You weren’t my first, but you were there when I needed you most. And even though you didn’t come with brown leather seats or a wooden basket like I hope you would, I thought your mediocre looks and your unpolished frames would deter other suitors from swooping you away. I guess I was wrong.
The last time I saw you, we chastised your thin rubber wheels and your loose steering. Daniel was singing a line from a song I never knew existed, mocking the way I swerved dangerously from side to side when we were together. “I can ride my bike with no handlebars, no handlebars, no handlebars.” Later I would know that it was by the Flobots and it was one hell of an irritating tune.
You left for work with him one morning, with me holding faith that you’d shorten his morning journey by a good twenty minutes and that you’d be patiently waiting for him when he returned at dusk. Yet when he called and muttered “I can’t seem to find her.” I wasn’t very much surprised. People had warned me about how easily good rides were taken from them and a particular one had ended with the good fellow riding home with a missing leather seat just minutes after he had sought company in her beauty.
But what I cannot comprehend is why you left us with nothing to remember you with. Not a lonely wheel locked to a metal bar, nor a frame left bare without it’s tires and steers. You were gone. In your entirety. Even the fire red chain lock we purchased the same day we got you, hoping to keep you safe, was taken. Granted, it worked more like a talisman than a shackle, but even today, we still keep the keys.
We never got to mastering the art of having you carry us both on your feather like frame, neither did I get to snap a photo of us on our last day. And even though we already set the price your future buyer would pay when we had to leave you, the good luck didn’t really work that way. You were gone. Just like that. With nothing left for us except a hazy memory of you down the uneven bricked lanes.
P.S: Cousins, brothers and sister-in-laws, spare me the nagging and keep this from our mother/your aunt. Said bicycle will be replaced soon and she’ll be none the wiser.
I have a habit of listening to music at deafening volumes in complete darkness whenever there’s a heaviness in my heart that I can’t seem to comprehend. When I developed this habit I don’t know. I don’t even know if it makes me feel better because twenty minutes into this and I still feel suffocated by the still night air.
Storms are supposed to make the sky look darker, like a foreshadowing of ominous thoughts or baleful wishes. Yet tonight, the night sky is unnaturally lit by what seems like an impending torrent of rain. It’s funny how when you eliminate the potential threat of deafening thunder roars, streaks of lightning actually seem easier to appreciate. They illuminate the darkness in a brilliant yet almost artificial manner and in that fraction of a second they burst into light, everything is crystal clear.
If you were here, perhaps I would have righteously proclaimed the storm as “cuddle weather”. But since you’re not, and the weight of the night has proven too much to bear alone, I’ll resign to doing what I do best — escape. When the world is bent on sending torrential downpours your way, the last thing you want to do is to fight it. When the universe is hell bent on making you break, maybe the easiest way to emerge unscathed is to hide somewhere they can’t find you. That, I can do.
Tomorrow will mark my 16th day in school. And out of these 16 days, I’ve spent 2 and 2/3 days travelling to school. That makes 64 hours.
I live in the far east (or more specifically, Pasir Ris) and that’s a whopping 27 stops away from the nearest train station to school. On good days, I take 4 bus rides and 2 train journeys to complete my voyage from home to school and back again. On bad days (really horrifyingly bad ones that include tastings at inaccessible places), it takes me 6 bus rides and 4 trains. Cringe.
Money aside, travelling sucks away your energy in the most unfathomable way possible. You’re well rested, excited about school, board the bus/train at 7am in the morning and you’ll realise that there’s a mysterious force in the universe of public transportation that’s slowly but definitely siphoning your energy away for its own use. I call it war. PT (public transportation) war.
Classes that begin between 9-12pm can hurt my sanity, because even when I’m taking the train from the depot, the fucking thing arrives half filled. Why? Because Singaporeans have mastered the distasteful art of bouncing. Residents of the next few stops (ranging from Tampines to Tanah Freaking Merah) take the train in the opposite direction so they’ll be able to sit comfortably to work. Even if it means wasting an extra 10-15 minutes bouncing from station to station. I live in Pasir Ris. And during peak hours, I can’t even get onto the train that supposedly starts its journey from this station. I cannot even fathom how many trains others have to miss.
The congestion, the rush, the heightened senses and magnified grumpiness — it can hurt sense and sensibilities sometimes, and it can bring out the worst in people. I’m not really a fan of politics, because I come from a country I’m proud of for being safe, efficient and wonderful to live in. But there are some small things that’s easy neglected in a forward looking nation like ours. Tiny little things like how people like to have both feet planted firmly on the ground.
With a population density of 7252.43/square kilometre (that’s about 7 people per square meter), we have gotten so accustomed to spending most of our lives upon the cemented floors of our HDB homes, or the glass panelled surfaces of our latest malls, forgetting that these are not set upon solid ground. I don’t need much space. I don’t think we all do. I only hope that one day, we can stand side by side on real solid ground and not feel the sound of our nation whining beneath our weight. I only hope that one day, this nation will be able to comfortably fit us all.
I don’t know if its because of my extra heightened senses from my P, or the recurring chatter about friendship recently that has spurred this post. But if you’re tired of reading about fading friendships, about losing someone you thought was an extension of yourself, know that I am too.
Perhaps its because we can no longer use school as a legitimate excuse to meet up, or that everyone now has different commitments ranging from cleaning up dog poop to changing diapers that friendship becomes so damn insignificant in comparison. Or maybe its because in a world where everything seems to be beyond your reach, a friend that seems to always have your back is the last thing you’ll ever pay attention to. Afterall, no matter what happens they’re supposed to be there right?
I don’t want to be anybody’s safety net. I don’t want to be the one that everyone turns to only because they realise there’s no one else there. I don’t want to “have your back” all the time and then become the last priority on your to-do list. I am not your mother. I am not selfless, I am not. I try to be, but I am not.
They say you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. Yet in the end, you will come to realize, you have no say when it comes to the people who actuallt mean something to you. You can’t choose the people you fall in love with. You cannot pick the joy and leave the sorrow. You cannot choose to take and never give. You cannot have the happiness without the heartache.
You cannot choose the people you love, but you can choose how you love them. And sometimes, you have to let go before there’s nothing left of you.