LII | Strange One

We’re on a wobbly bus
heading to the west of Singapore.

Some faraway park
with a nice view of the sunset.

The kindergarten kid
in the seat behind me

is talking loudly
about his trivial prayer
for it not to rain today.

I’m leaning my head against
the window,

watching Rowan next to me
talking to the boy with knee-socks
(across the aisle)

about some church stuff,

with her usual expressionless

Surrounded by people
of all ages
with similar expressionless

she no longer looks weird
and out of place.

The strange one
is skeptical me.

During the journey
Rowan doesn’t glance over at me.

Not even once.




The bus stops outside the park.

Most people
start to help
unloading of picnic equipment

but I don’t.

I just stand
by the side

and watch.

A group of aunties
in sunglasses

and hand fans from last year’s
National Day free pack

start talking to me.

‘Rowan’s classmate right?’
‘How nice to see she brought friends.’
‘Are you a christian?’
‘Have you been to church before?’
‘Then do you believe in God?’
‘Is your family also non-christian?’
‘Have you heard about Jesus?’

Just a second

before i lose my

(and start swearing),

Rowan locates me
and answers
their questions

on my behalf

with a heated stare
that speaks in a language I cannot hear.

They nod and smile,
say kind things

that float pass my stinging ears

‘Don’t keep disappearing,’
Rowan says.

She’s really busy.




I’m stationed
at the chicken rice table
with Kumar.

Rowan’s gone.

I watch her
from a distance,


and I realise

I’m seeing a side of her
others may not have seen.

But even that

isn’t enough

to keep me from realising

our worlds

are really


For the two of us
to be in the same place

experiencing opposing

is good enough evidence

that there
a God.

‘Are you okay, dude?’ Kumar asks.
‘You’ve been really quiet all day.’

I stick my hands in my pockets.


‘I’m kinda frustrated.’


There’s a grin
on Kumar’s face.

‘Because Rowan’s
‘talking to other handsome boys?’

I punch his shoulder.

‘No lah.
‘It’s annoying,
‘the questions people here ask.’

Kumar looks thoughtful.

‘But once I told them I’m Muslim
‘they shut up.’

That makes me smile.

‘Maybe I should tell them
‘I’m Muslim too.’

He laughs.

‘It’s good to think about it,
‘don’t you think?’

I laugh. It’s sarcasm.

‘If i thought it’s a good thing,
‘I won’t feel like i’m being judged.’

sticks his hands
into his pockets.

We watch a little girl being spun
round and round
in the air

by a young man
holding her hands.

Her gleeful laughter
spreads (like germs).


Kumar’s grinning
even though

his eyes are serious.

‘I used to think it’s annoying too.

‘But going through…that
‘with no one I can turn to,

‘even though I say

‘I don’t believe in God,
‘I was blaming
‘him for my predicament.’

He turns to me
with a goofy grin.

‘I dunno if you’ll believe this
‘but just before you and Rowan came,

‘I was just thinking that I’ll believe in him
‘if he saves me this once.’


Squeals of delight

turn into whining
for more.

The young man is out of breath.

But he takes her hands

take another
deep breath.

Is he privately cursing God too?

‘I believe you.’

Kumar puts an arm around my shoulder.
‘I’m glad you came too, bro.’

The dude in knee-high socks
comes up to us,

asks for
three more packets
of chicken rice.




error: Content is protected!!