Quarantine: A Masked Perspective

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Alone, At Home

“Sorry Auntie, we can’t visit you this month.”
“The government said so.”
“It’s all for your own good.”

They say it’s not safe for me to go out,
That I should stay at home.
Weekly befriender visits stopped,
The visits I eagerly looked forward to
When the young ones light up my dark, empty flat
With their smiles and laughter.

Even the Senior Activity Centre downstairs has closed,
Bingo and morning exercises now replaced
By hours and hours of television.
But that bright shiny screen with its lively characters
Cannot replace the warmth of real life interaction.

Time passes slower.

I suppose I should be grateful
That at least there are still weekly phone calls
From the concerned befrienders,
And grocery and sometimes meal delivery
From volunteers and staff
Who care but cannot stay longer
Than ringing the doorbell
And saying hello and good-bye.

It can’t be helped, I suppose
Since the government did this to keep us old people safe.
It’s all for our own good.
I understand, I do understand.

I just wish
I didn’t feel this lonely.


I wrote this poem as part of my Art That Listens Sociologically group assignment. Titled ‘Quarantine: Masked Perspectives’, my groupmates and I each wrote a poem that imagines the lived experiences of three vulnerable groups in Singapore amidst the current COVID-19 situation – the isolated elderly, victims of domestic abuse and migrant workers.

Stay safe everyone and do support local fundraising or volunteering initiatives during this difficult period!

Right

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I.
One year later
It would be bad
If the opposite were to happen –
It’s bound to happen,
But the timing isn’t right.

If this box of feelings were to open,
The same thing would happen.
Yet it doesn’t seem right
To pretend everything is alright
Until the timing is finally right.

I guess I can understand
Why some words couldn’t wait,
But to talk about it now –
Too much is at stake.

II.
We talked about it,
Settled on a conclusion
I thought was the right thing,
The guilt weighing me down
Finally lifted.

Everything was fine that night,
The tears stopped.

The next day was fine.
Meetups with friends
Filled me with laughter.

But then your absence pains me again.

III.
It’s been a month.
I honestly should be over this.
Surely the pouring rain
Should drown out my own tears.

I blame this supposed joyful season.
I see no celebration.
I don’t want to hear songs of joy
Or see the sparkly lit up decoration.

Having so much free time
Makes this winter break

Incredibly lonely.

Just a little more time
And I’ll be alright.

Right?

Year End Reflection

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2018 has left me with trails of self-doubt.
When I reflect on my decisions this year, I wonder:
What have I been doing?
Have I achieved what I’ve been hoping to achieve?
Have I grown or am I still
Someone so dependent on others?

I’d like to think
That somewhere along the way
I’ve made proper plans for myself,
Charting a path that can lead to success.

It seems pessimistic but I feel
That I’ve nonetheless spent this year
Continuing to be cooped up in my cave
Living in my own little bubble
While the days fly past.

My inferiority complex has increased.
Reading job descriptions makes me uneasy.
Being Year 3 creates the added pressure
And it hits me that university is ultimately
A quest for employment,
Yet I feel vulnerably ill-equipped.

I’ve gotten more self-conscious of my flaws.
I’m aware of what I’m lacking.
How many times have I messed up?
While others have been stacking up work experience
And building their portfolio,
My time and efforts this year
Seem to have amounted to nothing.

It may be late,
But I’ve really gotten it planned out.
Next year will be better.
Next year I will know what I truly want
And focus on working towards it.

I’ll bravely take up challenges.
I’ll work smart.
I’ll take the initiative and contribute ideas.

There’s no time for self-degradation.
There’s no time to mope around.
2019 will be the year I proudly tell myself
“That’s right. You’ve done well.”

Waves of Loneliness

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I was honest when I said
I was feeling much better now.
But randomly
These waves of loneliness hit me
And it’s no longer just raining outside.

It’s been a week.
I shouldn’t be like this,
But I’m still troubled by it.

Something’s missing,
Something’s changed.

When the boundaries are built
And a new normal is formed,
Will things get better?

Why is it that I feel
Comforted one moment
Then saddened the next?

I don’t understand what I want.
I don’t understand how I feel.

Maybe putting my phone away
Will make me stop
Thinking,
Waiting,
Questioning.

Conflicted

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I’ve lied to myself for months,
Saying it was nothing.
It didn’t help that
I’ve always been misleading.

Can I say that that was selfish of you?
To throw the ball in my court like this –
Surely there could have been
A much better timing.

So do I just behave as normal?
What is really normal?

I know I shouldn’t let this bother me.
But I’ve gone back to this emotional phase
And I’m scared of this silence
(Who am I kidding, who’s the one avoiding)

I don’t know my feelings.
I’ve always been uncertain.

All I know is
I don’t want to be strangers.

Stuck

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I’ve been running from one dead end
To another.
Facts, stories, news articles…
Even with a change of topic
Or a tweak in angle,
I simply can’t find enough.

5 pages
1.5 spacing
One research question
It doesn’t sound like much
But I am absolutely stuck.

I’m digging for sources of information
But all I find are doors of pessimism.
Doom, darkness, desperation
Among the dirt I gasp for air,
But all I breathe in is despair.

20% is no small matter.

It’s only my first assignment this semester,
Yet the planning stage is already a disaster.

If only I had the power
To remove a deadline
From the face of the earth.
This frustration of mine
Is only getting worse.

Cracks

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I’ve been taking it too easy,
My brick wall’s walking all over me.
Red paint, darkness
Shadows, sunlight –
My stomach’s feeling queesy.

I’m falling through the cracks.
My inferiority complex’s kicking in.
Where is my logic,
Where’s my creativity?
The only depths of my thinking
Is my depleting energy.

Don’t get me started on negotiation
And my daily dive into the ocean
Of question marks, silence
And foolish incompetence.

It’s supposed to be summer,
But why are my skies grey?
I hike upwards to school
But my drive is tumbling downhill.

I should pick myself up
From this disappointing mess
And be more focused
Instead of being tired all the time.
But a merciless timetable,
A lack of sleep
And a lack of time for revision
Drain me everyday.

Will today be the day
I find my grip
In this quicksand?

I really need to adjust
Before this month
Comes to an end.

I Should Be Studying

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I should be studying,
But what is this heat?
Temperature rises,
Tempers fly.

I should be studying.
I do try,
But reading aloud
Makes my throat dry.

Oh I should be studying
And absorbing content,
Not singing along
To my new favourite song.

What is this sorcery?
I may be unproductive
But somehow my energy
Is rapidly depleting…

Hi brain, are you listening?
Please keep that content in.

Yes I should be studying.
Now excuse me.

Silver Laces

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Silver laces leaning against
A slightly crooked wall,
Silver nails being drilled
Into this aching jaw.

I wake up feeling like
I got punched in the face.
My food gets stuck
Three times a day.
I sleep early because
Yawning is a pain.

In a few more weeks
I suppose I’ll get used to
Embracing this new identity.

(Argh, that bad pun
Just made my cheek hurt.)

Don’t

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Don’t question me please,
They hit me to the core.
If I can’t answer please
Don’t think of me as a bore.

I wish I could get a hold of myself
And know what I really want
Even if I smile and laugh it off
I know,
I’m a lost sheep
Because of my own decisions.

Again and again
There’s a nagging feeling in my head
That I strayed from a perfect plan,
That everything’s a mistake.

I guess I always knew what was right
But the cowardly me chose the option of flight.

I guess I would always remain
As a piece of driftwood
Floating in a river
Of my own tormented mind.

The web is broken,
The past is frozen.

After the storm, will the skies be clear again?
After the storm, the spider weaves her web again.