Ep. 46 ‘Stories behind our scars’

This is a piece of autobiographical fiction. Space and time have been rearranged to suit the convenience of the book, and with the exception of public figures, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The opinions expressed are those of the characters and should not be confused with the author’s.

This story is written as an example to anyone who wants to believe that we are more than the patriarchy deems us to be, more than our limitations, and more than our fears.

12th August 2021 – Croatia

you fucked up your own relationship

wow no wonder it didn’t work for you

Unnecessary personal attacks from Marianne inspired me to think a lot about how our actions can lead to consequences. Sometimes, we don’t deserve them – other times we do.

In this world, there is never going to be an absolute divide between what’s right and wrong. There will be Gideons and Mariannes all over the world who will never understand how people on the ‘other side’ think and why. In their world, they are the victims. In their world, they have been wronged. In their world, they have been wrongly accused of. Who is to say if they are right or wrong? Does it matter to the rest of us?

Similarly, does what we think have to matter to them? Absolutely not. They wouldn’t for a second try to understand our point of view anyway. They have already proven they don’t even want to try.

But the real lesson I want to take from this is that life can throw you the most sour lemons but fresh lemonades taste bloody delicious once you combine these lemons with ice, soda and a little mint.

If you think about it it’s like – Hey! Free lemons! I guess we’re making lemonade today!

It also reminded me of lessons I’ve picked up throughout my travels over the last 1 year plus.

I’m very clumsy by nature. My parents, relatives, and anyone who has ever taken care of me can attest to this fact.

I have been falling down since I could walk. I don’t walk in a straight line, I’m always walking towards the right side of the path, I fall and get wounded A LOT.

I have many scars on my body because of that but behind every one of them is a story. Behind every one of them is a memory. I like to think of them as the tattoos left on my body by the stories behind them.

The injury from the first picture on the left was from a heat pack that I left on my skin overnight. You might think that a heat pack is harmless but I assure you it’s not.

My arm had been very sore from all the manual labor I was doing in Leicester and I put a heat pack on it before bed. I even bandaged it to my arm so it wouldn’t fall off. In the morning when I unwrapped the bandage, the heat pack had left a second-degree burn on my arm. I didn’t read the instruction manual that came with it. It clearly stated NOT to put the heat pack directly in contact with the skin.

Over time however, it healed and now I have a story to tell whenever people ask me about it.

A week ago

A few days ago when a bunch of us went to the coast, I wasn’t being careful. I got overly excited and dived into the sea – what I didn’t notice was a protruding pile of rocks right where I was diving into.

The water in Croatia is so clear there was no other excuse except to admit that I’m a klutz and very injury-prone.

I felt so dumb.

A week later

When I showed Marco my wound however, he said “Oh that’s going to be a very sexy scar.” One wound – two perspectives.

The hurt that people inflict upon us will inevitably cause us pain too. It’s never useful to pretend the wounds don’t hurt – especially if they keep jabbing you where the injuries are still fresh. Of course it’s going to hurt. The scab has barely formed.

What we can do however, is to step back and protect ourselves. To put a bandage on our wounds and protect them – so they can heal properly.

Eventually, all wounds when healed, will become scars – each one with their own story.

I for one, am very proud to wear all of my scars out on my body. I am proud of them. I’m not ashamed of my wounds. I’m not ashamed of my mistakes in life. My life is still so full of possibilities. I have so much to look forward to in life. Why would I be ashamed of mistakes I’ve made? They’ve only made me stronger as a person.

The greatest enemy you can ever have is yourself because you cannot avoid your enemy every time you look into the mirror. The mirror doesn’t lie – it will only show us what the truth is. Question is – Can we handle it?

If we cannot forgive ourselves, love cannot enter our hearts.

When we’re unable to love ourselves, no amount of love from anyone else can reach us.

Ep. 45 ‘A Leicester Oasis’

This is a piece of autobiographical fiction. Space and time have been rearranged to suit the convenience of the book, and with the exception of public figures, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The opinions expressed are those of the characters and should not be confused with the author’s.

This story is written as an example to anyone who wants to believe that we are more than the patriarchy deems us to be, more than our limitations, and more than our fears.

June-August 2020, Leicester, England

After leaving Amy and her mother in Oxfordshire, Lucas and I arrive at our 2nd workaway job together.

The job is a more labor-intensive one and I am the only girl out of the 3 of us volunteers. There is already another volunteer who has been there for two years. As we arrive, Mark shows us to our room. We couldn’t believe it. It was such a huge upgrade compared to the sofa bed we had been sleeping on for the last month.

Mark basically grew up in this Victorian house. When he was a teenager, he would come over to John’s place to help with restoring and maintenance of the estate. The house itself came with a servants’ quarters along with 5-acres of land.

John lived alone in the big estate after his mother passed on and never married. He was a schoolteacher and retired after a while. Having seen Mark grow up from a teenager, he asked if Mark would look after him in his old age. In return, he would give the estate to Mark and his family.

Mark got married and together with his wife Cazza, raised their two sons in this house.

” I’m living my best life. Everyday, I pinch myself to check if it’s real. But I love my love, I really do. Me and cazza go down to our beach house in Norfolk from time to time, and we drive to Scotland once in a while. But really – my every day life is a dream for me. ” Mark tells me and Lucas. We are driving to the minimart just 5 minutes away.

Having lived in this neighborhood all his life, the cheerful disposition of Mark has won him many friends all over town.

The owners of this minimart save all the near-perishable items for him everyday – items they cannot legally put on their shelves. Every morning, he collects them and stocks them in two deep freezers at home. There are all sorts of goodies in there – boxes of milk, packets steaks, fries, salmon, ready-made meals, burgers and pizzas.

Our work starts at 9am in the mornings from Mondays to Fridays. We work until 12pm and have a break till 2pm and then finish around 4pm. We get public holidays off and sometimes if the weather is too hot, Mark ends the day after lunch and we all hang out in the shade under the trees – near the summer house.

The work varies everyday. Some days we sand down bricks, some days we mow the lawn. Some days we chop down trees for firewood in preparation for winter, and other days we do weeding. Mark is very proud of his garden – as he should be. There are many types of flowers and herbs all around the estate.

There are all sorts of pets too! The family has 3 dogs, chickens, 2 pigs and 1 pony. The pigs they bought at a carboot sale for 50 pounds, they were on sale because they were too old to be culled for meat. The pony was left behind by her gypsy owner and the chickens are a way the family gets fresh eggs.

For 2.5 months, Lucas and I have found family.

Because of the pandemic, all the shops and restaurants are closed in Leicester. But it doesn’t matter at all.

Work is tiring enough so after work, Lucas spends hours reading while I write and pick up sketching as a hobby.

After making our own dinner, we would take walks around the 5-acre estate and visit all of the animals. First we would take all of the leftover food, usually thrown into a metal bucket and we take it to the pigs. Pigsy would eat first and then make way for Wigsy who is bigger than her – hence a bully!

Next, we would visit Storm and bring her some weeds to snack on. Once in a while, we would see a fox run across the garden!!! Foxes are so beautiful.

Every weekend, Mark would offer to drive us to a nearby town or a park where Lucas and I would spend hours walking around, climbing hills, reading, talking, laughing and simply enjoy each others’ company.

Neither of us had data on our phones. We weren’t hooked on our phones like most people are nowadays. When we were out walking, that was all we did. It simplified our lives so much. We were able to be in the present all the time.

Every other week or so, we would have a bonfire in the background.

People from all over the neighborhood have come to know that Mark has a big ground for throwing old scraps of wood and furniture. One of our jobs would then be to remove pieces and scraps of metal from this big pile of discarded furniture.

Then every other Sunday, the family and some of their sons’ friends would gather around the bonfire and we would all watch the fire burn as we drink and listen to Keane, Oasis or Coldplay.

I felt so blessed to have found this family who took Lucas and I in and treated us as family.

To show my love for them, I would often cook Asian food for family dinners. John, the retired teacher loved my food. Nothing was too spicy for him. Mark loved the curries but hated bak kut teh. Cazza loved learning how to cook Thai food with me.

Amidst the pandemic while everyone was struggling with cabin fever and lockdown restrictions, I considered myself to be so blessed that I could hideout here in an oasis.

My parents also felt really relieved and happy that I was safe in England.

I asked myself why more Singaporeans don’t do this – work for 25 hours a week in exchange for a bed and a meal. But the truth is half of the people I know have too many obligations to take on. The other half wouldn’t want to give up whatever luxuries they have gotten accustomed to.

Still, I knew of a small percentage of friends back home who would have loved to try this.

I write this story for them – so they may one day find the drive and motivation to try this out for themselves.

Bonfire parties
Chickens all grown up

Ep. 43 ‘I want to show reality’

This is a piece of autobiographical fiction. Space and time have been rearranged to suit the convenience of the book, and with the exception of public figures, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The opinions expressed are those of the characters and should not be confused with the author’s.

This story is written as an example to anyone who wants to believe that we are more than the patriarchy deems us to be, more than our limitations, and more than our fears.

17th October, 2020 Croatia

I’m talking to a friend from back home in Singapore, she’s just told me that she’s pregnant and giving birth to a baby boy next year

“I’m so happy for you!!! And so excited. You’re going to be a great mother and Amos is going to be such an amazing father.” I tell them.

“Babe, I actually wanted to ask you….what happened? Why didn’t you come back in February like you planned to??

“I couldn’t babe. I just had too many things going on in my head. Besides, the divorce happened for a reason. And I needed to find out why.” I share with her.

“To be honest, I was a little upset that you didn’t tell me about the separation. I thought we were considered close friends but then I had to hear it from someone else. That’s why I haven’t reached out to you in so long.” She confesses.

“Oh………I see. I didn’t mean to make you feel that way. I’m sorry. Even my own family doesn’t really know what happened.” I don’t know why I apologized but I did.

“It’s okay lah, as long as you’re happy now.”


I asked myself this – am I happy already? Is that all that people cared about? The beginning and the end? Shouldn’t they also care about all of the in-betweens?

It got me thinking – why is it that as a society, we’re so ready to celebrate life and the wins, but so quick to avoid talking about the difficult things?

If we don’t talk about difficult things, if we don’t initiate conversations about them, if we don’t bring up topics in public – WHEN will we be able to foster good communication with each other AS A SOCIETY?

When will we be able to help those in need in terms of providing professional help?

How are people suppose to know that they’re not alone? If all they see on social media all day long is happy people doing happy things?

I don’t want to show them a facade.

I want to show them reality.

From the movie ‘Into The Wild’ – Instead of Love, Show me TRUTH.

Ep. 42 ‘Damn these flashbacks’

This is a piece of autobiographical fiction. Space and time have been rearranged to suit the convenience of the book, and with the exception of public figures, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The opinions expressed are those of the characters and should not be confused with the author’s.

This story is written as an example to anyone who wants to believe that we are more than the patriarchy deems us to be, more than our limitations, and more than our fears.

4th March, 2020

I receive a message from Gideon’s friend’s wife.

“Hi babe, i’m so sorry to ask you for this favour. Can you postpone asking for $30k from Gideon? It’s just that he’s been owing us money for almost 3 years and we really need that money to buy an apartment.”

“What?? I never asked him for $30k immediately. He told me to name a price. I told him that I just want what’s legally mine. I also told him he doesn’t need to pay me until we sell the house, I even said he could pay me in instalments if he was tight on cash” I told her.

“Jane, he owes us more than $X.”

“WHAT????? I’m so sorry!! I never knew. And he’s been telling everyone that I’m asking him for this money?”


I text another friend, someone who knows Gideon.

“Babe, did you know that Gideon borrowed money from someone and threw me under the bus for it?” I ask.

“Oh yeah, I heard about it. But he’s been saying that you’re a gold digger for the last 3 years though. He told everyone that you didn’t want to work – that you quit your job the minute y’all got married and that you made him pay for everything.” She tells me.

Flashbacks started pounding my head in.

Gideon: “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about the late credit card payments. I really thought I could handle it.”

Jane: “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Gideon: “I don’t know. I thought I could handle it myself.”

Jane: “How did you think you could handle it? You know exactly how much you earn in a month. Did you sit down and calculate how much you would need to pay and how to pay them off?”

“Gideon: No….”

Jane: “So how did you think you could handle it?”

Gideon: “I don’t know. I’m sorry.”

“Jane is the reason our marriage is falling apart. She pushed all of the financial responsibilities onto me. I was getting so stressed. I couldn’t handle it.”

“Baby, don’t worry, I’m going to buy your ring back one day. I’m sorry that you had to pawn it to pay for our debts. I’m so sorry.”

Flashback to the photo of their engagement photograph – her ring shines brightly

Flashback to the day I ask him about it “Don’t worry, yours was more expensive”

Flashback to the day we sat down to figure out how to solve our debts

“Okay b, so you see. If we stick to this plan and we just continue controlling our expenses. We will be clear of our debt by early next year. It’s all going to be okay.” I had told him.

Flashback to us hugging things out after that conversation.

Flashback to the day he sat infront of my parents and told them that he was leaving our marriage for Marianne.

Can these flashbacks just PLEASE. STOP.

Ep. 41 ‘Confessions with Beth’

This is a piece of autobiographical fiction. Space and time have been rearranged to suit the convenience of the book, and with the exception of public figures, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The opinions expressed are those of the characters and should not be confused with the author’s.

This story is written as an example to anyone who wants to believe that we are more than the patriarchy deems us to be, more than our limitations, and more than our fears.

20th May, 2021

Therapy session with Beth

I’ve been crying for the last 10 minutes. It’s an ugly kind of cry – the kind where snot is dripping from your nose and you really don’t care cos you just want to cry. Also cos your house has no more tissue paper.

Finally, I take a piece of kitchen towel and I sit back down again. I drink a sip of water before trying to compose myself again.

Beth: Now that you know your hurt and pain is valid. Can you tell me when else you have felt hurt or bullied before?

” When I was in secondary school. I had a really good friend who was my classmate from Secondary 1 to 4. We were inseparable, even now we are still good friends. But when we were 16, she started distancing herself from me for a while. We had this classmate called Betty. She and I had started becoming much closer. Betty would lend me her clothing and always send me nice things. She listened to me talk about boys and always gave me great advice.

On my birthday that year, my good friend confessed to me that Betty had tried to turn her against me. She told me that Betty had been feeding her lies – saying that I was talking bad about her. Because the lies included so many details, she believed Betty and became angry towards me.

Later on, I also found out that Betty had asked me not to go out with a boy because he was trouble. 2 weeks later, she herself started going out with this boy and told me that she had misunderstood him.

Luckily, my good friend saw through Betty and eventually came to tell me she was sorry.

I never took it to heart because at least she figured out the truth and came to tell me.

But the betrayal that Betty did to me…..the fact that my own good friend almost believed someone else instead of coming to me…….the fact that I still remember all of these till now…….

I think that’s one of the bullying events I can recall. ”

Beth: That’s good. Let it all out. Anything else?

” I was molested 3 years ago. I was in a grabhitch, sitting in the front seat beside the driver. We were driving at 90km/hr along the KPE when he suddenly reached across and grabbed my breasts.

I froze. I didn’t know what to do. I just tried to shift away but he kept reaching back for me.

I realized that I could be in serious trouble if he decided to drive me somewhere secluded. So I just let him. I let him grope me. I let him slide his fingers down my thighs.

Thankfully, he drove me home and nothing else happened. I went home and showered at least 3 times that night. ”

Beth: I’m so sorry to hear. Are you okay to continue?

“Yes”

Beth: You’re doing really well. Keep going.

For the next 3 or 4 sessions, I tell her everything. I tell her of all the grievances that ever happened to me.

Beth created a safe space for me to speak my truth. She allowed me to process my repressed anger and sadness. She let me cry. She helped me to see where the source of my triggers lay.

Therapy was a huge breakthrough for me.

Ep. 40 ‘I think you need a wakeup call’

This is a piece of autobiographical fiction. Space and time have been rearranged to suit the convenience of the book, and with the exception of public figures, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The opinions expressed are those of the characters and should not be confused with the author’s.

This story is written as an example to anyone who wants to believe that we are more than the patriarchy deems us to be, more than our limitations, and more than our fears.

29th September, 2020

After I exposed Gideon of his lies, he turned things around to blame me instead.

For the last 9 months, he had been conversing with me just fine. I didn’t know that he had kept our communication a secret with Marianne. I didn’t know.

She’s angry with me because I told her the truth. She thinks that I want to separate them. I’m not. I know I’m not.

I know that Gideon and I were already not doing well together. I know that it’s better that we part. But I’m still healing from the pain. I’m just trying to figure out what went wrong with our marriage. With my life. I need to know so that I don’t continue dating the wrong people. I need to figure things out so that this doesn’t happen again. I don’t want to keep marrying the wrong people.

I get that she’s angry because I’ve been talking to her fiance, but they never told me I couldn’t talk to Gideon. Neither of them ever told me to stop contacting him at this point. So why did he push the blame onto me? And even after finding out that Gideon had lied to her, why did she come and attack me instead?

Message from Marianne:

” Sometimes you come across as so mental – saying one thing but doing another. If your intentions had been good and you truly saw me as Gideon’s partner, you would have said hey Gideon is hiding some serious things from you, confront him about it. You should not feed me with your gross details and hurt me further. Because I don’t believe that’s what you would do for a friend.

My advice to you, as a good person is to let all of this go. If you are indeed as good a person as you think you are, let Gideon find his own happiness without you around. Even if we don’t work out, his happiness doesn’t lie with you and yours doesn’t with him. Will you ever see that or will you keep spending precious days, weeks, months or years trying to figure out what went wrong? Even if I wasn’t around, do you think Gideon has any more answers for you?

If you’re going to mean anything about what you’ve been harping on in public about how free and happy you are, then go and find your happiness and let us fix this mess. You may think I’m saying this to hurt but that isn’t the case. I’m just being 100% honest and blunt because I think you need a real wakeup call. ”

I send this to a good friend because I really need some clarity. Amidst all the unnecessary personal attacks, I do feel that somehow Marianne is right. I ask Birdy – “Was I wrong to have told her?”

Birdy replies ” A friend??? Why does she think you’re friends???? Is she delusional. Which friend would post a photo of her being engaged to HER FRIEND’S HUSBAND?! Didn’t she also cry infront of your parents saying that marriage is sacred. Why didn’t she come and tell you that Gideon was seeing her too? She’s being so hypocritical.

Also, why do you need to tell her anything at all? You don’t owe her anything babe.

Your healing journey is yours and yours alone. Gideon is at fault here. He lied to you both. He strung you both around. She’s only forgiving him because she needs his love. But she doesn’t need you, so she would rather channel all of her anger towards you instead.

And how in the world can this woman be so insensitive??? Ask her to take her unsolicited advice and shove it up her big mouth. No one needs her around. In the first place, this isn’t about her.

Just focus on your healing babe, ignore her. Also, block her off everything and don’t ever reply her again.”

I know that I should listen to Birdy but I reply Marianne anyway.

“You’re right Marianne….you are. I really do feel that I can move on now. So i’m gonna take your advice and be real with myself. I really feel free now and I’m thankful Gideon for giving me closure. I’m sorry the truth hurt you so much, i never intended for it to cause rift between you two. It was my fault to think I could speak candidly with you. But we both know that’s not going to happen. Getting over a marriage takes longer than 9 months. If it could take me a shorter time, it means I wasn’t invested, which I was. Even if Gideon wasn’t. I’m really sorry you have so much anger towards me and so much hurt.

I won’t say I’m completely healed yet but I’m really proud of myself for having come this far. I’m finally happy again.

Yes, the things I said might have contradicted myself but I acknowledge that it’s all part of my healing process. Thoughts were not as clear in the past. They are to me now and I’m happy. I understand why you have to come for me – you’re dealing with alot. So i wish you all the best in your process of healing too. It will take time. But know that I don’t hold anything against you or Gideon. I wish you guys nothing but happiness. Take care! ”

Marianne –

“Again with the self-righteousness, assuming you know how I feel. I’m not dealing with alot Jane.”

I block her and cry myself to sleep.

Ep. 39 ‘I hate my brother’

This is a piece of autobiographical fiction. Space and time have been rearranged to suit the convenience of the book, and with the exception of public figures, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The opinions expressed are those of the characters and should not be confused with the author’s.

This story is written as an example to anyone who wants to believe that we are more than the patriarchy deems us to be, more than our limitations, and more than our fears.

Jane at 9 years old

Entry 1

I hate my brother.

I don’t understand why everyone loves him so much.

The other day when we met some of mummy’s friends, they kept fussing around him. They said that he was very good looking and handsome but they didn’t say anything about me. They just looked at me and then looked back and Jerome.

Mummy is always taking care of Jerome. I don’t remember her ever holding or hugging or kissing me. Why is it that Mummy loves Jerome more than she loves me?

When I was younger, mummy and daddy always go to work so early. Nobody wake me up to say goodbye to me. I remember waking up in fear and running to their room, but their bed would be empty. Then I would sit at the door and cry and cry and cry – but nobody came back. Even after they come home, they have to look after Jerome.

All they want to talk about with me is whether I am doing well in school. I always do well, so they don’t ask me anything else.

When we go rollerblading, I always show them my tricks but they just look at me for a while only. After that, they still go back to look after Jerome.

I hate Jerome. I wish I had a sister instead. I always make him play barbie dolls with me but he always want to play with cars instead. Actually, I don’t even like barbie dolls but Daddy bought it for me. I want to read books instead but Jerome cannot read books yet so I cannot read with him.

I miss the times when my brother was younger. I remember I would climb into his baby cot and lie there with him. I would pat him to sleep and when he woke up, I would teach him out to climb out of the baby cot.

We would run around the house and use our bolsters as ‘horses’. We would gallop all around the house. Daddy and mummy would put me on the coffee table and I would sing Celine Dion songs for them. Jerome used to love watching me sing.

But those happy times don’t happen anymore. I miss those times.

Entry 2

I’m sorry God, I shouldn’t have said that I hate my brother. I actually really love him alot. I’m sorry God. I don’t want to hate anyone. I only want to love them. I just feel so sad that no one cares about me.

It took me a while through therapy, to realize that my adult problems were manifested from emotional neglect when I was younger. It wasn’t anyones fault but at the same time, I hadn’t realized the neglect I felt as a child affected me so much.

It made me become a people pleaser.

I became my false self.

Ep. 38 – ‘I’m so tired from feeling like this. But what is THIS?’

This is a piece of autobiographical fiction. Space and time have been rearranged to suit the convenience of the book, and with the exception of public figures, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The opinions expressed are those of the characters and should not be confused with the author’s.

This story is written as an example to anyone who wants to believe that we are more than the patriarchy deems us to be, more than our limitations, and more than our fears.

4th May, 2021 Zagreb, Croatia

Since D-day till now, I have been carrying a load around. It’s been so many months and I still feel so angry. My mind can’t focus on the things I need and want to do.

From my journal entries, I can see myself getting better from November to March.

Perhaps it’s because I had many things to distract me from thinking about my load.

November, my parents came to Croatia to find me. I spent 5 weeks taking them around Croatia. We had alot of fun together but also avoided talking about many things. Some topics – we just can’t discuss. It leads to fights and I just don’t need anymore fights with people. I just want to spend happy moments with them for now.

I went back to Singapore in January and it was so hard to be there. It was so stifling. Not just because everyone wanted an explanation but because it was a site of trauma that I was returning to. The 2 months I had there was so torturous for me. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I re-downloaded all of the stress that I once had when I lived in Singapore.

I’ve been back in Croatia for a while now, and I’ve been working non-stop since I arrived.

Work is going really well, things with Marco are going super well. I’m living my best life.

So why??? Why do I still feel this load in my chest? In the pits of my gut?

Why do I feel like I’ve been carrying a load on my back? My back can’t seem aching no matter how much I stretch or keep my postures upright.

I do sleep better when Marco is around. But still, I’m tired all the time. I can’t seem to focus on conversations.

I either eat too much or eat too little.

I know that something’s up.


6th May, 2020Zadar, Croatia

I’ve come to the coast to spend a week by myself.

Zagreb is great but I just don’t like the city as much. I miss watching the ocean. I miss smelling the sea.

I just ended work and I’m taking a walk to the cliffs. I have my ukelele, a bottle of wine and I’m going to watch the sunset.

I find a neat spot close to the water and I play the only song I know by heart.

It’s a song I fell in love with when I was 17. I used to make my JC friends listen to it over and over again while we were studying for exams.

I walked across an empty land
I knew the pathway like the back of my hand
I felt the earth beneath my feet
Sat by the river and it made me complete

Oh simple thing, where have you gone?
I’m getting old and I need something to rely on
So tell me when you’re gonna let me in
I’m getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

I came across a fallen tree
I felt the branches of it looking at me
Is this the place we used to love?
Is this the place that I’ve been dreaming of?

Somewhere only we know – Keane

As I play and sing to myself, I watch a couple sitting on a bench in a warm embrace. One of them notices me, smiles and waves. I nod back and keep playing.

There, in the distance, I watch the sun slowly set.

Zadar, Croatia

I think about all the happy times I had with Gideon.

Like when we went bed shopping and tried on so many beds together, finally picking one that we both loved so much. It was the most expensive one but we thought it’d be worth it since we were going to use it for the next 15 years.

When I was hospitalized and Gideon stayed by my side while I went through 7 types of tests and procedures to find out if I had a brain tumor. (I didn’t)

When we used to take long walks after eating dinner at East Coast food center.

When my parents and I watched him perform in the Airshow, National day parade and went for family day at his workplace.

Oh simple thing, where have you gone?
I’m getting old and I need something to rely on
So tell me when you’re gonna let me in
I’m getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

And if you have a minute, why don’t we go
Talk about it somewhere only we know?
This could be the end of everything
So why don’t we go somewhere only we know?
Somewhere only we know

I now know that my mind was just recovering from trauma. An intense amount of grieving needed to happen.

Ep. 37 – ‘Dear Diary’

This is a piece of autobiographical fiction. Space and time have been rearranged to suit the convenience of the book, and with the exception of public figures, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The opinions expressed are those of the characters and should not be confused with the author’s.

This story is written as an example to anyone who wants to believe that we are more than the patriarchy deems us to be, more than our limitations, and more than our fears.

Jane at 11 years old

I’m at home today and I’m looking for a notebook. My old journal is filled up and I want to continue writing.

Today, Sarah and Chloe didn’t talk to me in school again. I don’t know what I did wrong to hurt them. Usually during recess, we would sit together but today, they just stood up and left when I wanted to sit with them. I feel very upset but mummy and daddy are not at home, so I want to write my feelings down.

I open mummy’s shelf and I see a notebook with teddy-bears on them. Oh! Someone has already been writing inside.

1994

” ……….I really want to leave the marriage. But I can’t. Jane is still so young. She needs me. I have to make this marriage work so that my child can have two parents growing up.”

1998

“I can’t take it anymore. The first time we went to therapy, he only changed for the better after 3 months. I cried myself to sleep for 3 months. Why is it that every time after we fight – he can just go to sleep while I’m still wide awake??”

2002

“Sometimes I don’t feel like we love each other anymore. I’m just in this marriage because we can’t get a divorce. It’s not an option. My parents have also been fighting all their marriage but they have stuck together for so long. Maybe this is just what marriage is. Maybe love will always fade – but you have to learn how to love each other again and again.”

I close the book.

I find another book, this time an empty one.

I take it to my room, sit on my desk and start writing.

Dear diary,

Today I found out that my parents almost got divorced. I didn’t know at all! Mummy says that they stayed together because of me.

Is this why they fight sometimes? Because of me?

The other day, mummy and daddy fought so bad that she left the house and didn’t come home for the whole night. No one told me why.

The next day, Mummy came home and everyone pretended like nothing happened.

Well, if mummy and daddy ever get a divorce, I’m taking Jerome. I’m almost 12 years old already. I just have to wait a few more years and then I can get a job. I will look after my brother myself. I don’t want two unhappy people taking care of me and Jerome.

Ep. 36 ‘Love, Lucas’

This is a piece of autobiographical fiction. Space and time have been rearranged to suit the convenience of the book, and with the exception of public figures, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The opinions expressed are those of the characters and should not be confused with the author’s.

This story is written as an example to anyone who wants to believe that we are more than the patriarchy deems us to be, more than our limitations, and more than our fears.

April 2020, Bristol England

Lucas has arrived in England.

We spend 2 weeks with my friend Christian in his beautiful apartment.

The pandemic has now sent Europe into lockdown. The borders are closed, flights have been cancelled, people are panic buying groceries, it feels like we’re all trapped in a Doomsday movie.

Lucas caught the last flight out from Prague to Bristol, all just to find me. When we reunite after not seeing each other for weeks now, we finally embrace. Every day for the last few weeks, we’ve been talking to each other non-stop. But I wasn’t expecting anything out of this romance.

By now, I have found out that Lucas doesn’t have a clear plan in his life – and that’s the way he wants to keep that plan. He doesn’t want to be bound by societal expectations or whatever social constructs the world has created. He has never subscribed to those and he didn’t plan to start now.

June, 2020 – Leicester, England

After spending 7 weeks together, Lucas and I have gotten somewhat used to each other.

We were strangers when we first decided to do workaway jobs together. And we’ve now been spending 7 weeks with each other. I’m surprised we haven’t killed each other. I can’t even spend every day of 7 weeks with any of own loved ones. But Lucas is very intelligent and I am very curious about his life, so the more we spend time with each other, the more I learn about myself too.

One day I asked him, “Why did you pursue me so hard if you knew that you didn’t want a relationship with me?”

“What do you think the purpose of Love is for?” He asked.

“I think that love is a choice, that should be unconditional. I think that love is to show someone the best parts of you and for two people to always choose each other.”

“You’re not wrong. But that’s also just one way of looking at things. I see love……..everywhere. Love is in the way you sit with your friend after his father has died. Love is a stranger holding the door open for you. Love is a neighbor cooking food for you when you break your leg. Love is when your parents get divorced because they just can’t stand each other but don’t want to fight anymore. ” Lucas tells me.

“How is getting divorced a way of loving each other?” I ask. “Isn’t that two people giving up on love?”

“A marriage is based more than love. It’s based on compatibility, circumstances, and perhaps fate. Sometimes people grow closer together, sometimes they grow apart. We can’t control the way people grow in their lives.

Getting a divorce means loving yourself enough to know that you deserve more than another 20 bitter years of trying to force something to happen.

Lucas’s parents got a divorce when he was just 9. At first, the custody battles wore him and his sister out so much that Lucas became very rebellious. His parents took one child each and Lucas grew up with his mother. Through living with his mother, he saw how she rebuilt her life slowly again. She became stronger – she found herself. And in finding herself, she learnt how to show Lucas what self-love meant. She showed Lucas what love should really look like – selfless and unconditional. Later on, his mother met another man and they’ve been happy ever since.

Lucas’s father remarried shortly after. He married someone 14 years younger than him and now has 2 young children with her, one 3, the other one 7. But Lucas’s stepmother is vengeful. To protect her own children and make sure they get their father’s full inheritance, she has managed to convince Lucas’s father to cut his first two children out of his will.

That reality sent Lucas’s sister packing. She left home at 16 and has never seen her father since.

20th September, 2020 – Tirana, Albania

Lucas and I have spent every day in the last 6 months together.

It’s been incredible. Sure, we’ve had our arguments. But Lucas has taught me so much about myself and about love.

We’ve gotten used to watching documentaries and reading up about neuroscience, politics, history, geopolitics instead of movies and TV shows all the time.

Lucas has taught me to love food again – we eat ALOT together and I’ve now gained back all of the weight I lost + a few more kgs.

We spent an amazing time traveling together through England, Scotland, and now Albania. We’ve also done 3 amazing workaways together.

It was time to part. I was headed for Croatia and Lucas was to head towards Egypt.

We’ve shown each other so much love even though we knew it was always going to end this way. Lucas taught me that love is all around – that love doesn’t need an expiry date. It exists in our memories of each other. Love doesn’t ever need to become hate.

To send me off, Lucas accompanied me to Tirana from Berat.

At a bus station along a main road in Tirana, I hugged Lucas goodbye.

“Take care of yourself aye?” Lucas says. We are both in tears.

Goodbyes are always the hardest when you meet people you connect with.

I watch Lucas get on the bus and I catch a last glimpse of him in the same grey shirt he had on when we first met.

As the bus leaves, Lucas waves goodbye to me with a big smile on his face.

I keep waving until I don’t see the bus anymore.