By Sobia Ali

rose-pink-petals-flowers

Everyday,  I  wait  till  your  father  has  gone  out  to  work, before  I  come  into  your  room  to  wake  you  up. He  does  not  like  my  attention  being  diverted  when  he  is  at  home. I  think  he  is  a  little  jealous  of  you. Or  perhaps  of  me, that  I  am  going  to  be  with  you  all  day  when  he  has  to  be  away. You  know  otherwise  he  is  absolutely  devoted  to   you, and  won’t  ever  like  to  part  from  you.

I  open  the  door  slowly, lest  I  startle  you. You  lay  there  on  the  dainty  curtained  bed, quite lost  under  the  flurry  pink  bed  sheets  and  blankets. For  a  moment I  panic  that  you  are  not  there. That  they  were  right, those  women  in  white  uniforms. Then  a  soft  pink  little  hand  peeps  out, a  small  plump  foot  jumps  out  of  all  that  velvety  pile. And  I  almost  laugh  out  loud  when  I  see  you  hacking  away  at  coverlet  in  anger  to  remove  it  from  your  face. I  remove  it  for  you, suddenly  impatient  to  see  your  milky, moon  face, haloed  in  curly  shiny  black  hair.

I  give  my  finger  to  you  to  hold  and  take  to  your  mouth. You  suck  and  bite  it  with  small  uneven  gummy  gums. I  tickle  your  belly, kiss  your  hands  and  feet, then  lift  you  unto  my  lap. I  giggle  as  your  thin  lips  curl  around  my  nipple  and  your  red  busy  tongue  lap  up  the  milk, gulping, slurping. How  I  love  to  suckle  you, baby.

By Tan Kaiyi

kaiyi story.jpeg

This is my 3,184th New Year—or so I’ve counted.

I might have forgotten a few years along the way with all those bloody calendar changes: the Chinese, the Mayan, Julian and the Gregorian. There are definitely miscalculations but once you go past your 3,000s, who really cares? It’s funny when I hear some young ones complaining about how old they are in their 30s or 40s—hell, even 70s. Why would you want to live so long?

There’s nothing new under the sun. Not that I would know.

From the rooftop, I look at the windows of the opposite block. Most of them are dim. I’m guessing the flats’ occupants are out for the last night of revelry of the old year. The ones that are lit contain groups of friends and families, choosing a quieter and homely transition. Some are alone. An old woman is sleeping in front of her TV, the soft glow of the screen accentuating the wrinkles on her face. I feel a tinge of envy when I see them.

Curious about what she is watching, I attune my hearing to her flat. From the strains of modern Mandarin, Indian and Malay pop melodies, I come to understand that the TV is tuned to a countdown show.

Two floors down, I see a lady at her dining table. She drinks a glass of wine by herself. I scan her flat for heartbeats and I locate her son’s in his own room. I try to read her mind, capturing her scattered thought streams. From the pieces I put together, she married young to a Korean man she met at a conference. They bumped into each other in an elevator which malfunctioned halfway. They struck up a conversation while they waited for the repairman to get their lives going again. However, years into the marriage, they found their fiery temperaments too incompatible and they decided to live apart. He would fly back to Singapore, or she would fly to him in Korea, on occasions to keep the marriage alive. This arrangement allowed them to maintain their bond, and the semblance of a family for their son, who rarely speaks to her. Right now, she wonders what would happen if she had taken another elevator instead. She feels that it would have been the better path.

Diwali is celebrated by Indians all over the world — as Kali Puja, as Deepavali — exuding a festive spirit of joie de vivre. For some, it is the biggest event of the year, much like Christmas or Id. We invite you to enjoy the festivities with one such enthusiast, young Aishwarya Ganesh.

The lights lift my spirits and, with tranquility in my heart, my wings rise to the song of Diwali, to the scent of Diwali. Every year, this festival modifies the atmosphere itself sensually. The smell of the air circling us, the hue of the sky and the melody of nature — all herald the arrival of the festival of lights.

Diwali for me is a reflection of hope. It is the light that radiates the spirit of possibilities. It begins a week before the festival of lights. Our home is all ready for its wash and a grand deck up. The neighbourhood, the streets and the city sing a glorious song to celebrate the arrival of memorable times. Strings of lights dangle at the entrance of every household and lanterns swing in balconies. In addition, the smell of new garments and preparations for a variety of delicacies generate a festive scent. The city is thrilled with its shiny new gown — the golden, gleaming dress saved for a special occasion! It is all lit up in its new avatar and eagerly awaits Diwali. People flock to shopping malls and return with huge bags that are ready to give their home and themselves a fresh makeover! The season annihilates all negativity and promotes the spirit of togetherness.

by Aishwarya Ganesh

IMG_0698

My paternal grandpa was nearly bald. He did, however, have some hair to call his own until his last breath! This vision of my grandpa is etched in my mind to eternity and, that is why, I manage to crackup a smile when my heart weeps without his reciprocation.

“Remember me, as long as this life as a human still cares to remind you” — these words of his echo even today and render tranquility. The chapter of thata-thati* and me stopped being drafted when the relationship transcended beyond corporeal pages. The love, affection and care that is bestowed upon us is irreplaceable and truly defies the life-death continuum.

I am now twenty-one. My grandparents had been around me for two whole decades. I was cosseted beyond limits by the love they showered, their pampering and their pardoning. We used to all eat together, laugh and make merry at the dinner table, solve problems and discuss issues over a crumb of bread, tickle our funny bone while sipping a cup of coffee. The memories are endless, and the joy, the tears that well up are priceless.