Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"A Place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, renders it, loves it so radically that he/she remakes it in his/her own image."
- Joan Didion

Weathered books line the shelves in the Room of Self-Reflection, standing beside the fresh and new generation of nolves bought form airport bookstores. There is anarchy: bulky kids' encyclopedias are crammed awkwardly by Nancy Drew; a 1975 edition of Enid Blyton's Circus Days poses magestically with its red musky-smelling cover next to the $2.99 Archie comics. Running along one wall is a double-decker train of imposing Encyclopedia Britannica, each volume bound in charcoal leather covers with sun-kissed embossing. The books seat themselves too comfortably on the gleaming, lacquered shelves: a distinct dip has developed in one shelf like the bowing of a hammock, and the shedding of human skin, along with dust pollution, have settled neatly amongst the volumes as if they had always been one with the pulpwood giants.

Once upon a time, the Internet had not burst forth like a broken dam inundating individuals with infinitisimal details about Mao Zedong's concubines and Sherlock Holmes' cocaine addiction. Once upon a time, I whiled away hour after sweaty hour (I had no air-conditioning) flipping the precious clean pages of the Britannica books to learn about Stonehenge, Stalin, and silicon chips.

This Room of Self-Reflection in my parents' home is where my ruminations, my unsuccessful novellas and short stories, and my angry angst-filled poetry were faithfully spewed out like vomit: crude and indigestible. How I wanted my numerous projects to be as glorious masterpieces, singing to the readers' hearts like the voices of seraphim.

Two white-framed windows overlook the garden, in which my mother stills spends her Sundays wearing a straw hat and weeding desperately, maintaining the impeccable neatness of the lawn: sharp and crisp like the crunchiness of celery. Through the windows, I would gaze in reverent awe at the rising sun inevitably peeking through the horizon of angsana trees like the emerging smile on a mischevious child's face. The sunrise was always heralded by silence, just like the mango-orange rays, shrouded by the rich saturation of the tropical atmosphere. Even the crickets held intermissions as morning trumpeted its muted way into the world.

Once upon a time, I played oldies on my first guitar, a hand-me-down acoustic-electric Fender from my dad. The coffee-stained yellow gleams like the color of pearls, winking at me to play, as I used to, inspired by the crooning sounds from my dad and his band, a group of schoolmates, who gave themselves the endearing name, The Young Once.

For four years the Room of Self-Reflection has done plenty of self-reflecting. The bespectacled girl no longer pounds her head on the table, muttering apocalyptic curses at the high school exams. She no longer induces more myopia by spending her nights squinting at typed words on the creaky computer monitor. The ancient PC device has been usurped by a sleek 2-pound laptop. The pearl-yellow guitar leans casually like a weather-beaten cowboy against a wall in a bar. Yet its rusty strings shout disapproval at being so utterly neglected. And all this time, contemplates the Room of Self-Reflection, Anarchy still retains a foothold in the masses of Cellulose Land.

*All works are the original creation of the author (me).*


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