Friday, December 31, 2010

Writing Prompts - last week of 2010

Strange Behaviour

Clouds and wind, then rain and sun,
Picking clothes for the day is just not that fun,
Strange behaviour can be most uncertain,
In a day where seasons end before they’ve begun.

Outer space

A lonely star looks
down from outer space and shines –
reach out, wave and smile.


A universe floats
like a bubble, within it,
planet earth lives on.


Home lies in my mind -
With memories I find a,
true sense of solace.


Eternity binds,
and completes attribution
to a place defined.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Moving on

A new year is upon us. A new decade even. I look back and think of the last ten years and a common theme permeates. Change. The type that is enough to alter the course of one's life in more ways than one. And in every year of the last decade, it really has been a case of moving on from one thing to another. Year upon year, until I have finally reached a new level.

2001 - The decade started with a bang. I was at my peak. I had a blossoming and secure career. I remember attending my graduation ceremony for a postgraduate degree, feeling like nothing could get any better. And towards the end of the year, I met the man whom I later married. Good things happen to good people. I was soon to be proven wrong.

2002 - My relationship developed and things took on a serious note. At the same time, I relocated to another city. It was the first time that I would rent out on my own. But it was not a bad start. I had a large two bedroom apartment at my disposal in a buzzing city and I began to experience what it meant to cultivate an interest in furniture buying. I slowly accumulated quite a collection and began to settle in to my life of luxury. It was also the year that I lost my grandfather; the last of my grandparents.

2003 - A brief trip to London kick-started the year followed by another longer trip later in the summer. The year ended with one of the most life-altering experiences imaginable. A massive wedding. The end of my carefree and innocent lifestyle as I knew it. My best friend later told me in hindsight that I had lost the sparkle in my eyes. When I heard that, I feared that I would never find that spark in my life again. It was a turning point in my life.

2004 - I packed up and left my life, family and friends and relocated to England. A husband awaited and the promise of the new family that I would eventually form motivated me. It was a turbulent year to say the least.

2005 - Turbulence turned into a raging storm and ended in bitter divorce. I returned home, shaken and broken with a resolve that I would rather start over than submit to a life of endless abuse. An empty shadow, I was numb but I was a new person in the making. 

2006 - A new job and a new perspective. Every waking moment of my time was occupied. My mind was too busy caught up in work or focusing on the task at hand to allow myself the luxury to think. Charity work was prominent in my life. Soon I found myself cherished in a circle of newly found friends. It was a new way to be appreciated and it was what I needed most. Later on, it was also the year when I found my inner strength to allow myself to grieve and heal. I embarked on a new academic direction. And, at the end of the year I donned the headscarf.

2007 - I discovered many meanings to what close relationships were supposed to be about and realised that my marriage had been a farce and a lie. I was grateful to have made the right decision at the time. I came across a myriad of personalities, some were acquaintances or colleagues and others were friends. This was a year of self-discovery and a year of endurance.

2008 - I made a career change. I visited a new country. And towards the end of the year, I fell in love, without warning, without meaning to. It was a bit like the eat-pray-love story. I had done my self-nourishment, I was in tune with my spiritual side and here it was - love - throwing me in the deep end. I was not even prepared for it but it happened even after I tried to escape it and feign it.

2009 - Love in its intensity healed me completely. It caught me and kept me in a hurricane of emotion. It whirled me and threw me out of proportion. It likened me to a phoenix and by the time it was through with me I could see little old me whom I had buried through the trials and tribulations. Towards the end of the year I relocated to England again. This time the purpose was to study. But really, I wanted to challenge myself. To return to the place that held sour memories for me and to face up to them. It was also a time I found out the truth about human nature in love. An aspect that at times gets muddled and confused. I surprised myself by my strength and again, I moved on.

2010 - What a way to end the decade. I completed my course of study then I travelled and travelled some more. This was a wholesome year. I breathed in the new places and the people whom I met. I felt all my senses come alive in ways they had not experienced for years. I learnt and grew as a person.  And in the end, I made my decision to accept all what the last decade had given me. I acknowledged it all. I reflected back at the person whom I was and allowed it to come through to the person I had become. I allowed it all to sink in before I took my final step to move on.

We often find ourselves wallowing,
or faltering in pools of doubt.
We try and mend inadequate pieces,
or creases that need to be straightened out.
In the midst of a raging storm,
or more often a peaceful calm,
that we call our life - it continues to roll,
with or without time - it's in our hands,
to make or to squander,
an invitation to ponder,
about what it means to be moving on.
It is all about optimism,
and new beginnings,
for me - from now on.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


It has been a week since I have been driving on the other side of the road. Although my total driving experience is about ten years, I feel like I am just starting out. It is all about perspective. 

In the first couple of days, I would bang my hand against the door and realise that the gear stick was on the other side. Turning left or right was quite confusing for the cars behind me. I would hit the windscreen wipers instead of the indicators, instinctively reaching for the side that I am used to. Everything just seemed to be inside out or just mirrored in reverse. Speaking of mirrors, I would totally ignore the rear view mirror and keep looking at the right side exterior mirror instead just because I was so used to the rear view mirror being on the right not the left. 

When I got past all this directional confusion, I started getting used to all the rules and signs on the roads. Roundabouts were funny. Who goes clockwise on a roundabout? Well, apparently they do here. Intersections were the trickiest of all. All sort of rules pervaded and expert drivers seemed to just roll their eyes impatiently when the question was posed meekly: who gets to go into the intersection first. Come on now. It all just felt like my brain was undergoing a huge shift in perspective. A form of paradigm shift even. Driving just did not feel like a joy anymore, instead, it became a chore.  My muscles would tense up every time I sat in the driver's seat, my eyes circling in my head like a hawk, on the lookout for the tiniest hint of a hazard.

Like all challenges, however, the only way to truly conquer them is to face up to them. Defeat them and annihilate any shadow of fear or insecurity that lingered within. So today, I ventured even further than the nearby suburbs and drove all the way into the centre of the city. On a public holiday. On a day we knew that shoppers would be out and about and the place would be brimming with people. I was not alone in the car of course. There is still that other matter of knowing my way around. But still, I drove all the way in and back again. The result? I caught myself posing, my muscles less tense, my steering wheel supported by just one hand. I even allowed myself the luxury of making street observations, like, the name of the suburb we were passing through or the strange looking car that just zoomed past or even the shops that were either open or closed on the side streets. If anything was obvious it was that I had become that more confident on the road in a week.

My road driving test is scheduled in a little over a month's time. If I keep at this daily practice, I am planning to hopefully pass it at the first go. After all, I have been driving for ten years, just not this way. Nevertheless, I think that perspective will win in the end and I might even consider the last ten years as inconceivable! 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

An Old Familiarity

I arrived in Sydney a little over a week ago. In between jet lag and disorientation I found myself thrust in the midst of something old and something new. And I stood there, in between, trying to find my bearings. I think I am still stuck there.

Last Sunday Week

My flight landed early, on a summer Sunday morning and the pilot decided to take the scenic route. I had a window seat and looked out over the sea and the coastline. Memories came flooding back and a warmth started to grow somewhere in my chest - perhaps roundabout where my heart rests - the beauty of the landscape was breathtaking. It took me back, years back, when I had been taken in by the rugged, bold terrain and I felt myself breath in that boldness. Courage became me. At one point I heard others on the plane shout out: the white cliffs of Dover. In an instant the bubble of a dream burst and I was taken out of that frame of mind, rushing up and away, towards the island up on the edge of Europe. A rude intrusion of memories of cold, grey clouds and lonely moments sitting on a tourist bus or peering out of a train window to see the real cliffs of Dover invaded through my senses. Chilling. And not what I needed. But despite that grossly inaccurate comparison I allowed myself to be drawn in again to the scene out of my plane window, giving my senses every opportunity to capture it all and in doing so, to search within me for that part of me long ago that had created a special bond with this place.

I sailed through the airport despite the excess luggage that I pushed on my trolley and those other ones which I pushed away in my mind. I had family waiting for me after customs, but funny enough, I had also said a temporary goodbye to family at another airport hours ago. Surreal - probably due to the fact that I had not slept throughout a 14 hour flight. The airport looked the same but the 'Dover cliffs' comment lingered on and I found myself making comparisons with Gatwick. Brushing it aside, I hugged and chatted and breathed in the  warm Sydney air as I stepped outside. Half the globe was shrouded in winter. I was glad to have summer welcome me for a change.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Writing Prompts - December week 2

On the Subway

The train had been chugging along for a good half hour and the usual sounds of rustling newspapers and idle chatter filled the carriage. The air felt thick and heavy with the breath of early morning commuters, some sitting but even more standing, their busy-bee senses in temporary suspension. They were mostly in a state of oblivion to anything that happened outside of the carriage, or the train, and if anything more was expected it was one of lackadaisical acknowledgment. So when the wheels of the train screeched to a halt and jolted the passengers back into a present frame of mind, curious looks spread across several faces. Proverbial questions projected from their minds and floated through the air, often coupled with theories involving faulty trains and scheduled or unplanned engineering works. The tone was always irate. No one was expecting the announcement that came next.

“This is your driver speaking. Please disembark from the train immediately. You are all requested to report to a police officer on the platform without fail. No exceptions.”


Stars shine in new eyes -
A baby’s fascination,
with the world’s surprise.


Starry skies look down -
secrets in daylight discern,
to those who remain.

The River

A bright moon shines,
over a waterway that defines
a city’s character –
caught, in silent enrapture.
The Nile sits still, beneath a surface reflecting,
the city’s lights enchanting,
palms on its banks, mesmerising
senses, so it delights.


“What’s wrong with this thing?”

The photocopier kept throwing out one sheet of paper after another creating a mounting pile on the floor just underneath the photocopier tray, and all the sheets had a huge black stain centred in the middle.

“Errr, you didn’t press the start button, did you?”

An impatient look remained fixated on her face as she flicked a finger at the tiny, smudged sign in the already darkened room which said, “Broken,” while she fiddled with the controls.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Writing Prompts - December week 1


A chef in the making,
Mixing different flavours,
But all what the foodies want,
are hot crunchy fried potatoes.

I pricked up my ears, flicked the flies away with my tail and watched him from across the paddock. It had not been the first time that the little human was being mischievous. But I liked that. It was part of the reason why we got along just fine, except that he had no clue that I was on to him. He was a curious little thing. He seemed to be throwing a bar of soap in a makeshift rubber pool that lay on the grass in his garden. Water gushed in the pool from a hose nearby and he dived right in, splashing about and sending millions of bubbles flying and laughter filling the air. The bubbles seemed to fascinate him and the more bubbles he could conjure, the more animated he became. It would soon be time for his daily riding lesson and he would be making his way to the paddock. I was in good spirits and trotted about in anticipation. Perhaps today would be the day we jump over that fence after all.

Time Traveller
“Mhmm.. so run this past me again,” she said as she looked over the tiny vial in her hands.

Leo hated repeating himself. He knew that the truth was far beyond anything she would comprehend but he had hoped that she would just trust him and listen. She owed him that much.

“Look, just drink it. One quick gulp, don’t try and taste it, make sure you get it all, every last drop of it. Do this tonight without fail, just before bed. It’s the only way we can stay together.”

His tone had been irritating and he knew it; a deliberate ploy he was hoping would fast track this moment. But she remained silent, her face not flinching once nor giving out any reaction. Her calm facade unsettled him. It was so unlike her. A few seconds later, she was still fiddling with the vial. Leo searched her face, trying to read her thoughts and started tapping his fingers nervously on the table. He saw her flick a glance at him and then slowly, she pushed the vial back into his hands.

She crossed her arms and gave him a penetrating look, “I’m not doing it, Leo.”

But she did not wait to hear Leo’s protests because seconds later she was walking out of the door. It was as simple as that. Leo dropped the vial on the table and buried his head in his hands. How could he get her to believe him? He had been waiting for her to call him absurd, irrational, a lunatic even. He had been expecting her to spew out accusations and incredulous expressions of shock, like he was used to. But none of that happened.

Her last words rung in his ears, “Goodbye, Leo, you’re nothing but a figment of my imagination.”

In the Airport - writing prompt

She sat in the airport lounge, a new book in hand, sipping small amounts of coffee. It was still early she could tell, as she sat at a table edged against the floor to ceiling windows in the café. Daylight was still struggling to make an entrance outside and the grey clouds were not helping. It was a habit she had acquired over the years. Get to the airport early, pick a random book from the bookshop and spend the rest of her waiting time making its acquaintance. Not that the book this time was capturing her interest much, it was the family standing in the queue in front of her that did however.

Her eyes kept drifting off the pages of her new and still unfamiliar possession to the man standing in the queue. His face spoke of an uncanny resemblance that sent her blood rushing like a turbulent current in her veins and her heart missing a beat. The resemblance was so strong that she caught herself staring at him intently several times before forcing her gaze back to the book that she was still holding. All she could see were words floating randomly on a lonely page. Her mind was elsewhere. Voices and announcements around her were no more. Her surroundings suddenly shrunk into a pigeonhole view until all she could see was a distant memory playing catch with her in her mind’s eye.

It could not possibly be him. Leo had died in that car accident years ago. She had attended his funeral herself. It had taken her years of healing to finally get used to life without him. Perhaps she just missed him. She flicked another glance at the man, this time convincing herself that his features were nothing like Leo’s; that his mannerisms spoke of a different person. Sighing, she dropped the book on the table shut, looked out of the window and reached for her coffee, inhaling its sweet aroma, wishing it would take her elsewhere.

“Honey, did I keep you waiting?”

She turned her head and felt her hairs stand on end. It was his voice, his smell and the way he made her feel that all came rushing back to her. Her mouth dropped in disbelief as the man gave her a quick kiss before pulling a chair to sit across from her.

“The souvenir shop was mad. You’d think at this hour people would have other things than shopping on their minds. Anyway, I found this…” he continued talking but she had stopped listening after that point.

The man she had been staring at moments ago had just called her honey, had just given her a kiss and was now sitting with her, chatting casually. The man she had mistaken for Leo. Or was this Leo? Or was this man pretending to be Leo? Her head throbbed at the temples and she felt herself spinning like she was caught in a multidimensional whirlpool. That was the last thing she remembered before she passed out.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Homecoming or Just New Turf?

In a week's time I make my move. I am going home, after spending the predominant part of my life abroad. Notice how I place these two words in italics. It is all a matter of context really and it really is quite exhausting to delve - yet again - into what those two words really mean, to me, to you or to anyone else. So I will not bother. No, this piece is not about where home is or what going abroad means. This piece is about something else.

I am a third culture kid and I have been travelling my whole life. Imagine growing up with that sort of lifestyle. Someone once described it as living out of a suitcase. Airports and planes are just another means of getting to your destination. No more the adventure of experiencing the journey. Over the years, my body has developed this natural inclination to settle itself into its new surroundings, without any hassle or a struggle, it just adapts without forcing itself.

This is what this piece is about - the notion of settling down. But there is another side to this coin, given my nomadic nature. It is called my ability to adapt.

I think it is time for me to settle down. No, really, I do mean it this time. To really call a place home and mean it. To have a single point of reference when I think of 'home' or have someone ask me where I am from. To have a network of family and friends whom I can physically visit whenever I want to instead of having to call or skype or whatever. To get hit by a happy memory and actually be able to go to the place where it occurred, relive it and smile.

I call many places home. The word just conjures up memories of different places and people. I am used to diversity. How will I adapt to the oneness of it all. What will happen to me when familiarity makes me restless again and an itch in the form of the travel bug hits me out of the blue. I rejuvenate myself and grow by taking off and going to a new place. Metamorphosis. How will I resist that urge and recondition myself to find another means of metamorphosising!

Perhaps it is not a question of balancing 'settling down' with 'adapting'. I always adapt. But perhaps that is only because I know that I always have the option to move if I choose to. My adaptation is really a temporary fix; a means of dealing with my current situation. This time this option will not be there. This time I have made my choice to stick to a place, to grin and bear it - all - regardless of whether my ability to adapt is a temporary fix or not. I will have no choice but to adapt. I guess that is what settling down is all about. You make a commitment and stick to it.

Yet, reading over all what I just wrote, why do I paint such a complicated picture? There should be joy and celebration because this really is a homecoming. I am returning to my birthplace. I am committing myself to the place which brought me into this world. A homecoming that brings with it warm fuzzy feelings that rise from deep within and from a happy time long long ago. A homecoming that speaks of nothing but a future of inner peace and serenity, basking in the summer of my life from now on.

Of course, if things get really desperate there is always that option to pack up and go. I would only be exploring new turf - for a while. Only time will tell.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Writing Prompts - last 2 weeks of November


A fluid and clear
pool of reflection beckons -
Dive deep and reveal.


Wet or solid form,
It quenches a thirst of sorts
and it refreshes.

The Detective

Mia brought her pointer finger to her mouth, flicked a fierce look and drew a burrowed frown on her face. Mia had agreed to bring her best friend along to ‘the lookout’ as long as she promised to stay quiet. As it turned out, the lookout was a relatively elevated piece of land that was well hidden in a cluster of trees. Mia had stumbled upon it by chance when she had been running after her dog one day. It proved to be the perfect spot for some good detective work.

The girls watched as the man shovelled deep in his garden, the force of digging his spade in the earth was tensing up his neck and shoulders. Dirt flew up in the air and the girls peered through the leaves and branches to see what he would throw into the ground.

“Are you sure he’s got a dead body down there?” whispered Mia’s friend rather loudly.

“Yes! I saw it with my own eyes! I’m sure he’s trying to bury the evidence now.”

When the digging was all over, the girls held their breath, waiting.

“Come on, you can bring it out now,” shouted the man to someone inside.

A little boy, with eyes red from crying, emerged from the house carrying a small round tennis ball. Mia gasped. It was Edgar, the new boy at school. Edgar dragged his feet reluctantly towards the hole in the ground, knelt down and placed the ball inside.

“There, feel better now? I’m sure Ronald will be much happier with his tennis ball,” said the man kindly.

Mia’s friend looked at her suspiciously realising that there was no dead body – just a dead pet rabbit buried in the ground.

“So much for the detective club!” said Mia’s friend as she walked off in a huff.

An icy wind pierces my ears beneath a woollen hat and my nose has turned into a deep shade of pink. I snuggle deeper into my coat and bring my scarf up over my mouth and nose before tucking my fingers back into my pockets. Eyes shut tight; I wait on a bench at the platform with my luggage, trying to imagine the warm climes, sunshine and soft sandy beaches that would soon welcome me. A strong gust of wind brushes past as the train pulls in, forcing my eyes to fling open and signifying the beginning of my migration from this winter.

Waking up to the rhythm of a vision,
holding and calling, for a degree of recognition.
Yet what it is gives is nothing -
more than an idea, cleverly wrapped in a contrary caption.

Science fiction
“Mum, where are we going?”

“We’re going to see the doctor, sweetie.”

“But, mum I don’t want to see him…”

“Now, now, all he’s going to do is have a quick look at your DNA.”

“Yeah that’s what you said last time! And I ended up having to sleep in that cubicle all alone for two whole days! And besides, that doctor stinks, I have to hold my breath every time he’s around.”

“Now you know this is for your own good. It was just a little operation to make you better and the doctor just wants to have a look to see if the medicine worked. Remember what dad said?”

“Uh-huh… that fixing my DNA will make me teleport just like all the other boys.”

“There you go and you’ll be able to see dad up in the next galaxy in no time. Don’t you want to see dad?”

“Uh-huh.. Why can’t he come and visit us?!”

“Because, sweetie, he’s busy fixing that tunnel between the two galaxies.”

Pitter pattering -
Bare feet on marble floors and
rain in showers fall.


It carries with it
across the times, memories -
strum another tune.

Random song prompt From Sting’s "Fields of Gold" - I took the first line of the song:
You’ll remember me when the west wind moves.
You’ll remember me when it stirs,
and you see traces of the leaves of once upon a time,
coming back with colour.
Spare a moment and pray,
when the west wind brushes against your face,
caressing your skin,
refreshing your mind free,
you’ll remember me.
I’ll be long gone by then,
when the west wind moves but you’ll remember me.

The Author
A wandering mind fully entwined with thoughts
and a distracting notion, only but a contraption
for words, to paint many a feeling and plots
in his mind’s eye, nothing is certain.

The Fair
Lily stood watching the children in the merry-go-round whirl around like the thoughts in her head. Her nephew, Little-T as she liked to call him, was sitting on one of the colourful red horses, making giddy-up and trotting noises. He was in full character, his wispy hair flying in the wind. Not in a care in the world. Not a concern for anything to do with the future. She wondered how he would react when he eventually did find out. Things at his home would never be the same again. He would be going to boarding school next year. Lily wanted to spend as much as time as she could with him before then. Little-T hopped off his horse and ran towards her with a gregarious laugh. She scooped him up and gave him a big hug before dropping him to the ground again. Hand in hand, they spent the rest of the day walking through the crowd, eating cotton candy, painting their faces and making memories. 

Night Shift
Night shifts in splendour,
from one depth to the next,
stars shine with wonder,
night never seeks to rest,
always giving out its best,
more so with company –
found in its midst.

Night shifts bolder,
as it takes its last breath.
Dark falls darker,
and makes a stand before its death.
Dawn breaks and light, spreads
erasing, layer upon layer
Of a semi-perpetuating,
repeated night shift.

Soft sand melts away,
There beneath a scorching sun –
Tracks lie for the lost.


Etchings in the snow –
Remain deep in the terrain,
Footprints large and small.