Posts Tagged ‘creative writing’


The cacophony of caged birds in a pet shop grate against my ears. The clip-clapping clatter of plastic plates and cutlery reverbrate throughout the wet market. The stallkeeper beside drives a cleaver down into a duck and hacks it into palatable slivers served on a plate of rice or noodles with a chilli paste dip.

The high corrugated roof in the market blends echoes of conversations and the surrounding noise into a meaningless drone. Flaky green paint hangs from the corrugated steel roof, torn from the metal as humidity and heat grazes the roof.

A group of Malay cargohands from a logistics enterprise in the warehouses nearby, Dressed in black corporate polo tees, are chatting loudly behind me with the occassional sqeal of laughter of one among them as they discuss anything but work. I turn around and see them tearing into their roti prata drenched in a spicy curry gravy with forks and spoons.

A pale, old bony Chinese retiree in a white undershirt, beige shorts and black canvas kung-fu shoes sits on an adjecent table and sips black coffee . His raised cheekbones cast a shadow over his sunken face. His eyes look weary and resigned as they scan the headlines of a Chinese newspaper. Beside him, a full table with men in ties and starch-white shirts and corporate-dressed women share a communal meal, punctuating their conversations about payments and processes with a bite on chopsticks.

The food stalls are partitioned by half-walls paved with white bathroom tiles. The floor is a dirty uniform green of tiny 70s mosaic tiles worn out and chipped in places from decades of use. Beige melamine topped tables and chairs are propped up by painted stems of steel pipes.

Large, old grey fans are perched on alternate pillars to cool the lunch crowd on a hot day in June, the peak of warm weather in Singapore. A breeze brings relief from the sunlight casting trees, benches and cemented ground in ark yellow heat except for the dark contrasting shadows it cannot not reach. A National Health Board poster features an ex-smoker father with his nine-year old son as it flaps an unhinged corner in the wind.

Landscaped palm trees along the periphery of the courtyard stand over bougainvillea and honeysuckle shrubs. They wave their long stems in the breeze and are greener for the sunshine.

The canopy of raintrees shade the pavement and cargo trucks lined along the road from the smelting heat of the sun. A distant roar of thunder rain teases the sun-soaked neighbourhood without a cloud in
sight. It will not rain today, or so I thought.


Good morning Saturday!

Posted: March 4, 2012 in Blogs
Tags: ,

4.00am. It is the best time of the day for me, long before the birds stir from their silent perch, and people cocooned under their sheets. The pavements below are damp from the quiet rainfall earlier.

I have had a handful of dark grapes to begin my morning with. After breakfast, I plan to write more.

“Why do you want to be a writer?” asks David Morell, who started writing “First Blood” in 1968, a movie that turned blockbuster eighteen years later.

Morell never did expect the commercial success “First Blood”, slipping the name of his character, Rambo, on to the lips of an American President and a household name and American icon across the world.

What inspired him was the sheer excitement of imagining the thrill of an battle-hardy Vietnam veteran with an arrogant small-town sheriff, and bringing the war home.

He asks this question to present a reality check to all would-be authors. The effort required of all authors are considerable. Time. Lots of it. Effort that could be better used elsewhere, and guarantee some return on investment.

The world is flooded with hundreds of thousands authors and would-be authors in this era of blogdom and self-publishing, across genres and type. Writers have to contend with years of time, energy and other resources without any guarantee of returns. Any would-be authors had better keep their day jobs, Morell and many other professional writers advise.

Some might seek fame. How many of knew David Morell as the author of First Blood? Honestly, I didn’t. I found that out not too long ago from his book, “Lessons From a Lifetime of Writing: A Novelist Looks at His Craft”. Recognition is short-lived and not too different from many other careers in the marketplace, you’¢re only as good as your last game.

Why do I want to write? Would I write if it never bought me the Ferrari 400 I saw on Discovery Channel, or see my name in the credit rolls of a movie or an award-winning documentary?

I need to put some old demons to rest. For one, to quieten that old incessant nag that creeps up on me on those quiet nights when, close to sleep I ask,

If I could do anything without the possibility of failure, what would it be?

“Write,” it replies in an imperceptible whisper.

“If I die in a year, what would I want to be doing?”

“Write,” it prods.

I want to write for the memory of casting my tiny little green WWII soldiers, cast as Leftenant Hanley and Sgt Saunders, of the TV series Combat, leading a platoon to rappel down a steep cliff of a chair with Mum’s sewing threads, fighting off – mum’s – big-jawed, long-teethed monster hairclips when I was seven.

I want to write for the family who always thought I was the creative one, though always a rebel. My sister secretly kept a story I had written at thirteen for a class assignment. A friend won a storytelling competition at the community level with a tale I penned for her at twelve.

I want to write again after a long hiatus, after short stint as a reporter in a food magazine. I want to write holding the thought of those who wrote back with praise in response to my articles. They were my readers. Subsequently, Life gave back, with seven years of a buffet of destinations across the world experience in the hospitality and travel industry. I have no regrets whatsoever.

A friend told me he had cut out an article for the magazine, which I wrote 15 years ago, when I was only his acquaintance, and he thought the article was a refreshing one and had a distinct voice from the rest of the journal. I covered a hoi polloi beat.

To rekindle the sense of pride for every decent essay I wrote in school and the sense of complete exhilaration and rapture creating an imaginary world during an important English composition examination at sixteen. The poignant stories I spinned in my head for the sheer heck of it. Even if it involved ballerinas and commando troopers.

I want to write because it is the last thing I want to do and if I don’t, I know I will live long enough to regret it.

Now, I have to go find my voice.

The night is only a sort of carbon paper,
Blueblack, with the much-poked periods of stars
Letting in the light, peephole after peephole —
A bonewhite light, like death, behind all things.
Under the eyes of the stars and the moon’s rictus
He suffers his desert pillow, sleeplessness
Stretching its fine, irritating sand in all directions.

Over and over the old, granular movie
Exposes embarrassments–the mizzling days
Of childhood and adolescence, sticky with dreams,
Parental faces on tall stalks, alternately stern and tearful,
A garden of buggy rose that made him cry.
His forehead is bumpy as a sack of rocks.
Memories jostle each other for face-room like obsolete film stars.

He is immune to pills: red, purple, blue —
How they lit the tedium of the protracted evening!
Those sugary planets whose influence won for him
A life baptized in no-life for a while,
And the sweet, drugged waking of a forgetful baby.
Now the pills are worn-out and silly, like classical gods.
Their poppy-sleepy colors do him no good.

His head is a little interior of grey mirrors.
Each gesture flees immediately down an alley
Of diminishing perspectives, and its significance
Drains like water out the hole at the far end.
He lives without privacy in a lidless room,
The bald slots of his eyes stiffened wide-open
On the incessant heat-lightning flicker of situations.

Nightlong, in the granite yard, invisible cats
Have been howling like women, or damaged instruments.
Already he can feel daylight, his white disease,
Creeping up with her hatful of trivial repetitions.
The city is a map of cheerful twitters now,
And everywhere people, eyes mica-silver and blank,
Are riding to work in rows, as if recently brainwashed.


Posted: February 24, 2012 in Creative Writing
Tags: , , ,

A poem I wrote on a ferry ride from Bintan five years back! 🙂


A jagged horizon

a string of silhouetted islands

hiding in their own shadows

shimmering threads of gold

white dolphins swim along

beside the ferry

warm sunlight suntan lotion

drips off skin like honey

Wind’s wanton fingers

plough my hair

Breathes softly on salty cheeks.