XXXVIII | Thought

Rowan follows me like a ghost
as I stroll around the hawker centre.

Why does she care so much?

He was old.

He would have died

I buy her a meal.

She eats without really looking.

does she worry about me?

We’re in the bus again
when I tell her

‘He wanted to die,
‘isn’t this good?’

The expressionless look
on her expressionless face

tells me it’s not good.

‘He didn’t die of old age,’ she says.

‘How you know?
‘The nurse didn’t say.’

‘The nurse can’t say.
‘We’re not his family.’

A pause.

‘I didn’t believe it
‘when Nya-Nya told me.’

Her fists turn white again.

I shift in my seat.

‘He’s in a better place now,’
I say without thinking.

an expressionless expression
that tells me

I’m wrong.

‘Your life
‘doesn’t belong to you.

‘Whether you live or die
‘isn’t a choice for you to make.’

That makes no sense.

The bus goes over a bump.
Seats creak.
The bell is pressed.

‘Why not? It’s your own life.’

Street lights
flicker on
one by one by one.

It’s getting late.

I’m tired
from the unexpected excursion.

I want to do something fun.

‘Your life doesn’t belong to you,’
she says firmly.

‘You did nothing to bring it into existence,
‘so why do you get to decide when to end it?’

We’re the only ones who alight.

‘Our parents did.
‘They had sex.
‘We were born.’

‘So you’ll die if your parents say so?’

This touches a sensitive spot.

I bristle.
‘Of course not.’

‘Why not?’

I snort.

‘I’m not the one who said our lives don’t belong to us.’

She: Lots of people have sex but no babies.
Me: Thanks to contraceptives.
She: Doesn’t always work.


don’t really like this conversation.

But if this takes her mind off
the IMH man,

then whatever, I guess.

I point out,
‘But it shows we have power
‘over the creation of life.’

‘Try making sentient life out of nothing
‘and I’ll believe you.’

She looks pissed.

It makes me happy.

‘That’s just how you think.’

She stops walking
in the middle
of the dark ulu street.

I stop too.

She’s staring up at the sky.

‘How do you think?’


Her coal-black eyes
are almost
the same colour as the sky.

‘You,’ she says.

Like it’s obvious.

It’s not.

‘The truth doesn’t change.
‘No matter how you think.

‘So if this is the truth,
‘how are you going to think?’


are reflected

in her eyes.

She resumes walking.

I follow like an idiot.

Then, she stops walking again,
turns to look at me.

‘What now?’
I ask.

She shakes her head.

In this dim shadowy street,
I can’t tell
if her ears are turning red.

Her eyes meet mine.

‘You’re not thinking.’

And again, she continues walking.
And again, I don’t get it.

Finally, we reach her house.

‘Don’t tell Kumar about the detour to IMH,’
Rowan says.

‘I won’t,’ I reply.

She stops walking


‘So that’s what it all comes down to, huh?’

I stare at her.

What is she talking about now?!

‘If God exists or not.’

Can’t I believe whatever I want to believe?
Why must she interfere with what I think?

‘He doesn’t exist,’ I say wearily.
‘If you want to make a point, just make it.
‘No need to talk in riddles.’

‘I’m not making a point,’
Rowan says.

She frowns.

‘I’m trying to think like you.
‘I don’t get it.’

I stare at her.

She’s trying to think like me?

‘You believe the facts you learn in school
‘from textbooks written by people
‘who did it to earn money,

‘taught by teachers
‘who do it to earn money,

‘funded by corporations 
‘who ‘discover’ these facts to earn money.’

She shakes her head.


I give her the finger
when she turns around

to go upstairs.




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