About two days ago, I realised that this blog space had turned one. 365 days had seeped through the cracks since the day I started this little project. I was blatantly reminded of its origins when I thought of my father’s birthday that passed the night before. I was also reminded of the person I was back then versus the person I am now. A lot has probably changed, though I don’t know exactly how to judge these changes. I’d been through army, went travelling, taught in my Secondary School for a term, celebrated my 21st birthday around familiar company and finally am in university now. This space is a tiny logbook of that incredible journey, along with the lessons I’ve learned and the feelings I’ve felt along the way. And what better way to mark this little anniversary with the reminder of how it all started:
September 17, 2014
I lay in bed, and was feeling absolutely stifled. I was the only one left in my camp, and everyone had booked out. I looked over at the clock. 9pm. A miserable 9pm on an otherwise innocent Friday. Why was I here? My fathers birthday celebration was coming up the next day, and I would not be there. I would be stuck in this bunk, within these walls of the camp, within the pathetic frame they called a bed.
I was suddenly vexed. I was angry at the fact that they could keep me here. I was pissed that after all the suffering they put us through that there was no reward. There was no damn reason for this! There was no reason to feel anything other than tremendous sadness, anger, self pity. It was not so much the physical entrapment that stirred me, for there was food downstairs, there was a bed to lie on and a showerhead to bathe with. It was the walls that I drew up ever so instinctively in my head. Yes, that crippled me to no end. I was trapped. My freedom was effectively wrenched away.
When you go through this loss of freedom in a large group, the burden is spread out. Scoops of solidarity get readily distributed around and you feel like you’re part of a whole. Being alone in my bunk took that privilege entirely out of my hands. I was truly alone, trapped and rendered senseless by a system that cared nothing for me. I was but a datum, a mere number in the large machine that relentlessly spun away, weaving the stolid tapestry of what it means to be Singaporean.
I sat up. I walked out of my room and down the steps. Something outside of my being was controlling this movement, I’m certain of that now. Whether it was rage, or any other facet of my psyche taking over, I cannot be sure to this day. I walked into the small computer room downstairs, and sat at the desktop. The entire room was dark, with only the light from the computer screen illuminating the contours of my face. I started to type. A story flowed out from my fingers, a story about a boy who climbed over a fence to steal curry from a neighbours house. That boy was me. I wrote, and I wrote. Time passed lithely between the strokes of the keyboard but I sat there unapologetically; typing up this story that came so naturally to me, that made its arrival to this earth with lucid steps.
That story turned out to be my first blog post. For some strange (or not so strange) reason, I created this site straight after I was finished, and posted the story. It was a story of how I climbed over a fence I had created in my head, a story of how one need not feel apologetic for going mad once in a while. I, of all people, desperately needed that story to guide me through that night. I remember how my finger hovered above the “create blog” button for a good few seconds before I punched in the key with conviction.
All I could think was, that there was a boy that needed his curry, a fence that needed to be scaled, a neighbour that wanted his curry back and most of all, a voice that so desperately needed to be heard. On that stifling September evening, they all found that avenue within these pages.
I have never looked back since.