When you fail,

the outcome is as if you didn’t try at all. But that’s not what we want to talk about, nor what we will ever want to hear.


I got what I wanted, what I really really wanted, till the point I could not expect these realistically. The kind of good that you dream of but cannot expect without anxiousness.

Then is the answer that I got lucky?

If I say that, am I devaluing the contributions of the tens of people who played a role in this? Because they helped. Because they helped, so much. Because of that, I must stop saying things like that.

I feel lucky. I’m grateful. And all of it was a combination of work and their support and encouragement and our devotion. Luck is somewhere there, a quantity indeterminable that fit the pieces that were laid down.

Am I dreaming? What can I possibly ever offer them in return for the intangible and unquantifiable thing they have given me? How do I make them understand that when I say ‘Thank you’ I mean it for each and every instance that they could have done something differently?

How did I, with the same hands of gratefulness, shake the hand of that man whose words cut into my chest like ice? A dichotomy.

The A-Levels are a scary thing, more dictatorial than the O Levels, it’s said.

They’re officially over for us, like this. One more year through the system, more years ahead in the system under a different name. Did the system make me into the person I am today?

Do I like the person I am?

The answer is yes and no, because the input affects the output, regardless of the function.

But that bell curve. Because of it, I am… guilty.

The kind of disappointment that they can’t say but we can read all over their faces.

When the other tells me “The world is your oyster,” knowing that I have already placed my feet in the sand of my homeland.

My stomach curls in discomfort, but then who else do we find comfort in, if not the words of another?

We humans, looking for the things we want to hear. Blending honesty with dishonesty, lacing words with humility and calling it virtue.

I don’t want to talk about it but I cannot because it pushes its way out from the centre of my chest.

These words shouldn’t be… here.

I realised that for once in a life time, I got to be that exception.

(How many times has it been? That the confluence of factors… still…)

We are undeserving. The others are no less deserving. For the ill omen of breaking a cup on the night before the release of the results, is only an item of confirmation bias.

I wasn’t unlucky at all. Pretty much everything came to me.

At some point in time, I forgot what was luck and what had been hard work. Why can I not do integration to find volume? Did I never manage to do it? Truly?

The retroactive editing of the mind is a scary thing.

I was left to my own devices.

At so many points I had nothing to show.

The darkness over the hills:

When I close my eyes,

it rains and it feels like

I’ve been here before.

It feels like nothing changed

at all.

(taken from pompeii, bastille. Mildly tweaked for the situation.)

Sometimes I wonder. What is poetry supposed to be like?

That, I guess is something that the Singaporean A Level system hasn’t given to me.

Maybe that is an indicator of success in a humanities student.


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