourite thing in the world besides his family.

He always drinks black coffee. He says he cannot do without it. Coffee for him and Teh Peng for me.  It has always been like this.

We resume our conversations back in the car. He often talks about financial problems and I constantly feel burdened. I get irritated because I think that I should not have to bear the responsibility of earning for my family. I am still a student. Why do all my friends not have these problems? Why am I the one to have it? My dad always says he is unlucky because it takes a lot of effort for him to get business in his job but the people who work in the same industry seem to get it easily. He says it his destiny to be unlucky. I tell him to stop complaining and that he has the power to change his fate.

But I guess there is more hope for me to change my fate because I am young. But he is old and there are not many options left.

Nevertheless, I am grateful for my dad. He is trying his best and I love him very much. 

Europe, I pretty much love you.

I love Europe. I do not know why. But I do, I do.

Maybe it’s the ¬†idea of Europe that mystifies me. The grand idea of Europe gives me this immense yearning that cannot be quenched. No amount of travelling around Southeast Asia would do it. No amount of talking to international students would do it.

Sure, travelling to the beautiful beaches of Thailand might satisfy me for the time being, but it is only for a moment. Just a moment. But my mind will always wander back to Europe again, and I will start googling pictures of London, of Spain, of France again, and I will gaze in wonder at the exquisite images on the TV, and I will wish. Oh how I will WISH that I could be there, that I could live there.

What makes being here harder is that images and videos of Europe are all so easily accessible to me. It constantly reminds me that I am missing out on its beauty, and every second is wasted not marveling at its magnificence.

I still remember how I felt when I was in Europe 6 years back. I could sense that the air was different and within me was a surge of indescribable happiness. Uncontrollable and exhilarating.

How could one want to visit a continent again so bad?

Cue Savage Garden: “I knew I looooved you before I meettt youu…I have been waiting all my lifeeee

Language, like love

    can build bridges
or burn them.

This much is known.

*

I take a word
and insert it into the
space between us.

Does that connect us? Only
if you take it in
and make it your own. Then

you take another word
and throw it back
to me. My turn.

*

This is about physics.
Taking a loose word, and
Stretching it, transferring all

Your rage and thought and
Passion into that taut pull.
Stretching it just beyond its

Capacity. And then letting go.

*

Whole strings of them.
You’d think they had
substance, the way we love

to throw and stretch them
out, taut lines to peg
ordinary meanings on.

*

Or how about morse code
where language is always a series
of stops and starts:

Flash, flash, nothing, flash,
flash, nothing, flash.

The way we
decipher the silences,
you’d think love
was written in code.

*

In a language like love
there are only syllables
even a child could manage.

*

Children speak it. So
does grass, reaching
upwards towards air.

The language of trees
is heavy with love,
florid and accented,

we even give flowers
when we do not know
what to say.

You hear it in the
dreamy purr of the cat
curled up on the carpet

or on your lap, you can
listen to the orioles
shrilling, frantic,

and think it brings pleasure.

*

A fish lays eggs

its eyes staring straight
ahead, as if at nothing,
not wanting to look

back. Too small
and too soft to be marbles
the clear spheres form

in spurts of foam
rising to the surface
like thought balloons.

*

Love perhaps, like language,
happens. It’s done, simply
because it can be done

and someone thinks
they want it to happen.

*

Perhaps language is most like love
when it is not there, when
it has to be looked for.

When it won’t come
if called. When it leaves.
When we reach for it, just

before we realise
its absence.

Published in Testing the Silence (1997)

Alvin Pang

According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs, and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate beings condemning them to spend their lives in search for their other halves.

-Plato’s The Symposium.

love

And as she lays her head to sleep,

She thinks of calm, tries not to weep,

The pillows hear all stories past,

Fading memories she strives to keep.

Painful heartache, so forlorn,

To long for someone soon far gone,

Time will only mend this mess,

Restless sleep until the morn.