…Never Made A Skillful Sailor (2/2)


Huebucket bicycle5
Art by: Huebucket

At this point, you either black out or you are paralysed.

Either way, no one starts gracefully. We all gasp for air, our throats seized with panic at first, our arms and legs kicking in fear. Ironically, we act like fish out of the water, thrashing around, wrestling the elements. Submerged in bills, decisions, appointments that you don’t know how to handle.

As you awaken the next day, tossed and turned around, nebulous like the froth of the sea, it dawns on you that for a long, long while, it will be just you. You and this vast, endless world. Temperamental, smooth, deep, calm and yet strong, this is what you’re up against. So deep it is that your feet never touch the ground. You are constantly out of your depths. There is nothing that has been as hard, ever. You are trying, heartbeat after heartbeat, to just stay alive. It becomes exhausting to live like this. So you stop trying. You find out that you can just lay back and let these waters take you wherever they will. For a while, that is life. You let yourself get drunk and seduced by weightlessness, over and over.

You do not care, you have no spirit left in you. Until the ocean turns inclement and it takes you by surprise as though you’d forgotten how it could be. Its waters turn you over, swallow you, crash in on you wave upon wave, and your body fights with a vigour you thought you had lost. You wake up one day, sober,your head feeling like an egg that has been cracked. ‘What am I doing with my life?’

Sometime after, as the ocean is calm again, you meet some other soul. Thrown off a boat, haggard and famished like you. Under normal circumstances, you would have never cared for them. But now you are inexplicably linked, to the end of your days. Because right now, anyone will do.

Little by little, you learn together to hold your breath longer. You learn when to go with the ocean’s tides and when to swim against currents. You are learning that while you cannot find consistency in something this wild, you can learn the ways in which it is unpredictable. You learn to breathe again, to handle the tides, wave after wave. And if you’re drowning again, there’s someone who’ll save you.

By then, you keep meeting others like you. Drifting towards you like lost souls. Soon, with knowledge and the many people by your side, the untamable ocean just becomes life. With ups and downs, and storms that you have learned to weather. And one day you might have a ship of your own and someone to make walk the plank…

Note: This is Day 24 (!!!) of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. You can find the previous part for this story here. Short stories (Or just stories) are not really my forte, so if you have any constructive criticism, let me know 🙂


A Smooth Sea…(1/2)

Huebucket bicycle5
Art by: Huebucket

On the cusp of adulthood, at the end of the paved road, standing before a cliff with nowhere else to go, a silhouette strangely like mine. A person who keeps looking back to where she came from. You would think, with how much that poor soul is trembling, that there was a pirate’s sword being pushed into her back and merciless waters at her feet. And between them, only a feeble wooden plank soon to be pulled from under her feet if she doesn’t jump first.

I just try to imagine that moment. The lead sinking down in the stomach, stretching it so it reaches even the feet. The roar in the ears, the voices chanting to jump! jump! Being pushed out of a ship that has kept you safe from many a storm before, as you hid deep inside the ship’s belly and listened to Nature wreaking havoc, feeling the sudden, jerky undertow rocking the vessel. But now, on a stormy night, it is your turn. Tonight, you face the storm.

…jump! jump! jump!

Finally, a breath, sharp and something you feel even amidst all the fear and screams.

…jump! jump! jump!

Weightlessness, a brief moment of apnea, of bracing yourself, closing up all you can.

Some people choose to walk until they no longer feel the wood beneath them. They walk until the only other option is to fall. But some take up the chance to build up speed, to run and launch themselves ahead, into the night, into the unknown.

And when you finally hit the water and the first drop splashes, everything around you dies down. The screams and chants fade, there is only freezing water sloshing around, clamping around you like a fist, and a depth underneath you that keeps sucking you in. Your heart is beating so hard and fast it feels like a fish caught in a net, trying to fight its way out.

At this point, you either black out or you…


Note: This is Day 23 (!!!!!!) of my little NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. This story is a two-part one (Although actually, maybe it’ll turn into a three-part thing, who knows). You can also read my entry for Day 22 here. And if you liked this story, I’ve also written about this kind of ocean theme before, which you can find here, here and also here. (What can I say, I like the ocean). 



You Will Heal (Life Gets Better, So Hang In There)

Art by: Pride Nyasha

I sat down today on the same sofa I had sat on 5 years previously, when I believed with everything I had that nothing would ever get better.

A scrawny, withdrawn teenager then, I tried not to exist too obviously, too loudly. I felt I was nothing but all this anxiety raging inside of me, nothing but a receptacle for people’s dirty looks, their pity and yet sometimes amazingly, their jealousy. 5 years ago, I was fading out of existence, a process furthered by the discovery of human nature’s seedy underbelly. When I was finally allowed a look into an adult world’s, I decided I wanted nothing to do with it. But by then, it was a door I was practically being pushed through.

5 years ago, I was what? 15, 16? Oscillating between wanting nothing and needing it all. At the time, all hope had fled. Had spilled out on the pillow in silent midnight cries. I don’t really have hope now, either. But I have the belief that maybe one day, I could have it, and this makes all the difference. And between that ‘no‘ and this ‘maybe‘, stand 5 years and more than a few battles fought alone, to exhaustion. There were fears faced, comfort zones expanded.

I’ll get away from here, I thought, because as a teenager, that’s a totally legitimate plan to have.

But life had other plans. So I’m still here 5 years later.

I don’t know if you were expecting a story of how I’d fallen in love with the most wonderful person, someone who understands my struggles and all the depth and darkness. Something poetic like : “He saw her sitting alone in the darkness and instead of shining a light on her, quietly sat down beside her and held her hand, waiting the darkness out.” But this is not that kind of story. There was no flip. No plot twist. No one to rescue you.

It was mostly a ton of effort. Unsexy, unromantic, stinky effort.

Though I did meet good people. People who might’ve guessed at all the things I hid, but who never wanted to pry. People who were decent, who were funny and didn’t frown at my quirks, and who thought I was kindof cool, actually. People who apologised when they were late, who asked you to message them to let them know you got home safely. People who celebrated your achievements, who would drag you out of hiding and shine the light of recognition on you because take credit for your accomplishments, damn it.

I’ve got some ways to go still.

But 5 years ago, I sat on the same sofa and was another person. 5 years ago, the world was ending, in more ways than one. Today though, I am sitting here, writing, humming the melody of a waltz from a movie I love very much. My breath is light with the scent of peach iced tea and I am relishing the silence, being grateful for the time I am given.

These days, given the right opportunities, I also open up a little. Inconsequential things, stories stripped of too much emotion and detail, but spoken into the atmosphere still. These stories might just be rubble compared to the complex structures I keep inside, but it means that there is a bridge, nonetheless. That trade is open. I squirrel away parts of my story, bits and pieces that don’t connect. I am not doing ‘good’ really, but I am doing better. And in the end, I think that’s all anyone can hope for.

Hang in there, life gets better. And you want to be there to see it happen.

Note: This is Day  22 of my little NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. This is also something I want to dedicate to a good friend, a soul sister, really, who’s going through some rough times. Just hang in there, people, it really does get better. If you liked this entry, you can also check out yesterday’s entry here, which is a little more on the cheerier side of life 🙂

A Spritz of Colour

Art by: Lily Padula

I usually get asked if I’m dressed for a funeral several times each month. But even though I would never wear any of them, I still like bold colours very much. Today, I just wanted to savour all the nuances and tints and undertones the world had to offer.

I was feeling blue, for reasons. Then I went to pick up the clothes that had been drying on the line. It was windy and the white linen billowed gently. The shirts and sheets and cotton pajamas were startling against the blueness of the cloudless sky, so soft they could almost have replaced the actual cumulus. It smelled of that clean scent of softener, like something fruity was floating in the atmosphere, or like perfume had been delicately spritzed in the air. Something you definitely want to get lungfuls of. Something that makes you want to bury your nose in a soft t-shirt and inhale until your chest is so full it cannot expand anymore.

And then there was yellow, too. A roof painted a warm sunflower yellow.  The kind of colour that is cheery but not annoying, comforting but not cheesy.

Beyond that was a canopy painted in a gradient of greens. The tenderer leaves oscillating between yellow and green, the older ones a deep emerald. Yet all swayed gracefully with the wind, back and forth, back and forth.

At that moment, life felt so vivid.

But some of the blueness lingered still. And the black of my shirt still clung to my skin.

But there is one thing I learned from my parents, something they never intended to teach. Troubles are not the end of the world; there can still be joy in times of sorrow. However big your worries are, there is always time for a smile. This moment of happiness you have now, it will come to pass. But the trouble will linger. So be happy when you can, because the same happiness doesn’t come by twice.

I had troubles, but so what?

I still took the white sheets from the line and hid under them, making a minimalist pillow fort. I wrapped them around me and deeply inhaled the scent of cleanliness. I was all dressed in white then, like a happy ghost in the middle of the afternoon. The sun was soothing against the sheets, its warmth causing the fruity scent to bloom and then explode like fireworks in the air.

There was no rainbow. But there was maybe,possibly…a certain florescence of colour within.

Note: This is Day 21 (Week 3!!!) of my little NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge 🙂 

Trouble in the City

Art by: Grant Snider

As thrilling as the city is, its modern interpretation is more lacklustre than not to me. There’s something about it that doesn’t seem natural. Something that’s not quite right.

Houses so close to each other you can almost feel your neighbour’s breath on your cheek, rooftops so close they almost collide like artificial tectonic plates, making the sky look like an azure crack in the ceiling. Apartment buildings and flats too small to house any imagination, to welcome any overabundance of ideas. But at the same time, it’s almost impressive how we are living lives of hedonism and intemperance in tiny rooms only large enough to fit our limbs. But what do we do of our dreams then? What place will they have to grow? Do we just throw them out of the window? Bid them goodbye as they go with the winds?

We’re too stressed, too hurried. Like the White Rabbit worrying about lateness, but more generally, time. We’re constantly worrying about missing out on something because there’s always something  happening. And it’s exciting that there’s always a fun thing to do anytime, but it’s just that for some reason, everything in the city is “important”. From the emails to the brunches. Yeah, even brunch holds a certain authority. Everything in the city seems to be an institution. But even so, everyone seems to be aware of it. Like we know not to take it too seriously.

But I just worry sometimes, as I gaze at the last stars in the sky, the ones under threat of disappearance by smog, that we will forget. We will forget to spend time watching ships as they go quietly by in the harbour. I worry that we will stop watching birds fly, that we won’t people-watch or contemplate the rain.

What I fear most though, is that we will stop admiring our place in the Universe. That our lives will be confined to this city and our gazes will never travel beyond its well-defined borders.


Note: This is Day 20 (!!!) of my little NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. I’ve also written about the city before, so you can also check out this piece of writing here 🙂

Everyone is a loser at some point

Art by: Cynthia Tedy

Sometimes there’s just no other way around it. There’s no shedding light on the darkness, no driving the negativity away. There’s no miracle cure to all of life’s problems.

Sometimes, it’s like a bad case of the flu. You just have to stick with it. Break out in a cold sweat, hurl all you’ve eaten out, have a fever, shiver but also feel too hot. You just have to eat soup and crackers and take lots of fluids. But even then, it’s no cure. There are days when you won’t be able to make it all better. Days when you just have to play with the hand you are dealt, even if that means you have to sit this round out and wait for the next one. Even if that means you get to feel bad when you watch your friends or people you don’t like cash in those sweet, sweet opportunities. Some days, you just…have rotten luck.  And you just have to drag your sore, beaten up corpse of a body to bed and call it a day.

And it’s okay if it lasts longer than that. It’s okay. Because you aren’t meant to win all the time. You aren’t even meant to win most of the time. All you are meant to do is try your best. No one can ask any more of you than that. And it so happens that some days, your best involves you staying in bed, recovering. And there’s nothing wrong with that.


Note: This is Day 19 of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. Granted, writing everyday is becoming a little grating, but I’m sticking with it. I’m seeing this through even if I have to crawl to reach that finish line. Aha…hahahah…ha. But hopefully, I’ll be seeing things in a different light before November ends 🙂

Too Big For The Ocean

Art by: Puuung

Years ago, on that sweltering summer day, we ran into the sparkling ocean, shrieking and splashing and living. Today though, I’m drawing starfish and seashells on the corner of a letter that will never reach you. Even so, I’m writing to you about how the ocean calls your name. How I wish every seashell I put to my ear would echo the sound of your laughs. I wish the ocean we shared before didn’t have to be the one thing to separate us now.

But do you remember what summer was like here?

The sun heating our faces, turning our shoulders red. The shaved ice coloured pink, green, yellow and blue that would melt on the stick, dripping down our hands. The wind filtering through the locks of our hair stiff from dried salt. The cold water we would drink straight from the coconut, heavy in our small arms. Do you remember that even then we held hands? Back when we knew nothing about the world, and it seemed the most natural thing to do?

Do you remember? But they tell me you’re trying to forget.  I can’t bear to ask because I’m always hoping I’ll hear the sound of your feet on the sand, sloshing against the welcoming waves. Always imagining you will return to the ocean and dare call it home. But home is no longer the space between our intertwined hands. Home is now an apartment building squeezed in between two others, right? Home is a grey flat lost in the metropolis, a shrub of greenery peeking out of a tiny, stuffed balcony.

There’s no point, right?

You no longer know the ocean. You do not remember running after airplanes taking off by the sea. Bare feet burning on the asphalt, laughing as we sped up, believing we would also take flight if we went fast enough. No, the city is yours now. This little village by the sea is nothing to you. Only a dot on the world map. A bit of green drowned in all the blue. You’ve outgrown the ocean, I guess. So I can only understand that if you’re big enough now to cross it, the only reason you are not here yet is because you don’t want to be.

I finish off the seashells with a golden pen. And the rest is muscle memory. Fold the letter in the envelope. Push it in the back of the drawer. Place it on top of the stack. Try to forget.


Note: This is Day 18 of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. You can find the entry for Day 17 here.

Not Okay

Art by: Loony

“How long has it been since you’ve been loved? Since you’ve been seen for who you truly are? How long have you been hiding—cutting off pieces of yourself and burying them in places no one would find them? How long have you been scared of people finding out about your story? How many times have you wished they would? How many more times do you need to ache to understand that this isn’t normal? These memories, these bookmarks of your story—if you bury them, they will only grow.  And like baobabs, their roots will find their way to your heart. They will entrench themselves so profoundly that they will take over. Until one day, you will not even see the blueness of the sky. How long until this carefully constructed lie falls apart and you realise how empty you’ve made yourself?”


Note: This is Day 17 of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. You can read the entry for Day 16 here. If you enjoyed this, I’ve also written about similar themes previously.

These Unromantic Addictions

Source: Rainonawindopane

I wonder who I was before I had a smartphone? It might seem silly but…how did I take my meals before, if not before a phone screen? (Probably in front of the TV, my mind supplies). But why do I need a distraction from food? Food is delicious. An all-consuming kind of experience all on its own. And yet why?

Since when did I need to have all my senses occupied, confounded all at once? Since when have I been fighting the silence of my own soul? The kind that is without distraction. A silence of the eyes, the mouth, the ears, the mind. I feel as though all these voices from outside have shut the one from within, drowning it out in noise, its message lost in the static. No, truly, it has become hard to do nothing. It has become hard to just be. Scrolling down newsfeeds, giving likes, that is the new nothing.

But lately, I have been longing for a deep breath the way a smoker craves the scent and feel of nicotine in their throat. I have been yearning to do nothing. To air out my mind the way you air out a dress that has been stuffed in the back of a closet for too long. The insides of my brains have turned musty. So now, I have this wild desire to have my brain cells caressed by the breeze, to let the coolness of a zephyr tickle my thoughts, turning them crisp and fresh again. I have had enough of this prison of the senses. I do not want to be entertained. I do not wish to be distracted from myself, from the truths swirling inside of me.

I kindof just want to be, away from this unromantic little addiction.


Note: This is a late entry for Day 16 of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. You can read the entry for Day 15 here.  This is a bit different from what I usually write, a little less whimsical and not something I expected to write for NaNoWriMo but hey, phones might not be very romantic to write about but they’re still a thing.

All Anyone Can Do

Art by: Kim Min Ji

All the days were the same, tinted with tentative happiness.

Until today when my comfortable, sheltered routine crashed and I had to say goodbye.  And I realised I had taken my time for granted. I had let my days flow by, frame by frame like in a film roll. All the while knowing explicitly that each day was a stitch in the tapestry of life and that ultimately, each would affect the overall picture. You see, life does not just happen now, it also happens in retrospect. It is not a mere succession of days, no. What you do with your days becomes what you do with your months becomes what you do with your years becomes what you do with your life.

But I let it all go by me, like a powerpoint presentation I wasn’t remotely interested in. I chewed on a pen, doodled a little, wrote some terrible poetry and daydreamed, almost waiting for it to end. But then the presentation came to an end and it was like I had suddenly woken up, anxiety again master of my mind, and I realised I had missed out on something too important.

If I know one thing, it is that you should not take Life and Time for granted.  You can waste either if you want, but waste it knowing the value of what you’re wasting. And well, not all ‘waste’ is waste. Not all days need to matter in the way the world defines it. You don’t need to save the world everyday. You don’t need to save yourself everyday. Some days are just for existing. For being warm and cozy and to hug the people you love a lot. Some days are for movie marathons that last 9 hours. The days that don’t matter are important.

But don’t take Time for granted. Don’t think you have all of life to do this thing. You never know when the world is going to turn over on its axis. You never know when you’ll have to say goodbye—No, you never know which goodbyes you’ll never get to say.

All anyone can do is try very hard to not have regrets. The rest is not in our hands. Beyond that, there is nothing that we can do. And though there should be defeat in this, I find only solace. If I had been able to do more, maybe I wouldn’t have wanted to. Maybe I wouldn’t have been able to. The weight and power of the universe are burdens too heavy for anyone to bear.

There is only this one thing I must do: I must try very hard.

The hardest I can. And if it doesn’t work out, it’s not my fault. All anyone can do is make the days count. All anyone can do is try. And why should we not? We only have the one chance at trying. And if we don’t try for fear of failure, we lose by default.


Note: This is Day 15 (!!!) of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. You can find the previous entry here.  I’ve also written on the theme of Time before, so you can also check that out 🙂  Also, is the illustration above art of ‘The Little Prince’? Yes, yes it is.