Home is…

a room filled with the melodious laughter of a baby
after falling on their tushie
as they bravely take their first step;

two people enjoying a cup of coffee together
while watching the color of the sunset change slowly,
from bright gold to orange to a red afterglow;

everyone gathering around the kitchen table
for breakfast, arms overlapping,
eager to get that perfectly cooked sunny side up egg –
crispy edges, whites mostly set and a runny yolk;

cooking a pot of creamy macaroni soup
during cold, rainy days and serving it piping hot
for that extra warmth…when cuddles just aren’t enough;

that safe corner..that safe space
to act silly…to let go…to cry and breakdown
when the world becomes too much;

that genuine hug…that gentle pat…
a kind word…a warm smile…
that soothing voice lulling all the bad dreams away;

wherever your heart feels most at peace
amidst the rancor and the noise outside.


Things I Never Told You…

Or maybe I did, but I’ve forgotten and just wanted to say again;

I remember the days before you left

How I bit my tongue so much and swallowed these words

a bitter aftertaste still lingers in my mouth…

[That] I’d already given up on trying to hold us together;

I’d already let you go, even before you left on that gloomy July afternoon two years ago;

I stopped loving you at one point in the years that we were together;

I regret taking you back and trying again…

I felt suffocated too, and I also wanted to run away from the life we had together;

You’ve become a burden too heavy to carry…

And I’ve grown tired of trying to understand your fickle nature;

Sometimes I wish I’d stayed away when I told my friends that I would…

I should have followed everyone’s advice;

I should have listened to my intuition when it told me you’d never change for me;

It’s been such a relief…

Since you left, everything seems to be falling into place and I struggle less each day;

I’ve had more breathing space;

Thank you for leaving…

I hope you’ve finally found what you’ve always been craving for all this time;

In spite of all the hurt and the betrayal, I genuinely want you to be happy.

A note on the roles we play.

Let me borrow from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” and quote Jacques’ famous phrase in Act-II, Scene-VII:

“All the world’s a stage,/ And all the men and women merely players.”

The past two years has allowed me to rekindle my love and passion for reading. I’d say I’ve devoured more novels, including graphic novels, in the past two years than I ever did eight years prior. This is largely because of some commitments and baggage I decided to let go of since two years ago, which freed up a lot of my time.

As with all novels, they all had a number of characters that play specific roles to drive the story to its predetermined ending. Among the contents that I’ve been reading are translated Chinese novels, where I encountered the term “cannon fodder”. The term by definition is associated with soldiers or combatants that are expendable. The term isn’t entirely new, but when used in a story where there aren’t any soldiers fighting a war was something new to me.

It somehow resonated with me, and made me realize that we are all cannon fodder in someone else’s story. All the world’s a stage and we’re all acting a specific role. But unlike the usual play or film or novel, we’re in a story within a story within another story that’s inside another story and it goes on infinitely.

The director, author, screenwriter, production staff, editor are all one entity, a higher being somewhere in the universe. Who’s probably watching the entire story unfold through an infinite number of stages and screens – omnipresent. Just imagine…we think that we’re acting out of our own free will but perhaps we’re all just following a script written and interwoven with so many others, entering and exiting the frame on cue.

Each of us acts as the lead, we are the protagonist, the title role in our own story and at the same time we are a piece, a bit, a walk-on, a side character, a cameo in someone else’s. Sometimes, we’re also given a role for one of the more commonly known archetypes – the nemesis, the BFF/sidekick, the mentor, the love interest, the other party, and the fool, just to name a few. We’ve all acted as cannon fodders, villager a, villager b to z, extra 1 to n. We’re all so versatile and we weren’t even aware of it.

I guess we can all take pride in the fact that we are all natural born actors. We drive our own stories and we also drive other people’s stories especially those closest to us. We exit the stage or leave the film set when we’ve acted out all our scenes and read all our lines. The curtain call is special though – it’s a single person curtain call. And depending on the number of times we played a side character, as well as the number of side characters who appeared in our story, the closing credits could go on for a while.

Yellow

I saw an incomplete rainbow yesterday…

And I was reminded of the days when slam books were a thing;

Where among the numerous questions was:

“What is your favorite color?”

And I’d always write – Yellow in block letters, as if in declaration;

Despite not owning a single thing of such color.

Thinking back, most of the things I had were in various shades of blue…

And as I grew older – countless whites and blacks;

And although friends had their opinions,

It never occurred to me that the lack thereof was anything unusual.

Despite the absence of yellow-colored items in my person, it is still my favorite color…

Yellow reminds me of warm afternoons – like a bright spot in my introversion;

Yellow is the calm after the daily hustle and bustle

And the comforting hug after a long, tiring day;

Sometimes, yellow tastes like jealousy, and the anxiety that blooms occasionally;

It tastes like the emotional fragility that leaves me feeling helpless and lost at times – sour and a little bitter…

But yellow is also the sound of quiet, contented laughter

and the soft chirping of birds that greet me in the morning.

Nostalgia

In my childhood days, my lola would wake up before the roosters crowed and before dawn breaks over the rice paddies.

After saying her morning prayer and going through her morning rituals, she’d scoop a handful of rice

And roast them in an old wok, placed on top of a wood-fire stove occupying a corner of the kitchen…

The nutty and toasty fragrance of rice grains roasting slowly, always brought such warmth in the morning…

After roasting, my lola would steep the grains in boiling water until the roasted grains lends its color…

her preferred hue of coffee was the darkest shade of brown, you’d almost think it’s black.

She always – to this day – takes her coffee unadulterated; no sweeteners…no milk…

Once, over at the breakfast table, she told me as I curiously gazed at her taking a sip of that bitter brew

that the bitterness reminded her of the sweetness of life…

and my juvenile mind could not comprehend such contradicting words until i experienced some harsh realities of life…

One can only truly appreciate life’s sweetest moments after going through hardships, heartaches and life’s bitter moments…