Words Apart

The mouse trap at the back of my throat

Snaps! And I gag before

I can tell you what I really want to say.

So much for last moments.

I hold your quivering hand while

A silent vein pulses near my temple.

While you are falling short of breath

I try to tell you all that I should have

In this rare lifetime we had


But the cage that bars my lips

Stays shut. And I struggle before

The floodgates finally open and I hear

Sobs that seem to pour forth from a

Body. Is it my own?


There is nobody around to take your place.

Nor will there be anyone, anymore

For that matter.

Yet short of goodbye and thank you, really,

Wasn’t there something better I could have said?

There are people I’ve known and people I’ve met,

And people like you I will never forget.

There are people I’ve met and people I’ve known,

And people like you whom I can call my own.

Yet short of goodbye and thank you, my love,

Till today I still think of so many things

I did not say enough.


Words may have been my way out –

They help me tunnel an exit out of an otherwise

Depthless cave, my labyrinth

I cannot escape.

And I have been the master of all these words

Yet I never knew what to say. In your presence

Where was I? Where were we but worlds apart?

How could I have told you

What I really felt? Without feeling like

A flatterer. A smatter of honeycombed words

That mean nothing, do nothing but sweeten.

Slander. A philanderer.


I have been both the former and the latter.

I never knew better. Till today

I never knew what to say.

I never knew what to say…


– Euginia Tan, Words Apart


Just finished Euginia Tan’s Playing Pretty. It had its hits and misses, but in general it was pretty decent. This was one of my favourite. Anyway do pick up a copy at Books Actually! Support local talent (:


I turned to run

But the door is closed

By my prayers, Your promises

Turned imperatives.

Can this be pruned into something more?

I guess roses always have thorns.



Fantastical Extrapolations

Fantastical extrapolations are always unhealthy. No one needs to see failure in a setback, death in an illness, doom in passing shadows. But don’t they at least hold some truth? It has to be admitted that these spectacular speculations remain a nagging possibility, no matter how deep we lock them away.

It is perhaps a fault to project too much of our emotions in one incidence, one disappointment. Yet is it really incredulous to ask, When is disappointment too much to bear, When do you stop forgiving someone, When do you determine whether you should end it? Now would be an opportune moment to insert the “Well that escalated quickly” meme, and perhaps there is some insanity in such a train of thought, but aren’t such questions legit and even reflective of the long-term perspective we are so often encouraged to adopt? It is perhaps not so crazy then to perceive the long-term ramifications of events, and the sustainability of certain unspoken yet inviolable rules of our relationships – in this example, the interminability of “absorbing the blow” so to speak.

Not that I actually think it is interminable, or nearly as ominous as we might be tempted to think in times of confusion and unclear motivations. But it serves as a good example. And yet of course there are no true answers to these questions. Maybe it is interminable. But I suppose therein lies a wonder of the human spirit, of love and of hope; that we can press on under the shadow of such disturbing questions, whether or not we are conscious of them, surely reveals the resolve of that spirit, the strength of that love and the brightness of that hope, all of which we have of course inherited from God.


I apologise for the lack of posts.

Now, let me redirect you to a recent post, which contains a quote by Woolf. In particular, let me draw attention to this line: “From the desire to be separate we have laid stress upon our faults, and what is particular to us.”

The harsh truth of it really struck me when I read it the first time, and again when I finally found it again. For is it not true? We like to complain about our unfortunate characteristics. Oh I am too indecisive, too frank, too sensitive, too independent. But really, don’t we revel in our extremities? Like a scar that makes us our body unique, we treasure it and parade it, albeit covertly and perhaps even unwittingly, despite its superficial undesirability as a scar. But there’s a chain whirling round, round, in a steel-blue circle beneath.

Its a strange play of fate then (I use fate not because I subscribe to the idea of Fate, indeed I always mean God when I say “fate”, but sometimes “fate” just sounds more fitting: “play of God” hardly has the same effect as “play of fate”.) that just as I found this quote I have been challenged myself as to whether or not I am guilty of this. And to cut a long story short, I found that I was.

To surmise what this precious flaw of mine was, I would have to say that it is an over-sensitivity that stems from a tendency to view (or try to view) my life as a grand narrative. And yes, perhaps you now know why this blog is called A Sketchy Narrative. Anyway, allow me to explain. I like to view my life as a very long and huge story. And as with all stories, they have a narrative of sorts. In this case it is necessarily a grand one. But with a narrative, (indeed as an author, for that is how I sometimes feel) one needs to know what is happening. Obviously this extends to more than simply what events are occurring physically, but also what the implications, causes, and nature of these events are in the emotional, spiritual and mental spheres, and where and how they fit in with the other occurrences.

Such a task disallows one to take life simply, to feel simply, and to think simply. Rather, one must examine ones life, examine ones feelings, examine ones thoughts. And such an examination and consequently such a habit of examination inevitably breeds a greater sensitivity emotionally and mentally, to the point where one finds himself bemoaning that he thinks too much and feels too much for his own good. But is it really a lament?

And therein lies my guilt. For as much as I profess my resentment for my feeling and thinking too much and the resulting emotional and mental turmoil and chaos, it is a fault that is very much particular to me. For the phrase “too much” invokes and refers to a certain standard that I have exceeded and thus made myself special, and even if the question of whether or not that is a negative excess or a positive excess remains ambivalent, it doesn’t matter, as long as it is not indisputably negative.  For take away that and what do I have left to set me apart? (Clearly the answer is Christ, but we don’t always think rationally in this area, especially when so much of it happens subconsciously.) So yes upon examination (it is ironic that to remove the status that the habit of examination has conferred I have to conduct further such examination. I also think I have too many brackets in this post.) I realise that I did revel in this “fault of mine”. Or perhaps it is neither a fault nor a virtue, and it is simply easier to flaunt something that is dressed as a fault.

More than that, I reveled in my revelry which took the form of my writing; I enjoyed and treasured the wealth of emotions and thoughts and reflections that my disposition provided as creative fuel for my own literature. I suppose at a certain level I was afraid that if I no longer felt, I could no longer write. I think it is a little incredulous that even in my emotional distress I could be glad that at least I could construct nice sentences to capture them. Is it? I don’t know.

Anyway, I have since surrendered everything to God, in the faith that what we give to Him, He will make even more beautiful. I don’t think this means I don’t have to think anymore as I used to, or that I shouldn’t examine my life and my emotions. But perhaps it means that I shouldn’t raise this trait on to a pedestal and in so doing glorify and distinguish myself. Although that would also probably mean doing it less as well.

As for my writing, perhaps the unusual lack of posts recently should be disconcerting, but I think it will be alright.

Flaunting Faults


Always I see myself holding a vase of sorts; It is never clear what it is, except that it is fragile, and precious, and it is in my hands. And the next moment it is falling, falling, and I am helpless to save it. And then it shatters into a million glorious pieces at my feet. And I stand there, forlorn, staring down at my hands and the disaster I orchestrated, my heart in as many pieces.