Natalie Tan


Dusk turns into dawn which breaks and the day starts. Dawn arrives and it’s time for darkness, the last bits of twilight are accompanied with the departure of a few birds, across the sky. We awake to a world that’s seemingly quiet and peaceful now that the rule book of life: Singapore edition has a new version that sets volume to a default 20%. Regimented, very, with also a stipulated breathing space. Spaces. Now those are spatial, to be used carefully. No longer social. Keep the meaning of them in your heart, remember and savour the times. Things are different and that’s how it’s like from now on. Again, spatial. As we try to fix bent and distorted pipes to form a complete, functioning circuit, some parts will stick out and hurt like a sore joint. Some will meld with and into others perfectly and work as symphonies. It’s as clean as it gets, with a common, silent consensus that your expectation of how this picture of society looks like – that’s of the past that is in the process of being accepted and adapted to. We continue moulding, things and ourselves. Previously there was erupted and uncontrolled anger spewing everywhere, onto windows, people, into corners, roads, shelves of NTUC, stomped-upon vegetables.. I’d like to imagine it as the more updated version of half-assed cigarette butts lying limply in random spots (probably bc someone reminded them will kena, prohibited la.. ‘tsk ok fine’) and a plastic cup beside the filled dustbin that contains the voice of its sluggish owner, saying ‘I don’t give a f***’. Anger had the upper hand when the deep gash of this pandemic was a raw wound. Screams of pain was what’s needed to treat it and .. in this long run I think it’s starting to heal, manifested in the form of new skin (that still looks like pink flesh) and scabs (of course there are remnants of everything too but we don’t expand them ok). Maybe with this dark protrusion that may be a tad overtly blatant, our society’s spelling out hope. Hope is in the filled shelves, the picking up and rearranging after a stampede into what looks like a super market. It is in the eyes and walk of every person behind a mask in the environment that smells like sanitiser and sounds like medical terms and the beeping of machines. It’s in the breath of every individual lying on the bed, and the prayers of their loved ones. It’s in everything we say and do not, and whatever that lies in the liminal spaces, the in betweens. In every tear and cheer, breath and ache. I think it’s also in our eyes, seen through different lenses and hovers around every action and intention. It’s in the sound of the footsteps of a parent/sibling/grandparent/child, who is also an essential worker, leaving the house, for some early as daybreak. It’s in the sigh of trials and tribulations that cascaded from the mighty Covid waterfall, and the outbursts, screaming, fights and tears. It’s not all the happy stuff that sheds light. I read somewhere that broken glass lets light in, so maybe a broken window, the aftermath of a fight, is enough to tell one that you deserve more than the enveloping view of asphalts and greys. The first streaks of light will blind and upset you, shove the stark contrast between the world outside and yours – in your face, but maybe, light is there for everyone. In different ways of arrival, shadow shapes and sizes, blinding-intensity. Some take longer than others, some are harder to come by, don’t judge or censure. I pray that in every plane and corner of the world, your window will be opened. When the sunlight comes, an elixir after so many black hours – the storm that rages will pass (this isn’t a trivialization or invalidation of whatever’s happening in the world right now, it’s a conviction I’d like to hold.) Loneliness exists in many forms – sometimes a nebulous shadow lurking in the dark and plastered to your walls, but before you sink (back) into solitude, maybe there will be a flicker that tells you, that one day it won’t be just you. Your dusk might be someone’s dawn, that’s okay because your light can look a little different from mine.