Tagged: youth


I can’t write any articles on loss and grief because I am not old enough yet. There are teenagers who post on their Facebook walls sadness in a status and teenagers who decorate their Instagram feeds with black and white, vignette, varying hues of gray and darkness and teenagers who slit their throats in 140 characters; the short sentences are extremely sharp and hurt their readers as well, prompting a Retweet. I can’t complain that I am sad and tired and that I feel, wondrously, miraculously, that I have given up, because what right do I have, I am only a teen and I am not an adult who has lost her sheen which the harsh adult world took from her like a blanket stolen off a baby in a cradle. I watch as my friends meet half an hour earlier in front of the school gates, to talk about things that they’ll be told off for talking about at home. I watch as my friends get asked why their pocket money is depleting so quickly, why there’s messages telling them not to die in a ditch, things’ll be better soon dear fifteen year old pal, it’ll be alright – the money was spent on tissues; a tissue transaction to soak up the many tears cascading down a soft cheek, skin that’s pimpled and pigmented and undergoing puberty; so young. The cheek of youth stained by tears. I can’t talk about my sorrows because it just shows how much of a teenager I am, someone who likes to complain and shriek and sob at the dinner table, cigarette hanging from my lips, tobacco nicking the piercing glistening on the skin of my lips, sins spilling from my lips. I can’t talk about the fact that I am also a vessel of regret, of sadness, of depressing things to talk about, like my mother, her mother, her husband, his wife, the grown-up cousin at a wedding, my distant relative whose son is the CEO of a tissue paper company that may or may not make money from sad kids who soak misery into the three-ply, four-ply, five-ply tissue paper like how teenagers – the girls, that is – use pads on their periods. I can’t pass discourse over the women who buy pads in excess and the fact that teenagers need them more than they do, nowadays, because I am too young and I should not have gotten my period, and I ought to keep my mouth shut. I can’t let the words tired, sad, really frustrated, want to fling myself off the building you work at slip out of my mouth, because the world has given me the privilege of owning thread and a needle to sew my young, ripe mouth up.


Taste-tester 1: Overflowing sinks

These days there is nothing I want to actually do, except for

mope around like the saddest animal alive, ravaged,

hair bloodied and sticking to my back like cold prickle. The heat is

definitely overwhelming, creating red haze and decorating my

nose and forehead and gaps between my fingers with beads of sweat..

Every time I pick up the scoop with its silver

surface and its mint handle, I watch the chocolate dribble down its edges and feel the

freeze of ice cream trickle down my wrist before I actually

spoon it into my mouth. The brown colour leaves streaks into the whiteness of my clothes

and I am reminded of how my actions dirtied others who probably

who get stained way too easily, anyway…

I tell myself to wake up from my stupid songs and silly daydreams but the hurt of reality slices into me far too deep; and


... I find myself hesitating,

halting, tears slipping warmly down my cheeks like the open faucet of a sink;

I will not try, today, although I want to, because it doesn’t matter if I get

strong when all the doctors hear is a weak heart-beat inside of me. Instead, I leave

speak to anyone who will listen; telling them that I’m not strong enough to turn the tap

off so I’ll just leave it running, and wait for the sink to overflow.


My sincerest apologies.

I wrote a little paragraph of poetry to keep myself going – I must live out the blissful holiday-days slowly but sweetly, savouring each bit like ice cream melting beneath my teeth, on top of my tongue.

P.S please leave your truthful feedback in the comments, or drop me an email at thepapergutspeople@gmail.com to talk more!



My Niece and Her Intergalactic Battles

My niece likes Star Wars. And not just a bit, but a lot–her interest in the galaxy and machinery and all the other twisted elements borne out of an amazing writer’s proliferated imagination engulf her small frame by a ton.

My cousin–her mother–recently bought her a new toy, except that…it wasn’t really a toy. My niece received a set of 100 magnetic pieces in different colours, in standardized shapes of equilateral triangleelongated isosceles trianglelarge squaresmaller square. They’re tinted with magenta, blue, yellow, orange and green–and will soon be worn with my niece’s fumbling and tumbling about with them.

I went over for dinner just two days ago, a nice Saturday evening with a sky that was so gray and blank it hung like a slate over me. She lives in a nice condominium; the balconies are gorgeous, (but she, my five-year-old niece, is obviously, obviously much more breath-taking than the spectacular view of the city).

Before dinner, she took out the set of magnetic pieces, and proceeded to slam them down on the floor in a hurry. Her flurried actions caught my eye, so I knelt down and assembled some pieces myself.

I would actually like to interject a thank you to her. My five-year-old niece gave me a break from rapid typing up of documents; playing with magnetic pieces may not appeared to have appeal, or attraction (if you get the pun) towards a (cranky)(sleep-deprived) teenager like me, but a profound feeling settled deep into my bones, nestling themselves into the aching nooks of my body:

Peace. It had arrived, and what a blessing the feeling was! My stress and anxiety simply melded off as I sat there with my niece, assembling magnetic pieces together into weird figures, or buildings, or…whatever that she was instructing me to build.

Crash! We had built some sort of farm-house thing, and it had fallen to the ground, clattering around the glass coffee table and the nice play-mat my niece received from her teacher, as a gift for behaving well (perhaps she is the epitome of Things I Cannot Achieve, being a polite and ‘good’ schoolgirl from the start of my lifetime). She didn’t cry, nor did I, although the farm-house vaguely resembled a two-story, sleek, stylish apartment modelled after those cool apartments in Korean dramas, the modern pads for the better off.

🙂 Not the point.

Anyway, she picked up the magnetic pieces (hopefully she won’t have to do the same for her heart, next time;)) and embarked on a new construction project. I cooed What are you building, honey around five times before her intense gaze swung from the coloured pieces to my confused (possibly, pimpled) face and announced proudly, “It’s Darth Vader’s ship!”

Darth Vader’s ship…Did Darth Vader have a ship? What was his role again; who’s father was he? I had some brief recollection of Luke being a possible offspring of Darth Vader…was that even correct?

I decided to broach the subject. “Do you want to build the farm house again”, I tried to assert, but it was met with an unsatisfactory grunt as she gathered more pieces to build what she proclaimed was “Darth Vader’s chair” (honey, it looks like two crackers) and “Darth Vader’s screen” (can he take selfies with that, or does he make use of the screen to see if his boyfriend/girlfriend is cheating on him?)

My niece looked at me, and quite hesitantly, asked me if I’d watched Star Wars. 

“It’s a saga, right?”

“What’s a saga?”

“…Er, no?”

“Can we watch  Star Wars later? Mommy! Can we?

Regardless of my lack of knowledge about Star Wars, one of the famous’saga films’, and regardless of my lack of expertise in architecture (all my buildings ended up looking like mottled loaves of bread as compared to my niece’s creations), I know one thing: I want her to be fighting battles in her lifetime, yes, but I want these battles to be worthy of her time. I want her to emerge the victor in most, but lose, in some, so she is able to recover from the ‘rough and tough’ from one battle, yet come back fresh-faced for the next war.

My niece is five years old and standing a little over forty inches, and has a common condition called eczema. The skin around her ankles and the top of her wrists are a little crusty, and they get red and inflamed when she is exposed to certain things, like a type of fabric on her own couch.


While I understand that ezcema is a lifelong thing, a condition that lingers with one for more than a certain ‘period of puberty’, I hope she is able to build her own fleet of starships, conquer the Darth Vaders within herself and uproot characters stymieing a beautiful end to a well-fought saga.


Written in response to the Daily Post daily prompt ‘saga’


You promise yourself a lot of things
But everlasting youth couldn’t be attained
What is innocence? Simply an age of five-to-fifteen?
What are tissues; simply items to mop your cheeks away, clean
of evidence of destruction and self-despair.
How do people swill in their sorrows
and pop those spilling out with a pill
When I can hardly breathe, living with myself.
It’s short and sweet, I think, keeping my head down,
my hoodie flipped up, eyes on the sidewalk and hands in my pockets
Life is short and sweet, so I’ll just live like how I want to.
But there is this pain,
insufferable pain,
blinding pain,
that screams to me in the comfort of darkness;
I want to hide under it, for it’s
warm. The dark is warm,
Things don’t work anymore. They simply do not, hence
I stop the machine.

I Have A Dream

Days like these
(they make me cry)
you think I’m such a fool,
a fool for love,
a fool for hope,
a fool for peace,
a fool fallen to the
tricks of a thread-bare society

It’s fabric,
torn and tattered, and
just leaving shattered
hearts along the route,
along the road of poverty
glance at the discrimination
of criminals and not,
of those desperate and not,
of suit and tie and of musician,
of corporate man, of artist woman

Honestly, what is this world
that we happen to live in,
(it’s by chance)
not by fate,
that our cold, cold
chilled this very way

Let’s warm it up
Clap your hands
Send puffs of warmth
through hope
wrapped up in confidence,
send an upvote
don’t cling to shame

You think I’m a fool
for trying to change,
something that is…

But how do you think
I managed to fix myself?
A mangled piece of machinery, knuckles barely bone,
metal barely flesh,
heart on the cusp of failure,
blood barely

If we all take a step
Maybe even two
(it’s worth the effort, honey)
for Martin Luther King
Jr had a dream,
and I have one, too.

I’m fifteen years old, and
Days like these
they make me cry,
with the hope that
I have a dream but
we can make it a

Below is the excerpt of the speech that inspired me:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

— Excerpt from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, I Had A Dream