Cheng Yun & Caspian


I manage to recover from my breakdown at the Délifrance. You suggest we leave, that you’ll drive. You won’t tell me where we’re going, so I become content with staring at the window, watching how the fancy condos of Orchard lets the self-assured
HDB (noun)
The statutory board that's responsible for public housing in Singapore.
flats take its place.

The radio is playing the theme song for this year’s National Day Parade. But there’s a verse that just kicks me in the head.

We will share a special dream

Together we feel the Singapore heartbeat

Singapore heartbeat

The video for it was so weird, but you were so giddy about it I was swept up in your enthusiasm. I couldn’t tell if you were making fun of it, or if you were genuinely enthused by it. There was a generous amount of symbolism in it: a Chinese man feeling the soil, a happy woman superimposed on the Singapore skyline, and a wedding that took place over the internet. Then there was a chef running to see a newborn child, and another man beside him lovingly smiled at him. There were even a bunch of hot, shirtless construction workers smiling at the camera. Somehow the thing I remember was this boy who became an astronaut by the end of the video.

I used to feel all that optimism before I got HIV/AIDS, so much so that I don’t feel the twenty years of my life here. All the concerts I enjoyed with you, the plays too. All the movies we watched, and the way you were so adamant about sneaking your snacks into the theatre. The dinners at our favourite carrot cake stall at that Clementi hawker centre. The trips to the humongous Borders bookstore at Wheelock Place that I’d go along, even though I only leafed through the magazines. The drinks we had by the Singapore River. I remember all of it.

Would I have had a place here in the first place then? Am I entitled to one, after so long? Should I have volunteered at SPCA more? Would all the research and planning for the Ministry of Strategic Developments be enough for a pardon? Would all the stellar press releases that garnered coverage from across the globe count?

And aren’t there drugs and treatment for HIV already? Didn’t that Taiwanese-American doctor who’s finding a cure, get on the cover of TIME magazine? What’s there to be afraid of? Why do you need to burn the body? I mean, I feel fine now. There’s nothing wrong with me, right? So why do I feel like a criminal?

I say none of that to you, and only stare at your ring on my finger. I feel the row of sapphires on the ring, willing it to change my fate.

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