I’m tired. I’ve been tired for so long, I don’t remember when I was lively. I’m so tired I’m contemplating going mute and stop talking to anyone at all.

My life is so monotonous, you know that?

There was once I was walking to the escalator in the train station and I wondered how I was approaching it. I thought, ‘because my legs are moving, duh.’ So I looked down at my feet, watched my right go in front of my left. I was borderline amazed but much too tired to smile or say something funny in my head. When I looked up, I observed my surroundings. How slowly I was walking, how everyone was walking so fast. Rushing. When I walking fast and them faster? Or was I walking too slowly and them just normal.

Why were they in such a hurry? Why can’t they just slow down and think of the little things like feet and how people were able to walk?

Then it occurred to me. I didn’t want to be here. In this train station at least.

Another time, I was in school. In a lecture, actually. I watched the lecturer intently. I knew that I had to listen. I had already failed all my tests for the semester and was doing next to nothing about it. But whatever he said didn’t seem to get through to me. Still I watched, though I didn’t succeed in absorbing. Then he smiled. The whole action felt so new, so peculiar. I thought to myself, how could he be so happy doing something like this? Teaching teenagers like myself about air-conditioning and what not. How could it be fun? I just didn’t see it. It irked me and for a good ten minutes, I felt sorry for him. Sorry because he had to be subjected to teaching something so excruciatingly boring.

Then it hit me. Maybe he saw what he taught with the same love I had for studying food. Being able to share with people about what fascinated him. Correction, sharing what he loved with people who supposedly shared his interest too. It was then that I knew why he was smiling. He was in a room full of people with the same common interest as him. I felt sorry for him again. But this time because he had to teach a student like me.

With no regard to me, as any lecturer would to students who obviously weren’t paying attention, he ended the lecture. Students clustered together. Some walked over to ask him questions and I realized that I haven’t been listening. Again.

A few days ago, I sat at the back of a double decker bus. The couple in front of me were hugging and smiling to each other. I didn’t like it at first. I felt a pang of jealousy, envy, hate. Longing. Most of all I felt angry. Angry at what had happened to me. I had to tear my eyes away and directed it back to my book. The main character had just discovered that the male lead had lied to her and… My eyes drifted up to the couple.

‘I love you’ he said to her tenderly.

She didn’t reply with those baby voices girls liked to use. Instead she smiled; a small warm smile.

For a second, I felt the hate and negativity melt away to be replaced by an indescribable warmth. It was love and I felt it. Not one sided but received and returned. If it were to smell like anything, it would smell like summer, daisies and baby’s breath. It’s colour would be a warm orange fading into a light yellow. You wouldn’t be able to touch it, but it would feel like a warm breeze on your skin as you exit a cold room. I had been fascinated for a split second but the familiar sadness gushed back in to drown out this feeling. I flinched and tried to concentrate on my book again. Failing, I looked out the window, listening to my music. It was playing the blues.

I didn’t want to be here anymore. Not on this bus anyway.

A few nights ago, I fought with my mother again. When we fight we don’t raise voices anymore, we simply glare and she would threaten to stop paying for my transport to get me to break the silence. We fight about petty things. What I work as, what I’ve worked as. The more we converse, the more people are pulled in. My sisters, my father and my friends. She is never reasonable, she’s delusional. Always thinking she’s right. Always telling me she’s been through more than me. She tells me I have to listen and to watch but there are things she does not realize.

She doesn’t realize that she is my mother and that I have been through many crucial times in her life, since it’s the period she claims that her life ‘broke apart’. She doesn’t realize that as she is constantly ranting to me on whatsapp, messages and in person, I am the one who always bothers to listen to her. Even though we always end up arguing. She doesn’t realize that I had spent my entire life watching and observing. It’s what sculpted me, molded me and guided me. But it also showed me what I would grow to fear, the pain I would feel and the consequences I would have to face with each and every action. (Let’s just say I don’t have many actions left to do anymore) Watching showed me the darker side of life though I was young. My impressions of many things were distorted and I ended up spending more time changing the way I thought and relearning certain emotions.

But I let her get away with it. I let her talk down to me. Telling myself that one more time. Just one more time, I’d wash my hands clean of her. I’d stop picking up her calls and I won’t listen to her anymore. But time and time again, I will meet her, knowing that the night would never end well. Maybe I’m hoping that after so many years, I’d have one good day out with her like the old times. And deep down, though I fight with her so much and how much she makes me angry, I still care about her. I know it when I see her cry in front of me and my lips start to quiver as well. I know it when I see her happy and my day seems to get a little brighter. And most of all I know I care, when after every meeting I have with her, be it good or bad, that when I go up the bus and wave goodbye. I feel that stomach sinking sadness that I never seem to understand.

Since the day she left the house, I had never verbally said I loved her. I could never bring myself to. Yet here I am, feeling sad over something I can’t grasp or put my finger on.

Today I went out with a friend who helped with my field trip assignment. I waited till he ended work and we walked over to the designated place to take a few photographs. Along the way, he tried to joke and poke fun at things around us. I laughed. It wasn’t the laugh out loud kind anymore, it was a breathy chuckle to myself for no one in particular to hear. I didn’t crack anymore jokes. I couldn’t, I didn’t know how. I couldn’t come up with relate able ones on the spot anymore. There wasn’t anything to talk about, since I didn’t have anything interesting happening in school and he was at work most of the time. The walk was silent and though I wished it was a two way comfortable silence, I had this hunch that it wasn’t. Maybe it’s just me, but I felt like a total wet blanket. Feeling horrible that I had dragged him out, asking for help and still had the cheek to pull a long face.

But I couldn’t smile, I didn’t feel like it. I could fake it, it was easy to smile. All you had to do was turn the corners of your lips up, show a little teeth and squint. But he of all people would know when I didn’t mean it and I didn’t want to come across as patronizing because I genuinely appreciated his company and help. Soon, I couldn’t take it any longer. This called for desperate measures. I pointed to a sleek looking car and remarked that it looked nice. Almost immediately, he jumped into one of his many burn-tagging ways and told me he would throw me into one and let the person drive off with me. I laughed, probably a little to hard and a little too much, but I felt a tad bit better. I repeated what I did, pointing out what I liked and what looked nice. Just to have a good laugh at what he had to say. I didn’t feel happy or sad. I didn’t feel anything. But if I were to only have flashes of emotion every now and then, I might as well try to have as many of them in a day (or a span of a few hours) as I can.

And just today, I was at work. Not working, I was just there. Two new girls who were working there later than me had started to learn coffee already, while here I was still stuck at the cashier and watching from the sidelines. I have to admit, I felt bitter. I felt like giving up F&B actually, but don’t worry, it was just for that moment. It’s not like I can pick anything else I want to do right? Given my current education. I tried not to bother about it, tried to push it out of my mind. Told myself that I’d be okay just being at the cashier, wiping tables and washing dishes for a good while of my life. Maybe I’ll get better at it, though I don’t see what’s wrong with myself now. People say I’m nervous and jumpy but that’s not what I feel. I’m not nervous, I was probably acting too much. If there was one thing I didn’t want to be scolded for at work was not smiling and giving good service.

It made me think of what I wanted to do when I grew up. The answer came quickly. “Do what you’re good at”. Then came the next question. “But what am I good at?” I’m obviously not good at cashiering or clearing tables. I can’t study for nuts and a guy can bake better cakes than me. My spelling sucks and a primary school kid can do mental sums quicker than me. I’m not extraordinarily pretty neither do I play an instrument or sing well. If I had to run a mile now I’d die and my legs would literally start to creek. I don’t seem to be cut out for engineering or business. Hell, probably not for design either. Let’s face it, I’m so plain and useless, a white crayon would get more action than me.

I feel like I’ll never be good at anything though I’ve tried so hard. I’ve tried to study. I’ve sat in my seat and tried to highlight things till I started crying. I’ve tried to be less nervous but drama class never exactly taught us how to be less dramatic. Or maybe it’s just me. I tried to make an effort to look at my auto correct as it corrected my spelling in hopes of getting used to seeing that word that way. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on facial masks and cleansers just so that my complexion would get better. I’ve tried learning the guitar. I practiced till my fingers peeled and bled but those power chords never sounded right. I tried singing but I could never hit the high notes. I’ve tried so many things, watched countless people succeed. I wanted to be someone. Someone known for something. But here I am, still stuck. Plain old Cherie.

The same Cherie that has never scored an A in math in her entire existence. The same Cherie that couldn’t get a damn sponge cake right. The same Cherie who is so clumsy and blur. The same Cherie that takes more photos of food than herself because she doesn’t want to look at her endlessly flawed complexion anymore.

And this Cherie is so sorry, that she isn’t a fast learner. That she’s slow with things, doesn’t catch on fast and simply isn’t good enough. But at least she can say that she tried her hardest and she deserves a break. Because she’s been trying at everything, so many things; too many things, failed and is really discouraged.

No more new year resolutions for me this year, because life has knocked me down so hard this time, I’m practically crippled. And since I’m down, I might as well take a break; a long one. I’ll have a nap too and maybe I’ll recover. But till then, it me be in my icy sanctuary as I rebuild my defenses in my tired state.


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