Cheng Yun & Caspian


I get in your car, sitting on the scorched leather seat. I remembered the day you bought it, you can’t keep your eyes off it, ogling at ads of the BMW sedan the moment you saw that James Bond film—‘Tomorrow Never Dies’. I joked that you never looked at me that way anymore, to which you pecked on the cheek. I resisted calling it our car, despite your insistence. It’s your car. I could only dream of buying one.

But maybe I should’ve let you spoil me. Maybe then I’d be content, or try harder to be content. I saw sex as candy and I wanted to try a melange of them. I didn’t know why I was always so greedy. So I let you find other men too, thinking you’d like that. But you never did. You were always by my side. Where do you even learn to have this big a heart? Tell me. I need to know.

I don’t know what to do. My hands cup the crown of my head, as if I’m in prayer. For even if I believed in God, I know no divine being can get me out of this shit.

The music roars louder, so I cup my ears on each side with my hands. And with it, this thought reverberates the insides of my skull: it’s so easy to look ahead and see where you want to go. But what happens when you want to look back, to look at where you come from.

When I was applying for Singaporean citizenship two years ago, it felt hopelessly easy. It only took me an hour or two to fill up the form. I was hoping that there would be a little more time to wait, because I heard that
UMNO (entity)
United Malays National Organisation
was offering land to the
bumiputera (adjective)
a term used in Malaysia to describe Malays and Orang Asli or indigenous peoples of Malaysia or Southeast Asia
, that Malaysia would be a better place for the Malays. But in that short afternoon, I switched sides. Just like that: in one door and out the other, I am a Singaporean.

The only gripe I had is the section where I had to choose my race. I never understood it—is
Kelantanse Malay (adjective + grammar)
Of or pertaining to the state of Kelantan in Malaysia.
. considered Malay? On what grounds? My mother spoke of our northern ancestors to me before—Thailand, I think. And the Malay I speak is already so different from the Malay spoken here. I was so surprised when the Malays here couldn’t understand what I was speaking, and I’ve yet to find any other Kelanatanese Malays. And, So, am I ‘Other’ then? What does that question even mean? In the end, how does it even matter?

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