Short stories

A Season to Die

I could not bear the agony of knowing I was still alive. Why? It was a pain greater than any I had ever known. To live without Love, to know that everything I have learned and worked for become invalid, to see through the centre of the earth and discover the many layers that weighed down on top of one another slowly corroding the surface – what then was I left with? Something within me shrieked so loud that it was almost deafening. Yet the greatest mystery was no one could hear it. Was it my soul? Was it my conscience? Whatever it was, it screamed for me; perhaps even a little for humanity. A casual observer once said to me, “Que sera sera.” Is that really possible? Que sera sera? One part of me broke into fits of laughter, almost in hysterics. I broke into tears, almost in hysterics. The wind whispered in my ear “Que sera sera.” My soul bawled in exasperation. She did not agree; neither could she understand the inertia to her misery. She became brusquely out of touch. I could not see her anymore. All I was left with was the immeasurable darkness.

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You Can Handle the Truth

It may be that queasy feeling in your mouth, or that heavy, bruised sensation around your chest. We all instinctively know when something makes us uncomfortable — when something makes us stop for a second to think about the situation we are in.

When you have the flu, you stay in bed, you get a flu shot, you take flu meds. You try to solve the problem. However, when it comes to something more abstract, like our feelings, needs or desires, we often take a backseat, stick with unscientific diagnoses and seek solace in self-fulfilling prophecies that reinforce “comfortably uncomfortable” familiar routines.

Routines and habits that, if broken, mean the world as we know it will change, and for some people, it’s easier to walk into a war zone littered with blown up babies and ghastly body parts, than to sit down and have an honest conversation with their estranged family members.


Tears To Nowhere

Bloody tears sauntered out my almond doors,
down the labyrinthine roads often taken,
meandering on a muggy stream to nowhere,
after a coltish Puck shattered my glass screens,
with His trigger-happy forked trident,
jolting my sense-depths in ripples,
and exposed the cloak ’round my heart.

“Awake,” he jested, “be mine sport,
and look through mine eyen,
re-enter the world of trifles,
dalliances, tomfoolery and play,
where princely rovers romp amidst stained silk,
donning magnificent masks of red roses,
casting ornate spells with their gospel.”

My tear-stained heart recused herself
from this beguiling invitation,
to constant-feast on faith and hope
on the shady trail to her lost half,
a vestige nomad in her mind-camera,
whose hands made music with her strings,
and equipped a wanton soul with wings.

“Thou beest a fool,” he chided, “Milady,
Nightly in these tryst-worn woods,
comely earthlings as thyself, springstepped
in hot-bellied fervour for the noble prince,
are disgraced in the daybreak court of Helios,
and rediscover thyselves hocks of a wily rake,
whose pledges are sixpence to thine pound.”

As Jove struck his gracious shears at my spellbound eyes,
crashing pieces of eye-glass felled my heartstrings,
rupturing the life stream between me and the other,
with balmy wine gushing out freshly made ravines,
jamming dense my cavernous wounds with winter,
once I awoke to the truth of the practised gambit,
I plummeted the depths of my lover’s menagerie.


Pieces of Winter

Once a house, but never a home,
here, the fair babe now withered,
dying in a murky room, under the
wintry spell of the broken house.

It was said once in Spring, the house
glowed amid the same trite rows, and
welcomed her traveling heart into
the warmth behind its hazel door.

Summer came, and humanity danced,
and hooked her heart into a happy room,
rapt with mesmerizing tunes, fluffy air,
and eternal promises of tomorrows.

When she next looked out the window,
her eyes saw red, yellow and orange,
the leaves that sprung eternal began
its regime against the seasons’ end.

The house, thin-skinned and emptied,
could not protect against the cold,
which waved in intermittent shards,
bursting her heart, plumped, in pieces.


Keys To A Different Time

One of the biggest regrets of my life was giving up the piano when I was a rebellious teenager at 14 – somehow thinking I was going to find more excitement in discos, silly-headed teenage boys and dressing up like an underaged hooker. Since age 6, I had trained in classical piano because my mother, like every other eager mother, had hoped that her child would turn out to be a prodigy just like Mozart. If not, according to her other upper middle-class Chinese mother-friends, it supposedly helps a child develop superior scholastic abilities. It also doesn’t hurt that classical music is associated with an elite social class.

So, this child was grilled in staccatos, allegros, clefs, semiquavers, keys and tempo, and spent her childhood in a large house trying to master Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 after she heard her neighbour’s kid play it in another large house across the street. Most days, she would spend her time alone with her shiny black and white keys, and pedals, with the conviction that she must be able to play the deaf uncle’s most difficult piece and to play it well – because she felt a mysterious incentive to grasping his heart and soul. When she couldn’t, she indulged herself in the easier-to-play but depressing Moonlight Sonata. Für Elise was the elegant showpiece she played to parents in mini-concerts and to her own parents’ friends who marvelled predictably at how “clever” she was while pinching her cheeks.

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