Written for a friend
Most of my reflecting comes when I’m in the toilet. When I’m just standing there, applying sunscreen before a day out, or spraying my mother’s perfume onto my shirt, in an attempt to feel as elegant as her.
My mother was on the other side of the shower door when she asked about my friend’s score on an examination. I tell her his total score; it is a good one—better than mine, for sure. My mother received a score much better than mine and his entire put together. She doesn’t make any noise. I begin to shampoo my hair. She asks me about what school he will be putting as his first choice—“No, what school DID he put? The application forms deadline was two days ago.” I tell her his choice. It’s the same as mine and I think we both know that I will not—may not—get into the school that’s my first choice because other kids like him would have put it down, too. Other kids like him will have only good remarks and an excellent score held against them, while I’ll have a weak foundation of all the subjects that matter, a score that’s hardly much, and a thought pressing against my throat—that perhaps it was unfair for me from the start.
I don’t belong here. Not with the clever kids or the brilliant kids or God forbid the A-Star students. I’m just part of the ‘average’ band; possibly worse. This is because I do not know how to do much. I am a foreigner after six years of living here, and I know it isn’t fair to say that, but it is not fair to attribute my academic shortcomings solely on myself, too. I know it’s because of the faraway soil I was hatched on. It’s not me. It can’t be me.
Water cascades down my back. My mother shouts something through the shower door. I have been conditioned to listen to whatever anyone says of me, and take it to heart, whether it is good news or bad news. But now I am slathering conditioner through my hair, to make it smooth, and all I can hear from her are strains of an actual voice and the thoughts of a worried mother: Where will my daughter go in the future? Who will she be?
I tell her that I am sorry. I scrape nails against my scalp even harder. Harder. I flush water down my face and my neck. My mother responds, “Don’t waste water”, and I feel even worse. Now I can’t even do anything but waste water.
It’s all because of who I am, what I did, who I will never become. I am tired of this.
I remember my mother telling me, father at her side, that my score is okay, and Enough for them. I remember my father telling me, mother at his side, that I can pick up my passion again—all I need to do is aim to write one page per day. “You’ll write a book”, they said together. “You can do it.” I remember my mother telling me, father overseas in India or China or Indonesia or Hong Kong, that we will be moving across the Pacific Ocean to her home country. I remember myself yelling at her, my father still overseas, my brother at my side—but not quite there—suicidal threats, because why would I want to move over there when I am happy here? Why would you do this to me? Why would you pluck me out of my life like how you pluck a hydrangea’s bud out of its surrounding petals? Why do you let my tears fall like these petals, drifting until they reach their home on the ground? Why am I not like a tear—why can’t I just disappear and not land in your home country, in the home country that I never loved, that I see in my tan skin and black hair and lips and nose and eyes and tongue?
I remember my mother telling me when I was sixteen years old on a rainy Friday, that ‘I did good’, that ‘I don’t need to cry’, ‘Stop crying’, ‘You don’t need to feel that it is unfair, you don’t need to feel hurt’. It is not Enough. It is not enough because for the longest time, I laid myself idle, throwing myself into nothing but the colour gray, letting nothing but tissues touch my skin, letting nothing but saline drench me as I cried.
I think I hurt my mother not on that day, but back then, when I told her that I hated her home country–Did I know that I would fail here? Perhaps not, but I didn’t give this place a chance. Perhaps, throughout the years of hopeful wishing that I would be something Amazing and someone Recommended for mothers’ own daughters and sons to read up on, perhaps throughout the years of clinching awards for subjects nobody actually cares about enough to give me and the other kids who love humanities a job, perhaps I had put a Band-Aid on the wound I inflicted on my mother.
But her home country hurts me now and I cannot demand an apology, because I am not Enough for even the shower to cry over.
(ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧ I am stuck in the midst of a swirling, whirling, cosmic chaos, and my milky eyes don’t do anything productive but leak✧ﾟ･: *ヽ(◕ヮ◕ヽ)