Love Like Hot Chocolate

I must be the luckiest intern in the world because the hot chocolate that happens to be a staple in the office pantry tastes like a vacation in Europe (not that I would know since I’ve never been there). It dispenses from a futuristic coffee machine that sits beside the sink, with possibly a hundred different buttons and a million variations of coffee to suit the needs of the fickle. It’s a pretty noisy machine, because when you finally find the right button to press (the one that says “Hot Chocolate”), it makes a horrific rumble and terrifying roar before a deep dark liquid pours out below.

It’s a very intense thing. Drinking hot chocolate. It smells like heaven and it looks like heaven…but it’s burning like hell. You can’t resist it though, because although you know it’ll scald your tongue and make you blister, you cannot resist a taste. Just a small sip. But the moment it touches your tongue, there’s no going back.

What does it taste like? A million different pralines melted and mixed with only the milkiest milk in the world (Milkiest milk…like sweetest sweets and saltiest salt). It’s bloody hot, but at that moment, you don’t even care. All you want is to taste the creamy sweet taste on your tongue and the smooth silk down your throat. There’s nothing like it really. Quality hot chocolate is like a pool of warmth, happiness and joy—it’s divine.

But wait a minute. After the third, or maybe the fourth gulp, you realize that the fifth tastes a little different from the rest. Perhaps the chocolate has cooled too quick in the stale office air. Perhaps it’s been tainted. Oxidised? There’s something a little off about this mouth and you cannot really tell why. You risk another sip, eager to know if it’ll taste the same. There’s a little too much chocolate at the end, you can see it clinging to the cup and marring the taste. You look at the cup in scorn and in disdain. There’s no way you’re drinking this last mouth, so you tip the cup and empty its contents into the pantry sink, the dark brown liquid staining everything in it’s way.

There’s no love like hot chocolate. Love me like hot chocolate?

Do Rabbits Dream?

Despite not being pet lovers, my family has had it’s fair share when it comes to the variety of creatures that have had the fate of crossing our paths. When the lohan fish with its big forehead and promises of prosperity rose to popularity years back, my eldest brother brought home one. An odd creature it was. Not particularly engaging, and not a crowd pleaser considering how it was neither cuddly nor furry.

When the fish grew tired (or when we grew tired of the fish), someone did something to get rid of it. I cannot remember if we gifted him to a particularly superstitious relative who believed it would bring good look, or if we let him go in a condominium fish pond. Either way, the fish left—it was meant to—one way or another.

The second animal that entered our family doors came in on two feet. It was infinite times furrier than its predecessor and received endless showers of love while it was a baby. Well, babies. We had four chicks. Two female and two male. But as they grew from tumbling yellow balls huddling under a book lamp for warmth into fully developed roosters and hen that cocked and laid eggs everyday, fate had it that they would, too leave us. It wasn’t just the complains from neighbours (who by the way, took our eggs) when the chickens roamed freely in our backyards during the day. Neither was it because one time, a female fell sick and the helper had to feed it human medication (diluted paracetamol). It was just that someone did something to get rid of them—I cannot remember who and I cannot remember how. I only know that one morning, the roosting stopped and so did the eggs.

In between, I had a heart-attack hamster and a tumour hamster, both of which did not last very long. Until one year, my brother came home with a cage so huge it was fit for a dog, but with no dog inside. Instead, a grey ball of fur huddled in the corner, scared out of his wits.

My parents were never supportive of pets. We were never responsible nor attentive enough to deserve one. Most of the animals that were fortunate enough to make their way into our homes entered with lies. A “birthday present” or a “forced gift”. But true to his character, my second brother dropped the cage squarely within our porch and proceeded to announce that he had adopted this bunny, because his owner (an acquaintance) was leaving the country.

Despite her vehement protests and continual efforts in trying to get rid of him, the bunny slowly crawled his way into my mother’s heart. So today, while he stood on the vet’s table shivering from fear, I wondered what life would be like if it didn’t have him in it anymore. During the four years we’ve had him, he’s only been to the vet twice. Today was the third and suddenly he seemed much older than I know.

Do bunnies have dreams? Does he ever wonder what it’s like to run unobstructed, through miles of green fields and have hundreds of females by his side? Was he trying to head somewhere when he left home the day we forgot to shut the gates tight? Did he return because he agrees that there’s no place like home? Sometimes I wonder what goes through his tiny bunny brain when he sits in the car enduring one hump after another. It must feel like a giant earthquake for his tiny bunny body right?

We always thought love would grow and blossom after time. We’re not pet people by nature, but we’re not heartless too. I have to admit, your lack of affection and inability to withstand cuddles and pick ups didn’t help build the rapport we needed, but in the end, we still learned how to live together. There’s no great love, but there’s familiarity. There’s no inseparable pet-owner relationship, but there’s comfort in knowing that every day, after the endless work hours and the tiresome commute, we’ll come home to your big orange cage and the sound of scuffling feet when you come begging for treats.

I think what I want to say is that as children, we’re doe-eyed and hopeful. We naively believe that love will magically grow when fluffy animals are brought into the game. But when we become adults, we understand that love is not something that can be forced. Time cannot build love if it is not meant to be. The good thing is, we also have the capacity to understand responsibility and take comfort in knowing that some things are not as great as love, but they’re pretty damn great in their own way too. The amount of familiarity, routine, and heartwarming constants a tiny bunny can provide, is in it’s own way, a different kind of love that at the end of the day, make the vet trips, the surgeries and the endless poop cleaning worth it.

The Right English?

You can write every day, but still miss writing. You can struggle to put thoughts into words, but still want to do it anyway. That’s me now, struggling writer, mentally blocked, physically dormant.

Throughout my years in university, I’ve changed aspirations countless times. In the beginning, without passion, it was lawyer. Then, when that unrequited love ceased it’s non-existent fire, the thought of wanting to be a writer exploded in my head and slowly seeped out through the tips of my fingers. It brought me to places. Magazines, restaurants, fashion boutiques. But when that flame sizzled, I hopped from one plausible profession to another: PR representative, advert copywriter. software developer, content strategist.

Learning is a dangerous thing. The more you learn, the more you realise you need to learn. School opened my eyes up to the things I could achieve, and the people I could be (which is also why I’m having an existential crisis now). Work made me understand that even if you know for sure that there are some things you’’ll never want to be, you will sometimes be pushed into nooks and crannies that require you to try everything. I guess that’s why people change jobs all the time and find the courage to fill in shoes they’ve never walked in before. Everybody learns, all the time. It’s pretty scary at first, but soon enough, everything will fall back into the monotonous hum-drum that we will too soon get used to. 

The company I’m working at is (technically) a US company based in Singapore, with a mainly US customer base, which is also why I’ve been forced to write in US english despite having been taught that the it was always s, not z, my entire life.  Now, I feel the pain. English spelling is very different from American spelling. I used to think that it’s just a few Zs replacing Ss here and there, but sometimes it’s also the lack of alphabets and sometimes, it’s me losing my sanity. 

Also, today, I realised I want to be your friend again. To be okay with stealing your handwriting, your ideas, without being sued for plagiarism. So, as the determined, stubborn and extremely fickle human bean that I am, I will worm my way back into your heart. Even if it means wrapping my fists round barbed wires while I’m at it. Funny how I’m the one trying to take down the wall I was hell bent on building just a few years back.

Oh, I still don’t know what I want to be in the future. I kinda feel like a 5 year old again. I guess that’s what working does to you. It pulls you away from reality (because reality stinks, and you want to escape it) and you’ll slowly find yourself falling through the clouds and the stars again. You will slowly begin to remember that you can actually be anything you dream of.