Furiosa Fever

furiosa

So. I love Mad Max: Fury Road.

Or more precisely I love Imperator Furiosa.

The one-armed, kickass goddess.

For the first time in my life, I leave the movie theatre feeling empowered.

Empowered by an action movie!

And I wonder, is this what I’ve been missing out on?

Are men constantly empowered by action movies with strong male leads (aka 99% of all action movies)?

Is this how it feels to be a man?

So I do my research. I ask my male companion the question.

To my surprise, he says no.

No. Because it’s normal. He’s used to it.

So that’s when it hits me.

Could it be?

That the privileged are unable to feel empowered?

Because they are already powered. Naturally. All the fucking time.

Maybe.

Anyway. I love Imperator Furiosa so much I drew her.

Enjoy.

Immigrants

Immigrants.

Three syllables that divide.

Us. Them.

First. Second.

Human. Less so.

Immigrants.

Faceless, hooded demons crossing invisible lines at the mid of night.

One day we’re just us. The next: Us. Them.

Ancient myth worshippers, lusting for pure blood. Ours. Angry. Angry. Greedy. Swooping down like an army of crows.

One minute we’re just us. The next: Us. Them.

Seeping like ink, silent, unseen, leeching, thieving. Starving rats in our sewage system.

One night we’re just us. Morning: Us. Them.

Immigrants.

Immigrants.

They are not a child. Beaten. Raped. Running for her life.

They are not a mother. Maths teacher. PhD.

They are not a lover. Full of music. Colours. Plans.

They are not a person. A house in the country. Full of books. Smells of spiced beauties. Terrible singer. Part-time astronomer. Full-time heart broken.

They aren’t.

They can’t be.

How else can we say:

Immigrants.

Immigrants.

One day we’re us. Them.

The next:

We’re just us.

Thoughts while watching Selma:

Ignorance, they say, is bliss.

It is also easy. Lazy.

An excuse.

Empowering.

It is indulgent. It is safety.

It is also a baton, carefully wrapped in spiky wires, dripping with blood.

It is also a kick in the stomach, the face.

It is also teargas.

It is also a bullet, or six.

It is also a child, with a toy gun, dead.

When does ignorance become evil?

When you make a racist joke, is it ignorant or evil?

When you enslave a population, is it ignorant or evil?

When you reduce someone’s culture into your nightclub’s decoration?

When you switch the channel because you’re tired of Ferguson?

When you say #AllLivesMatter?

Because all those white faces, distorted with hate, spitting with rage, yelling and cheering on as the protesters bled on that bridge in Selma, Alabama, were just ignorant.

Right?

But I wonder, where is the bliss in that?

Slip of the Tongue by Adriel Luis

My glares burn through her.
And I’m sure that such actions aren’t foreign to her
because the essence of her beauty is, well, the essence of beauty.

And in the presence of this higher being,
the weakness of my masculinity kicks in,
causing me to personify my wannabe big-baller, shot-caller,
God’s gift to the female species with shiny suit wrapping rapping like,
“Yo, what’s crackin shorty how you livin’ what’s your sign what’s your size I dig your style, yo.”

Now, this girl was no fool.
She gives me a dirty look with the quickness like,
“Boy, you must be stupid.”
so I’m looking at myself,
“Boy, you must be stupid.”
But looking upon her I am kinda feelin’ her style.

So I try again.
But, instead of addressing her properly,
I blurt out one of my fake-ass playalistic lines like,
“Gurl, you must be a traffic ticket cuz you got fine written all over you.”
Now, she’s trying to leave and I’m trying to keep her here.
So at a final attempt, I utter,
“Gurl, what is your ethnic makeup?”

At this point, her glare was scorching through me,
and somehow she manages to make her brown eyes
resemble some kinda brown fire or something,
but there’s no snap or head movement,
no palm to face, click of tongue, middle finger,
roll of eyes, twist of lips, or girl power chant.
She just glares through me with these burning eyes
and her gaze grabs you by the throat.

She says, “Ethnic makeup?”
She says, “First of all, makeup’s just an Anglicized, colonized, commodified utility
that my sisters have been programmed to consume,
forcing them to cover up their natural state
in order to imitate what another sister looks like in her natural state
because people keep telling her
that the other sister’s natural state is more beautiful
than the first sister’s natural state.
At the same time,
the other sister isn’t even in her natural state,
because she’s trying to imitate yet another sister,
so in actuality, the natural state that the first sister’s trying to imitate
wasn’t even natural in the first place.”

Now I’m thinking, “Damn, this girl’s kicking knowledge!”
But, meanwhile, she keeps spitting on it like,
“Fine. I’ll tell you bout my ‘ethnic makeup.’
I wear foundation,
not that powdery stuff,
I wear the foundation laid by my indigenous people.
It’s that foundation that makes it so that past being globalized,
I can still vocalize with confidence that I know where my roots are.
I wear this foundation not upon my face, but within my soul,
and I take this from my ancestors
because I’ll be damned if I’d ever let an American or European corporation
tell me what my foundation
should look like.”

I wear lipstick,
for my lips stick to the ears of men,
so they can experience in surround sound my screams of agony
with each lash of rulers, measuring tape, and scales,
as if my waistline and weight are inversely proportional to my value as a human being.
See my lips, they stick, but not together.
Rather, they flail open with flames to burn down this culture that once kept them shut.
Now, I mess with eye shadow,
but my eyes shadow over this time where you’ve gone at ends to keep me blind.
But you can’t cover my eyes, look into them.
My eyes foreshadow change.
My eyes foreshadow light.
and I’m not into hair dyeing.
but I’m here, dying, because this oppression won’t get out of my hair.
I have these highlights.
They are highlights of my past atrocities,
they form this oppression I can’t wash off.
It tangles around my mind and twists and braids me in layers,
this oppression manifests,
it’s stressing me so that even though I don’t color my hair,
in a couple of years it’ll look like I dyed it gray.
So what’s my ethnic makeup?
I don’t have any.
Because your ethnicity isn’t something you can just make up.
And as for that shit my sisters paint on their faces, that’s not makeup, it’s make-believe.”

I can’t seem to look up at her.
and I’m sure that such actions aren’t foreign to her
because the expression on her face
shows that she knows that my mind is in a trance.

As her footsteps fade, my ego is left in crutches.
And rejection never sounded so sweet.

Tongue – original piece

Phuket, Thailand.

It’s tourist season and we wish we hadn’t come.

White men, old men, white old men, gray hair creeping up

their ass crack,

hand creeping down a local girl’s top.

Golden sand, towering waves,

Machine-generated waves, microwaves,

Toilets that rise from the ground

and don’t carry leaves.

She sits down,

her saggy tits bounce,

marked with sun-kissed melanin like skin disease.

The menu says, “rice with crap in curry sauce.”

She laughs a White laugh, “oh, you mean crab.”

And I think, “if it says crap, why can’t it mean crap goddammit.”

And I realize

I hate that I have to relearn the name of my home, to abandon its tone, its rings and its rolls, to be told how to smooth its syllables just so it sits comfortably on these lazy foreign tongues, to forget the pounding of air the way my ancestors had willed it to sound.

And I mourn

I mourn for the dark rustling leaves overhead when my people still lived in the jungle, for the soft moisture embracing our toes when we would go barefoot for days on the monsoon soil, for that one large cloth we ever needed to twist and wrap around our thighs when buttons and flies were as foreign as a flushing toilet, for the toothless red-stained wrinkle-eyed smiles of a people who never had to buy affection with facial perfection, for every drop of lush sweet honesty sacrificed to be a part of this western proposition of civilization.

And I say

It’s Tai-Land, not thigh land. Land of the free.

And Baang-Gohg, not bang cock. Someone thought they were being clever there.

And no,

Our girls are not a fetish.

Our color not a novelty.

Our blood not a category on your porn site.

No, we’re not just Asian & Tight.

We are daughters of proud warriors.

Sons of ancient thinkers.

Survivors of foreign invasions.

Our mothers’ mothers’ mothers have swung two swords in their hands, ink tattooed in their skin, rode on buffalo backs into the battlefield, killed men, buried men, buried their blades into men. And lived to laugh on.

And our fathers’ fathers’ fathers have invented this ancient language before your Christ was conceived, built palaces out of mud, painted gold on temple walls, and still got home in time for dinner.

In fact, it’s time for you to learn, because

It’s not even Baang-Gohg. Hasn’t been for decades.

It’s Krung Thep,

Krung Thep. City of goddamn fucking angels.

Mathematics – original piece

It all boils down to a simple equation: the difference between the flaw you can live with and the qualities you cannot live without, x minus y. If the flaw ends up bigger than what they can offer, you’d better start packing.

It is not cruel, nor cold. Neither is it selfish. It is survival, with minimal damage. To both sides. You’ll be doing you both a favor.

In the navy darkness of the bedroom, your eyes glitter like a high-resolution capture of the universe. Black white neon blue, an inch away from your pillow. In the morning, your shower running, I roll over to the right, your side, my face buried in your pillow, it smells of you—a subtle homely scent that spells your name, my fingers tracing the wrinkles of your weight on the warm bed sheet. I wish you would come back to bed. And sometimes you do. Creeping up from behind, your hand slithers its way around my waist, your nose digging into my neck, you breathe in, I wonder what scent fills your lungs. Your face so close your molecules tickle mine, you exhale, I inhale, your breath, your life tastes sweet on my tongue as I crack open my lips to embrace yours with mine. Your cheeks lift and glow rosy, the outer sides of your eyes fold two three four times, your teeth perfectly aligned save for one cheekily tilted like a wink, you smile. Your muscles hard, your skin soft, you hold me in your arms, they lock around my waist, my back, I’m secluded from present reality, my face on your chest, your breath on my hair, I imagine I see a smile on the heat of your air.

When did it all happen. Everything I’ve come to love so.

Love. There is that word again. I love crisp white winter air. I love heat on my skin and salt on my hair. I love my fingertips on the cold keys of a piano. I love bacon. You love to dance, your body replying to each tease of the beat, you shift your whole weight on one hand, then the other, such perfect balance. I love words, arranged neatly, wildly, purposefully, riskily. You love your biscuits drizzling tea. I love dark morning coffee. You love my cooking. I love cooking for you, for us, mostly you. You love to draw. I love to paint, colors sticky on my fingers, smelling of artificial honey. You love beans. I love toast.

Overused, overrated, overanalyzed. I am too afraid to use it with you.

You are too singular, too particular, too fragile of an idea, too uncertain, too human. Too nice, you are also too easy to please, too kind, too easy. Your hospitality is world-renowned. You please everyone, single-handedly. You can settle with anyone. Too kind, too easy.

If this makes me a narcissist, then I plead guilty. But it is intrinsic to look out for yourself. And nothing promises security like knowing you’re special.

I want to be special. Irreplaceable. The One, capital O.

I am not, with you.

With you, I am amazing, accidental, coincidental. We met through other people’s choices, all too concerned with their own lives, each of us too otherwise occupied to care about how happy we could have been together, together, for the longest time. There was never you and me, there never should have been, tugged this way and that, we merely collided, a pause, oh you, so there was an oh you, small o small y, a pause, me?, doubtfully, hesitantly, we ventured on, and oh was removed, and the question mark too. you and me at last, small y still.

Now what, are you sure, are we sure. No, never. We are no fortune-tellers. Gamblers we are, amateurs, not even sure of the meaning of the cards in our hands. You lose some, you win some, but you won’t know until the end. That is the catch. Only until you are too ankle-deep in the game, too late to leave without scraping some.

My mathematics comes out like this.

I love every fracture of you, every minute, every touch, every breath, sweet, sweet enough to well up my eyes. I don’t know cannot pinpoint what they are that I love. It’s shattered, scattered everywhere, like sand in your house after a day at the beach.

Underneath the sweetness, though, lies bitter, deeply bitter, the fear, insecure, pessimistic, self-preserving, needy of the reassurance you cannot give.

So what is it then. Spit it out.

The flaw triumphs. I cannot live with fear, not for long. But I can live without one fracture, or two, even ones of the magnificent you.

Better start packing then, sweetheart. X minus y. Simple. Mathematics. Where is the suitcase.

Hope is a devious thing. A sugary counterpart of doubt. It crops up, drops sweet nothings in your ears, promises, baseless, dreamy, and disappears. My head is drunk on it.

Mathematics requires interpretation anyway.

So I continue and love in fractures. And never, never wholly you. It is easier to find fractures in others, never the whole.

I do not write because I know the answer. I write to find one.

And this is mine.

Steppenwolf

An evening between winter and spring, I found, tucked away in the middle of a secondhand Penguin’s 1995 copy of Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf I had purchased from Oxfam, two used tickets to a form of transportation. The two pieces of paper, slightly smaller than a dollar bill, terribly thin, already darkened into a shade of sand, ripped on the same side as a sign of received payment, had Thai writing printed in green and were decorated with patterns that resembled Thai baht bills. Twenty baht, they said in both Thai and Arabic numbers, and were marked as belonging to Thawornfarm Company, “permanent farm”, whatever it meant. “Please note,” they warned, “passengers must look after their personal belongings, as the company will not take responsibility for any losses.”

And there I was, at the beginning of a story of a lone wolf, a man stuck between two worlds, “between two ages, between two modes of life and thus loses the feeling for itself, for the self-evident, for all morals, for being safe and innocent,” I found, stuck in the middle of a tale, two useless pieces of paper that reminded me of my own homelessness.

The year was 2013 and Bob Dylan’s tattered voice filled the apartment whose contract did not carry my name. The sun was on its way to the other end of the globe. The air carried the usual English indecisive weather. I had just left a boyfriend of three years, and as I was still struggling to find a place for myself in the economic low of the rain-ridden North East, he had already settled back into the comfortable Norwegian spoon-fed society.

Recently, my thoughts tended to wander across the ocean and land back to my childhood home in the South East of Asia, to the so-called axe-shaped land, which looked to me more like a horribly drawn elephant, to my romantically serious father and my deeply conflicted mother, to our Victorian-styled house and its German imported furniture, to the many trips we had taken as a family in my father’s many foreign cars, to the many gastronomical experiences of spices, vegetables and fruits, all of which I now call exotic.

As a small girl, I grew up with my father’s foreign action films, bathed in blood, soaked in witty insults, and showered with bullets. At a very early age, my ears tuned to my father’s reproduction of The Beatles, Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan on his guitar. I fell in love young with foreign books and learned English to marvel at the authors’ original words, or at least at a more closely related translation. My father, who had survived two student massacres by the Thai government as his white school shirt drank young blood like greedy desert sand, raised me to defy Thai authority, a lesson I applied to all forms of authority: government, culture, media, religion, superstition, teachers, relatives, parents. At fourteen, my father rescued me from my troubles at a Thai school driven by all forms of Thai authority and left me in the hands of American, British and Canadian teachers at an international school tucked away in the suburb of Bangkok. And as I soaked up knowledge from international teachers, texts and friends, I drifted further away from the nationality of my blood, but, as half-conscious wanderers always do, not toward anywhere in particular. At eighteen, I fled the land altogether for a college in the United Kingdom.

(To be fair, no land can truly and wholly claim the home of my blood. My father’s is lightly tainted with Chinese chromosomes and my mother’s parents were immigrants from China, a great nation that is as foreign to me as the island of Mauritius, whose culture I can hardly identify with. Without a doubt, my parents name Thailand their home and without a doubt, I will tell you that I am Thai. But truly, in all genetical correctness, my blood mix belongs nowhere.)

And there I sat, in someone else’s rented living room, migrating from couch to couch, seven hours on the clock and thirteen hours on the airplane away from a place I once called home, stuck between gender expectations, between cultures, between the passionate old and the indifferent now, between education and job, between obligations, between partners, between languages, reading a German novel in English, hearing my own struggle in someone else’s voice. And just then, I knew that it was a never-ending one. I knew then that I would never belong anywhere, to anything and anyone. I would remain a lone wolf, proud to be free, while endlessly and futilely yearning to belong, to be understood, to be accepted for exactly as I was. But all I would ever be was a yellowing piece of paper with alien scribbles, marked with a certain meaning lost in the many crossings of borders, tucked away among translated words of a story that reminded me of my own but was not, never really, quite mine.