Chapter 1: Of Yesterday, today, and tomorrow

t was a glaring sweaty afternoon when I click off my pen. From my desk, I can see sparrows sand-bathing over the dry ground under the wire hangers. I adjusted the dust-coated window panes, daydreaming while observing their movements. Agile and swift, they playfully pecked each other and flapped their wings, spreading sands to create a little sandstorm among them. Above them, T-shirts and trousers were laid across those parallel wires, oven dry by overwhelming ray. Today was silent; he delicately placed his index finger by every object’s mouth. Pulling back my view to my desk, I sighed and swept away paper notes to make space for my water heater. Here is a brief view of my desk: Literatures piling up besides my empty mug with a stainless steel teaspoon poked into it adjacent to latest advertisements on hostel’s events found under my door next to a file holder containing slides printouts from the previous lecture. I plugged in my plastic water heater (an unknown China brand), boiled some water, and made myself a cup of instant cappuccino. Half-hearted, I closed my eyes and sunk deep into my blackout.





Surrounded by concrete jungles, my secondary school was located somewhere in the middle of the city. You can't detect its presence until you saw the 'Catholic High School' Sign posting itself in front of the road. You have to drive pass a few rows of single storey terraces, only then the school compartments will reveal their bare walls with time as their painter or rather, the factor of cracking and peeling artworks. I can still recalled the first time I stepped into this school, how its magnificent and naturally-crafted trees marks their respective territories, casting a blurred-edge shadow and performs kaleidoscope-like shapes as shadows of each leaves overlaps and separate. Nevertheless, no matter how many renovations were carried out to upgrade the facilities, theses trees will remain erected to portrait their significance as landmarks.



Nothing grand or catchy will register in your mind during the first time you took a tour around the school. Steel rods buried deep into the ground as foundations and piles of red bricks arranged in symmetrical order glued together with freshly-blended cements and installations of circuits and water pipes and walls coated with water paint and renovations with on-wall cabinets and shelves and height-adjustable chairs and shiny wooden desks; that is a mild description of our office. Each classrooms are divided into jail-like blocks for over 40 students: 2 dust-jacketed slow-moving KDK ceiling fans, 1 blossomed and experienced cane, a few pieces of impaired chalks(Oh, you can blow up chalk dust on the edge of the blackboard to produce a snowing effect), desks coated with liquidpaper's liquid, marker pen's marking, carves or scribble or sketching of foul languages, secret admirers of who-and-who, endless drawings of angels and devils(wings are a must for them), boring repetition of the word "boring", lyrics adapted from some pop songs...Never ending story.


Perhaps I am too afraid to disobey the school rules, I never graffiti any words on my school desk before. Not that I am a coward in the eyes of my peers, but possibly I felt sorry for the scarred faces of classrooms’ tables and chairs. I imagined chatting between animated furniture and their comparison of vandalised feature. My classmate laughed me for consecutively 3 weeks just because I pasted a plaster across my desk on the word ”FXxx”.



The school used to have weekly assembly every Monday morning. All morning session students will queue according to classes when the 3rd bell rang, which marked the starting of our assembly. Prefects herded students as if sheep flocks ready to return before sunset to the assembly ground. For 6 goddamn years, (more precisely, 6 years and a half) I dressed myself in my neatly pressed school attire, erected like statue of marching armies, mouth pronouncing lyrics of love towards my country and my nation while watching flags climbing up the flag pole.






Time the old man performed his duty with excellence, as he always does. Memories drifted away, blurred and left a vague impression as sceneries outside the window of a moving train. No matter how frequent we tried to unplug the cork of our mind, only a few drops of residue will leak out for us to savour. And no matter how much fresh memory you refilled into the bottle, all you can feel is your bottle is getting lighter, as if a hidden black-hole swallowing every tiny puzzle that pictures your experience, your feelings; they vanished. But then, there are dirty stains that refused to be scrub off. Fragments, perhaps, but never disappear. They floats with a portion of an iceberg in the ocean, deep beneath them were viciously huge. After all, they are part of life, isn’t that so?



This was my first thought when my first step enters the university gate. I abandoned what I have learned in Science Subjects and go for English Literature instead. For some time I doubted my choice of picking English Literature. What use they can function in my future? They deserved to be buried, deep in the underground burrow, corroded bit by bit as food of swarming bugs, according to the Productivity Section (I bet), since they are planning to stop new intakes for this course starting from next year onwards. The marketing line was proposing various job opportunities, and yet none of them listed down “Degree in Literature” as 1 of their requirements. In this country, what demanded the most by audience, Science courses or Business courses? No matter how close economy moving towards the brink of fluctuation, newspapers will always advertised full of vacancies in these fields.





I washed down my cappuccino, rinsed my mug, turned it downside up, and placed it on my desk. Time: 1.30pm. My roommate tossed around his bed, bed sheets wrinkled with overdose sleepiness. Not too early for lunch. I woke my roommate up. Moustache trimmed neatly, he scratched his messy hair and squeezed his eye repeatedly, swallowed a mouthful of humid air.


“What time?” He asked, pushing away his blanket.


“1.37,” I replied, shoving documents left and right.




“Same place.”






Every night, we have no particular reason to remain awake. Yet we are lazy to dump ourselves on the ever-welcoming bed. Both of us glued to the glowing screen respectively and moved cursors to perform seemingly silly tasks. Example: sailed across the forums and aimlessly clicked whatever topics that might sound interesting; checking updates of friend’s profile and scribbled a few sentences on their walls; blogwalking and dropped a comment or 2; cursing; chewing words; watching videos; nodding head; listening to music, and of majorly spent on playing games. Those stacked up most of our time in dormitory, not co-curriculum to us, not exchanging opinions; certainly, not watching pornography. A well stretched and tagged daily routine, laptops can continue their labour up to 4am. And yawn, good morning.


Time to sleep.

The End

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