This time I am saying NO

When I was little

I asked my mother

What will I be

She said pretty but discreet

 

When I told my mom

I had a boyfriend

She was just relieved

rape was not the story

 

When he held my shoulder

and turned me around

I was just thankful

That he did not hit me

 

When I was little

I asked my mother

What will I be

She said pretty like fairies

But be careful on taxies

If I am ever on one

Call someone,

so they know about my whereabouts

Or pretend to cough like I am sick

So he won’t lay a finger on me

 

When I was in junior high

My mom educated me to dress ugly

Pretty girls get into troubles

She said,

I know that from experience,

Listen to your mother

 

When I walked through the basketball team

In high school

I felt like I had to shrink

Because the way they looked at me

Unanimously

Worried about what they may do to me

 

When I walked alone on the dark lonely streets

I am always afraid,

Of the shadow behind me

Wondering if that shadow belongs to me

Or another man

 

When I am safely home from a party

I need to text my friends

to inform them about my safety

It never occurred to me

That my male friends don’t have to do the same

 

When I am alone with a strange man in the elevator

I worry from the top floor to the lobby

If he would take advantage of me

 

When a boy in elementary school

Wrote a letter to me

Which says “I hope you get raped soon”

I did not say a thing.

 

When my best friend in high school

Pulled his girlfriend’s hair

And forced her to go down on him

I did not say a thing

 

When he caught my arm on the street

And asked if we can be friends

I said no

He asked why

so I said okay

because I’d rather block him silently

Then making a scene

That time

I did not say a thing

 

When a guy at brass monkey groped me

I did not say a thing

When he threw things at me

Just because he was angry at something

I did not say a thing

When I am wearing a mini dress

And he thinks he has the right to touch me

As if I was asking for it

I did not say a thing

 

When this is the third time in this month

That three women were dismembered by different men

For saying no

 

This time

I am not staying silent anymore

 

This time

I am saying no

 

For the three women that died from brutal hands

I say no

To this society that favors man

I say no

To this world that men feel safe walking

alone and women don’t

I say no

 

Women,

We have the right to say no

without being punished.

No more violence

No more rape

No more death and cruel murder case.

 

Men,

when you witness a woman saying no

respect her

 

that is the only thing you need to do

respect a woman

when she says no

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Letter to The 10 Years Ago Me

Dear me,

 

When your brother told you

Being chubby will greatly affect your popularity

His words, you should not believe.

 

Please, don’t eat half an apple a day

don’t exercise 5 hours a day

Just so you can feel pretty

You are beautiful, trust me, I know

You don’t have to be skinny to feel pretty

Or only feel happy when you’re hungry

You are one and only

 

Go out and eat

Go have fun with your mates

You’re just a kid

Stop counting the calories

I know it’s hard

When everyone believes in the same thing

The skinnier the better

 

But skinny girls bleed

And their wounds will never leave

Eating disorder is something you will later see

 

Don’t drink that whiskey

It is the beginning of your travesty

Don’t drink that whiskey

Just because he dared you to

Don’t drink that whiskey

Because you will soon drown in it

Cannot live without it

Cannot feel safe without it

Cannot exist without it

 

Don’t drink that whiskey

It will make you consider suicide

Don’t drink that whiskey

Because you have depression

And you just don’t know that yet

Depression and whiskey are not the combination

To fix your frustration

Don’t drink that whiskey

Because I know deeply you love yourself

 

When he forced you to touch him

Say no

when he said you’re too old to be this timid

say no

when he asked you to stay the night

say no

because if you don’t

it would be the second time you die

soul stolen

by the devil you love

heart broken

because he loves himself more than he loves you

and you do too

 

when you tried to jump out of the window

please don’t

when you tried to cut yourself

please don’t

when you swallowed all those pills

please don’t

 

I know it’s hard

I know how you feel

I have been there

I know

 

For now, the future is unknown

For now, the future is hollow

But please know

You will live over 21 years old

I know it’s hard to imagine

A life span that long

When suicide is the only thing you can think about

But that day will come

And on that day

You will not believe

how strong you have been

how you saved yourself

how you picked yourself up from the ground

how you stood tall when all you could think about

was how many times you have died

 

a few years after that

you will find love

love is not a man

love is in the mirror

love is the people you have touched

love is something you will one day know

 

a few years after that

you will still have depression

you will still feel like drowning

but this time you won’t be alone

this time

you are not just depression any more

this time

you will fly

high and away

with the people you find beautiful

 

trust me when I say

this day will come

trust me

I have been there

I know

 

sincerely,

me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Am I Taking Back Control

Am I taking back control

by doing this

I ponder as I sit

with a bottle of sleeping pills before me

I stare at it

As I ponder if I am taking back control

By doing this

 

According to Buddhism

I chose to be reborn

If that is the truth to be told

I regret it

I regret being born

Growing up in this world

I regret it

I regret choosing to come back

to this

 

I am drained

No energy left

Did I consent to being born

Did I agree to this world

 

I was sent into a cosmic

Which is a bad mistake

Sometimes I think

I am the bad mistake

 

 

What is a mistake

Choosing life or ending it

Taking back control

because I didn’t agree to it

 

I ponder as I sit

with a bottle of sleeping pills before me

 

 

 

 

There Are No Seats For Me On The MRT       

There are no seats for me on the MRT

Dark blue for the priority seats

But no seats for the blue body that carries me

 

The blue mind

The blue mind that made me consider suicide

 

Yesterday

The blue mind made me consider suicide

Today

I still managed to be alive

Barely living

Struggled but finally got out of the door

Just to go to school

 

I am barely alive

I have died a million times

resurrected just as many

 

Yet

There are no seats for me on the MRT

When I missed my meals three days in a row

When I stayed in bed and it was a world’s distance

From my bed to the door

When I stared at the ceiling in darkness three days in a row

 

Today,

I am still perishing,

But I got out of the door

and tried my best to go to school

But the dark blue priority seats

are not for the dark blue mind

is my mental health not a priority?

Is my existence not a priority?

 

The lady next to me asked if I was sick,

Because I sat on the dark blue seat with my dark blue mind

I replied “yes”

She said,

“doesn’t seem like it.

You look young and healthy”

 

Invisible,

My dark blue is invisible

My scars are invisible

 

I fight with my Illness every day

And every moment

 

Yet when I am feeling my worst

When I barely have the strength to live

When I am broken into a thousand pieces

When I am just trying to go to school

There are no seats for me on the MRT

Lost Meaning

When we do something over and over again

It loses its meaning

 

We say I love you to each other

Over and over again

And it loses its meaning

 

We kiss over and over again

And it loses its meaning

 

We talk about our days

Over and over again

And it loses its meaning

 

I breathe and breathe again

Until it loses its meaning

 

I am drowning in this ocean of lost meaning

Soaking in despondency

But you are on a safe boat

Not rocky nor defeated

 

I am drowning in this ocean of lost meaning

You reached out your hand

Attempting to pull me back

I see your eyes, shining

Like how you’ve always looked at me

Full of hope and affection

I’m afraid I can’t live up to your expectation

 

You reached out your hand

With that smile on your face

The smile a bit brisky

A bit naughty

 

You’ve gazed at me with those eyes and smiles

Since the beginning of our stories

The voices in my head is in repetition

About how one day

I’ll look at you like that

But by then you will look at me

like how I’m looking at you now

 

You ask what can be done

To get me back on the boat

And I say no to every suggestion

I guess because of self-loathing

 

I think I need to drown

After all, I have fought and lost

Perhaps in the water is where I belong

This ocean of lost meaning

 

 

 

Heaven

simple logic does not apply here

colorful flowers grow in river

In our hands they disappear

leaves fall down from trees

but flow in air

 

They flicker

In all the ways we perceive

 

There is no time here

I lay under the sun and see

clouds forming into shapes of faces

faces I had known but not here with me

the clouds are moving paintings

telling stories

forever changing

 

I grab the leaves which flow in air

gaze deep into their golden surface

In the reflections I see

those who I love and hold dear

still in different layers in space

they are not here beside me

but one day they will be

 

In the jades that hang on trees

I see all the creatures I had been

my cycle of life that never stopped spinning

until now

for once I am finally free

free of birth and death

free of love and hate

completely liberated

 

in this land

existence is not important

I exist in the breeze

in flowers

in the river

in oceans

I am whatever I want to be

 

in this freedom I see clearly

there is a reason for everything

not necessarily a meaning

in this land there is no sadness

no need to search for meaning in things

for I have come to the end of the beginning

for the kingdom of heaven is within

 

The Mask

we all wear it

the mask

a smile or a dance

laughter or music

 

scars hidden

we don’t talk about it

 

for a conversation

it’s not always the best topic

 

loved ones in the past

whom we sealed in a bottle

because they hurt us

and we haven’t let go

or we let them fall

and they left for another land

or they hurt themselves

and we could have done something about it

 

we don’t talk about it

the things that pained us

the sadness we thought we buried

that comes out when we don’t notice

the mistakes we have made

the loneliness we feel in bed

 

the nights we toss and turn

because the mask has fallen

the wounds are not transparent

not disguising its existence

 

we don’t talk about it

but we all wear it

the mask

it seems like a taboo

to talk about you

or me

or him

or her

or being lost again

 

we have been taught

what’s positive or negative

what’s strong and what’s weak

to snap out of it

so we wear a mask

so the things we are afraid of

won’t be brought up

so we won’t be blamed again

 

we wear a colorful mask

when we are hollow all day

suffering in our own way

but we don’t talk about it

afraid to be judged

afraid to cause harm

afraid to be exposed

afraid

just afraid

the mask covers so we don’t have to face

 

we all wear the mask

pretending to be okay

at a dinner party

friends’ gathering

important jobs

or maybe in a pub

characters we play

on this stage we call life

 

we should start talking about it

we should stop the judging and start understanding

start loving

start forgiving, you and me

we should leave people better than we found them

not let them fade

behind the mask

 

we should start talking about it

we should be okay with not being okay

with every hey are you okay

it should be a question full of love and respect

not a social gesture that’s a bit awkward

 

we should make others comfortable

feel safe

feel less alone

because in the end we are all the same

we are together in this place called life

and we should stop wearing the mask

by being the one that starts loving