The ‘Beneatha’ In Me

Something happened in literature tutorial today that I’ve been dying to pen down. The class was amidst a discussion on Lorraine Hansberry’s play, ‘A Raisin in The Sun’. My prof was being quite critical of the character ‘Beneatha’. He commented that while her ‘dream’ was nobel in some sense, as compared to her brother’s, it was quite self-serving. Whereas, Walter’s dream was essentially rooted to his family.

“Professor, I’ve got a question. Don’t you think that we are being too critical of Beneatha? I mean, she is still studying in college– so she’s quite young. And in that age, isn’t that normal? To waver between identities and ambitions?”

Prof goes on to poll the class on whom they agreed with; him or me. (He wasn’t being condescending; it was all in the name of intellectual discourse.) The results of the poll was pretty evenly split. So he asked a few people who agreed with him to respond with their viewpoint.

A girl, whose name slips my mind, spoke up. She remarked that Beneatha should be around our age– and that should translate into some form of maturity to consider her family’s needs rather than just her own. “Her dreams are quite selfish,” she said.

Prof surveys the class once again, “Who agrees that Beneatha is selfish.”

Majority of the class’ hands were raised; mine included.

“So you changed your mind?” he asked me.

“No. I agree that she is selfish. But shouldn’t that be expected of her? I feel like it is a phase that many of us go through, even at the university level. We are still in the process of building our self-concept, and it tends to be more selfish than not. So I was just wondering if we should hold it against Beneatha for thinking a little too much about herself.”

Continue reading

“Seriously, What Are You?”

“What are you?”

“Human.”

“No, seriously.”

“Racially ambiguous.”

 


I have been perpetually subjected to questions about my race/ethnicity over the past 21 years. It’s really such a pity that most encounter with fellow Singaporeans boil down to my race and the colour of my skin. Why can’t we all be colour-blind? I guess we never will be until our dear government decides to remove the ‘race’ category under our identification information. In other parts of the world, nationality would suffice. But here, it boils down to racial divisions – Chinese, Indian, Malay, Eurasian, or Others.

Alas, I cannot change such social predicaments. So I heave a huge sigh, and try to have my fun with these racially-conscious people by giving them ridiculous responses. My best one yet is ‘mocha-flavoured goodness’. But in all seriousness, my formal answers do vary according to my mood. I usually start with ‘mixed’ as a standard response. But these busybodies would never be satiated by it. So, I say ‘Chindian’ (a common term in Singapore to denote Chinese–Indian). And if they have the misfortune to become privy to my official race (as per my ID) their vision gets swirly from confusion. “What the hell is Ceylonese?” they’d ask. Then, I would heave another huge sigh and give them the full picture.

Continue reading

Hand-Me-Down some goddamn Textbooks

I am sorry that I haven’t been able to update this place in a while. I’ve been really caught up with school, studying and just a speck of socialising. I came across today’s prompt to write about a meaningful hand-me-down in my life. I really don’t have much time to reminisce nor contemplate such a significant object. Instead I am going to write a short rant about a current grievance in my life.

Textbooks are staple to a student’s academia. Yet, they costs too damn much! A brand new textbook could range anywhere between fifty to over a hundred dollars. Do you know how many modules I take each semester? FIVE. And the most infuriating part is that they are only ever relevant to that one specific module – that doesn’t even last you a goddamn year!

So, to answer the question; “Would you please hand me down some goddamn textbooks?” Trust me, they are so very meaningful to me and I will love you for it.

O Apollo, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

I dedicated my yester–free–day to Literature.

I spent the entire day revisiting the materials covered in the lectures over the past 3 weeks – all of which were devoted to Poetry. Poetry is beautiful, but abstract; some might even consider it irrelevant. Personally, I love the language part of it. I love the way the theme and context, expressed through metaphors and imagery, evoke such deep feelings (I’m too proud to say ’emotions’) in me.

But we all know that Poetry is multi-dimensional. You can never observe it –through a critical literary eye– without considering the metrical structure, rhythm and other poetic devices within it. And really, this is the part where I completely suck at.

I can identify the pattern of words, sounds and even rhyme; but for the life of me, I can seem to identify the metre with ease. I mean, aren’t they arbitrary? Isn’t it dependent on the manner in which you read it? My lecturer asks us to follow our instincts; “which do you feel is more literary?”

I don’t know. Perhaps we ask Apollo for help, shall we?

I can never seem to follow through with my scansion as I am inherently doubting myself. And if I were to ignore my uncertainty and go ahead with it, I end up with weird metrical structures. I once ended up with a mix of  iambic and trochaic metres within the same lime, only to learn that the line is supposed to have an iambic pentameter. Great!

I also seem to have trouble associating technical jargons to actual meaning. Let’s suppose a certain poem has an alternative quatrain  and the first two lines seem to display an iambic pentameter. How does this translate into what the persona has got to say??

Clearly, I am struggling with this module. Also, I think my compounded confusion and frustration materialised itself this morning – in the form of severe flu, headache and fever.

I have taken some medication (which happens to be drowsy), so I’m off to bed in a bit. In the mean time, if any literary geniuses (or aspiring poets) out there would like to help me out bit, please do so. Any help/input is better than nothing at all!

The Freshman Chronicles

I have come to the end of the second week of this academic year. Having been away from a school setting for the past 2 years has clearly affected my adaptability. I have seemingly forgotten how tedious being a student can be – it’s a full time job that transcends ‘working hours’. It’s only the end of week two and I already have numerous readings back logged.

IMG_1630

Oh, how I miss the tranquility of bumming around. Now, I have to juggle school, co-curricular activities and trainings. I’m so exhausted by the end of the day that having a (social) life appears to be frivolous. This would explain the little or sporadic posts I have published on this blog over the past couple of weeks. I am also seriously wondering if I would even be able to find the time for any creative writing at all.

Anyhow, more on my university education. I’m a freshman from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Continue reading

Woes of The Chivalrous Fighter

Jab. Cross. Uppercut. 

Shit! You got her in the boobs. Again.

“I’m sorry.”

*

Should I give her a push kick? Will she be able to take it?

Perhaps, I’ll just touch her lightly.

Push Kick.

Yikes, that was close! Almost got her in the nether region.

Seriously though, can I be done now?

**

I have been practising Muay Thai (Martial Arts) for close to 3 years now. Inevitably, I’ve had to spar with fighters of the opposite sex – the ladies (in case you were wondering). Whilst I’d like to think of myself as a chivalrous person, I have to confess that I unreservedly dread sparring with women.

I am probably exuding the misogynist vibe right about now. I’ll sort out this misconception in a bit, but first allow me to describe the 3 types of ladies I’ve (generally) met in the ring.  Continue reading

My Week, Down Under (Melbourne)

Sydney, New South Wales | Melbourne, Victoria

5th August 2014, Tuesday

Caulfield

We landed in Melbourne (Tullamarine) around 7pm in the evening. My cousin, who has been living in Oz since 2002, picked us up from the airport. From there, he drove us back to his apartment in the Caulfield suburb. And since pretty much everything – less the bars and certain restaurants – closes early in Australia, we couldn’t do much! We just had dinner at a nice restaurant before returning back to his place.

I should also mention that this was our first time visiting our cousin in Australia. I have heard stories about this puppy he bought – a labrador retriever.

IMG_1438

He was an old man (of 10 years) by the time I got around to actually meet him. Oh, how time flies! Continue reading