Fiction: One day

Dear friends, it has been a long time since I tried my hand at fiction. It is a genre I would one day like to get better at. I wrote this short story a few months ago when I was applying to some writing programmes. Any thoughts, good, bad and ugly, much appreciated. Thank you!

***

Ravi’s mum woke Connie every morning. 7:01, glowed the blurry red numbers in the corner. Just like yesterday. And the day before.

Soon the sound of distant water would stop, and Ravi would come scampering out, his black curls doused, his cheeks polished, his tummy’s folds flapping as droplets bounce off it, wearing only a tiny towel pinched by his fingers at his left hip bone.

As he rushed for his singing phone, right arm outstretched, Connie would stare at his toned thigh through the towel’s slit, and marvel at the anatomic anomaly in front of her: chicken legs propping up an oblong body. As if Ravi’s legs got sent down the wrong torso line at the Human Factory.

“GBC, babes, GBC,” was his blithe explanation. “Genes, beer, cycling. In that order.” Every aesthetic inquisition ended with that joke, as stale as his Saturday morning breath, yet Connie found herself repeatedly coaxing it out by indulging peoples’ interest in that oddity named Ravi. Her Ravi.

“Hi mum,” Ravi would say, raising his eyebrows while squeezing out a smile for Connie. “Ya, ya, good. Why do you need to call this early?”

Still talking, Ravi would then walk into the kitchen and turn on his new Italian coffee machine, leaving behind a musky cloud of whatever his mum last bought him. For the next few minutes all Connie would hear is grinding, frothing, steaming.

And then all would go silent and maybe, just maybe, the mattress will relent and that warm, soft hand will reach over and grab her bum while a cavalcade of wiry hairs tickles her whole body.

Connie closed her eyes and smiled, aware that the scene she had just played out in her mind was now unfolding. This morning cocktail of schedule and surprise was intoxicating.

When Connie opened her eyes again, Ravi’s handsome face was above hers.

*** Continue reading

Nepal, Singapore, Gurkhas

gurkha-contingent

It seems like Nepal has faded quickly from our thoughts.

More than 5,000 have died and one million children are in urgent need of help following a 7.9-magnitude earthquake that hit on April 25, 2015. That was followed by dozens of aftershocks and tremors registering more than 4 on the Richter Scale.

The earthquake’s epicentre was in Gorkha, the district from where Gurkhas historically come.

Many people from many countries have contributed to Singapore’s success over the years. Perhaps the most colourful, charismatic community—albeit publicly stoic and reserved—is the Gurkhas.

I was lucky enough as a boy to hang out with them in Mount Vernon. I remember eating devilishly hot onion chilli “salsas”, sometimes with sukuti, tough buffalo meat, then marvelling at them cooking goat curry in a giant wok, using spade as spatula, above a wooden fire sitting in a freshly dug cavity.

But why does Singapore need Gurkhas for our highest-security tasks?

According to our first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew:

“When I returned to Oxley Road [Lee’s residence], Gurkha policemen (recruited by the British from Nepal) were posted as sentries. To have either Chinese policemen shooting Malays or Malay policemen shooting Chinese would have caused widespread repercussions. The Gurkhas, on the other hand, were neutral, besides having a reputation for total discipline and loyalty.”

Two other anecdotes, told to me on Mount Vernon, possibly exaggerations, went something like this.

First, the difference between Gurkhas and the local police is that the Gurkhas, if faced with that cruel choice, will shoot down their family, even wife and kids, in defence of their master. Locals won’t.

Second, like great martial artists, Gurkhas exercise incredible control over their strength and skills, preferring to defuse situations in non-violent ways. Apparently Singapore informed the Gurkhas that if they ever got into a brawl in public, our judicial system would regard their hands as “deadly weapons”.

Of course, the Gurkhas represent just some of the many Nepalis in Singapore. And of course, we should help the Nepalis like we would any other human in their position—simply because we can.

Still, it is a good time to reflect on the Gurkhas in Singapore and elsewhere. Singaporeans who want to help can give to the Singapore Red Cross or one of the many other organisations doing work there.

For those who prefer to support smaller organisations, please click here for one that is vouched for by Zakaria Zainal, Singaporean photographer who has spent much time there.

Note: This post was first published on Mothership.sg

Top photo via