— To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time
This time last year, I celebrated New Year’s Eve with five other Malaysians in a student flat opposite the Royal Liverpool Hospital.
Tonight, I sit alone, typing this on my phone after two different meetups were cancelled.
This time last year, the air was cold. It had been raining for hours; the winter sun retreated early as was its new habit. The scent of coconut milk and premixed rendang wafted in the air as we tried to recreate the familiar taste of home. Manglish drowned Scouse as fireworks erupted from Albert Docks that night.
Tonight, the air is cold. It had been raining for hours. Six months have passed since arriving home from Liverpool – tonight, I no longer feel like a stranger in my own house, so familiar yet so alien.
This time last year, my back ached as I stirred rendang over the ceramic hob. (No gas stoves in student flats lest cheap English ale turns us all into pyromaniacs.)
Tonight, the TV blasts another ad asking for donations for the East Coast flood relief. My Chinese masseuse, in her sixth year in Malaysia, told me earlier that the Year of the Horse had brought nothing but bad luck to Malaysia. She was right. Today, they recovered forty bodies from the sea while searching for yet another missing plane. Perhaps the Goat would be kinder on you Malaysians, she mused, as her hands kneaded the arch of my back. She would be going back to China at the end of 2015 – there is no point staying, “the ringgit has dropped and will continue to drop”, she said. I don’t know her name, but she has a son my age, married and unemployed. A least, that’s what my rudimentary Mandarin understood.
This time last year, I wished I was in another place, another timezone; holding her in my arms.
Tonight, I wish I was in another place, another timezone; holding her in my arms.
But the “her” of tonight isn’t the “her” of last year – love couldn’t bridge the distance between us.
This time last year, I walked past the largest cathedral in the United Kingdom as the Mersey wind sneered at my £30 winter coat from Primark.
Tonight, I think again about the question Alycia asked me earlier this afternoon – “why are you still a Christian?” This was not very long after I struggled to hold back my tears when I read about Leelah Alcorn, a seventeen-year old transgender woman driven to suicide by her Christian parents.” I only got more Christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help”, Leelah wrote in her suicide note. Hope. Hope where there is none. I should have told Alycia that. I wished I could have told Leelah that.
This time last year, yet another year is about to pass.
Tonight, yet another year is about to pass.