1. in the first two months, a statistics class experimented with eruption, struggled to grasp time in-between. a sequence of numbers and the volcano became palpable in programme. shortcuts learned. on every screen emerged a vector of time.
2. my ahma does not know how to reply to my texts. she holds the blue nokia an arms length away and clicks around, fumbles carelessly. a string of unrecognizable alphabets. there are times that she misplaces the phone, a splinter in her room at the basement of a church building. she can leave it untouched for days. most times she forgets how to say without speaking.
3. the next time I visit ahma, I try to show her the correct buttons. we sit on the edge of the bed as I guide her thumbs. she stares intently before echoing the movement of my hands.
4. a month later, an announcement of the 2G network's expiration date.
5. the numbers we picked out only began to exist in the spaces. not steady or absolute. not a first step down the stairs. not the warning before the tornado. it arrived from the underground and was thrown about.
6. is your heart not the same way? a product of trial and error, consequence of chaos? scavenger of broken things while mynahs continue their business?
7. in speaking about the continuum of novels: the lecturer tells a greying class that the best stories are not laboured, but arrived at from experience. in the brief silence afterward she hears the scribbling nod of pen.
8. with ahma I discovered the intimacy of distance. she cooked the dishes, I made the bed. dinner prayers to end with a request for preservation. over the meal we held conversations on grand themes: through the passing of steamed pomfret, the request for more rice.
9. the undergraduates struggled through dialect class. it was difficult for them to learn a language unwritten, learned by muscle memory. the instructor grew keenly aware of the repetition of sound, the desire for instant proficiency. but it was insufficient. it was a month until they visited an old folks home. the students spoke full phrases while clutching paper and pen. the instructor drew a breath. her final advice: love can be simple, without language. as easy as the touching of hands.
10. do we always need the trail of breadcrumbs to tell us where, who we are? to instruct its search party how to live?
11. and how many stories have we lost in our unmaking?
12. of course you cannot go back.
By Jasmine GohQLRS Vol. 18 No. 2 Apr 2019