We were unfinished business (Part 1)


At point A you crushed on me, and I crushed on you—it was mutual.

Everything between points A and B was always the trickiest part, the sketchy “getting there”.

Point B is where I saw myself with you, but perhaps you didn’t—the end point, the part where the GPS robotically said, “You have arrived at your destination”.


Point A

The first time we met after exchanging details on a crowded train, we talked for hours in some hipster café with pricey coffee and tattooed baristas.

I remember before stepping inside the café I discreetly observed you from the window. You were fiddling on your phone and wearing your buttoned denim shirt, leaning on your elbow, hand through your brown hair. You sported the effortlessly rough, ‘I’m-hot’ kind of look.

I groomed myself nervously in my blue sun dress, hoping my butterfly feelings would disappear. I finally stepped inside and telepathically you looked at me and smiled.

I sat down and admired you briefly and you cheekily said, “There’s finally some sunshine in this place.”

I laughed at the comment, and you already knew that you had me hooked. We flirted with words and meaningless conversation—food distastes, book characters, the strange behaviours on trains, art, water bottles and penmanship. I even made you write out a quote from one of my favourite books, Vanity Fair.

“Vanity Fair is a very vain, wicked, foolish place, full of all sorts of humbugs and falsenesses and pretensions.” 

Somehow we talked in essays about that quote, until the barista sneakily slipped the bill on our table so that they could close up.

On the way out you said you were impressed by my intelligence, tastes and cheekiness. I rarely accepted compliments, but yours I took to heart.

We hugged and kissed on the cheek, because that’s how the modern dating game apparently works. But I felt you lean in, your mouth so close to mine.

“I’ll be seeing you again”, you teased, your words on my lips.

How did you pull my strings and twist them, without even laying a hand?


We met a few more times after that, but there’s one intense moment that stood out.

You took me to a local art exhibition; it was a quiet day for the gallery. There were maybe five or so aficionados—hands behind their back, meticulously observing sculptures and abstracts stuck onto the white walls in silence.

We walked around interpreting artists’ work, quietly debating this and that.

“The lines painted around the woman’s neck seem to choke her, but yet she looks like she’s tranced with desire.” I said.

“Desire isn’t always painful” you said, brushing behind me.

“The artist is actually suggesting that the woman is drowning in her own expectations—a loved one, who took her own life. You can read it on the card here”, a bystander commented.

“Oh,” we both said, and suddenly felt guilty that we attached sly innuendoes to an art piece of mourning. But when the bystander disappeared we couldn’t help giggle to ourselves like school children.

Then you took my hand and whispered, “Come with me”.

Of course I followed you, because like the woman in the painting I was drowning in desire.

We snuck into some dark unoccupied part of the gallery, and you ran your hand through my hair. We were both breathing sharply. Before I knew it you pinned me to the wall. Your kisses were slow and deep on my lips, your hands low on my waist. I drew you in closer so I could take in all of you, drink all of you. We both wanted more.

But my back accidentally hit the light switch on, your hand had just made its way under my shirt.

We both grinned, and you turned the light switch off.


A Letter To That Guy I Never Really Let Go Of

Woman makng a shopping list in her kitchen

To that guy,

Honestly you’ll probably never know that I’ve had a thing for you for so long. And in long, I mean years. I never really wanted to admit it at first, constantly denying that I didn’t have feelings for you because… I don’t know, I just thought the idea was stupid. And because I knew it was all just pure infatuation, all one-sided, and that as much as I hoped, you wouldn’t ever feel that way about me.

And the thing is, nothing ever really happened between us – we never dated, we never had a ‘moment’ it was all just in my head – you know fairy tale stuff. But you knew of me, and for a while I just bumped into you, or you bumped into me. It was always platonic. But the way you spoke to me, the way you listened, the way you smiled – that was what caught me off guard. It was probably you just being polite and charismatic. But it felt right, and it felt good.

There are times of course when I wonder “What if?”, “What if we ended up together?” How my mind races with possibilities. I think it’s because I just kept holding onto the random details over the years when we happened to be around each other – the things you remember about me that I even wouldn’t even pick up on, or the things I remember about you… The wholehearted way you laugh, the way you’d take interest in what I do, your soft cologne and cigarette scent.

Shit, how do you have that effect on me?

What’s harder is the mutual history – the friends who say there could be something there between us. Am I supposed to believe in the hope of their comments, or shrug it off? The story, if things ever happened and it got penned, would be quite the tale. There I go again… You know, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve bumped into you so briefly and just feel buzzy, even days after that moment – you’ve stung me.

So I just keep my distance and watch on, because I can’t believe in possibilities forever.

Over the years there have also been other women who have stolen your heart, and women you have loved so fervently – I can’t compete with that. You don’t look at me the way you do when you’re with her. You don’t have my hand in your hand. You just don’t.

At the end of all of this though, the only answer I’d need is “Yes” or “No”. Do you like me? Because I like you more than I should, and one day I just need to let you go.

Your sincerely,


The girl and her light

girl and umbrella

She’s wandering aimlessly among a sea full of people in a big city, and feels so detached. If you look from a distance that girl has a bulb of light flickering so faintly, it’s not as bright as it used to be.

She feels so small but has hopes and dreams that are so big, much bigger than her tiny light of hope. Around her the people are shadowed in grey, and it seems that for a moment they’ve all frozen except for her.

She wants someone to listen, to hear her tiny voice and her big dreams of being the ‘next big thing’. But before she’s even introduced herself and shook their hand, the carousel ride of people has spun and moved again, playing that dizzying circus music.

“Where is the light?” she keeps asking.

Not far away rays of light and hope catch her eye, so there she runs, cupping it in her hands.

“It’s here! It’s here!” she says excitedly.

But it’s only half in size of what she dreamt.

It happens again, a sliver of light, but no sun. By now she’s tired, tired of running, of chasing the sun.

Is there even a sun?

Grey black clouds rumble and merge. A storm is here-rain, hail, thunder. The girl didn’t bring an umbrella, but everyone else did.

How did they know that a storm was coming?

Each of the grey shadowed people stand still under their black umbrellas, while the girl runs asking anyone if she can share their shade.

“No”, the grey shadowed people say.

But she spots a yellow raincoat left at the bus stop, and blue gumboots nearby. She manages for a little while, but she sees that one-by-one the black umbrellas close; they’ve found their sun and dreams.

Where is hers?

In the distance she sees someone, it’s a young man. At first he looks like another grey shadowed person, but he bends down, arms open, calling the girl by name.

It’s her Father.

The girl hugs him and cries.

“I’m always calling, if you’d only listen. Have faith in me because your sun is coming. I know you’ve been waiting and working so hard.”


“Just take my hand and trust in me. It’s my turn now.”

She placed her hand in his, and felt his warmth.

The clouds whitened and the skies cleared. The sun slowly peeped and glowed.

Her sun was near.





“We’re so safe …


“We’re so safe in everything we do, hiding behind headphones and cellphones. Stealing glances on the subway, sticking to what we know, who we know.
God do we stick to who we know! Maybe if we didn’t, we’d realise we’re all a little lonely out here, each of us a little cold.”

COLD – Short film (Oct. 2013)

Death in riches


There was an old ill man lying on the hospital bed, reflecting on his life. He shed a tear, only realising that he didn’t live a full life. His time had come.

As a young man, a square four cornered world was all he knew that existed. It comforted him, made him feel safe. He heard others excitedly talk of ‘the outside world’, and of great people and bizarre things that made no sense to him.

He tried to avoid the noise, turned away when others talked of unfamiliar things and focused on what he knew—working.

He didn’t want to let go of what he knew because he was mostly scared to lose physical things. Losing these things meant more to him than gaining what he didn’t—in life experience, possessions, in purpose and self-fulfillment.

Order—he wanted order and control of his square four-cornered world and feared having nothing. But absolute control is rare in anyone, even for the most determined.

He lived like this for years, allowing his work to dictate a linear life.

He worked and worked, rarely stopping to enjoy what he worked for. The enjoyment was seeing his account balance increase.

His family encouraged him to live, to spend, and to “see the world”.

“I’ll save the money for another day” he’d say.

“I’ll use it for another time”

“I can’t afford to use it right now”

“I need it for my future”

When he first lost his job he feared that he’d lose the money he saved. He counted each dollar spent and cried when he couldn’t make that money again.

“I need a job”

So a job he searched for. Months passed and nothing. It maddened him when there was no reply or at the very least a rejection letter. His rage quickly turned to self-disparagement and paranoia.

He found work but was displeased. Unwillingly he worked. But his cash flow increased, that’s what mattered. He soon lost motivation and his job. This cycle would happen 8 more times in his life, and he only questioned his happiness when he was hospitalised for a heart attack.

By then he lost some of his friends and withdrew himself from his family. He became selfish and his relationship with money choked him. He was frugal and couldn’t justify spending his money unless absolutely necessary. He constantly calculated and recalculated numbers in his head. He always thought, “What do I have left after I’ve lost it?”

If he had a phobia, losing money would be his.

On the table next to his hospital bed was an old note. It was a bucket list he had written in his twenties. Few of what was listed had anything to do with money, except the expense attached to trying a new life experience (e.g. skydiving, travelling, hot-air ballooning). Even fewer of these were ticked off and achieved. Too often he struggled with expense and experience—he never defeated it.

When he died he was a millionaire. This is the note he left his family:

They say it’s never too late, but maybe for me it was. I can’t believe my foolishness—I pushed you all away from me just so I could see myself become rich. I let the money beat me, I let it define me, I let myself love it, and it killed me. Now I truly have nothing.

I always believed that I wouldn’t get caught up in materialism, because that’s what I was taught, that’s what we valued as a family—that no physical possession would ever make you truly happy. Yet I tested that fine line of happiness and greed countlessly, and realised too late that physical possessions only made me hungrier, and crave that temporary euphoric feeling. I was chasing something that was never going to be chased.

I apologise to you all for my selfishness and bitterness, for disappointing you and hurting you. I apologise for being blind and failing to see that I already had everything from all of you—your love, your support (through the good and bad), your undying faith in me and your constant presence. I failed to give you the same or appreciate the blessings I already had.

My only wish is that I am no longer associated with the money. Do what you like with, but don’t let it affect you the way it did me. None of you deserve that! I wish you all true happiness and a life of fulfilment. Count your blessings, not your dollars.

I love you all so dearly,


His family counted the dollars and fought over it for months. When they couldn’t make a definite decision between themselves, they donated the money to charity instead.

Count your blessings, not your dollars.

The vanity of You or I

We assume before we know.

We worry before knowing why.

We sell before we create.

We over-prepare before we try.

We don’t believe anymore, we just see.

We can’t focus because we just want to be.

We’re narcissists, do you see why?

Because there’s few who fight for ‘you’, and more who live for ‘I’.

The relationships that matter.


If there’s anything in this world we depend on, it’s the kind of relationships we form with people. Every human relationship—past, present or future impacts us, whether that’s dramatically or slightly.

The different people we meet become a chapter of our lives. They can influence you; sometimes change you, or just reassure you of who you are.

You were friends with that girl who you sat next to in your boring tute class. Hung out a couple of times, D&M’ed, then never really heard from her after.

You knew each other in that moment, but you don’t know them now that moment’s passed. It just wasn’t meant to be.

You realise that a lot of people walk in and out of your life like that, merely a blip on the radar. Sometimes the hardest part is finally realising, because you thought it would last.

But even that’s a good thing, you learn things that you wouldn’t have known until you met them, whether that’s about the world, humanity or that hip coffee place where the barista knows you.

Sometimes time only strengthens that relationship—an old friend reconnects with you, or a stable friendship becomes closer. On the other hand time can have the opposite effect. It just distances you, until you see them years later on a peak hour train, awkwardly pretending not to recognise you behind their iPod.

Relationships can form out of pure circumstance—you were at a party and the person next to you starts talking, or you know someone because you work with them.

But we all seek and depend on relationships with people that provide constance, quality, commonality and mutuality. The people who fulfil these make your life happier—your family, good friends, your partner etc. Or maybe you just haven’t met them yet.

So slide in and out of ‘acquaintships’ and Facebook numbers but surround yourself in the kind of relationships that have noteworthy value.

Because we all need someone to ride out this crazy life with!

Identity searching


There comes a point where you look at yourself in the mirror and don’t recognise who and what you see. It’s not necessarily your hair, the new clothes or the tan.

It’s your whole identity.

You used to roll out of bed every morning and feel so sure that you found your purpose, that you had it all figured out—that things were ‘right’.

Then a moment of uncertainty presents itself. It poses you a question. But it’s not important for you now, because you’ve seen similar manifestations. It’s just another ‘phase’ you think.

But the question traps you. Naturally you’re scared because you’re not familiar to changing. You don’t want to take the risk of actualising that change in your life. You’d rather continue being a circle trying to fit into a triangle.

And you wonder what if that change doesn’t work out? What if things screw up? How much will I lose?

But what if you don’t try to answer that bugging question?

Yes, there’s potentially more stability and normalcy if you continue with what you’re familiar with. But there’s also less understanding of who you are.

Too easily we’ve been caught up in what we think is right, rather than being caught up in what we know deep down inside is right, for ourselves.

That, along with being who you are is your purpose. It is your identity.

What’s your story?


Let’s stop from our lives a moment, take a step back and sink ourselves into the people and the world around us.

Take a look at that 20 something man. He’s seated by the window on the 8.17am train to work. At least 6 foot tall, slim, dressed in a navy suit. He’s thumbing through the hundreds of photos on his iphone with his earphones plugged in. You can’t tell now but he broke up with his boyfriend of two years last night. He was cheated on. He’d rather not go to work today but wants to keep his mind busy.

Hop off the train and standing outside a busy cafe is a blonde 17 year-old girl. She’s in her torn denim shorts, black top, boots, wayfarers and headphones. She’s holding a cheap cigarette in one hand, takeaway latte in the other. At age eleven she taught herself French, Mandarin and Latin. Her parents make her attend an all girl Catholic school—apparently “religion will do her some good”. Today she’s wagging school to meet her boyfriend. But where is he?

There’s a woman who just entered the same cafe. Early 30s. Brunette, shoulder length bob, 5”8 and beautiful. She carries a Julia Roberts like grace. She’s in her usual black blouse and pencil skirt. But there’s something different about her. It’s not that she changed her coffee order from a cappuccino to a green tea, or that she tipped the barista who’s been hitting on her for who knows how long. It’s the new jewel on her ring finger. She’s excitedly on the phone to her best friend, telling her how a-mazing her fiancé’s proposal was. She can’t believe this is all really happening.

Fast forward the day a few hours.

A young girl and boy—brother and sister, are looking on outside from the front window of the house. Their small palms and warm breath are fogging up the inside of the window. Their mother is angered at her husband in question; she just threw an empty wine bottle at his car. The children are crying. Did they just see their father arrive from work, load the boot of his car, hesitate then drive off for good?

Down the street a teenage boy is nervously knocking on the door of a girl he really likes. They’re going on a date. His heart is racing and his hands are fiddly. But when she finally opens the door smiling, he relaxes. He smiles back at her. Things will be ok. He just needs to be himself. Of course he doesn’t know it now, but there’ll be more of that nervous butterfly feeling in years to come.

From a corner a dishevelled unshaven man weakly waves down the teenage couple for spare change. But they’re too caught up in each other to care about him. No-one would recognise that he was the CEO of his once large business, until he let his gambling addiction get the better of him. You can tell through his faded blue eyes that he’s close to giving up. His wife drew the line when he pawned his wedding ring. Now he sleeps on cold cardboard instead of a four poster bed with feather stuffed pillows.

A woman in her late twenties sympathises for him and tosses five dollars in his cap. She has a PhD in oncology. A year ago she started her own cancer research institution. But she deserves people who understand her. At 22 she was diagnosed with manic depression. Some people ask her why she didn’t just study her mental illness instead. But knowing too much about it will drive her insane. Sometimes her unexplainable mood swings keep her awake for days. When it’s really bad her suicidal tendencies can kick in. Today she’s feeling ‘normal’. Maybe it’s because she decided to reconsider her love-hate relationship with her medication.

In a restaurant across the street a man has just blown out the ‘85’ candle on his cake. He’s sharing dinner with his family. They’re flashing cameras in awkward positions and clinking glasses to celebrate. The happy wrinkles on this 85-year-old’s face tell the hundreds of stories he’s lived through.

But step further from what you see around you. Understand that you live in a shared world, with billions of people and billions of stories.

Are you open to making their stories a part of yours?

Or are you too busy writing yours to read others?