I like the pace of my world. It’s busy, but for me, the less I do the lazier I get.
Another incredibly hectic week. After a frenzied week of missing school intermittently for Tobacco Summits, Director General of Education visits, etc.- I was greeted by a week of tests (that abashedly I only studied for the day before) and a myriad of incredible events that perhaps tipped on the verge of incredulity. Skipping past the horrific chemistry test on Monday (for which I only had half a day to study for); the day of mugging on Tuesday; the English, Chinese, and Biology test on Wednesday (which thankfully I managed to scrape 7s for), we land on the latter half of the week that just felt like it had to outshine the first half.
As if it wasn’t eventful enough already.
I missed Economics class (again) for (another) open house that Thursday morning, which was a lovely and cosy event with the SJI Elementary parents. Funnily enough, none of the parents had children past Grade 3 – looks like Singaporean parents aren’t the only kiasu ones around! After tennis (which finished at 6 pm), I showered, changed (albeit very uncomfortably in the unfamiliarity of the school toilets and the humidity of non-aircon-ned Singapore) and rushed to pen down an poem for the Open Mic later that night. I’d forgotten to email myself the poem I was supposed to be reading; so I decided with half an hour to go that I could just come up with one on the spot.
Here’s the link to the poem: Why I Love Maths.
Walking into the café, one could mistake it to be some sleazy pub/bar and I seriously considered steering myself around and not walking up those creaky, wooden stairs. But the laughter and poetry was alluring and I clambered up those stairs (yes, with my school bag and tennis racket in tow; tennis racket not meant for self defense but oddly comforting when walking through the streets on late nights alone). The place transformed into a wonderful enclave of poets, artists, and musicians alike. The place vibrated with a certain cosy and yet excitedly buzzing vibe – and the friendliness of everyone there was incredible. Sandwiched between a guy-who’s-name-i-forget and another who spoke poetry as if it were a delightful song, I looked towards the MC for the night (a bubbly lady with beautiful, flowing brown locks) and waited for the event to start.
Little did I know that they’d call on me first to speak.
I hustled up there with iPad clutched tightly in hand, inwardly cursing myself for not even reading through the poem once. First impressions, my word. What was underage, 16-year-old me doing in a crowd of 100-or-so tipsy self-professed poets and exuberant expats? There alone, no less.
I was just there. In front of the mike, staring into the beady eyes, wispy beard, and towering white turban of the founder of the Poetry Slam in Singapore. Chris Mooney Singh.
Goodness, was I scared.
But I performed.
And the audience laughed.
And they clapped and brava-ed.
That was the most satisfying moment of my life – being able to call myself a part of the poetry enclave and bubbling literary movement that’s now sweeping through Singapore. Granted, I was a little apprehensive when I realized that on normal days this was a bar; but a little more thrilled and enraptured by it all, in full knowledge that that was the craziest thing I ever did.
The other poets were amazing, and I couldn’t stay past the first round of the slam (I had school the next day!), but I suppose they did have the inherent advantage of being a little tipsy with a bottle of beer or a glass of martini. All I had was my glass of ice lemon tea. But I did learn a lot about the rhythm and flow of poetry that night – the best poems were mellifluous, with a certain beat or rhyme or emotion that was evident through its performance. And I learnt something about myself – I had finally went out on a limb, thrust myself completely out of my comfort zone and propelled myself into the literary scene in Singapore, and talked and got to know more people. I was overcome by a self-confidence and excitement that I never experienced before – and I think a large part of that was the fact that there was no one I knew there. I could be anyone. I was Ruru. I was the one who could write poetry, the one who told herself that she belonged – everyone was incredibly friendly and immediately made me feel at home with their literary references, silly jokes and jazz-y music taste.
Completely worn out and bushed from tennis training and the exhilaration of the entire escapade, I left at 9.30 and collapsed into bed the moment I got home (unfortunately with my hair soaking wet but smelling lovely of lavender conditioner).
Friday was another day of its own. I did my ToK presentation (with little preparation at all considering I was busy the whole week), which turned out pretty well (thank goodness). Michael Sandel, I owe you one. We got our biology test back (yes, the one I barely studied for) and I still managed to get over 90% so that was a relief! Lunch was another frenzied affair, collating all the Hair for Hope funds and all the documentation involved with the money and parental consent forms… Then I missed English class (yet again) to greet Brother Armin (Secretary of Education of the Philippines!).
He’s an oddly benevolent man with a jolly demeanor and an incredibly down-to-earth take on life, considering his background and outlook. I think there’s a certain self-confidence and assuredness and warm, approaching and yet not encroaching air that surrounds every brother I know. Seeing Brother George and Brother Armin side by side, with their warm smiles, genial handshakes, and esoteric (yet completely rooted) conversation – there’s just this certain irreplaceable vibe that I can’t put my finger on. I was so enraptured in the conversation that I forgot the time – I had to retrieve the funds from Mr. Rain’s room and bring them home.
Little did I remember that I was supposed to be at a leadership talk at the Fullerton hotel, so when I received a text saying ‘We’re catching a lift from Mr. Roberts (our principal)’, suffice to say I was a little more than confused. Shocked and just a little bit shaken. I couldn’t just leave in the middle of the conversation- so when Mr. Roberts came in and said: ‘Ruru’s coming in my car’, I was a more than bewildered. I remembered the funds and blabbered that I needed to get it down, and in the span of running up for the box and scurrying down I realized I was going for the lectures.
What an eventful week.
The taxi ride home from the Fullerton was a fiasco too. Upon hearing that I was from SJI International, and yet wasn’t Christian – the taxi driver belligerently tried to convert me in to one as his car swerved left and right. As he explained Jesus’ sacrifices, his hands left the steering wheel and I was too scared for our safety to gently tell him that one taxi ride wouldn’t change my views on religion. Such inspired dedication – I envied him, almost. With a firm belief in a religion, nothing could hurt him. Everything was part of God’s plan.
But then again I didn’t know whether to call it delusional or optimistic when he declared that he was ‘a PHD holder! Double degree, even! Master’s also!’ because God made anything possible.
Interesting person though.
Sometimes I wish I could find it in myself to believe in God. But I can’t – I just can’t come to terms with the fact that there is an omniscient God, someone all powerful out there. I’m open to religion- but if I am to believe, I want to truly believe.
Because how do you ever tell the truth if you lie to yourself?