edit: I realised that this would be quite a lengthy post for a short trip of 2 hours, and have divided the post into two parts.
After half a day of sleep, which felt like half a second, and missing both lessons and meetings, I decided to get myself out once again.
I needed to get my hands on The Journals of Sylvia Plath and found it available at Jurong West library. Decided to take the bus instead of my bike simply because I needed to reminisce about the old times when I roamed the nights and realising there’s something about being an anonymous face in the crowd which I needed to relive.
As much as I like to be on the road on my bike – it keeps me distracted from thinking and forces me to concentrate on riding – I do enjoy being on long bus rides with nothing but music or a book. I’ve been feeling that I have lost sense of time, I sleep when the sun rises and wake when night falls. Spending time alone has found myself caught up in my thoughts for hours and they felt like seconds. Studying makes time fly without me really absorbing anything.
On the bus, I realised we do not take particular note of everyone else despite being surrounded by faces. We do not care nor wonder what is going on in others’ heads, how their day has been, what makes them different. We are all anonymous and oblivious, filling up empty spaces in each other’s lives. Our presences, or the lack of, makes no difference. We are no different than the chairs in the bus, the street lights outside or the ez-link reader. Perhaps you could argue the only person who would make a difference is the bus captain needed to drive the bus.
I got off, headed for the library, and made my way up to the adult section to find my book. In the lift, joined by a family of three with a child in a pram, it felt no different than being on the bus. That is, until the baby broke the conventional silence with a randomly loud “Hello!”
I was pleasantly shocked by it, and can’t help but to stretch a slight smile at the corner of my lip with a muted return greeting. I wonder when would the same child no longer see the world as pure as she is seeing now. Usually, they stare at me in curious wonder at my difference than them, be it due to my skin colour or my eyebrow piercing. I crack a smile and they cower behind their parents, as though they could sense the darkness I carry within me.
Being in the library, browsing fast through book titles gave me a flashback to eight years back when I first started finding true solace in books. I remember venturing to AMK library alone in sec 2, finding books to entertain my restless youth. It’s ironic how I find myself heading to the library for the very same reasons still, as surely back then I wanted to reminisce my curious childhood when I spent hours in the library finding books I still remember today – one prominent Where’s Wally? style of book was The Stone In The Sword.
Much to my surprise, I couldn’t find the book I was looking for, despite it being listed as available. Instead, I found books which I have quoted from and are in my readlist – Rumi’s Little Book of Love, Sylvia Plath’s Poems as chosen by Carol Ann Duffy, and most notably Letters to A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke.
The first two are a collection of poems, a medium of expression I find myself using yet accepting that few would actually understand what I’m trying to convey. I believe that every form of expression, be it through writing or dance, serves as a mask to a deeper meaning. The meanings, intricately hidden through a myriad of literary devices or musical/dance techniques are usually so raw and so ugly that the simplest words fail to highlight the severity of the feelings behind it. It is ironic how the most beautiful of things are innately ugly on the inside – think of how the Mona Lisa, one of the greatest pieces of art known, is technically a combination of oils on poplar. Yet, it is what others perceive as ugly that holds the beauty in itself.
The third, and quite a pleasant find, is a collection of ten letters written by Rainer Maria Rilke to a Franz Xaver Kappus. The latter found himself connected to the former, due to being in similar situations with similar thoughts, and similar aspirations. Every word of it so far – I’ve read six letters – echoes the conversations I held with myself. Naturally, I could only think of one person who would entertain me the same way in the style of words used, and I wonder if I would ever find more people like us. Naturally, I thought of her as well, how willing she used to be writing in a similar way, how proud I was of her for embracing her creative spirit. The topics touched on resonate so clearly in me and what I’m facing that I can’t help but to read the letters over and over again.
I looked to the tables occupied facing the window, and as expected, finding streams of students studying for their various examinations. I wonder if I looked the same way when I bothered to save myself through O and A levels, so dead and lifeless, yet pushed by fear of the unknown if we were to not do well enough for the examinations. Yet, their faces spoke of hope for their future, of faith in the system. Foolishly blind in my opinion, but being hopeless and faithless with eyes wide open is worse.
I decided to browse the philosophy/psychology section, remembering how curious I was at seeing things differently that I have forgotten about immersing myself in the mundane questions of life. I must have browsed until the Women’s section, and guess what I found – the holy grail of the pickup artists: The Art of Seduction, all tattered and faded, pages ripped and held by tape, just like how one would find such a prized treasure in the movies.
I contemplated on borrowing it, knowing it would only feed that other part of me that I have grew disillusioned with when it comes to relationships. I do not want to be thought of as manipulative anymore, reading and applying all that I have learned has made me realise how eerily easy it is when it comes to people. This unsettled me quite a bit, and I have concluded that perhaps this is why many people have left my life, feeling themselves to be manipulated and played on when they wanted no part in a person so dark inside. And perhaps this is why I no longer search for someone to connect with, and perhaps this is why I am beginning to turn back into the person I once was. This is why I am reluctant to let people in anymore, and to put it bluntly, unable to trust. It’s unfortunate, but I guess this is a part of me I have to accept and hope it does not consume me wholly until too late.
I snapped out of my thoughts when I felt a presence browsing in my area, and she probably didn’t realise the power I held in my hands, busy looking for her own books. For all I know, she was looking for a different form of empowerment, and I hope she finds hers in between the pages of the thousands of books in the library.
After completing my loan and renewal, I headed out for dinner, blending in among the different faces in the crowd again.