#MeToo – On Sexual Assault

Performed at Spoke and Bird Open Mic, at the Artistry. Performance found here

Sec 2, pre-puberty. I was dressed in a cloak and cosplay, running around my school, asking kids if they would like to join the drama club. Alumnis, probably, older boys, definitely, surrounded my childish frame and asked if they could join the drama club with smug faces. 

One boy put his arm around me, I am haunted by what his shirt had smelled of- Too much deodorant, too much danger. My first boyfriend would only be angry because they had touched his “girlfriend”, as if I belonged to him. 

Sec 2, still pre-puberty. It was dark and I was in a haunted house in our school’s basement, we had created it for family day. Fake blood dripped from my knife, my hair was dishevelled, my face pale and I had put everything into terrifying people younger or older than me, screaming and laughing at anyone and everyone who came by. I had meant every scare thrown at those who walked by me.

And the scream I produced when some older boys grabbed my shoulders for a selfie, grinning and laughing and pulling me this way and that – Even when the rules clearly said: Do not take photos of our Actors, Do not Touch our Actors, Do not Touch, Do not Touch strangers you don’t know – Was real, was primal, was the most horrifying sound I had ever produced from my oesophogus without warning, on purpose, and the chairman of the drama club told me: “Just keep going, we’re going on a break soon.” I had meant every scare of that day, but only once did I mean my scream.

Polytechnic, Year 1, post-puberty. “Maybe later” cut off at Maybe and somehow Maybe became yes, I felt the stiff fabric of jean shorts burn my crotch as he grabbed me and I want to push but I am frozen in shock and my body pretends to be asleep. I find myself slumped in a disabled bathroom, having woken up from disassociation. 

Every day of the month I dated him was spent on sex, I endured the whispers that fed into my head all year. His voice haunted me as I tried to convince myself that everything he said was alright with me, because there was no way out, because “no” was just part of the game, because I belonged to anyone who dated me. There was no discussion, because dominant Masters dictate where the game goes. 

His mother would later call me an ugly slut.

Polytechnic, Year 2, post-breakup. A year into my new relationship and our safe word is Red. I never used it. “No” was enough. “Stop” was enough. “Wait” was enough. A few moments of silence was enough. A push was enough. An expression was enough. 

The answer “Not feeling it today” to “Are you okay?” was enough. 

Discussion was everything and my mind learnt to remember all the things that it shut out. I remembered every push and pull and taunt and whisper and cringe and flinch, and I squeezed my eyes shut until I hear “It’s ok, we can do this some other time” as hands withdrew from my body and I wondered why I was crying.

My Body. It is my body. But why had I spent all my life thinking otherwise?

I listen to the blame-pushers and the victim-blamers and the silence heard in shame, and I think about my 14-year-old, child body when the grown-up boys older than me, clearly aware that I was a child, believed they were allowed to touch me. I think about my 17-year-old, no longer child body, while the blame-pushers and victim-blamers inch closer. 

I raise my voice higher.

Me too, I scream, at the teachers who said “Do not dress in revealing clothing” and “Do not attract trouble” in the same breath. Me too, I scream, at every person who ticked the “None of the above” option when it came to fight-or-flight because there was no fight-or-flight option. Me too, I scream, at the men who tried to defend themselves with “Not all men”, even though we all already know. We do not mean that all men will assault, but we do mean that no one should. 

I raise my voice higher.

Me too, I scream, at that boy in my class who yelled and laughed “They’re raping each other” when someone asked why two of our classmates weren’t in class. Me too, I scream, at my female friend who asked a teacher about consent and recieved the answer of “First of all, you say no. Second of all, don’t go to a boy’s house alone”. Me too, I scream, at my male friend who asked a teacher the same thing and recieved the answer “Well, are you ready?” instead. 

I raise my voice all the way to the rooftops, holding on to every single piece of my body, my bones and skin, period blood and sweat, pubic hair and nails, the composition of what I had been wearing when my assault happened. 

And I listen to the sound of a chorus of people who now scream back at me:

“Me too.”

And I raise my voice higher. 

Papillon

Performed at Artistry Cafè for the Spoke and Bird Open Mic, organized by Stephanie Chan. Performance found here.

I used to think that I would want to be a butterfly.
Because I wanted to be beautiful. 

I watched as a pair of wings fluttered to the ground, the body twitched and it moved no more.

A caterpillar I had in Primary School was released into the garden,
And it was eaten by a Mynah
That was eaten by Auntie Umi’s cat
Which was killed by a man named Set
Who hadn’t been paying attention to the road.

Continue reading “Papillon”

At Midnight, The Bell Rang

​I think what I feel, right now,
Is the quiet reverberation of words,
As they echo
Ricocheting off the walls.

The mug on the other side of the table,
Still empty.
But it stays there
To simulate the end of a conversation.

Words keep coming back.
They chase tunnels after tunnels
They are trains on the tip of my tongue
Like medicine before it is swallowed.

“Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.”
I know that now,
So come back to me.
The silence just keeps getting louder.

The other side of the table,
Still empty.
Like the other side of the bed,
To gather dust and lost words.

Trains keep following me.
The tunnel doesn’t ever end.
The words are not like medicine.
At least medicine takes away some pain.

I think what I feel, right now,
Is mercy from you,
As you walked away I noticed an echo of your vanishing ghost,
Ricocheting off the walls.

You flew away that night,
Like you said you would.
I just wish we had more time
I wish we had more

A Pocket Full of Kueh

Pictured above: My Father, who kept loving me when I forgot to love him.

Performed at the Foodrama Poetry Slam 2017, Organised by Word Forward, at Blu Jaz Cafè.

My dad never understood why I hated eating kueh. I spent 7 years forcing kuehs down my throat, long since learning that resistance was futile.

I used to run to my dad for a hug the moment he got home. My dad called me a little “Tau sah piah”, because those were my favourite words for a while.

I wonder what happened to those years. I haven’t eaten kueh in a long time.

Continue reading “A Pocket Full of Kueh”

Dead To Me

Pictured: My Ball-Jointed doll, Mindy. 

Submitted on Day 26 of #SingPoWriMo2017

She shimmered under the moonlight, your fingertips brushed over her rivers and valleys, the dip and rise of her mountains, forests and hills. And you breathed hot air on her neck, straining yourself to fit your hands around all of her, trying to hold everything you wanted closer.

I like to think that she had died in your arms. It’s comforting, in a way, to know that she had disappeared together with my memory of you. I’d like to think of her self-destruction as the moment you took her into your arms.

Continue reading “Dead To Me”

The Good Days

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Leave the poem writing to tomorrow, I whispered to my hands, for today is a good day. Today a breeze kissed my cheeks and folded away all the chores.

Leave the poetry to tomorrow, where happiness would waver, where things are harsher. Leave the poetry to the sad days. Leave the poetry in the hands of broken hearts.

On any other day the metaphors may strike the paper with veined anger and the poetry might shriek of the poet’s misfortune, on other days the tears may become ink, but today the words don’t bleed, today is kinder than yesterday and tomorrow is waiting to decide, a gentle coin-toss game in motion. The day is not over yet.

Leave the crying to tomorrow, I whisper to the sorrow. Leave the ink off the sheets, forget the feeling of anti-gravity and hold on to the rails, so that you may not float off into space. Hold on to the warmth of someone’s gentle words. Hold on.

Call him back. Mute the group. Walk until you can no longer drag your feet across the burning concrete, until the sun bids farewell. Today there is no rain, no clouds, no grief. Today is kind. Today, you are invincible.

Leave the poem-writing to tomorrow, I whisper to my hands, for today is a good day. Because poems are for the bitter days, not for days like today.

Today is kind. So leave the poem-writing for tomorrow.