{image found here}

There was once a boy I was infatuated with.

I thought the long looks he sent me from across the room were of want and need, of bashfulness and of insecurity. Only after I fell out of infatuation with him did I realise that he has the same wide eyes for everyone, brown-tinted irises and bushy eyebrows that never bent a different way for me. An emotion I once dare mistake for captivated was actually just perplexed.

He was wondering why the tight-lipped girl who hardly formed a string of words in his presence was looking so curiously at him. I had thought, some several summers ago, that a boy who held my gaze for four seconds straight and did not let go had to be in some kind of love with me. I had never found out if that was a misconception or not.

On some occasions the tips of his fingers would brush against mine, and I would feel the supposed sparks of electricity in a deep pit of my stomach. I was set on the assumption that these touches were not coincidental, but part of a ploy of a magnetic boy who knew whose fingers were the north to his south. Or at the least, happy accidents born of a silent desire repeated so many times – in a head usually so quiet – that the Forces of the Universe bent to his wishes. I wanted to tell him that I would gladly hold his hand and walk as far as he wanted; but I only recently realised that he had never planned to hear those words from me.

When I was still in infatuation with him, I thought that he was exactly what my heart wanted. Countless nights my subconscious would play back his face, and in the morning I would wake up with the sun in my hair and a stupid smile on my face. For hours I would ponder on my approach for when I next met him, like a chess game I was playing with delicate fingers, playing for a stake I did not want to lose.

I ended up with a bitter stalemate, a halfway-there-but-not-quite, the definition of “in the middle of nowhere” leaving an unusual taste on my tongue.

Unapologetically, I had given all I could to him for two years. Every conversation that was too far out of comfort zone, every forlorn stare, every indiscreet comment. Every fantasy of the future, every content smile thinking “I’ll wait for him”, every poem I ever wrote for him.

It was only infatuation, but it still hurts when he looks me in the eye.

{written on 5 Oct ’14}

cover (up) girl

{found on We Heart It}

{found on We Heart It}

In the mirror, in the morning, I am perfect.
Or rather, attractive. Desirable. Presentable.
Something about the way my hair curls naturally
The way my face looks porcelain without make-up
The way my clothes match my skin tone.
In public, I am the girl who walks
with the right mix of grace and quiet
Like a still, glassy pond reflecting a brilliant sunrise.
Exuding a certain kind of confidence
Never misplaced, never wavering
Back straight, chest up, eyes focused.

So why is it that at home,
I am the girl
In messy clothes, bad posture, blemishes
Who looks at herself in a front-facing camera
And laughs it off too quickly?
Why am I the one
Who wishes to be in a body more mature than her own
Desperate to own make-up for covering up her face?

Why is it that
At home, I am the girl
Made of clay
Anxious to fit into the right mould
Afraid to dry too soon into
an ugly, indefinite mess?

I’ll go to sleep, and tomorrow will be a new day
But time is running out on my hour glass
My day-to-day hours of glory are growing shorter
And I know that one day I will wake up,
Hungry for self-love,
And I will slap on a new mask
And hopefully, be able to pretend that everything is all right.

a beautiful morning

The dark, grey clouds gather in masses over the trees, their heads facing the now-forgotten stars and their legs ready for galloping. They are like stallions of night, preparing to dissipate until they are called once again.
The lighter clouds are wisps of cooler air, neither day time or night, streaking the sky in every direction; it is as if they are the dust under the horses’ hooves, or the wind carrying them away. Erratic, beautiful.
Then there is the sunlight. The gentle, pink-orange-yellow rays, bursting forth with a warmth no one has ever experienced. They crawl out slowly into the brightening sky, laughing infants of the Sun, turning into the wise and old by dusk. Their presence chases the horses away, scatters the wind, claiming the sky as they take their place. Every day is a amalgamate of colours, a new canvas for creation.
And the only proof it ever occurs is the reflection captured in the reservoir, where thousands of commuters in trains pass by, preferring the landscapes on their smartphones.

{written on 7 August ’14}

a year of different seasons, a year with you

{image found here: http://favim.com/image/1801982/ }


I, January.

I liked you from afar.

You, the tanned boy with black-framed glasses that I found my eyes gravitating toward;
I, the girl by the corner of the room, lips pursed and expression clouded,  in a mood of constant contemplation.

You, the boy who deliberately didn’t do class work or pay attention;
I, the girl who found herself struggling to pay attention with you in the room.

You, the boy with nothing to lose;
I, the girl with so much to hope for.


II, February.

You came closer.

You, the boy I saw at every school event I attended;
I, the girl who found it step out of her shell.

You, the boy who talked loudly and laughed even louder;
I, the girl who spoke softly and cried even softer.

You, the boy that met my gaze that night;
I, the girl who held it.

You, the boy with the almond brown eyes;
I, the girl who would never forget.

You, the boy who I found staring at me in class, unblinking;
I, the girl who quickly looked away, unbelieving.

You, the boy who joined my group for projects, wanted to know me;
I, the girl who let myself go.


III, June.

I loved (you) every minute.

You, the boy who could brighten my day with a ‘good morning';
I, the girl who made you bagels for breakfast and met you before the sun rose.

You, the boy who couldn’t sing but did it anyway for a laugh;
I, the girl who found myself joining in, unabashed.

You, the boy who bought me lunch when I had lessons after school;
I, the girl who automatically knew when you entered the room.

You, the boy who introduced me to new people;
I, the girl who taught you math formulae and chemical reactions.

You, the boy who took the train home with me;
I, the girl who lived in the opposite side of the city from your house.

You, the boy who wished me ‘good night’ every night without fail;
I, the girl who started sleeping later and smiling more.


IV, July.

I told you I liked you.

You stood perfectly still.
I couldn’t breathe.

You looked away, eyes uneasy.
I shut my eyes, preparing for the worst.

“My grades–” you started, then stopped.
I blinked, once, twice, waiting.

“I can’t have a girlfriend this year-“
“…not with the national exams coming up.”

Silence. “I understand.”

“I’m sorry.”
“Did you ever feel the way I feel toward you?”

A pause. “I think so.”
A sliver of something that could be, yet nothing at all.
“Let’s just pretend this conversation never happened.”


V, August.

We spent time apart.

You, the boy who left with his friends;
I, the girl who stayed in school to study.

You, the boy who talked to everyone but me;
I, the girl who found afternoons more quiet than ever.

You, the boy who continued eating bagels I did not make;
I, the girl who eventually got used to the space beside me as normal and not empty.

You, the boy who still sang loudly and out of tune;
I, the girl who did not want to hope for things that could not be.


VI, October.

The national examinations were around the corner.
Months of stress had built up and left me exhausted and weary.
Even the sky began to weep uncontrollably,
sending sheets of white down every day,
leaving us frigid, leaving us cold.

You called me the day after the last examination.
Asked me to meet you in the garden behind the school.
When I saw you there, you pulled me into an embrace with your gloved hands,
And said: “I’ve missed you so much. I should never have–“
And I said, crying: “Don’t ever do that again.”


VII, December.

You became my worst distraction.

You, the boy who slung his arm around my shoulders in the cinema;
I, the girl who fed you popcorn and giggled softly.

You, the boy with callous, rough, warm hands;
I, the girl that held them gently.

You, the boy with a million childhood stories;
I, the girl with big dreams of becoming famous.

You, the boy who I bought matching phone cases with;
I, the girl you showed your hiding places.

You, the boy who told everyone I was your girlfriend;
I, the girl who brought you home for dinner with my family.

You, the boy who sees my vulnerability like no one else;
I, the girl who confided your fears to.

You, the boy I love.
I, the girl who is hopeful.

Things are looking up.

{john legend – all of me}

{written on 2 August ’14}

waiting (for things that will never come)


To the people who were just too far apart to make a connection, no matter how hard each person tried.

This is the third time I’ve had to dial;
this time, the house number.
My father picks up, perks up when he hears my voice
Asks, “where are you now?”
I tell him, “please pass the phone to mom.”

Silence quickly ensues,
and he calls for my mother.
More silence. Eventually,
“She wants to know where you are.”
“Khatib. Can you tell her to come out and fetch me?”

He pauses, a silent question lingering in the air:
‘Am I not good enough?’
But it is ignored, and maybe for a second
I consider asking him to fetch me instead
But it is gone in the same second.
And in that last note a thousand lines could be supplemented instead,
a thousand ways to make up for earlier
“I love you”s or “I’ll see you at home” or
“I bought breakfast” or “I’m going to work tomorrow”
or something, or anything

“Okay,” is the final reply.
I strain to say “by—“
But the line goes dead.

{written on 1 August ’14}

we were never best friends


Four years ago,
I wrote a composition
About a girl who had, for a year,
been my best friend
And who had taken only a day to stray.
I gave it to my English teacher
and she gave me 85%.

I saw her again
In the same neighbourhood we grew up in
Through the same glasses I cried in
With the same girl she’d replaced me with.
She herself was different;
Fresh home from America, where she’d spent the last four years
Her face was caked white
And her eyes puffy from an overdose of contact lenses
I did not recognise her at first.

Suddenly it became an unlikely triangle
Of people who had not seen each other for years
And who learned to get used to it
An awkward triangle with vertices that did not quite fit;
Friendly banter was thrust upon me
With the force of a thousand horses marching into war
With the grace of an Asian girl turned white
To their credit, they all joined in
Like artisans at a playing table, throwing out a line
To keep the game moving.
Experts they were, at the game they did not even realise
Was happening
Because they had come to define it as “friendliness”.
When the turn landed on me,
my hand was dreadful; I, a mere beginner.

The friend said “I have a card for you before you leave” and
I watched from a million miles away
As the conversation went out without me
As if it were the most natural thing in the world
I stood there, eyes drifting, silenced, waiting

And I think of possibilities now,
Cards I should have played,
Points I should’ve earned.
“When did you get back? How’s America?
How long are you staying for?”
But feigned interest is something in witchcraft
That I have not mastered.
I look at her and all I can think of
Are the Neoprints she still owes me from 3 years ago,
Back from her first trip home.
The Neoprints that were probably thrown out
years ago.

“The last time you saw her was…four years ago?”
And I could tell the truth but I hold my tongue;
The dying remnants of our acknowledgement
of each other’s existence
Cannot be salvaged by forced, one-way friendship
on my part
And I watch it fade.

Four years ago,
I wrote a composition
About a girl who had, for a year,
been my best friend
And who had taken only a day to stray.
I gave it to my English teacher
and she gave me 85%.

I will go to sleep
And when I wake up,
I won’t even remember seeing her.
And maybe I’ll finally let myself know
We weren’t peas of the same pod
That I was only a make-do choice,
And that she was waiting on someone better.
And I’ll let myself do the same.

{written on 1 August ’14}

you + me = ?

{click image for the source}

As an addition to your life I was nothing more than a contamination; air licking the inside of a jar of alkali metals, salt in a tube of acid. I was like the dirt ingrained into once-golden coins, by the hands of sweaty men frying noodles with towels around their necks. For some reason I have always known that I never complemented you and was never meant to. I wish I could say, ‘I ruined you’, but I was always the dirt under your fingernails, the dust you wash off in the shower, never leaving anything substantial but always returning for seconds. The dip I left in your mattress did not make you miss me, it only made it slightly more difficult to sleep at night. My head did not match the curve of your neck. Rather than leaving scars of ‘I miss you’, I left a litter of bruises than healed with time and disappeared like they had never been there.

You may brag that you are fine with or without me, but I will never have the same privilege.

close call


your words echo off the creaky ceiling fan, the empty drink cartons, the walls of peeling paint. you stretch your hand out, beckoning. reaching for something. reaching for someone. they turn around–

you stare at her across the table, her face between the pages of a book and her eyes nowhere near yours. your hands are by your side. your words are only thoughts. the fan is deafeningly loud and your body has become merely a shell of heartache and heartbreak that has grown all too accustomed to the feeling and the girl across the table, who lives four houses down and whose favorite flavor is chocolate chip dough will never know that you love her.

you heave a sigh of relief.

a letter to my future daughter (i)


what breaks like glass cannot
bend like trees. do not be
glass. hiding from lightning
and rain is not an act of
cowardice; it is survival.
there are some battles
meant to be lost, and
darling, it does not mean
you have shattered. pick
yourself up. hold yourself
close. be your own
protector, when I can no
longer hold you myself.

{written on 2 May ’14}

this may be an apology letter

I am convinced I only love you because you loved me first. what do I do when this ends? What happens when I look into your eyes and stop seeing my own reflection? When you laugh but it no longer sounds inviting? This is not a tall stone statue in your backyard, destined to stand for generations. this is a bird. will it, fragile and small, break in my hands? Will I feel the sharp shards of a love once had or nothing at all? I am so sorry. I am so, so sorry. I want to love you forever, the kind you compare to stars and cosmos and boundless things, with growing passion every day, but one day when you stop loving me, I suppose I’ll stop loving you too.