welcome to school

*the bell rings*
good morning class.
sit down. don’t move. be quiet.
SSHHHH!

you just turned 6 last year and like running around to explore your world? too bad. sit down. you’ve spent all your life so far learning to stand taller, move faster, reach further, climb higher? too bad. sit down. you have this burning desire to interact, talk, be heard? too bad. sit down. shut up.

only speak when spoken to. raise your hand if you have something to say. only speak if noticed. only speak if chosen. only speak if liked. only speak if not challenging. don’t talk back. don’t question. don’t bother.

who do you think you are? tiny little voice. tiny insignificant object.

*the bell rings*
good morning class.
sit down. don’t move. be quiet.
hand in your homework.

you didn’t do your homework? no excuses. stand up. you didn’t have time to get to homework because you were more interested in playing with your sibling? no excuses. stand on your chair. you didn’t bring your book in because you didn’t have time to properly pack your bag? no excuses. stand on your table. you couldn’t get to your homework because of tuition and other classes? no excuses. stand outside of the classroom. you didn’t do your homework because you’re not interested in the subject? no excuses. arms crossed, hold your ears. ketuk ketampi.

receive your punishment. be quiet as you are punished. behave. do not question authority. put your head down and look at the ground as you are punished. be shamed. be shamed in front of your peers. be ridiculed.

who do you think you are? tiny insignificant object.

*the bell rings*
negaraku.
line up. two by two.
stand straight. don’t move. be quiet.

show me your shoes. not white enough. clean. show me your socks. too low. too high. change. show me your nails. not short enough. cut. show me your hair. too long. cut. too messy. tie up. coloured hairbands? only white, blue or black allowed. don’t come back tomorrow looking like this.

follow the rules. rules are there for a reason. obedience is rewarded. don’t stand out. don’t express individuality. fit in. be accepted. be one with the herd. be standard. refer to stock image.

who do you think you are? tiny insignificant object.

*the bell rings*
go home. eat. no time. study. go for tuition. eat. no time. finish your homework. prepare your books. no time. sleep early. wake up early. no time. get dressed. eat. come back to school.

*the bell rings*
stand straight. sit down. don’t move. be quiet.
don’t think.

there is no time to think. memorize. memorize chapters. memorize books. memorize subjects. memorize everything. good. regurgitate. time’s up. put your pen down. here is your score. your worth. your value. good job. try harder. did you not study? what kind of answer is this? were you not paying attention? fail. not smart enough for this class. not smart enough to keep up. compete. compare.

who do you think you are?
no effort is ever going to be good enough.
you’re never going to amount to anything.

tiny insignificant object.

*the bell rings*
goodbye.
school is out.

but don’t for a second think you are free.
don’t forget the lessons you have learnt and all that school has taught you, tiny insignificant object.
repeat these things to yourself for the rest of life.

keep hearing that bell ring.

happy anniversary my love.

4 years ago we took that great big leap and decided to move in together after one month of seeing each other while the whole world was angry and tried to keep us apart. good times.

not everyone could see what we already knew. you and i are one. our soul paths were meant to intertwine for us to help each other become our whole selves through the process of creating the life we both yearned for so much.

our path is still long and very much unknown, but i trust we will continue flowing with the universe towards everything we know is possible. i trust the journey will bring us home.

look how far we’ve come since that miserable room in kota.

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i am so proud of us. thank you for being willing to take on every challenge this life incurs, however challenging it may be sometimes.

i love you. i will be right by your side always.

hello goodbye

this morning right before waking up, i had a really beautiful dream of ah ma. usually my ah ma dreams feel a little eerie and i watch her as i wonder on the inside – why something doesn’t feel right. then the feeling begins to become overwhelming and dark and eventually ends with me waking up to this shattering realisation that she is dead.

i dream a lot. i always have. and my dreams are incredibly intense. but until recently i could always just wake up startled, comfort myself knowing that it’s just a nightmare and try not to think about it as i fall back asleep. by the next day it would be nothing but a very foggy memory of something that i really would never be able to recall in detail.

dreaming of ah ma is a completely different experience. it usually starts out incredibly normal. nothing out of the ordinary. then i start to notice little details that don’t quite make sense. a part of the house that looks different. an object that we never owned. a conversation that doesn’t make sense. a person that should not be there with us. and as i wonder… and look around… and experience the dream i am having – not yet realising it’s a dream – ah ma starts to fade or mutate. sometimes i look at her and realise i don’t recognise who i’m looking at anymore. other times i look in her direction and all i can see is energy that i know symbolises her in the scene but she no longer has any form.

then it starts to sink in. always takes a while but i’ve never had a dream of ah ma that did not end with the same realisation. it feels like a cloud descending, a wave travelling through my body. and then i get it. something doesn’t feel right. this can’t be reality. that is not ah ma…because ah ma is dead.

i wake up. startled. sad. confused. numb.

i can’t shrug it off and comfort myself this time. what woke me up was reality hitting home. i wake up and ah ma is indeed no longer here with us. she is dead. and i don’t think i’ve been able to process what it means for her to be dead.

ah ma has been a part of my life since the day i was born. i spent more time living with her than i did with my parents. when i first left home at 18, she used to call me multiple times throughout the day to ask if i’ve had food. if i was alright. if i needed money. to be safe and careful. to make sure i was getting enough sleep and had a place to stay. to let me know that i could just go home at any point if i needed to. that she would always be there. that i was not alone. she was my safety net.

she very much is still alive in my mind and heart. ah ma is right here. i’ve spent so much time talking to her throughout life that her presence will forever be a part of my life.

there are moments where it hits me hard though- that ah ma has passed. and if i let it be, it is overwhelming because i feel so bad for not going back to visit her in the last month when she was put into a home and we knew she didn’t have long more. we were scheduled to move up north by the end of the month and then i’d go get her from the home and move her to a home closer to us. she didn’t make it to the end of the month. i didn’t go say goodbye.

ah ma has always been the absolute best person when it came to understanding that i had my own life to live and couldn’t always visit her. she never made me feel bad when it’d been a while since i visited. not once. i wonder if she understood i was going to go get her so she could finally be close enough for me to see her all the time. i wonder if she was sad that i didn’t go see her. i’m not a person of much regret. but this, i do regret. and i wish over and over and over again i could turn back time and hug her one last time.

so this is the honest reality of ah ma’s passing for me. i didn’t run to go see her when i had the chance to. i waited and it was too late. i didn’t say goodbye. i didn’t tell her one last time that i loved her. i will never be able to change that. ah ma lives on in my memory forever but there is no closure because i will never stop feeling bad for not seeing her one last time. i do not desire to stop feeling bad about it.

last night i spoke to yoong before sleeping, because the night before i had a really dark dream of ah ma. i told him that nothing could change. i do not know how else to process her passing more than i have. i know she is no longer physically here. i know she lives on forever in my heart. i am happy for her that she no longer has to suffer the pain of being ill. i am alright that she is no longer here. it’s the eventuality of all of our lives here. hers came to an end the way it was supposed to. not abrupt. not tragic. just an expected peaceful passing. i knew ah ma wouldn’t be here forever.

the emotions are so strong that it feels incredibly numbing. i accept that i feel numb. i accept that death is such a weird thing to process because it changes reality but technically doesn’t remove a person’s presence. nor does it take away the past. or the love.

processing death is a strange experience. i totally understand the eerie dreams i have of ah ma. i accept that as my forever. which is why this morning when i woke up foggily to a beautiful dream of her, i wanted to jump out of bed and write everything out to see what’s changed since last night.

in this dream, i was in our old home with ah ma, ah kong and epoh (grandma, grandpa and grandaunt). ah kong was filling water into a really cool water gun and i was showing ah ma and epoh how it worked and why it was better than a slingshot (which ah ma used to use all the time to shoot at crows). there was a cool bike in front of our house that ah kong rode in on. we were having good laughs and ah ma brought food out and told me to go eat. then the neighbour came back and asked ah kong why we had a broken bike out front. i looked over and saw an old broken down bike with no wheels under a tarp.

usually this is the point where my dream would start to get eerie.

but this time it felt incredibly natural. all of a sudden, we were all in the house. my brother was at the table with me and i was explaining to the neighbour that we were playing pretend. “you see, my grandma is no longer here with us so when she is, we try to make the best of it and enjoy the time we have with her. that’s why it doesn’t matter if it’s a broken bike outside. it can be anything we want it to be.” i absolutely knew ah ma was dead. i knew it was a dream.

i look at ah ma, trying to take in all of her. her short wavy white hair. the shade of her skin. her aging once chubby frame. those large spectacles. her checkered short sleeve shirt and sarong. her smile. her gummy, toothless, denture-less smile. her voice as she nags at me to eat. the love i feel as she fusses about everything. i stare for as long as i can, because i know she is gone. and my dreams (which i have very little control of) is the only place i will ever see her again. i look at her so long she becomes a still frame. and then just an image. i smile as i think of her. and then i wake up.

present. aware. at peace.

i miss you every day ah ma. i miss you with all my heart and soul. perhaps it will always be a mix of good dreams and bad ones when it comes to you because i love you that damned much. i will always wish you could be right here with me, so these dreams – good or bad – i look forward to them. because i look forward to seeing you.

you used to tell me about your dreams of your mother and grandmother. i never understood. now i do.

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another end. another beginning.

this year can be summed up in three photos and one word –

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♡ FAMILY ♡

the 5th month

i thought i’d write a post on pregnancy before i’m done being pregnant and completely forget what this phase of waiting for baby feels like. the strange thing is i hardly feel pregnant at all sometimes. the first trimester was a little uncomfortable – having to fight the urge to be sick, newly heightened sense of smell that made me so aware of everything, being tired and wanting to nap. but it really is true that the second trimester is a little break before i get big and heavy. maybe nature has it that way so women don’t suffer continuously for the whole 10 months. yes, 10 months since i’m technically supposed to be pregnant for 40 weeks beginning from ovulation. i wonder why it’s always referred to as 9.

baby is growing and i’m starting to show. although in loose clothes i still look very much normal. i’m thinking i’d just look like i have a little pouch to anyone who doesn’t know i’m pregnant. looking forward to having a bigger bump really! but i’ll be patient and treasure the ease of movement i have at the moment.

we are busy busy busy preparing for the arrival of baby. it’s not all baby related stuff besides the researching side because i’ve been studying and there really isn’t too much that baby needs actually. so many people have said how expensive it is to have a child nowadays but really i think it’s the parents who want to live an expensive lifestyle. having a child is as simple as providing the basics and lots of love. the basics can be pretty damn affordable and love is tough work, but it’s free. i shall put this theory to the test soon and report back on how whether i still feel the same way after having to take care of a child.

the rest of what’s keeping us busy is setting up our home. to make sure that the space is satisfactory for us so we don’t have to think of home improvement work once baby is here. i doubt we’d have time or energy for any of that for a while.

sometimes it feels surreal that i am at this point in life. i’ve been waiting forever for this moment but the journey to get here has played out so differently. for a while it felt like i wasn’t living the life i wanted to live but since detaching from childhood fantasy like expectations, i’ve come to realise how much i’m really loving the life that i do have.

my in-laws have finally decided to give us the green light to be together. after 3 years, a wedding (they did not attend) and a baby on the way. well, i guess better late than never. i’m personally not one for giving a shit about getting approval – especially not from people who have continuously treated me horribly – but i know that this is the family i’ve married into and whether it suits me or not, these are my husband’s parents. even if i could walk away and not care, he wouldn’t ever be able to. so i’m hoping this baby gives them a reason to just be happy for him and love him and their grandchild and not create such drama and negativity anymore.

once again i feel so grateful for the amazingly wonderful family i’ve been blessed with that’s been nothing but loving and supportive through this very memorable phase of my life. count the blessings i do have, right? :)