Post-production Deflation

So, I told myself that this academic year I would not join this particular cca for all the reasons I’ve mentioned here. But ok and behold, I joined their drama production again. While I wasn’t a frontline performer, I still got to observe the nuts and bolts of this production carefully.

I started together with the script team for this drama, way back last year when I was still deciding my priorities. There was a close shave, as my idea nearly got selected even though I didn’t think it was worthy, but when I saw parts of my story incorporated in the final script I did feel that tinge of pride. It would have been foolish of me to go admit that those snippets had come from me but, oh well.

This time round, I was more involved in backstage elements. The work was hard and the hours were long, often lonely and stretched late into the night. But I kept working at it. I wanted to achieve the personal satisfaction of seeing my friends act on stage with my background support.

But halfway through I kept asking questions. I doubted myself and my efforts, wondering if they were contributing positively. But I’m glad that I didn’t stop because at the end of the day, what we pulled off exceeded several expectations.

It was a real pleasure to work with all these talented actors and dancers. I was personally thankful to have met all these creative souls who in their own right worked tirelessly to put up a fantastic show. From the directors, the choreographers, publicity team and the set design team, each person I met inspired me to learn new things and see things from new perspectives.

But all good things come to an end. While I do have my regrets, this production will definitely stay close to my heart.

– Selv

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And Then, A Flute Recital

I had the opportunity to watch my seven year old cousin’s dance recital at her dance school, TFA. I was thinking about skipping it, but since my mum and grandma were going, and I was going to be in the area earlier in the day, I decided to hang around.

Karma hit me like a brick the instant I stepped in. You see, this was the same institution where I was learning how to play the flute till I was twelve. And coming back (albeit to their new premises) after twelve long years, in which I had written my three major Singaporean exams and done my national service, I truly felt dizzy. But I swallowed it. I’m a stranger now, no one recognises me anymore.

Ah, but not really. I saw several familiar faces, several older staff. Remember the brick that hit me when I stepped in? Let me describe it.

There was this girl, AP, who I met in my university, whom I had a chance to perform with in February. She was chatting with her friend beside the door to the show’s room, and I struck up an awkward conversation with her. Explaining my crush on her is a story for another day, but my guess is that she guessed I liked her, so…

Anyway, I had started talking to her and her friend noticed the spark. And out of the door comes my cousin’s dance class. And my cousin too. And my aunt, running after her. I tried to introduce my cousin to AP, but she ignores me and walks on, engrossed and excited along with her classmates. This is where my erstwhile aunt grabs me by my sleeve and drags me away from AP (to help take a photograph). I didn’t even have a chance to say bye to her. My aunt does do that from time to time, but in that situation it was very embarrassing for me.

Brick having hit me, I slowly went into the performance room and sat beside my grandma. Dance recital 1, 2, 3 (my cousin’s). And then a FLUTE RECITAL.

All the reasons why I quit in September 2005 came back to me as I sat there. The favoritism, the racism towards my clan, my family’s finances and health back then. It was too much for me. I stood up and waited at the back. Lo and behold, the student’s teacher – my ex teacher – comes up and stands beside me.

I turn to say hi. He said hi. And I thought that was that. Fast forward to the end of the show, I had come out of the show room, and my flute teacher is reentering the room. I didn’t notice that right behind me were his students who had performed. So when I greeted him to start a conversation, he totally ignored me and went to greet his current students. It was a truly embarrassing moment.

I walked back to the area outside where there was a mini-carnival and there were food stalls and seats. My aunt and uncle were buying foodstuffs and sweets and I just sat there. My mum and aunt saw me shaken but they kept quiet. My uncle, who married my aunt in the 12 years preceding, was concerned and kept asking if I was alright but I kept saying yes, I was just tired, and stuff like that.

My folks and my mum wanted to stay on longer to watch another dance recital. My grandmother was feeling tired, so I called my dad to pick the two of us up after his work ended. As we were leaving, I confessed to my grandma that ‘my school friend’ (AP) was dancing in the second recital and I felt awkward about staying on. She chided me and suddenly wanted to stay on too, presumably to size her up?! But I reminded her that my dad was on the way.

That day was truly an emotional waterslide for me – it began on the high of my other event, and slid downwards very quickly afterwards. It’s a reminder to me, that there is a God (or at the very minimum some higher power) that has mandated that I go through this.

– Selv

Swimming in Schoolwork

A new school year has started and I’m continuing to exist in this superfluous train of lessons. It’s been a real struggle and I must admit I’m not coping with all. I still remain with the Photography society but I’ve decided it’s time to step down from the other cultural club.

I’ve been really busy these past 5 weeks, reason being I’ve been working part time for Deliveroo during the evenings. The whole month experience deserves a series of posts, which I’ll write separately as it has truly been an eye-opener for me.

But I’ve stopped working temporarily. I really cannot cope with my schoolwork anymore and I figured that I need the time to study. I still need the money. But as I don’t need it yet, work can wait.

Quitting the cultural club outright was a system shock for me. I left mainly because I knew I wouldn’t be able to cope with studies, work and a second CCA. But I new that if I stayed, they would squeeze me dry again. Which is fine since its part of your responsibilities. Except, I never really felt part of the gang. Of course I didn’t tell them  that but the incoming president must have sensed it.

But life can be cruel. Several members of this CCA attend the same Astronomy lecture as me and I, well, have friends now for that module. The president and the rest managed to convince me to remain part of one of their outreach groups – the Band Wing.

Which brought me to the doors of a music academy last week. To sign up for Flute lessons. To continue classes which I stopped 12 years ago. I am 24 now.

The trial session lasting 10 minutes was super awkward. I had to gatecrash another student’s lesson and borrow his flute. Holes appeared in my haven’t-played-for-12-years story when I could play the 7 notes with little trouble, but my new teacher didn’t really ask, and I don’t plan to tell him. Tell him that I played for a concert 6 months ago and was now an instrumentalist-to-be in an amateur band.

Life…

– Selv

My India Trip

For those celebrating the end of the fasting month, I wish you a fruitful Eid Mubarak!

I’ve been overseas these past few weeks, on a community involvement program.  My organisation has partnered with SCAD, an organisation which oversees several projects helping a range of people from various backgrounds. As it was my organisation’s first OCIP trip, we decided to work on a simple project with a special needs school in Cheranmahadevi, India.

Based on a prior visit by the recce team, we split our project into a few parts. The main portion was the refurbishment of the school’s relaxation corner – a room where these underprivileged kids could play games and toys. We painted the room, and filled the shelves with toys which we collected in Singapore.

Another portion of the project involved adding games catered to the needs of these kids – most of whom had learning disabilities – such as texture cubes and a race track corner. The aim here was to engage the sensory and motor skills of these kids, to complement the academic portion for which they were already in school for

Then there was an interaction session with these kids – a simple art session where we made paper-plate jellyfish and a simple origami dog. These kids don’t really get to do artwork and it was heartening to see them expressing themselves. They may have been aged from 12-20 but the 3 teens I worked with were really kids at heart. The simple joy of writing your own name on your own artwork is something that most of us take for granted, but for these kids, it made their day. I’m glad that I was able to help them achieve that.

After the CIP portion, we had a small heritage tour of the region, stopping by cities such as Tirunelveli, Madurai, Tanjore and Tiruchi. My friends fell sick one by one, but I was the last to fall sick. They had all recovered by the last city Tiruchi, so they left me in the hotel while they went shopping and watching movies. I kept running to the toilet every half an hour, inflicted with a terrible bout of stomach flu which made even the plain water I drank to come out of the back door. That was the only time during the entire trip which I (terribly) missed my Tenas.

There was one toilet-training incident which I observed, and it shook me a little. I was in a toilet cubicle and there was this conversation between father and son transpiring in the next cubicle. The dad had brought the boy to the toilet and he asked him, “do you want to poop”. He didn’t answer. “Have you already pooped”. No answer again.

SLAP. “No, I don’t know”, he replied sullenly. The dad started to take off the boy’s diaper, grumbling loudly that he didn’t know how to tell when he needed to go and how his mother was going to be furious etc. So he sees that the diaper is clean and he gets frustrated. “Why don’t you just answer me properly?” SLAP. “Do you need to go poop now?”, he asks and the boy mush have shook his head or something because the dad roars “I want you to sit on the toilet and poop now“.

As I stood up and left, the kid was sobbing and pooping. They were an urban middle class family, but what struck me was the amount of intimidation that was used in potty training. That’s their way of life there, slaps as punishment. I was slipping in and out because of my stomach flu but that incident stuck to my consciousness. The kid moved from diapers because he was scared that his dad would hit him, not because he wanted to be like his peers.

Overall I feel that this trip did open my eyes to this part of the world. It was a memorable trip, and I feel that I gained valuable skills and insights through this trip.

– Selv

It started with a handbag

Went for an NTU orientation event last Saturday. I may be in my second year, but I wanted to join different committees, meet new people. So I went for an event that said come, let’s become friends.

I could go into the details and all but it would be boring. But basically we playe some station games and they drilled us participants about the society, in a bid to make us join eventually (their interview is at the end of this week I think).

But it was what one of the girls in my group said that registered in my mind. It didn’t catch my attention, because I was so jaded by that point of the day, but it did register in my mind.

There were 9 of us, and we were walking from one station to another within the campus.

One of the other girls started by asking ‘hey, why did you bring your handbag around, isn’t it cumbersome?’

She replied a string of words which I feel lazy to translate but, as you can guess, was related to her going through ‘the time of the month’.

I instinctively tuned out, detached myself from the girls group and caught up with the boys. But then I heard it, something that I haven’t heard in a while.

“I hate when it gets heavy”,

“Just wear diapers la”

“Ya, I also wear them. But now it’s school and it hard to take care when you are staying in hall”.

Three of them giggle, before realizing just how candid they had been in a large group that included the opposite gender.

There was a very awkward silence before our group leader, a boy, changed the topic to how steep the slope we were climbing was, while the assistant leader, a girl who did not laugh, cooked up an excuse to detour away from the group for 5 minutes.

Yet again, it seems that these anecdotes are too fictionlike. But this happened, and it serves a a a reminder on just how dynamic human relationships can be.

– Selv