L’Illusionniste

I have another dear friend who I hold close to my heart.
I met him and another dear friend over cooking corn while doing laundry.
But that’s a story for another day.

This individual is probably the most educated and intelligent person I know.
Despite my lack of rational thought most of the time, he has never been impatient with me. Nor has he ever dismissed anything I’ve ever said.

Every time we hang out, I would learn something new.
A trip to the library to return the books he’d borrowed was a definite stop.
He read all sorts of biographies.
A genre that I’ve never explored.
(Secretly, because I don’t think anyone’s life can be as interesting as the picturesque stories which play in my mind.)

I very much enjoy playful discourse with him.
Because it is open discussion.
Pure exploration of different ideas.
I never sensed any form of aggression even if we held opposing views.
Plus, we both share a love of trying new food.

He was the first person I called for help after I underwent my life’s greatest crisis.

It was then that he introduced me to L’Illusionniste.
An animated French film with little dialogue.

I don’t wish to spoil the magic for anyone who has not seen the film and is interested in viewing it.

But I must express what I think, are the true feelings of Alice.
And that is that she had genuinely loved the Illusionist.
My hope to all the illusionists out there,
is that you don’t carry on living your life in sadness.
And leave based on assumptions.
For fear that you are inadequate.

Alice loved the illusionist for his character, kindness and generosity.
Not for what he was able to give her materially.
If you find yourself in a situation that is contrary to what I am writing about,
then she is not your Alice!
Go on and find your Alice!

I was in a fit of tears after the film had ended.
(And not surprisingly, in a fit of tears right now as I recount this.)
My friend had informed me at the time, that the illusionist chose to leave because he could not provide for her.
But all I wanted,
was for him to stay.
I was and still am,
overwhelmed with sorrow.

Sigh.
I am getting too emotional over this again.
Wait until you hear about ‘In The Mood For Love.’

*

Dear Seneca,

I don’t mean any disrespect.
But I tried to study your letters.
And ended up tired and breaking out in hives.
I can’t afford any more ill health.
So I say goodbye to your philosophy for now.
And I will no longer call myself a Stoic.
I’ll keep what I can use though.
And stick to my copy of ‘Letters to Véra‘ in the meantime.

Thanks!

Monkey King

My father was born in the year of the Monkey.

I didn’t know him very well.
He didn’t speak much to me.
I just inferred who he was from his actions.

Words are worthless sometimes aren’t they?

He used bring us to the park after picking us up from Friday evening Chinese school.
On our way home,
we would stop by the convenience store on the corner of our street.
We got to pick what we wanted.
I loved those 5 cent candies.

One time he brought home this giant box of baseball glove-shaped ice cream bars.
I’ve never seen them sold anywhere.

Another time,
a Japanese game console with an NHK baseball game we couldn’t understand but played frequently regardless.

He used to style my hair exactly like his.
I hated it.
And took countless photographs of me,
in front of Christmas wrapping paper taped to the wall.
I would complain about being sleepy.

Apparently one day when I was still a toddler,
he had left the house to go buy a pack of smokes.
And I followed suit behind him.
It wasn’t until a neighbour carried me home,
that my mother realized I was missing.

He did the best he could given the hand he was dealt.

I believe constant oppression killed his spirit.
I watched him slowly dwindle over the years.
He chose to leave with dignity.
I respect that.

I too,
will choose to leave with my dignity intact.

He is still the most courageous man I know.
Always going after what he wanted.

Dignified

Before a dear friend of mine was confined to her home,
(on accord of her own)
she would call me up and we would go exploring.

She taught me the importance of consuming fresh baked bread.
Because you’re better than less.
You deserve the best that you can get.
And if you desire more,
you work for it.
Be prepared to pay the price for it.

If you look one step further.
What is the true cost of consuming garbage?
Think about it.
Sickness?
Ill health?
Mental illness.
The constant hum of hunger at the back of your mind.
Not enough.
Nothing cheap satisfies.

You don’t want to be around an animal that has been starving.

So don’t starve yourself.
Feed your own mind, body and soul.
Limit your potential damage.
Build up your strength so you can create excess.
To start feeding the rest.

We were checking out at Dollarama.
Picking up some value supplies.
The middle aged woman at the cash,
looked so damn dignified.

It’s not what you do.
It’s how you do it.
And why.

One of my favourite memories of Japan was walking the entire Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto.
It was so scenic and serene.

Many people did not complete the whole journey and stopped at one of the many distractions along the way.
I was determined to go the whole route and luckily my friend also thought the same.

Eventually we reached a point where no one really ventured.
I spotted a woman sitting on a curb painting on little cards with a tiny brush.
We went over to take a closer look.

She paid us no heed as we sifted through her box of hidden treasures.
Each piece of artwork was absolutely beautiful.
All of them were of watercolour flowers.

We inquired the price and she said they were 100 yen each.
I exclaimed excitedly to my friend that these were great inexpensive gifts!
But he mistook my meaning,
and thought I meant that they were cheap.

I’ve given them away,
and have none for myself to keep.
But that’s okay.
Because I see art in the everyday.

Think-Less

What is right?
What is wrong?
I can see both sides.

Don’t know the future.
Don’t want those eyes.

Do nothing.
Stand still.
Stagnate.
Stop growing?

I refuse to die.
Nice try.
See you.
Bye bye.

Nature.
Controlled chaos.
And everything in between.

Action in non-action.
Que sera sera.

All is as it should be.
Spontaneity.

Human dignity.
And possibilities.

Now leave me alone.
I’m tired.

I am the master.
I am the Queen.

I am the Empress.
Now bow down to me.

Watch me dance.
And be free.
Eternally.

Tough Love

Sometimes you have to be cruel,
in order to be kind.

I’ve had a brand new pair of leather ballerina shoes since September.
Time to move on.

Ready to open up my solo tea dance parties now.
Applications welcome.

Drift

Rootless.

Is there even a point to this?

I don’t see an end.

Just countless castles in the sand.

Playtime’s over they all came and said.

But all I want to do is lie awake,

dreaming,

in bed.

Homeboy

My group of girl friends and I would hang out at our local mall after school.
It was a small and run down one.
But it was close.
Walking distance.
That was enough for us.

I still remember what I wore that day.
A three-quarter sleeved, fitted red top with a pair of jeans.
We were minding our own business walking towards Zellers.
There was a jerky kiosk to my right.
They always had free samples out and we would take advantage and thank the owner with a bright smile.
I’ve always wanted to buy from them but I didn’t have much money of my own when I was thirteen.

An older teenaged boy randomly grabbed me from behind and starts touching me inappropriately.
He was accompanied by two friends who were watching the whole thing.
In the middle of the mall.
In broad daylight.
I looked around frantically for help but no one came to my rescue.
Not knowing what to do and scared of being taken or hurt,
all I could do was endure until it was over.

Last night I happened upon a Facebook post on my newsfeed.
It was written by an Asian woman who was targeted while riding public transit.
Apparently the perpetrators stated very loud and clear that they only harass Asian women.
No one did anything.

Hello?
Where are the men?
Are the wives and children of others not also wives and children?

I wouldn’t hesitate to stomp your face out with my heels now.

Scum.

An older woman I know once told me about how she was sexually abused during childhood.
She was afraid to speak up and seek help.
To this day,
she still hasn’t been able to share this with her own husband of two decades.
All I could do was listen silently as she allowed herself to cry in front of another for the first time.

Ducks On Motorcycles

Ducks are cool.

In high school, my childhood friend and I would frequent this Asian mall situated in a suburban city that is largely inhabited by the Chinese community.
Before the popularity and ease of online shopping, it was the only place where you could buy an assortment of Japanese hair dye, cute plushies and glittery accessories.
And I was the queen of hair dye during that period of my life.
My hair colour had to change every month.
Though I’ve kept my natural shade for 10 years now, my hair is still a source of my pride and joy.
As you can probably tell. 🙂

There are these tiny little shops with glass walls cramped together in neat rows.
You could walk into any one and be bombarded with tonnes of stuff.
The shops are mostly all stuffed to the brim with lots of stuff.
I attribute this to the bang-for-buck mentality that a lot of Chinese people have.

A ball-shaped duck plushie hanging on a shop window caught my eye as we passed by.
I wanted it so badly.
But the shop was closed.
So I took a picture of it with my white LG Lollipop flip phone and carried on.
When I see something I want, I never forget it.
Never.

And thus started my lifelong love for ducks.

I remember feeling very sad one day during my time at university.
Somehow I stumbled across a video of ducks rolling around in the wind.
I laughed uncontrollably.
I don’t know why I found the video so funny.
After replaying it countless times, I still found it incredibly funny.
Maybe I’m secretly cruel and enjoy the misfortune of others.

When I find myself sad again,
I just hit the play button.
Works every time.

There is a giant yellow duck who has been floating around the world.
I had the pleasure of visiting it a couple years ago while vacationing on the other side of the globe.
I’m reminded of that particular duck right now because a replica one is coming to my corner of the Universe.

My first love had left a deep impression on me for many years.
Perhaps love is not the right word.
I wasn’t sure what it was.
He had a girlfriend.
He would walk me home every day after school.
And carry me on his back whenever we had to cross the icy sidewalk.
In the winter, he would ask me several times whether I was cold.
He worried that my jacket was too thin and would offer me the one he was wearing.
Of course I declined.
I didn’t want him to be cold too.

He would come over to my house and stay for a while.
I still remember the sheepish smile my dad gave me after the first time he bumped into him on our driveway.
I was so embarrassed.
He was the only boy my dad had ever met.

I used to bake him lemon flavoured muffins.
He would take one with him whenever it was time for him to leave.
Now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever baked anyone anything since.

At the time, I was playing a motorcycle racing game on my PS2.
There was a level that I could not beat no matter how hard I tried.
He was over one day and decided to play the game for me.
I fell asleep on the sofa and woke up to a note he left behind.
He told me he’d beaten the level for me and to remember to lock my front door.
I kept that note for years.

I used to crave being in the driver’s seat.
For most of my four-wheeled journeys, I was alone and able to go wherever I wanted.
However I wanted.
It felt like the only thing I was able to truly direct and control in life.
So I was reluctant when he offered to drive me to the restaurant on his motorcycle.
There was still space in the taxi.
But I wanted a thrill and so I agreed.
He was still a stranger at the time.

We chatted about nightlife and fun times.
About our love lives.
He said he would come pick me up two days later at 4:00pm.
And he did.
It had been such a long time since a man had kept his promise to me.

I started to notice how quietly generous this man was.
Many of the locals would walk around selling lottery tickets to feed their families.
He would buy two tickets every time someone approached him.
One for himself and the other for the seller.
He was giving hope.
And sometimes,
hope is the only thing a person has to live on.
I really admired his character.

It was dark out the last time we went out together.
We went to a body of water which held a giant yellow duck!
I’d never heard about this travelling duck before and found the notion quite amusing.

I don’t think he’ll ever understand what that duck secretly meant to me.

The way back to where I was staying felt especially long.
The howling of the wind seemed extra harsh as it whipped my hair in all sorts of directions.
I left the country shortly after.
Bringing back with me,
a renewed sense of hope.

I really enjoy being driven around.

Fading Flowers

I love flowers.

But if you were to ask me the reason why, I would not be able to tell you.

The first book I’ve ever owned was ‘The Little Prince.’
I did not retain many memories from my childhood, but I do remember very vividly how I met a little prince one day on a sunny, summer afternoon.

I suppose my habit of wandering around alone started when I was a child.
At the time, it was still the norm for children to be alone on the streets without adult supervision.

I remember the bright sunshine on my skin and the rustle of the leaves in the wind. The breeze was always something that comforted me. Like a gentle reminder that you’re not alone in this seemingly endless world.

The neighbourhood I grew up in was a quiet one filled with semi-detached homes and magnificent trees on each lawn.
There were a few homes with gardens filled with all different types of colourful flowers and fragrant shrubs.
Looking at them made me envious but happy at the same time.

I was no stranger to the street I lived on.
So one day when a curious cardboard box magically appeared on the sidewalk, I had to go take a look.
It was filled with many old books.
I carefully sifted through them but nothing caught my attention.
Most of them were thick novels which were much too wordy for my short attention span at the time.
And I was getting bored from the lack of pictures!
How can books not have pictures?!

Just as I was getting exasperated,
I noticed a thin little book that I’d almost missed in the sea of bigger books.
I took it out of the box and there was a picture of a little boy standing on a space rock.
Or is it the moon? I was not sure.
But it was enough for me to open the book and flip through the pages.
It had some pictures. Not a whole lot. And they were not coloured in.
But a book with some pictures was better than no book at all.
And so I took The Little Prince home with me.

I must have read it a million times over the years.
Each time I notice something new and profound.
But what struck me the most about the book, I’ve come to notice, was the character of the rose.
And how the Little Prince came to regret his decision of leaving his home and beloved rose behind.
The means he took to go back to her.
Because ‘you become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.’

Two years ago, I wandered into a used vinyl and Japanese art shop.
Yes, I found the combination strange as well.
I looked around and though everything was beautiful, there was only one painting which caught my attention.
I stared at it for a seemingly long time.
Perhaps so long, that the shopkeeper came over and started introducing the wall scroll to me.
‘It is a painting of the Camellia flower waiting patiently for the distant butterfly to arrive.’
‘Oh. It’s beautiful.’ was all I could manage to say.

Although the butterfly is in the distance, the Camellia continues to bloom and flourish.
Year after year.

My front lawn has always annoyed me.
My father loved being outside and tending to the grass and plants.
He would disappear on a Sunday morning and come home with a new shrub or a flower.
I assume because he grew up in a small farming village, that he only knew how to plant things in a straight line.
And hence the source of my annoyance.
Aesthetically, my front lawn drives me up the wall.
Each time I walk into my home, there would be a cloud of vexation which followed me inside.
Without fail.

And countless times, I’ve wanted to hire a landscaper to come and redo our front lawn.
But my mother for some reason has always loved and protected it.
Claiming it is beautiful.
And I scoffed at her every time.

Last week I was in the mood for some fresh flowers in my room.
That very morning, my mother had asked me to take some pictures of her beside one of our flower trees.
Because of her request, I started to notice the beauty of the individual members who lived on my lawn, rather than the aesthetic appeal of the whole lawn collectively.
I decided to cut some flowers.

Initially I was hesitant.
Because who was I to cut short the life of another living thing?
Does this flower wish for me to take it away from its friends and into a foreign isolated environment?
Much like the caged bird?

However, my desire for a fragrant room outweighed my moral guilt.
And so it is done.
And I am momentarily happy.
And I admire the blossoms on my desk for a couple of days.
Until the petals start wilting.
And I am forced to return the dying flowers to the dirt of which they came from.

I noticed yesterday that the blooms on my trees were all collectively starting to wilt.
Is the beauty of a flower any less if it goes unnoticed?
Is the life of a flower not sad?
She who blooms so radiantly and yet is not appreciated or admired.

I decided then,
that the flower would rather be loved and die a premature death.
Than live an invisible and meaningless existence.

Plus, they’ll bounce back next year anyways.