Twenty-17

IMG-20171224-WA0019“For all that has been, thanks. For all that is to come, yes!” – Dag Hammarskjold

Thanksgiving, Christmas, countdowns, and resolutions. For what used to capture the essence of the holidays and communal celebrations quickly became a social norm for teenagers – a seemingly necessary approach for them to publicise their ‘yearly attendance‘ to familial gatherings, in an effort to bump up their level of likeness from people who do not actually matter. And in this era, it has become very predictable of this generation that I live in, by which most things are done as a fashion statement, completely losing the very heart of it all. Though at the very least of it all, it is still being recognised and largely celebrated as many esoteric, collective units.

Thanksgiving, hardly celebrated and much less remembered from where I reside. I know for a fact that most people here will know about Black Friday before they even come close to when Thanksgiving Thursday is – the hallmark of today’s society, fuelled by nonessentials and materialism. Even as we chuckle condescendingly at our ridiculous society acting in this manner, though it is sadly the truth, I began to take some time to be thankful of the various events and people in my life, no matter how small or insignificant they may be. And I’ve to the conclusion, though hardly close to an intellectual epiphany, that it is through the process of reflecting that we can begin to appreciate the people around us, and the various situations that we are so inexplicably entwined to, the good and the bad. While it is not so much as what we have done to make this year better for ourselves, let us take a step out of our narcissistic comfort zone and be grateful for the ones that stood by us in our valley lows and mountains high. Be glad of the friends that shared in your burdens as you face your Goliath, and take this time to thank them for their support. And for all who played a part in my life this 2017, however small a part you think it was, it has undoubtedly defined the path which directed me to this road today!

Christmas season is always filled with indescribable joy, Christmas gifts and cards, and the good old Christmas carols (plus snow if your country has them). The long stretch of Orchard Rd (Town) will be deliberately lit up with the annual decorative lights of the Christmas spirit, and expectedly bustling with lots and lots of excited people getting into the festive mood. Beyond the hideousness of old Santa Claus, classic reindeers and log cakes, Christmas is a time where a small group of us will gather together to celebrate the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. While I do know that my Lord’s birthday is not really on this exact day of Christmas, and that it is merely coincidental of the Pagan’s Festival of Saturnalia, it is still a joyous occasion and rather heartwarming to see the church, families and friends alike, to come together and celebrate the holiday. I’ve lost the artistic habit of writing Christmas cards to every single one of my friends, but I make it a mental note to have a meal with them this festive season, to really thank them for all that has been, and to a good year in our friendship to many more years ahead!

Countdown and new year resolutions, the most obtuse of year-end popular propaganda. Do not get me wrong, I’m all in for great countdowns and setting aside time to make quality resolutions. Over time though, the very purpose of why we embark on such seemingly insignificant activities has been inexorably watered-down. I’ve taken a quick glance at my past year’s resolutions. I’ve taken considerable time to think and reflect what made me pen down those resolutions, and it is more than clear: for the mere purpose of self-improvement. Though I’ve only checked half the resolutions I intended to achieve, I now know that more than just setting targets and expectations for ourselves the coming year, it is all about setting the right mentality. To see life as a never-ending opportunity to surpass our past self, and to spur ourselves onward in discipline and accountability to achieve what we have set ourselves to.

To a new year with greater prospects to come, and many expectations to be met!

 

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Twilight of 16

ddx“I love you,” I murmured under my breath, afraid to actually say it to your face.

I should have said it when I had the chance. Now, as much as I want to, it no longer makes any significance.

Your smile, your sweet, soft smile when you are on your earphones, bobbing to the beat of your favourite song. They’re all but out of reach. What I wouldn’t give, to see the smile on your face, to be the source of your happiness.

I remembered the first time we had an interaction, we were already classmates sure, but it was only during our school trip to a nearby Polytechnic that our relationship actually blossomed. The class had a thing going on, where we would tease one another by finger-pointing at a space, just directly below our target. And as our prey listlessly tilts his or her head down to have a glance of what seems to be so interesting, the same finger shoots back up and tickle their chin, lightly but provocatively. And I teased you.

Gradually, over the course of weeks, and months, I’ve talked to your best friend, and asked her all about you. What you’re like, your favourite colour and what not. That’s how it is back in those days. Low key espionage, surveillance and reconnaissance of my little crush. Dramatic, sure. But it was what it was.

I could tell we were getting along, and everyone else knows of my little secret – my little crush. We were being shipped by the class, and sometimes, on occasional events, I’d cheekily and abashedly ask for a photo. Somehow, I had a hint that you liked me as well, maybe a little (if you’re reading this and it’s true, don’t deny it). And truth be told, I was genuinely infatuated with you. To be frank, you weren’t the prettiest, nor were you the smartest (you were pretty smart, puns). But I liked you for who you were. Until I happened to reveal the ass-side of me. Honestly, I’m not that kind of person. I guess denial and despair really forced my hand and compelled me to exploit this as a means to an end.

Years passed and recalling all these events and moments are fogging up my memory, much less talk about the insignificance of it. Today, I believe you have found yourself someone great that you could share your starlight smile and lovable laughter with, and how blessed that guy (or girl, I’m not judging) is! Coincidentally today marks the 2nd last day before you turn 21. Though we finally bantered over Instagram, it was filled with small-talk and disappointment. But thanks for the small talk and the forgiveness, you have no idea how important it means to me. I appreciate you lifting this burden in my life. To you and your future, I wish you all the luck in the world, really.

Photo Credit: @guangjiesg

The 12th Week of My 36-week Journey

I am an Officer of the Singapore Armed Forces,

I dedicated my life to Singapore.

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Where we all wore our White White (admin attire)

Hey guys! I just want to start this post off by apologising for the gradual melancholy (if any) that’s going to flood this post. I really want to dedicate this post to my buddies and friends who have fought hard with me in these short stint in OCS. Going through exercises after exercises, outfields after outfields, and training after training – not to mention the frequent late book-outs, ugh. And oh, this is a re-post of the original one in my old blog.

 

See you in joint term,” We sobbed as one of us said. “I don’t care if other people see us cry, I’m so going to miss all of you guys here.

Without further ado, let’s begin!

Here’s a brief story of my origins before I got to meet those few bunch of monkeys:

As a newly enlisted Cadet of the 103/16 batch, I was enrolled into Echo Wing at first for my Common Leadership Module (CLM). “Echo Wing” is a Wing that you’d hardly call a ‘homely’ Wing. Sure, there were some nice instructors here and there (or maybe just the one that I got), but majority of the instructors here were like jailers – they’ll punish you, destroy you, break you down and leave you to stand on your own. Well thankfully, I got this Officer called Sean Lim, LTA Sean Lim. He wasn’t just a nice officer, he was charming and handsome. No kidding (I mean, it’s pretty apparent). He made it a point to slowly assimilate and integrate us into this new ‘culture’ of the OCS – unlike what the other officers believed in.

Then there was my Echo section mates. Pretty cool guys actually. Most of them are my age 20 (I was born on the year 96, because I took an extra year as I was from Sec 5 and the rest, well, they kind of retained somewhere along their years of education). We only spent 2 really short weeks in Echo, and yet I felt a kind of bond that was almost as strong as the ones I had in Basic Military Training (BMT) for 9 weeks. Impressive. We got split up into 3 other Wings after our CLM. The ‘luckiest’ of all, I’d say, is my buddy from CLM. He got into Air Wing as an NSF, which is quite remarkable and rare. Air Wing, which is supposedly the “slackest” and most “relaxed” wing in the Officer Cadet School (OCS), is an unspoken privilege that only those few could have ever received in their Army Days. The rest of us got split into Delta and Foxtrot respectively. We see each other occasionally at the cookhouse and all, and sometimes we’d all make it a point to strike a conversation, no matter how brief it was. But it gradually felt cold, expected. Although it was quite torturous, I enjoyed my time there back in Echo. Nah, hell no. I’m just kidding.

Alright, now let’s move on to the main bulk of my story.

Foxtrot Wing. The place I’ll always remember as my home in OCS. I was welcomed into Foxtrot on the last day of my 2 weeks in CLM, right before we had our “2-bar presentation”. To be completely blunt, I didn’t have a fond first-impression of this Wing at the start. Everything started out in a rush. From swearing in to turning out, everything was in a mess. But all that changed the moment I was given my section:

“Officer Cadet Lucas Teo Siang Yew,” the Officer-in-charge reads.

“Sir!” I shouted in reply.

“Platoon 1 Section 1.”

“Yes sir!”

Hahaha. It’s funny because back in Echo, I belonged to the exact same section and platoon. Coincidence much? But you see, this is the other funny thing. One of my section mates from BMT, who also happen to be in OCS, is in this exact same section as me. Wow huh? His name is Mickey. Tay W Z actually. But the whole world (except the instructors) calls him Mickey. Long story to his name, but nevermind that. So Mickey and I, we ended up in the same section yet again. He’s a pretty cool guy. A great guy. Man of leadership and initiative, I’m really glad that I got to serve with him in this. I remembered his reaction when my name was read. He was in complete shock, one could almost say he was more surprised than me in this. Want to know another fun fact? Mickey, like me, lives in Woodlands. Bam! So through our 12 weeks in Foxtrot, we frequently booked in and out together, most of the time taking the cab back from SAFTI to Causeway Point and then have supper. All in all, I really adore his presence a lot. He’d sometimes ask a lot of questions and sometimes even challenge me in certain stuff – which keeps things interesting unlike the stale status quo. Wow I don’t know man, you’ve been one of the greatest thing that happened to me since my first day of OCS. Really appreciate your presence in my life bro. See you in FASS bro. Thanks for being a part of my life when I started out Army. Hope I’ve been a great friend to you as much as you’ve been mine. Though our time together in OCS was short, I’m glad it was long enough to have mattered.

A monthly ‘Cadet Cohesion’ sort of thing where we had ice-cream. Hans had his crutches already so..
Next up, let’s talk about this amazing guy. Big and burly, strong and steadfast, and fierce and decisive. This man is none other than my buddy in Foxtrot, Kenneth Chua B C. I really admire this man. Not only did he fill my water bottle for me during the first few days that we’ve been together, he would wake me up to make sure that I’ll be able to meet the timings for first parade. My first impression of him was that he was a pretty fierce, a man with no chill. Turns out, he’s the complete opposite of that! He’s the kind of cool guy that will disturb you with insults and make fun of you with mutually funny jokes. I remember we used to shout “Then!” all day long, everywhere we go. Not only was he the kind of chill guy I didn’t expect, he was an exceptionally supportive guy too! I remember there was once I bought a little dustbin to put in the bunk because there was none, he offered to pay me half of the cost since we’re buddies. We would also buy lots of snacks and share them together. When I finished my share of the snacks, he would offer me some like a elder brother would. Slowly as time goes by, I can safely say he got to know my personality and quirks more. He stopped waking me up early up until 5 minutes after reveille because he knew I only needed that little time to prepare and go down for First Parade. Thanks for appreciating the burden little guy that I’ve been for the past 12 weeks, incessantly ‘borrowing’ ziplock bags from you, using some of your shampoo, getting a pair of white socks from you, and surely many more which I cannot recall off-hand now. It has been a great joy serving with you in this. It’s such a pity that we’ll be going on our different paths after this. But surely, we’ll meet for Joint-term in about 5 months from now. Till then my buddy! And since this a re-post, happy ORD nigger! Glad you’re having fun in NTU man (: THEN!

 

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From the left, Rachel, myself, Kenneth (my buddy) and his date

Now, I just wanna talk about this awesome buddy pair in my section. Always so loving towards each other, always have that impeccable bond with each other that makes others jealous. It is none other than Benedict and Kevin. For them, it’s always about each other – not in a selfish way though, more like.. ‘Banana in Pyjamas’ kind of thing. Our peers will go like, “Hey Ben, have you seen Kevin?” Or “Eh, Kevin, where’s Ben man?”

But as much as they are inseparable in their buddy friendship, I’m going to do the impossible (I’m just going to talk about them in a separate light, to showcase their talents on their respective weighing scales). First off, we have Benedict Tjoeng. I vividly remember my first day in Foxtrot. Ben came up to me with open arms (not literally though) and warmly introduced himself to me. What came next was quite a shocker for me. “Your Smart 4 is quite f***ed up bro.” Coming from someone I had just met like 2 minutes ago, I was a little offended. But sure enough, he offered his help to assist me in folding the Smart 4 ‘properly’ by showing me how to. And that’s impressive because rarely would anyone go the extra mile to help someone else, moreover someone you have just met. That, I believe, was the day I knew I could depend on this guy in my section. A fun fact about Ben is that, he’s got this odd bald spot right behind his head, near the top of his neck. It’s interesting because he said that there’s wasn’t anything there (note the irony) until after he shaved in BMT. And since this is a re-post, congrats bro! Finally repaired that bald spot of yours (: *There’s more down below.

Now, for Kevin. I got to know Kevin back in BMT in Hawk Coy. I knew him as someone who was quite a show-off – a ‘wayang f***’ as some would call it. But as time progressed, I got to know him a bit better and I believed to have seen the more genuine side of him. We then moved on to OCS in Echo together and ended up in the same platoon. It was a little tough at first because Kevin still had that ‘sickening-feel’ attached to him (I’m sorry bro, it’s my blog and my feelings). It was only after we shifted to Foxtrot after our CLM that things became better, slightly. We became section mates in Foxtrot, so it was kind of mandatory on my own part to watch out for him (or him for all of us). For Kevin, he’s good on his own. And that’s the thing. Kevin is independently sufficient. I remember he was the Platoon Commander (PC) for Exercise Scorpion King. To be able to command, control and communicate while being so mentally and physically drained, was not an easy feat. He did his best and I for one was super impressed at it. It scraped away any negative comments about him and created a whole new slate of impression of Kevin. Congratulations on receiving the SOM (Sword-of-Merit, given to the top 10% of every Commissioning batch as a recognition of their efforts), from the bottom of my heart.

It’s a great pity to not be able to continue serving together and work towards our common goal of Commissioning on the 17 December 2016. I mean, it’s not that we’re not going to commission together, but it’s just that we’re probably not going to do every single exercise available for us the 5 months before our D-day. (This is because we’re going to be in different vocations, doing our own specialised exercises.) It was an enjoyable ride for me with regards to the two of them. Love it.

The only photo that we took post-Ex Scorpion King at the Kranji War Memorial

Moving on of course, there’s Jia Hao and his amazing Soyjoy bars. I remember during our first few outfields together as a Wing, this guy – Jia Hao – would bring his soyjoy bars for outfields. What the hell, right? Hahaha. It’s funny because I learnt – through the hard way, of course – that you can never, ever bring anything else especially ‘contraband’ food to outfield as it really defeats the purpose of training. And yet, he always has it with him. At least twice! God! But hey, more than soyjoy bars and stuff, he’s a great guy. Dependable and reliable most of the time, Xie Jia Hao is one person that the section can really depend on in times of need. Of course, there are some instances, too many to be exact, that people don’t really see his potential in leading and guiding people. While I do stand alongside them sometimes, especially when the counting of our human strength is concerned, Jia Hao can be quite the muddle-head, miscalculating the men he’s leading and stuff. Accounting for strength is one of the most important things in the SAF. And failure to account for it could mean that we could, as commanders, fail to oversee the safety of our men, allowing opportunity for mishaps, like safety accidents, to happen. Otherwise, Jia Hao can be quite funny at times, though not very often. I believe that we will all remember Jia Hao for decorating his notice board with pictures from his motherland, Harbin. From picturesque mountainous views of the land, to other pictures of his childhood days, his notice board was flooding by all his photos, without an inch of space to grasp even for air. I’m not exaggerating! His notice board is! Jia Hao, you may not remember this, but I will remember it as long as I can. You gave me your instant noodles when you didn’t needed them. Sure, some might say you gave it away because you didn’t want them for now. But to me, a hungry and rather desperate man, a cup of instant noodles was a morale booster, especially since I had RT the next day. Thank you so much. Please don’t hunt me down for your noodles! Haha.

 

 

 

Right now it’s time for TJ (Goh Teck Jin) and Hans Lim to steal the show. These 2 people have been one of the more special ones – I would say. Maybe it’s because we ‘harbour’ right opposite of each other. Or maybe we really just cliqued (if you don’t feel that way, then alright, no biggie!). I find this bond between me, Kenneth (my buddy) and the two of them rather unusual – that is, in a good way, of course. Only because they speak in Mandarin very occasionally. And it’s only this small group of them (other than Mickey and Jia Hao) that converses (frequently) in Mandarin in our section. And also, I don’t really speak that much of Chinese because I’m usually quite bad at it. But these people, they’re worth the lot to open up my mouth for the Chinese words to spill (let me make it clear that it’s not that I don’t like to, or I hate my origins, it’s just very out of my comfort zone to do it). But I digress. Let me continue.

First of, let me talk about this TJ guy. TJ’s a pretty interesting guy. He’s vegetarian. That’s interesting cos’ you don’t meet much ‘veggies’ out there. Next, he’s a 4-pointer. To get a GPA of 4 – in my opinion – requires a certain level of intellect, interest, commitment and self-discipline. Sure, there are a few of these ‘high-flyers’ out there. But this guy’s my friend! We fought through our trainings in the jungles of Tekong and Lor Asrama! Surely his 4-point GPA should mean something? Nah, not really. Anyways, Teck Jin’s a pretty great guy. At first, I really didn’t see much of him – in all honesty. But as time goes by, and of course, his tenure as a CPC (Cadet Platoon Commander), showed certain level of resolve as a leader that TJ possesses. Not a lot of people have got the self-discipline to be forbearing in times of mad-rush. TJ single-handedly managed most of the administrative work in my platoon, doing all the ‘shit work’ in the platoon, and also the Wing. He was also very dependable as a buddy – to the extent for which he took an extra on a weekend for my buddy. Where else can you find someone who would ‘tank’ your extras for you? Great guy. I’ll always remember your tomato fries and how you sleepwalk/sleeptalk. Not really a nice thing to remember someone for though.. But at least you’ll be remembered for something which I think is substantial enough! Just kidding! Whatever your quirks are, whatever your dietary habits are, you’ll always be the TJ whom I fought alongside in OCS Foxtrot (: Cheers.

 

Wanna make a guess which idiot is TJ? No prizes for the right guess.

Moving on to Hans Lim. Hans is a great guy. Though I must say, you have this certain attitude when doing things and leading the group. This, ‘bitchy’ attitude which seems a little spoilt and hooligan-like. (Really no offence man!) You’re still a great guy nonetheless and you’ll be remembered as such – always in my heart as per everyone else. I’ll never – ever in my entire life – forget the day which you (and everyone else) thought you ‘sprained your ankle’. Yeah. It’s not a sprain huh? Exercise Centipede. The 9-day long field camp in Tekong, the field camp of mosquitoes and heat rash. And sadly, the field camp which caused you to OOC (Out of Course, a status given to suggest that a certain cadet has been deemed as unfit for training whether due to injury or bad performance). Of course, my time with you was definitely the shortest. But despite that, I feel very much closer to you than at least half the section. Maybe it’s because of the fact that I like talking to you, or maybe we just had a mutual thing going on – who knows right? I’m still glad that you’ve been a part of my life, especially through OCS. Though only for a brief period, I’m glad we’re friends. Will be looking forward to seeing you serve in your new capacity, and will be praying for your ligament (he torn his ligament instead of a minor sprain). See you at the end of 2 years LTA Hans Lim! Congrats on your Commissioning with 105/16 brother!

Let’s see, who’s left? Oh, right. How could I forget Chester and Joel!

So I want to just talk about Chester first. Chester Tan. Hmm. Never had any friend called Chester before so it’s kind of a first for me. But anyway, I never really liked Chester at first. In fact, I could say that the section has my exact same sentiments. Before Chester became the kind of person that I eventually enjoyed his presence, he was pretty much selfish – to the very point where our section’s sufferings seemed oblivious to him. I could recall an incident during one of our exercises called “Centipede,” where Chester was in charge of accounting for some of our stores – more specifically, the “Iron Pickets.” Honestly, that was one of the worse days of this exercise. With our hectic training schedule, running up and down the knoll, not to mention that it was coupled with the blazing Sun-fire of Tekong. Yes, we were at Tekong for training. Anyway, for the Iron Pickets, Chester claimed to have put it in one of our bags, seeing as we didn’t have one of our assault pack with us. (We left them back at the shed because we didn’t see the need to move off with extra load.) So, after we’re done with our mission, we went back (without Chester because he was deployed as the enemy) to search for the iron pickets. Sure enough, we knew the pickets weren’t there, somehow we just knew. Long story short, we had an all-out talk with Chester – the section on one side, and Chester on the other. Sure, it seems like everyone is pit against him, but it was for his own good. After this whole “Iron Pickets” episode, Chester changed – he changed from being a selfish prick to one who consciously reminds himself to put himself out to help others. That’s why other than my buddy and Mickey, Chester is one I’ll miss a lot more than the rest, hand to heart. And yes! It’s true! Every single time I get to see Chester, I’m way more happy that I think I should. It’s funny how things become, but I hope I’ve been a good friend to you as well. Finish up your last Starlight and ORD bro!

Now, let’s talk about Joel. Joel is a very interesting guy. Someone whom I’d never ever meet if I hadn’t taken the path I’d chosen – to go to JC. What makes him interesting is that he goes on adventures. Those that involves the ocean and the mountains. Yes. That kind of adventure. He’s climbed the mountain of Sri Lanka, surfed on the ocean of Bali and whatnot. I’ve never met a guy like him. But of course i know that there are many of these people out there, it’s just that he’s the first – Joel’s the first of his kind that I’ve met. I don’t know what’s there to talk about. His awesomeness is beyond words – and I’m not even kidding. He’s the kind of person that I’d wanna be. He’s living the young and free life. Joel also likes to fool around. I recall a time, few times actually, in which he jokingly grabs a RAI and tries to stuff it into your pocket. An RAI is like a used ammunition. The SAF collects these RAI back after anything exercises which involves the use of ammunitions. Anyone who doesn’t surrender these RAIs during our routine ‘everything-out‘ check will get charged. It’s no laughing matter. Yeah.. Joel likes to make jokes like these. The thing is, when he tries to put the RAI into your pocket, he doesn’t really put it in, it’s just the motion of sorts that just ticks you into thinking that he’s really putting it inside your pocket. Hahahaha will definitely miss this one! Bruh, hope you’re enjoying Uni-life yeah! Looking buff and ripped. See you soon mate (:

 

 

Yep, that’s Joel with the Singaporean actress, Kimberly Chia on our plane to Brunei

Moving on, TEETO! Titus Tan. From the first day I’ve met you, I knew you were from a special breed, a cut above the rest. Something about seems off, as if you were different from us all – and you were indeed remarkably different. I thought you were like the rest of us – JC-bred, soft, mushy and pretty much “high-on-your-own-horses” kind of guy. But that scar on your face tells me otherwise. From where I had my education prior to JC, that scar meant that you were a fighter, a troublemaker, or even a gang member. These 3 categories of people might seem like the same group of guys to others who are oblivious to their existence. But Titus, he’s a nice guy. Furthermore, he’s a very committed person as well. Not because he studied really hard to get into NUS Medicine, and be a Doctor in the making, but because he had the drive, the fervour to do well in every aspect that he could. Let me expound on the few that he’s really driven about. One of the many aspects is running the 2.4km. He’s fast. 10 minutes or so (and this is probably an understatement). But I think there was this instance where he lost to a guy from my section by 2 seconds, and he got so mad. Another example would be how he was “Wing Best” (Best Cadet in the Wing) for Service Term. I visually saw him mug for the stuff that we did in OCS, wherever there was things that needed to be mugged. Pathological, some like myself would say, but it gets the job done. It’ll do him well for Medicine as well. I miss you a lot man. No homo or anything, but I feel like I see you lesser than the rest of the section 😦 How dare you leave us for the wild life in NUS! Just kidding, I’ll see you in 2018 with Mickey and Benedict altogether πŸ™‚ Of everyone, you were my favourite, most-respected individual who has a mental resilience of a god-damned Golem. Nothing could stop you from doing what you got to do! Study hard in Med-school man, it’s tough, tiring and mentally draining. I’m glad the few of us still got to hang out even in the midst of your studies and our National Service. JIAYOU

 

Titus on the right and his buddy, Matthew

Drum roll for the next candidate, our Wing Commander, Matthew Wong! Matthew has been a great buddy to me since halfway of Service Term. I remember we bonded through having many similarities such as not having a placing in University, no one to bring for Social Night, plays League of Legends (omg he’s a freaking Diamond-class player), and even MapleStory (he’s a level 200 Dual Blader). I guess that’s how we bonded? Hahaha! I remember how you were quite a dick to Phyllis in Social Night and asked her to take her own food HAHAHA. But between you and I, she is quite cute actually πŸ˜‰ Still wondering why we didn’t sit together for Social Night lol. Anyway, somehow or rather, fate brought us together again in SOCC, Signal Officers Cadet Course. Being in a different platoon from each other in SOCC really made our friendship drift a little, but I’m glad we could play League together and you helping me climb the ladders or Silver and Bronze πŸ˜› Matthew, you’ve really been a really fun and loving guy in my life, especially in the time back in Service Term. Though we only got closer nearing the end of Service Term, it was all that was needed. Going through similar struggles and obstacles in our lives, I think I could safely say that we’ve grown to love one another in our painstaking journey towards this Officership that we’ve fought so very hard for the past 9 months for. Oh! I remember our dreaded SOCJOT experience man. Thank God we were in the same packet for flight and stuff because I couldn’t bear to sit next to a stranger that I’ve barely met HAHA. I really wish you all the best in 17C4I and pray that you’ll continue to do your best and give your all despite the community being as toxic as you described it to be. I truly appreciate the call you gave me the other day and rant / shared your life to me and how you couldn’t make it for the Section meetup. I just want to let you know that you’ve been the best buddy (not the actual buddy-system buddy, but more of a brother kind of buddy) for me in Service Term and in Signals. I’ve always looked up to you for your running stamina and speed and how little effort you need to put to actually just run fast. Furthermore, your League skills are especially impressive and I really applaud you for your dedication to it πŸ™‚ all the best bud for your Uni and your unit, and I hope see you soon! Above all else, hang in there, you’re almost done with the shit life of DyS4 in 17 bro.Β 

 

Matthew and I at our SOCC Commissioning Ball

Last but not least, BEN TJOENG. Omg I once called him Benjamin so casually and he was like:

“What did you call me?”

“Err.. Ben.. Benjamin?”

“F*** you man!”

Hahaha but jokes aside, Ben’s a great guy. In fact, he’s one of the guys that I feel closer to in the section, aside from Kenneth, Matt and Mickey. I really enjoy talking to this dude, constantly having fun while he mocks me for being too quiet, and for being retarded. There’s one instance in which I was rather retarded. First is that I broke my chair in my bunk, lost my key and shaved my sideburns away (it looked horrible and I wanted to kill myself). The messed up part is that it all happened in a week. Anyway, we have a lot of similarities as well. We both love Literature for its beauty, we both have experienced shin splints and understand the tormentous pain it gives us, and many more. Benedict is rather emotional and soft on the inside, despite him showing forms of anger and outrage on the outside very often. I remember him quarrelling with Hans with some issue during on of our exercises and we were all punished by Hendricks because of that. Lol. That was funny. I had to freaking carry the SAW above my head because of them, Jesus. But come to think of it, there wouldn’t be much of a memory or event to talk about if everything went smooth and alright, would it? Hahaha! I really love this guy man. Thank God he’s going to FASS. And thank God I got in to FASS. Hope to see you soon man! I’ll just let you know that you’re one of the few in our section that I miss the most πŸ˜‰ no homo *Edit: Okay apparently SOMEONE corrected me and said it wasn’t you and Hans.

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The first dude in the picture is actually Ben, woohoo

All in all, leaving Foxtrot was undoubtedly sad. Even today, Foxtrot serves as a poignant reminder of how my life moved on beyond the comforts of my buddies and ventured into a vocation in which I do not have a choice to make. Nonetheless, it was a great time training and playing with you guys and I’ve learnt some lessons from you guys and I hope to have shared some of mine to you guys as well.

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Commission loh! Hans, you were still a Cadet there, sadly.

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Our meetup at Holland V

ORD loh

The Fruits Of Our Labour

Never give up, because great things take time.

Here’s a story of two farmers, both with their own methodology of things when it comes to reaping the fruits of their labour. Critical to many important aspects of our lives today, this short story is an overview of the way in which we face our social situations.

The first tale is of this farmer, Mr. Walker. Walker, a very concerned farmer, he’s constantly worried about the Apple Tree which he recently planted. Distraught and always on the verge of panicking, Walker would always be the overly tender, super committed farmer. He would put in so much focus into ensuring that the plant is growing properly, that sometimes, it seems as if he’s suffocating the very tree he loves so much.

Next is the story of the other farmer, a more carefree farmer that believes in being independent in all aspects, while maintaining a lovely relationship with his other priorities and his Apple Tree as well. Mr. Meister, the name that everyone knows. He carefully plants a seed, and waters it when it is necessary to ensure the little plant receives what it required, nothing more and no less than needed. He never frets for a rainy day, nor does he tremble at the mere sight of a blazing sun. Meister knows that if he allows the plant to fight by itself, it will become stronger and more independent, creating and producing better fruits to come. But he’ll still put in the necessary effort when needed. Should the plant die of thirst, dehydration or even over-hydration, he knows that it mostly isn’t fated – if the plant dies even with his assistance, then he knows it is not his fault. He can try relentlessly to save it, but the roots of the Tree has already withered from within.

For Mr. Walker, in before the complete harvest of his Apple Tree, he will be very anxious about the current situation, of whether the fruits will be growing bigger and better, or maybe it’s time for his to cash in. With trepidation and insecurity, Walker inadvertently chooses to reap his harvest. Small, unattractive and displeasing to people, not just to himself, he knows that he has failed. All the little factors, being too cautious, too anxious and too codependent by babysitting his Apple Tree, he has caused it to fumble and burn from within. The Apple Tree, as much as it tries to grow, has reached its apex, albeit a stunted one. It’s fruits were not a product of joy, but of unnecessary persistence. The flesh were not sweet, as would a normal fruit in its natural state. Mr. Walker has grown bitter of his predicament, cursing and striking at mother nature because of his follies. For he is blinded by his own self-worth and over-reliance on matters that takes time, he has lost it all. Every single bit of the sweet, abudant harvest is gone. Concerned about reaping large and sightly fruits, he forces his way into what is supposed to be the work of nature, choosing to defy the power of time for his own gain – and to an ironic twist of fate, the fruits of his labour are in vain.

“Father, I thank you for this harvest that you’ve given me, and the ones that you’ve taken away from me as well.” Said Mr. Meister. He knows that his harvest is good. When it is time to water the Apple Tree, he did, and he let it grow. When it is time to care for the Tree, he did, and he allowed it space to ‘roam‘. When it was time for it to he independent, he allowed it, supplementing it only when it is necessary, making sure he isn’t doing too much. He is grateful for all the successful harvest that he has received, and is equally thankful for those that doesn’t survive. A good harvest is worth the wait. Sometimes, placing trust and decent space away from your orchard is widely necessary to ensure such. He knows that it isn’t going to be easy. But no matter how long it takes, he knows the harvest is always worth the wait.

Are you the kind of person which relates to Mr. Walker more? Constantly in the high road, micromanaging situations and every tiny detail in your life, making sure it is perfect? Truth be told, sometimes, we just have to let nature take its course. Like the waves on the beach shore, the swash and the backwash and complements of each other, pushing and pulling the grains of sands on and off the waterfront. Like life itself, it has to have a deliberate, and very much natural, take on facing the mountain-high times and those valley-low ones. It’s how we pick ourselves up, and become stronger.

Instead of directing all our focus on a singular aspect, without the right reasoning and judgement, we should appreciate the philosophy in which Mr. Meister has on his harvests. He knows certain things in life cannot be forced upon. While he continues to place his minimal effort in watering the Apple Tree, he continues to show care and concern to the Tree, but manages it and ensures that it isn’t too forthcoming and over-extended. More importantly, he gives space for the Tree to blossom and produce fruits, of hard labour, of love. When God acts, nature reacts. Just when the drought hits, and the harvest is wiped out entirely, he knows to never give up, even though he is engulfed with emotions of hopelessness and rejection – for he understands that great things are take time, and are worth the wait.

I’m afraid that as much as I like to paint myself as Mr. Meister, I’m consistently caught up with being the emotional Mr. Walker. Incessantly provoked by a lack of self-confidence, I always seek to define my ‘harvest’, where am I at, how are we, what do I need to do to proceed. Like Mr. Walker, I’m very concerned with what I’m doing, rather than focus on the adventure. I may have failed to “enjoy the process” as you said and tried to rush into things to get my fruits out. In a similar fashion, I thrust myself into the depths of my own destruction, into an abyss of absolute rejection.

I’m really sorry if you feel like I’m pushing too fast, and trying very hard to define us. It took me awhile to understand why you needed what you needed and why you act this way. Good fruits take hard work and labour to produce, a very careful and meticulous effort has to be placed for that to happen as well. But the most important factor of all, is to let time do its job. I never understood the concept of time very well, but that’s no excuse coming from someone whose time is vastly restricted.

If all you need is time, I’ll be willing to wait. I now know, and truly believe that the harvest that I seek isn’t supposed to be easy. A good harvest is always worth the wait. ❀

Love you, Boo.

Spirit of Love – My Folly, My Mistakes and My Insecurities

It has been 2 months.

We’ve been dating for 2 months already. Wrong. I’ve been dating you for 2 months, you’ve been going out with me for 2 months. As much as I believe it doesn’t, the nomenclature for relationships does matter.

I’m so in love with you, and I really like you a lot. But you want me to love you less (why would you want that, I thought). I really couldn’t understand why. I yearn to hold your hand, share a hug with you and sneak a little kiss on your cheek. But you mentioned that we couldn’t, because it’s too early. I didn’t listen. I’m sorry.

Eventually, we held hands, and I thought it was going great. It was after your birthday party. 6am-ish. I crashed after drinking a little too much. I waited for you to come to the room where all your other friends were in. In the morning, I saw you and I asked if you wanted to go hang somewhere. I knew I had to hold your hand, I knew I needed to hold your hand. You were sitting on the bench outside your chalet, hesitant. I grabbed your hand, and we walked – holding hands, it seemed really surreal that we’re dating but I liked it anyways.

We held hands ever since. When you ‘rejected‘ holding my hands once, I was devasted. But you said “I really wanted to hold your hand,” and I was touched – I nearly couldn’t believe it. I began to love you more, daringly, if I could just use the word. I became selfish, greedy, reckless. I wanted more, I wanted things to be fast, I wanted your love. The more I liked you, the more you didn’t. I was unknowingly stifling you. I’m sorry. Gradually, you pulled away from me, bit by bit, and I was too dense to see it. I couldn’t see past the cloud of denial that was dancing in front of me. Maybe this is why I’m suffering right now.

After tonight, I realised how much of a dick I was – self-seeking, full of myself, and pushing expectations on someone who hardly knows me. What was I thinking? The girl that you like and so dearly love is pulling herself away because of your advances – you and your fucking retarded, unspoken expectations, Luke.

I didn’t realise we were going fast. I didn’t know how slow you needed. You mentioned it a few times, but I thought we could pick things up when the emotions were stirring. I’m sorry. You’ve really been the best thing in my life so far – sure, I may find someone else special in the future if things doesn’t work out, but hey, your mark will never leave my heart. I just wished that I wasn’t so caught up with chasing you. I wished that I had stopped to think “for you“, instead of purely “of you.

It’s hurt me when you told me about your past the other day. I thought to myself, how could you even let this happen? But then again, if it hadn’t, then we wouldn’t. I was being dumb and stupid, immature, if you could say. I’m so sorry. Losing you, that’s the worst thing that could happen to me. But I’ve gotten over your past, and I’m willing to embrace it. I like you for who you are. And that doesn’t hide the fact that you have your past, it just makes you look stronger, cooler, and much more awesome than who you were – and that’s the person I love.

You drink, you club, and you have a couple of guy best friends. Honestly, I wasn’t bothered by it at first. I think having best friends who are of a different gender is cool. I had a best friend once in JC, and we grew apart as she had her own “life’s problems” to face, and I had my own fair game in the Army. But it made me insecure anyway. Fear. Fuck fear. They make or break situations. I fear a lot of things, but how I tackle through all those was just believing in myself and let it rain. This time, this time it’s different. It’s you. You are closer to all your friends than you are me. And that just gave me anxiety – nonexistent feelings of worry that I’ll lose you. I know girls hate it when guys are insecure. I’m usually not. I just.. find that you’re so special to me. I’m sorry, milady. I’ve failed you. I’ve lost you.

I want to restart things, and start from common ground. Slow and steady right? I can do that. If we’re going to date for 2 years, so be it. If you’re the love of my life, what is 2 years compared to a lifetime with each other? I don’t want to press you and force you unto me. (I was being a jerk, and totally unlike myself.) I hope we can still go out and continue to date. I’ve cleared my mind, accepted the risk, and pondered over, through and through. We could have went better than we did, at our current point, than we are if I had slowed myself down to your pace. I’m sorry I didn’t listen when I should have. I’m sorry things had to turn out this way. And I’m sorry for not being able to give you what you seek.

Sometimes I wish we never texted. I wish I wasn’t given the chance to articulate my thoughts, my feelings, my emotions. I wish that I could’ve filtered out whatever that said and- no, I wish I could take it all back. But somedays I just thought, if we hadn’t back then, then we wouldn’t have today. I’m so sorry for being pushy, and being a total dickhead. I really like you, but I guess I subconsciously wanted things to go fast.

If things are better, great. If they’re not, I’m okay. I’ll put on a smile if you’re happy, but should you want to know, it’s a facade. For you’ve owned my heart but I’ve barely gotten close to yours.

If you ever happen to chance upon this, I want you to know that I miss you and I wish everything can go back to us dating.

Image:Β @antoniolwsΒ (Instagram)

How We Used To

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Holding and interlocking my girlfriend’s hand to mine, my heart skipped a beat, and my mind is fully conscious of my anxiety – anxious because I’m so in love with her. She has shown me that material possessions don’t matter because I have everything I need in her. You made me realise how when nothing else matters to me, you did. And falling into your arms, I knew I was home.

On those rare occassions, however, I think of how we used to be, not with my girlfriend, but with you – you, my best friend, my closest friend. Today we’re no longer anything, we don’t even talk, it’s poignant, really. I guess you never tried, and I stopped concerning myself in your life. And I carefully asked myself why (and how it came to this).

Maybe the question isn’t about why. It could be a question on how – how it began, and how it ended. Just like the universe, everything’s got to have a start right?

For most classes, you sat behind me. Especially for the main few subjects like History, Literature and General Paper. For Math class though, you sat beside me – we sat together in Math class. It was perhaps your worst class ever. Not because of me (I hope), but because of Math itself. You weren’t very good at it, and while I may forget everything else, it’s not much of a feat to remember this fact.

You made Math class fun for me. Not because of you, duh, but because of your inability to commit 100% to the class. Part of the time you’ll be sleeping or dozing off in class, constantly being uninterested in the things around you. Another part of the time you’ll be disturbing me. By drawing little dicks on my arm and sometimes even “guns right here” on my forearm, pointing towards my biceps. It was annoying, definitely, but I kind of liked it. It felt as if I was being loved – in a platonic yet romantic manner.

I remember how we used to gym together as well. You’ll hit the squat rack while I’ll be doing my delts for most of the time (my main focus of that period were my deltoids). It was oddly enjoyable to have a gym buddy, though you’re not exactly fitting of that term because we don’t spot each other anywhere. Over the months of hitting the gym together, we did like chest presses together and helped each other spot. But obviously I’ll need someone else to spot me (otherwise I’ll be choked to death by the barbell ’cause you ain’t no shit with upper body strength). The class started to tease us and ‘made fun’ of us by shipping us and what not. We were really close.

I fell in love with someone in J2. Okay, it was more of an infatuation. And you know that person very well. No, it’s not you, but your best friend in class. The shy, quiet and introverted gal. You sat behind me. She sat behind me too. At this point in time, we were already quite close, studying together for days on end, and who could forget you constantly being the annoying prick to me (the dick drawings never stopped at Math class). I sought you for advice on how to chase your best friend. Possibly the cause of our broken friendship now, but yeah, you helped anyway. We studied together, the 3 of us. Sometimes with additional people (guys) from the class. It didn’t end on a good note. We went through our A levels together, and hung out quite a bit as well. But it still never worked out (for other reasons unknown). It was awkward, but we never were.

I remember how we used to work our friendship. You would ask me to buy food from the school canteen, or the Good News Cafe, while you were being such a lazy ass. When we study outside of school, you’d ask me to get quesadillas from the basement of the shopping mall. I didn’t dread getting you food – for the both of you, even. But I never thought of anything else for you, because I acknowledged that you were my best friend. Banana coffee and other snacks from the canteen were your favourite. You like Pastamania as well (which I totally feel is the most substandard pasta franchise ever). I wished things would have turned out differently from the present.

We used to share our problems with each other. You and your boyfriend, me and the girl I’m chasing (it was always “girl I’m chasing” because I’ve never actually gotten any, sigh). We used to give advice to one another, but most of the time I’ll be listening to you and your problems – just your usual, typical life as you sometimes say it. At some point, when we were so close, we shared even deeper stuff to one another. Maybe it was just you sharing it to me. But nonetheless, I never thanked you for trusting me so much. We had a 4-hour call right before school started. And I persuaded you to come to come over at 6am – you came, and that’s when I knew you were someone that I can trust my life with. How did it turn out like this?

We continued studying together, even till the last day of A levels. Results day was horrible. Knowing our school’s track record and a history of bad results, I was trying to find ways to comfort you, in the case when you didn’t do well (don’t ask me why I would think you won’t do well, I’m merely looking out for you). Turns out, you really didn’t manage to do well (I’m sorry), and I couldn’t find the words to comfort you.. She didn’t do that great either – your best friend, my crush. I wished things could’ve turned out better for the both of you.

We used to call each other at night while I was doing my national service (BMT to be specific). I’ll talk to you about my time BMT, and how cool and awesome my section is, and how retarded some of them can possibly be (yes, Lionel, Linus and Cher Hao, I’m talking about you). There’s once that we ate supper at Khatib’s Teh Tarik. It’s a little bit messy in my head right now, so I can’t remember who was late. Still, when I saw you, when we met, I was so filled with joy, it was going to explode. You didn’t know that. In fact, you didn’t even know I was a single bit happy when we met. I’m sure you thought it was just a mere meet up. I really wanted to see you – you were the only sanity in my life that continued to be oddly sane while I was going through a time of insanity and delusion. Oh, how times have changed.

We used to do everything together, and that was pleasant for me (not sure if it was for you). I didn’t mind getting friendzoned. In fact, it was the only thing that I’m grateful for – at least when it was still that. I remember our prom night, at Swissotel, we booked a hotel room together along with the class. You had a red dress, unembellished by anything, in it’s most natural form. You were too, in your most natural form. Lazy, tired and just sloppy. But it’s okay. It’s good enough for me. I told you that the hotel doesn’t provide extra amenities like an iron, so I sort of convinced you to bring yours from home – you brought a God-be-damned iron from home to prom night. If you didn’t trust me as your best friend, I don’t know what could have persuaded you to undertake that decision. As a promise for bringing your iron, I ironed your dress for you. It was the toughest, most difficult task for me. Not the ironing part, because I’ve ironed my own clothes independently at home for most of the time. It’s your helluva’ red dress. It’s thin and “Made-in-China”. A small twitch in Fahrenheit could’ve burned your whole dress. I was in a precarious situation. I managed to iron it as well. The times we had back then were completely deleted from both our lives.

We used to go back home or even have dinner/supper together after studying. Usually your best friend would go home first ’cause of curfew and whatnot. There’s one time when we stayed for a bit and talked about how things are in our lives. That was one helluva heart-to-heart talk (HTHT). We sat behind the train station and shared life as we watch the countless commuters unfold their typical mundane life of adulthood – overtime at work till 8, train at 9, home by 10. I shared my struggles and you became vulnerable with yours. You cried that night. I didn’t know what to do. You were my best friend. But I couldn’t hold your hand. To grab you around by your arms might be too much. We hugged – at the end, when you were done and you didn’t want to miss your last train. We were treading on thin ice. But I was glad to have been part of your life at that moment. Thanks.

5 days before my Passing-Out Parade (POP), it was results day. I had stomach flu the day before my POP, I couldn’t march 24km with my pals, and I couldn’t sleep properly. It was the most horrible time of BMT. In fact, my stomach flu lasted for 8 days, even through my POP. I missed out on my section’s BBQ at Robert’s. But one thing that I’m glad. You came. With your best friend, my crush. You had to be there by 7:30am. You had to wake up earlier before that, to dress up, to make yourself look decent. And had to travel down for me, long, disgusting morning ride that reminds all of us of school and the adult life. But you came down. And I’m forever grateful for it. You looked great by the way. That blue streak of hair and that odd looking dress. But whatever happened to us, was a mystery I couldn’t accept.

We talked less now. I’m in a training school in the Army, a command school. They call it the OCS. I was super stoked. When I mentioned it to you, you don’t seem to be as happy as I was – you don’t share the same excitement as I did, you don’t feel as expected you to. Weeks passed, and the training got tougher and dirtier as the hour goes. To commemorate the end an exercise called Scorpion King, we were given a chance to bring a girl for a date – The Social Night, they say. I hinted at you, asking if you were free on that day, with the sole intention of bringing you. You ignored my message. You blue-ticked me. I stopped asking and got someone else instead. Funny how you thought it was my birthday and I wanted you to spend time with me. I guess what I meant as a surprise turned out differently than expected. But I guess in my darkest days, when I most expected you to be there and support me, you disappeared. You went around searching for throes of passion, excitement and what seems to be an escape to reality. How I wished things turned out differently from what it is.

What was once a unique part of my life slowly became a faded remnant of my memory, a figment of an unrealistic dream. I hope you’re doing well where you are, living the life, enjoying every moment. Though I still hope for the day where we can still hang out together – when that will be, I won’t know.

Image: @antoniolws (Instagram)