December 16, 2015

"There’s been a Death, in the Opposite House"

There’s been a Death, in the Opposite House,
As lately as Today —
I know it, by the numb look
Such Houses have — alway — 
The Neighbors rustle in and out —
The Doctor — drives away —
A Window opens like a Pod —
Abrupt — mechanically — 
Somebody flings a Mattress out —
The Children hurry by —
They wonder if it died — on that —
I used to — when a Boy — 
The Minister — goes stiffly in —
As if the House were His —
And He owned all the Mourners — now —
And little Boys — besides — 
And then the Milliner — and the Man
Of the Appalling Trade —
To take the measure of the House — 
There’ll be that Dark Parade — 
Of Tassels — and of Coaches — soon —
It’s easy as a Sign —
The Intuition of the News —
In just a Country Town — 
Emily Dickinson 

I'm amused that this poem popped into my head. Never considered myself much of a poems guy, so it came to me as a surprise when this did despite only having once studied it in school many many years ago. I could still remember one of the handful of uninspiring questions that would appear alongside this poem: Who is the man of the appalling trade?

I guess it seems pretty obvious now. I find it weird that they would make us study such a morbid poem at such an age, especially since I believe the majority of students at that age couldn't really comprehend the subtlety of this poem. Then again, probably no poems would be taught if they had that objective in mind.

I guess it wasn't so much the words of the poem that stuck with me, but the tone of it. My eldest uncle was admitted into the hospital today, and the Whatsapp group consisting of his siblings and family periodically notified us of updates. Things were not looking good, and the phrase "there's been in a death in the opposite house" kept circling around in my head.

My dad decided against going to the hospital. There was no need to. He even explained his case, which seemed like he was justifying it to me, or maybe to himself, but it really wasn't necessary. For the past 7 years since my uncle has been in a nursing home due to a stroke, my dad was probably one of the few that visited him on a regular basis. My dad would talk to him, bring him the occasional siew yok or KFC, or even bring him out if my dad was in a good mood. He did all this despite the not being in the best of terms in the past, and you could always tell from the way he retold his stories that he still felt the pain after all these years.

At 9.36pm, my uncle passed away. Earlier tonight, when the updates started coming in, instead of retreating to my room like I usually do, I decided to just sit in the living room with my dad. I felt like I was giving him moral support as every notification could mean the last, although he probably didn't really need it. There's no doubt that my dad feels happy that his eldest brother is finally relieved of his suffering here on Earth, but I cannot imagine what it must be like to have someone that you see at least once a month just ... cease to exist.

Before the last message, he started telling stories of his past once again. He would always say he hates reminiscing about his childhood because he never had a good one, but he would then proceed to contradict himself and repeat the stories of being mistreated by people around him. It probably helps him to be grateful of what he has now.

Rest in peace, uncle. It was nice seeing you three days ago.

December 15, 2015

Rise and shine

"Is it ... morning yet?"

I thought to myself as I stare through the curtains, trying to figure out whether is that the light from the gentle morning sun or the glow of the urban night that doesn't get as dark as it should. All this is happening while my brain slowly starts to boot up.

I turn to my side and switch on the iPad that has slept beside me for several years like an overly attached dog, realising to my dismay that it was only 7am. That meant that I only slept for a mere 4 hours, when there was really no reason in the world for me to sleep so little. I contemplated checking my fitness tracker for the amount of deep sleep that I've had the last night, but I could already conclude that it was insufficient.

The late night once again reminded me how disappointing last night's visit to the book sale was. For a short time I had this sense of overwhelming hope that I could find the book that I've been wanting to have as there were similar books and a vast selection. But that hope slowly diminished as I circled the place again and again, unconvinced that I could be so unlucky.

Anyway, iPad. Notifications. Email. Seems like it has become a recent morning routine, checking for emails. Ah, an update, exactly what I was hoping for.

For a brief moment, my heart sank, thinking a "but we're sorry" would follow the "thank you for applying", but it didn't. Thank god it didn't.

My mind has been preoccupied for the past few days with the prospects of landing this "dream job". The higher than average pay, the late commencement date (allowing me to not start work so soon), the induction overseas, it all seems extremely attractive. I don't even care anymore even if I eventually have to sell my soul, dread waking up every morning and spiral down into a state of depression; all I know is it would be a blessing to be granted that opportunity.

Much like my previous job application process in the UK, and a man who fantasises about life after marriage when he has only been dating for a week, it all seems like a set up to a huge disappointment. The cycle of telling myself that I probably wouldn't get it and subsequently telling myself I need to have the confidence to actually stand a chance just repeats itself ad infinitum.

All the best to me?