Month: September, 2014

The Starry Bridge

I was standing on the edge of a cliff. I had to get to the other side but a giant chasm stood in between, denying me. My toes peered over the edge, the thin thread between two polar situations. What I saw beneath was an insatiable darkness, it was hungry for me. And I was that close to being swallowed by it.

I had no thoughts, no questions forming; as if a curtain had descended upon my mind and dwarfed my thoughts along with it.

My eyes were transfixed at the spot right in front of my toes, staring down into the unfathomable depth when the molecules of the air started to coagulate and solidify, forming some kind of substance. Little iridescent spots started to appear, freckling the darkness below like stars against the backdrop of the universe.

The spots seemed pixelated at first, a blur. But they soon crystallised like television gaining clarity after a storm, to form a square carpet of roughly 1 feet long and wide. More squares started to appear and lined up forming a bridge to the other side.

I reached out my foot gingerly to test the material, still focussing my bodyweight on my back leg in case of the unfortunate. The sparkling bridge was a gel-like substance through the soles of my Nikes and they welcomed the heft of my foot with confidence. I slowly transferred more weight to my right foot till my whole bodyweight was borne on it as my left leg shifted forward.

My first few steps were apprehensive but I drew an increasing sense of certainty and I was soon placing one step in front of the other comfortably, pacing across the bridge as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

A quiet melody hummed in the background as my body drifted further into the scene, growing smaller every second.

My Trip to Surabaya

“Now it’s your turn to tell me your dream.”

Tommy (a student guide) and I were talking in the showroom of a local furniture company after we had went on a tour of their factory. He shared with me his dream of building his own company to provide jobs for more Indonesians. The way he casually chatted about his ambitions with such sincerity amazed me. Similarly, another student guide told me he wanted to study at NUS for his MBA and work in the States one day.

I was wondering why were they so ready to verbalise their dreams and aspirations. Was it their culture? Or was it because they were filled with hope?


10th November 1945

24,000 British troops invaded Surabaya and bombs were dropped mercilessly. The Indonesian resistance fought valiantly, drawing the battle on for 3 weeks, resulting in over 16,000 Indonesian casualties and majority of the local population fleeing.

The Indonesians fought with hope. Hope, the fuel to get back on their feet when they have fallen; the voices to their spirits when they charge onto the battlefield; the steeling of their hearts when surrounded by enemies’ bayonets, defeated; the quiet melody singing the anthem of a better future.

“Freedom or Die!”

18th September 2014

We visited the Heroes Monument dedicated to the people who died in the battle. A tall phallus-shaped landmark erected in honour of those who died during the battle.

We then moved on to the 10th November Museum located beneath the monument and saw historical artefacts and video recordings of the battle. Amongst which was a sculpture of Indonesians on the battlefield, fallen but still flying the flag of Indonesia with pride. The attention to detail of the sculptor was frighteningly accurate. It recreated the feelings of the soldiers and conveyed them to the viewer through a lapse in time. I felt as if I had been standing on the battlefield and witnessed the tears roll down the cheeks of the soldiers and heard their battle cries and felt the uniform cling to my skin, drenched in perspiration and humidity.


The sculptor definitely succeeded in conveying emotions. But what I think he did most importantly, was to pass on the spark of hope of the soldiers.

I won’t let you bury it
I won’t let you smother it
I won’t let you murder it


Sweaty manual workers were lifting heavy objects by the roadside, 3 boys in soiled uniforms were walking across the top of a cement wall to cut through a field to get to school, technicians with greasy skin were repairing motorcycles in the hot weather. They may have been living in grimy conditions with filthy clothes, but they wore the purest smiles I had ever seen. And I personally think they were smiling because of hope. Not of hope for a better GPA, more money, an iPhone 6, more likes on their Instagram or retweets on Twitter. But maybe for health, happiness and freedom for another day.


Leaving Surabaya has taught me to hope; an internalised metronome driving the piece of music even though it doesn’t see the full composition. We may not be able to agree on what hope is, what it is for, or where it comes from. But maybe we can agree on this,

“Remember, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

― Stephen King

The Fear is Cold

Emotions are planted as seeds.

Hate. Started out as a small lump of indignation, but grew in size overtime. Often times this particular species quivers out pretty quickly. Fizzed. Gone. Sometimes, however, it can take root, and spread its grasps deep beneath the surface. Strengthening its fortitude every extra second you let it bathe in the rich concoction of your mind. The easiest way to eradicate it is, let go.

Pride. The seeds vary in their sizes. Some are small, some are big. Maybe someone dropped off a casual compliment and you inflated it more than it meant to be. You opened the gates, you let it in and enriched it with the fertile soil of your minute victories; feeding it consistently and unabashedly. It grew. Its voracious hunger could never be sated. It wanted more. And it grew. Its back grew thick and rough; its leaves grew thick cuticles to protect their own interests. I guess you could work at it to remove it now. But it is that much harder than it would have been to close the gates.

Fear. One day you looked into the mirror and stared at yourself. Stared hard at yourself, stared right into your own eyes and you saw an overpowering darkness. A darkness that could have had consumed you on the very spot. A darkness so dangerous, a darkness so cold. The fear was cold. He climbed onto your back, inching his slimy grasp up your ankles then your calves, behind your knees, slowly up your hamstrings your bottom your lower back it is climbing up your spine at the nape of your neck ENOUGH! The fear is cold and you carry him around like your shadow. Going about your daily routine, shouldering the weightless burden of a heavy emotion. But remember, it is only because you allowed it.