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To build a light from home is about one’s personal struggles and faith in various iterations. It is a fight to survive and remain true to oneself in a world where oppression is ubiquitous. As the author travels to a new place to call “home”, her past creeps back even as she tries to create new memories in various places. It is a journey of coping with what has been loved and lost, and keeping what’s left that she holds dear. This is a series of the author’s most personal collection of poems and prose braced by the memories on family life and interpersonal relationships.

to build a light from home


TO BUILD A LIGHT FROM HOME POEMS AND PROSE by TAY LIYUN DAPHNE


This book is dedicated to those who are fighting hard to survive and still are.


Hiraeth (n.) A homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of one’s past. pronunciation | HEER-eyeth


I forgot

I forgot how it is, to stop visualising how the world sees me; Entre le matin et la nuit, when the sun moves geographically on every inch of my face. To smile when another pair of eyes squits to meet the slopes of my hips, and skin hiding my bones instead of mine. To allow frost on a wintry Sunday morning embrace my thighs as I shiver in delight knowing, how it feels to be still very much alive. To laugh as I watch wisps of smoke from my cigarette dance in still air without losing its sultriness as I play along, Ă LUWLQJ under the moonlight. To comprehend that my body is not one to be conformed owned and dictated; EHFDXVHWKHULYHUĂ RZVRQO\LQRQHGLUHFWLRQ and never the other.


Our bodies are lonsdaleite carved temples, a disguise created to hide our Dreams from fools who can’t taste the sweetness of intangible beauty. Let us not be tempted to destroy ourselves; for the greatest salvation grows from within.

But never would I forget that faithful day. How the silence in the air breaks apart rhythymically DVLWLVÀOOHG with the cries of foxes begging for sympathy that lasts just as long as their shadows disappearing into the night.

Because deep down you know that DSLQĦVL]HGKROG is still a hole, which allows the light to permeate every corner of our insides.

The world has torn me apart but also taught me the most valuable lesson on humility and acceptance;

And that is enough WRNHHKWHÁRZHUVLQXV growing

just like the foxes ZHDUHRIQRGLɲHUHQFH

slowly, but surely.

There is no shame in greeting pain like an old friend. Truth is we need that to survive, and believe that no one’s demons are small enough to handle in our eyes.


6DXGDGHVRX·GlGС_ The sky knows my secrets. On some days I have silent prayers of refuge, and some are coated with pleas of end. Conversations between my parents and I are spun between words of truth and denial. I latch myself onto every single memory left as we unfold away from one another. The comprehension of “I love you” fails as its antithesis takes over. This morning I woke up to the fan whirring above, casting shadows and light on the wall almost simultaneously. Somewhere between the rays of sunlight woven with polyester, lies the murmur of my heart beating together with the muted sounds of the radio. I patiently wait for the clock to chime.


+RQJEDR_ 红包 Maybe it is clear that I’ve forgiven my father for pretending I don’t exist. As I’m packing and heading for the door, I pick the stack of blessings in red he never touched after he saw my wrists. Or maybe this is the point where his present haunts him instead of the past the silence kept ever since that very day. And now, a wall built to break away from the conversations he hates. I open WKHÁDSOHIWIROGHG KRSLQJWRÀQG a piece of his penmanship intricately engraved on the waxed surface or something But all I had were empty blessings slipping through P\ÀQJHUV


Transition

The emotion of such stark, strong words of yours spill vulnerability as I stare at the darkest corner of tainted wood mirroring my past slow. I was once like you bursting with eagerness and anxiousness WRÀQGZKDW,RQFHZDV 3 steps pass the glass doors a heart full of uncertainty accumulated; from then on I knew what I have been looking for was not new but an old part of me hidden neatly and consciously under bricks of self hatred and years of forbidden happiness due. Here’s to the second race, may God give me the strength.


Dear Mom

At the tip of the staircase I can hear your footsteps a series of apologies dangling from your tongue like diamonds unwilling to spill. The crackle of the candle rising and falling in bubbles of champagne swallowing the air around me as I breathe. We have chosen to murmur instead of speak OLNHGUL]]OHPXWHGRQWKHGRXEOHVFUHHQ our honesty and abiding hearts are the cause of our downfall today with wounds which never heal a dissection with no call of pain, numb. For your eyes are like mirrors DQGP\UHテ?FWLRQ completes you. Whatever you feel, twice for me a common suicide; DGDLO\DノイDLU


For now

My body is sprouting with a new lease of life I’ve given to it for now. No longer shy, my bones peek out in waves of curiosity waiting to breathe the air from the ÁLSVLGH But lies that I have given to cover the truth satisfactory. Who said one couldn’t give up one of Life’s most wonderful pleasures to have a taste of exhilaration ZKHQP\ÀQJHUVJUDFH past collarbones and ribs, nimble taking place of ivory keys. Oh the thrill, my spine snaking out from parallel sides as I look into P\UHÁHFWLRQ The rarity of such promising scales, No one cares how you get there until you hit the right numbers.


It has been long, far too long for I have waited for this day. A few more to go and I can proudly say I’ve survived. Even though I might not be able to count the days, but at least I know I’m beautiful, for once. No one else can tell me otherwise, because the mirror never lies DQGLQFKHVDUHRɲWKHOLQH Let me be pleased, for now until my heart says no more, no more, no more. Flat lines. No one will remember anything. Not my kindness sincerity or devotion but in the dark they would whisper; “She looks beautiful in this sea of wood.” If you want somebody to change so much, what is it that you love about that person? Yasmin Ahmad


Youth I remember how I used to clamber on my feet as your words rained ugly down on me. Everything I am to you was a cacophony of disappointments and failure, a creation of nothing you ever wanted. I would look into your eyes, pleading; but you drown them out with visions of your own. How did I survive the humiliation of being completely nothing but innocent? Your presence leaves me hidden, like old tapestry plastered on walls in a dilapidated house. My only comfort was the silence sliced between pages of yellow stashed on oak. What would I be when my youth vanishes together with time? You would scramble and kneel and pick the dirty old pieces with broken lungs; to accept and love them as they are. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s too late. <RXZRXOGQHYHUPRXUQRYHU\RXUPLVWDNHVWLHGZLWKH[SHFWDWLRQV<RXZRXOGHPHUJHFKDPSLRQÄŚOLNHYLFWRULRXV <RXUSULGHVDWHGLQLWVĂ&#x20AC;QDOYLFWRU\ I stand hollow.


7RVND·WɜĦVNС_ My grandma once told me, that the sea is home to many lost souls ZKRFDQ·WÀQGWKHLUZD\URXQGWKHPHVVWKH\FUHDWHG And so they turn to the sea, rosa ventorum. <HDUQLQJWRÀQGDSODFHFDOOHG+RPH One day, I will join them.


Paradox ÄŤ7RP\IULHQGVIURPKRPHDQGDOVRDSDUWLFXODUVRPHRQHÄŹ 7KHGD\V,KDGEHIRUH,OHIWZHUHWKHKDUGHVWDQGPRVWFRQĂ LFWLQJ 4am: For all the memories we had, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m sorry if Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve never set my emotions straight and left all RI\RXZRQGHULQJZK\/DWHO\LWKDVEHHQVXɲRFDWLQJEXW,VWLOOUHO\RQHYHU\VLQJOHRQHRI\RX to survive.

5am: I still remember how you stood at the front of the departure gates. Not knowing how to GXVWRɲWKHZRUGV,VSLOOHGRQ\RXUKDQGVDOO,FRXOGHYHUGRZDVWRĂ&#x20AC;OO\RXXSZLWKWKHERQHV of my body and the song of my heart. Your sweet words were poison; your promises ignored my pleas and that scraped away the very last of me. The destruction of myself was yours, but isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really yours. You could paint my lips pretty and make me smile again and again but we both know the mistakes made will always be ornamented on my bones. %HDXWLIXOPLVWDNHVDSDUDGR[ħ this you can never change. I forgive you.


Just the beginning There are a thousand and million ways I see myself, complete or a complex piece of derivative. This morning, I noticed a crescent shaped scar merging between the creases of my skin and then I realise how simple it is to hide the undesirable. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nothing more unsettling knowing that I am able to tuck the pain away like tiny paper cuts on wrinkly skin. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not weak. I just needed to remind myself that within these curves and asymmetrical features, there is something indestructable and living.


Acknowledgements A big thank you to my closest group of friends from home for always believing in me, even when I felt like it was the end. Fauxe, Chris and Syaz for creating the beautiful track in the short film. And my family for loving me despite our differences.

'HĂ&#x20AC;QLWLRQV 6DXĂ&#x192;GDĂ&#x192;GHVRX¡GlGĐĄ_ A feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia

+RQJEDRč红ĺ&#x152;&#x2026; KyQJEÉ RÄŹ_ RUDOVRNQRZQDV$QJEDRÄŤLQGLDOHFWÄŹLVFRPPRQO\NQRZQDVUHGSDFNHWJLYHQGXULQJVSHFLDORFFDVLRQVOLNHZHGGLQJV DQG&KLQHVH1HZ<HDU,WV\PEROLVHVJRRGOXFNEOHVVLQJVIURPDQHOGHUDQGLVVXSSRVHGWRZDUGRɲHYLOVSLULWV

7RVNDW¡WÉ&#x153;ÄŚVNĐĄÄŚ5XVVLDQZRUGWUDQVODWHGDVVDGQHVVOXJXEULRXVQHVV_ â&#x20AC;&#x153;No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great VSLULWXDODQJXLVKRIWHQZLWKRXWDQ\VSHFLĂ&#x20AC;FFDXVH$WOHVVPRUELGOHYHOVLWLVDGXOODFKHRIWKHVRXODORQJLQJZLWK nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for VRPHERG\RIVRPHWKLQJVSHFLĂ&#x20AC;FQRVWDOJLDORYHÄŚVLFNQHVVÂľ ÄŚ9ODGLPLU1DERNRY

To build a light from home  

Book of poems, prose and photography for school's CG module

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