My Life in Grey

I live my life in monochrome. It is a shade of grey. It is very unlike the silvery gloss that lacquers over skyscrapers, rather it is the dull kind, sort of like an enigma. It is not sadness nor is it depression. It is a mellow kind of solemness, with a little pinch of poignancy as well as an innate pleasantness.

Nothing speaks to me more than the color Grey.

My heart resonates with it. With each pump, blood gushes through the lungs taking in the toxins and spreading it throughout my body like wildfire. It is painless and it dulls my senses – I could not longer taste nor can I hear, except for that strong beating that resonates “lub-dub, lub,dub” inside me.

“It’s the air,” He said. “The air you breathe in has been polluting you.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Nothing speaks to me more than the color Grey.

My mind is engulfed by it. My thoughts and feelings, a very disorderly mesh of things, hide behind the color grey, like a silent stalking silhouette.

“It’s the words they say,” He carried on. “They made your thoughts turn obsolete, into nonsense.”

He’s darn right.

My life hasn’t been entirely monochromatic. There was a moment when it once was a spectrum of color, sometimes a shade of red, sometimes a hue of green, maybe purple but never grey, or black or white. That was a period of fun and studying. That was one year, two months and five days ago.

I recall that day, in vivid details, there were a lot of dreads. There were a bunch of hoo-has that happened, but I transitioned at the end, adopting the monochromatic color scheme and falling really really sick.

Throughout the entire journey, I couldn’t remember the number of times I flatlined. I couldn’t remember the number of times there was a single drop of color that entered my life,  all I remember was that it was momentary, eventually fading into nothingness in my greyish concoction just like how a glass of murky water envelopes any drop of colored paint that enters it. As what he narrated with surprising precision, “Orders were meant to be followed. Lessons meant to be learnt. Accomplishments meant to be ignored.”

That’s my life in a single shade of dull grey.

And I will continue bidding my time, never moving forward, never changing, always stagnating.

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On answering (Open-ended) questions

Why do we ask questions?

Surely, to have them answered right? I have always been taught that there are answers to every question and these answers are meant to be discovered, to be fervently pursued, to be proudly presented to the world. But why, then, there exist certain questions that are just darn straight unanswerable, questions that just leaves you hanging and pondering really hard?

“Is it possible for a guy and a girl to become best friends only, without developing feelings for each other?”

I was presented this not too long ago. I was stunned. It was random and weird but it is also an undoubtedly legitimate open-ended question. Open-ended questions are horrible. Partly because of its abrupt nature which catches us when we are most unprepared. What’s worse is that there is no right or wrong. The mere answers are more often unfounded statements that are based on one person’s opinions. I hate it. Opinions can be bias, clash and form disputes. Open-ended questions throw my mind into a mental disorderliness, not only is there a need to consider the varying points of view but also at the same time sieve through a myriad of possibilities. In other words, downright tiring.  

If your girlfriend or your mom were to be trapped in a fire, who would you save?

I imagine myself that I would be able to spin off a good answer straight from thin air and be able to impress. But of course, that will never happen. I guess that is why I absolutely love hearing people’s answers to these random open-ended questions.

Most speak with sincerity when faced with the aforementioned adversity cum dilemma. Some incorporated their wits into their answers, bringing out an entirely unique flavour to the content. Some speak with greater sentiments – a tinge of sadness that accompanies a muffled sniffle, or a pinch of unease that follows a sheepish blush, or the cheekiness that hides behind a mischievous grin.  It is like listening to a part of their life story. It may be a little moment in their life but this moment is significant and very tightly etched into their minds, so much so that one would have expected it to be kept sacred and secret but it was, much to the honour and surprise of others, regardlessly proudly and generously shared.    

I guess open-ended questions are profound.

What would you do if you have only 24 hours to live?

So here lies one question posted by my alter ego, one I find myself having a struggle to answer.

Surely this would be easy to answer. I harbour minimal responsibility. I am no governor nor president: I need not build a nation. I am no CEO nor am I any investor; I need not manage my business or investments. I am just some guy who just spent a year in the army with a screwed up Cambridge A-levels certificate and a very confusing future.

I do not possess any pressing burdens. Surely there must be something I want to do. It could be anything.But what? The flow of words just would not come. And without the right words, my mind remains in an incoherent mess, incapable of stringing together anything concrete, unable to illustrate my inner desires. 

And it will just continue laying there, dormant and incoherent.

i wrote this when im drunk (i think)

You tell me about the imperfections I hold in my life as if my body has been entwined in thorns, my soul isolated on an island surrounded by murky water.

You tell me of the excess layer of fats that lay dormant in my belly, my thigh and my butt cheeks. You tell me of my unnerving fixation with the virtual reality. You tell me of my blatant laziness that seems to shy away from the public eyes. You tell me about my obsession with materialistic wealth.  You tell me about the things I did that do not contribute to success.

That’s not all.

You then continue to tell me about how you used to live your life when you were my age. You told me the amount of hard work you had been through to get things done not for yourself, but for your family. You told me about how rice and soy sauce were staples at your dinner table. You told me about quitting school midway to earn money. You made a comparison with your life and mine’s and mine’s with others’ in every and any aspect possible – education, work, relationships and hobbies.

And I let you.

You call it a reminder, a call to action, a form of concern. You urge me to change, to put myself in your shoes.

I guess I tried to comprehend it. I tried to stand from your point of view and see myself. You see me as such a person. Someone filled with imperfections. And I made myself believe it.

I see myself as a failure, someone who is incompetent. I let myself succumb to all the comments made about me – the good and the bad.

And the more I try to see myself from another perspective, the more I am lost with who I truly am.

“Are you living my life?”

I can tolerate that.

I can tolerate having told these facts constantly in my face.

But it is tiring to put on a smile. A smile to please you, to hide from the world.

I guess this CNY I am already brimming. I think I should let it all out.

I am tired. It is intoxicating. It is draining.

Maybe you are right, I do not have a goal.

I do not have a goal, that’s why I decided to take up a new language. I do not have a goal, that’s why I decided to waste all my time and immerse myself in the virtual reality. I do not have a goal, that’s why I borrow books from weird, dark authors and wholeheartedly allow the poison to consume me.  I do not have a goal, that’s why I wake up early to do the things I wanted to do while you were still in deep slumber, recovering from the fatigue that accompanies you from the night before. I do not have a goal, that’s why I decided to waste my blood, your blood, at donation drives hoping that there will be some better use from that discarded part of “me”.

“Go, just go.”

The truth, the sad unfortunate truth is, we are all drifting further and further apart. It is not as if I did not try to connect, I did but you pushed me away.

The thing is, you pushed me away subtly. You build up my hopes and left me hanging. I fell.

The first time was in the wee hours of the night. I was seventeen, young and ignorant. We discussed my upcoming debate competition, as well as my school’s life. I taught you about how the grades system worked in the new system, you were in awe. I then proceeded on to tell you about my intention to skip school to study on my own. We weighed the pros and cons, the cause and consequences, I was determined but you were mulish.

“Ask mother,” you said.

“But mother said to ask you.”

There’s that, the whole 2-hour long conversation ended just there. You stood up, walked to the door, switch off the lights and headed out. I slept and woke up 2 hours later to go to school.

The second time was when I was in your cab.  You discussed your work, and I listened. It was always been the same. You told me about the customers you fetched – their stories, their jobs, their life – they were all very insightful. That’s what I like about cabbies. They go around unnoticed on the streets, people don’t really care about them or their existence, and they listen and sieve information out of their customers under the pretense of building rapport and what not.  It is a noble profession.

“So maybe you could consider this,” you said.

“But I have no interest in accounting or science.”

“Just try and see if you can get in. You know when I was your age, I jumped at any opportunity I could get my hands on.”

And look where are you now?

We are drifting apart. All of us. I no longer know what you like to eat, what you like to do, what are your thoughts about this or that. I only know you hate vegetables, you are a realist. You never confront me in the face about pressing issues. You asked another party, whom herself ain’t very complete herself.

You asked someone whose life revolves around drinking and smoking, someone who begrudges about her work, someone who makes fun of others with sarcasm, someone whose wits is quite possibly the only thing I looked up to.

I bet you don’t know that I write most possibly because it is the only thing that I am truly good at or at least better than others. I bet you don’t know my favorite color is white. I bet you don’t know my favorite flower is Black Cosmos.  I bet you don’t know that there is another side of me that shines as great as the seven shades of a rainbow.

You know what has been the problem?

I guess I have been too obedient.

Always following orders and instructions. Always seeking help and advice. Always trying to appease you. Always trying to justify everything. Always trying to be the kind of person you envision me as.

I guess I have been too kind, too unrealistic, too oblivious …

The Arts Student’s CNY Cheat Sheet

justinnonng

A relative walks up. You hand him two imperfect oranges. He is an uncle, twice removed. You and him will shake hands. He will hand you a red packet, and you will say thank you as you hesitate between nodding and bowing, and end up doing a little of both.

And then he will ask: “what are you studying now?”

You can predict the entire conversation before it happens. Your cousins are all around, varying slightly in age but all on the same path towards adulthood. You almost forget the answer.

“I’m studying the arts.” You blurt out. Brace yourself.

“Oh,” he begins. “So…what do you want to do in the future?” Bingo.

“I may want to be a teacher. Maybe a journalist? See how it goes lor.” You don’t even know what you’re saying at this point. Your uncertainty is exposed.

“So basically, you don’t really know what…

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