my last kiss

the most distinctive trait of a hospital is its smell. there’s a powerful clinical odour that demands noticing anytime someone enters the hospital, almost as if it was declaring that the area was different from the rest of the land. the stench of sanitation as it was, was what killed the boy.

Frank had plenty of visitors in his ward. His mother was his rock, always sitting besides him as much as she could. It was the moments she went off to rest that he saw the rest of those who cared for him. From his father, to his elder sister, to finally his friends ; everyone was there for Frank, hoping and praying that he would recover.

Frank was 15. And he was about to die. He had an ailment, and he was told that it was incurable – that much he had understood.

Frank noticed his companions in the ward change day after day.

“They’ve gone to a better place,” the nurse would always say when she came back.

He knew what that meant. He’d be going there soon.

Time passed slowly , and Frank was just waiting to pass on sooner.

“I don’t want to make you all sad anymore,” he would tell his mom.

“Shut up and sleep,” the mom would curtly reply.

Yet the day time passed the slowest was the day Lacy walked in. She didn’t even really walk in. It was a lot more of a saunter. But Frank noticed every step.

She sat on the chair next to his bed, and smiled at him.

“Hey, you” she said, the smile still on her face.

“H…H…Hello… Lacy” Frank replied.

Frank’s heart skipped a few beats everytime he say Lacy. She was a simple girl next door, with a heart of gold.

“What are you doing here?” he asked, nervously.

“I didn’t see you around school the past few weeks so I asked Mrs Rita about you. She told me what happened. Are you okay?” she said in reply.

“It’s difficult, but I’m getting there. It’s nice to see you Lacy, it really is” he said.

“It sucks that you’re here though. You’re only 15” Lacy noted.

“I know. But I make the best of it.” Frank went.

“Oh how? ” Lacy asked in genuine surprise.

Frank stared back. That was meant to be an empty statement – something you say casually in response.

“Hmm… I’m not really sure actually… ” he commented.

Lacy reached out for his hand and grabbed it.

“Do you remember the last time we were together?” she asked him.

He did. Lacy was a year older than him, but she had caught his eye from the moment he saw her. He had approached her awkwardly and had just started chatting. But that was all that was needed. They clicked immediately after that.

“I promised to take you out” Frank said, his smile disappearing.

“You did. And I waited for you” she said quickly back.

“I wish I could Lacy. I really do.” he said.

“I like you Frank. I really do.” she firmed her grip on his hand.

Frank’s face glowed. Here was Lacy, one of the most popular girls in the school declaring her affection for a sickly boy. She must really like him.

“I like you too Lacy.” he said, and kissed her hand.

“I’m gonna be here as much as I can. What are some of the things that you’ve always wanted to do , let’s plan to do them!” Lacy said excitedly.

“There’s not many actually. Everytime I wanted to do something, I’ve always ended up being told it’s too dangerous.

Lacy let go of his hand.

“And so you didn’t even try? There’s so much out there. Now you’re in a hospital and you can never try them!”

Frank stared back silently. She was right. Painfully right. He edged slowly away from her.

Lacy reached for his hand again.

“Hey… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. There’s still stuff you can do. Tell me, what’s one thing you’ve never done yet”

Frank blushed. He was in the perfect moment and he didn’t want to spoil it. But she was right. Carpe Diem. Seize the Day.

“I’ve always wanted to have my first kiss.” he said, boldly.

Lacy smiled, and firmed her grip on his hand.

” We can do that ” she teased. “Do you know how to kiss?”

Frank shook his head. He was really a blurhead when it came to these things . Regret was not something he wanted to die with.

“It’s okay . I’ll teach you” Lacy reached in.

“You tilt your head, and move in halfway. I’ll move in too, and you place your lips on my…”

It was a magical moment. Their lips were locked, pulsating furiously as they fed off each others energy.

They broke the kiss and stared at each other for a while, before breaking into laughter.

“How was that?” Frank asked. “Do I pass?”

“We have some work to do, but that’s definitely not going to be your last kiss.” she said cheekily.

Frank looked down . It may very well be.

“Lacy, I have to tell you something.” he said. This time, he reached out for her hand.

“They’re moving me to the operating theatre tomorrow. I may become slightly less able after my operation. I’m glad you came today. I’m glad I got this shot to be with you.” he said, slightly tearing.

Lacy’s eyes welled up.

“That’s not fair. I just found out. We just started…”

Frank held her hand stronger.

“I know. But you gave me my last kiss. And that’s enough. I wish I had a lot more to do, but this one chance I took was worth it.”

Lacy stared back at him affectionately.

“That wasn’t your last kiss” she said. “Move in”

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My Essay to PSC in 2011

Curtains! by Arjun Purkayastha

So 3 years ago, I wrote into PSC for their scholarship applications and I wrote this as my piece. Was pulling out some essays to share with my alma mater on request and came across this again. Reading through it, I remember how strongly I felt and still feel about the idea of a Singapore dream.

We build our own future.

What kind of Singapore would you like to see in 15 years’ time?

The American Dream is often quoted as the driving force behind America’s innovative economy. The European Heritage is the foundation for most of the pride Europeans have in the Eurozone. Even in the Middle East, citizens share tales of their shared Islamic background over meals. Every vibrant society has an ethos and culture that drives it. Yet for Singapore, that form of pride and culture is not as pronounced as I wish it to be. In 15 years time though, I do believe that can become a possibility.

Let me begin by proposing the vision I have for the Singaporean Dream. In 15 years, the world would be in a great transition; the balance shifting from West to East, and a culture of individualism growing.  I envision Singaporeans who live to challenge the day, and to always overcome adversities as our forefathers have; to live to increase our diversity even more than it is, and to be a contributing voice to the cacophony of voices present in our island state.

A Singapore driven by such culture would have a strong and dynamic business sector, where entrepreneurship is not at the expense of public service talent, but complementary to. Innovation is encouraged, and students start initiatives from their adolescence, to chase our own dreams. I myself have benefitted much from such adventures, though limited. Singaporeans aspire to become different from each other, but still united in their community – giving back to the “home” that nurtured them. This can greatly expand Singapore’s relevance in the world, banking on our already superb human capital. Our citizens wake up each morning, knowing fully that their voice matters in issues of politics, social construction and in the shaping of Singapore’s image. Our arts scene will greatly benefit from such a boost, and our economic growth in the next decade will be driven by Singaporeans of their own zeal, rather than an unhealthy reliance on structure.

On the civil service side, I envision a Singapore where the government serves to partner its citizens. The focus shifts from mere pragmatic policies, to policies that can enliven Singapore and still have strong economic and political sense. The service plays an active focus in nurturing its citizens to appreciate its ethos and drive, and provides opportunities for them to experiment. Domestic policies will look into serving Singaporean’s needs for a home to live in by providing estates that are sustainable yet appealing, resources that can readily be accessed but done so in a manner that is non-vigorous because of a shared responsibility, as well as a spatial environment that has room for rest and recreation.

In the international spectrum, and an important one at that, I see Singapore playing a new and important role in servicing the bridge between the East and the West, from both sides. It would have cemented its position as a reliable wealth manager, and can increase its access to new markets and segments by developing new and innovative agreements, that serve Singaporeans as they develop a global perspective. Increased access to markets provides Singaporeans the opportunity to follow their “Singapore Dream” undeterred by the limited regional market.

In 15 years, the world would have changed, and Singapore should too. Yet, instead of a disorganized focus on tackling future problems as discrete incidents, I believe a unification of our motivations under the Singapore Dream can shape our society to be future-ready and dynamic, and still happy and proud to be Singaporeans under any circumstances. Such a vision is dear to my heart – it’s here where our society can resonate. Then, with that, our country can face the future and the 15 years after that with the very hope and strength our forefathers had.

the thing about Rovik

A person once told  me, “Rovik, get to the point where everyone knows you’re the person to talk to, and you’ll realise who you should have always backed, and who were the people just climbing over you”

And I’m slowly getting there. I blog honestly with these matters, because it’s important to track my progress as I grow. When I look back, if there ever was a transformation, I can spot it easily and see what shaped me. So take note of the truth, and jump in.

There’s a huge transformation in peoples’ lives from their teens to their 20s. In the teens, we were all  about school and friendships, light-hearted things. And as we move into our 20s, we’re suddenly talking about work, about careers and making money.

Oh, that green greedy word. Money is a currency, it’s a means to an end. But to so many, it’s the end in itself. And that becomes destructive, because when people get hungry, you can see them drooling a mile away.

I’ve been blessed to be in the right place at the right time, and make good use of the opportunities that have been presented to me. I’m not ashamed to be constantly pushed by the people around me ,and to grow with them, because the growth is rapid.with intense pressure. 

And I’m willing to share that growth. I want my friends and family to be blessed by my blessings, I want them to grow at the same rate as me and reach their own ambitions and dreams. 

But don’t play the “Anyway” card. Oh man, I hate it. I hate starting the day with the WAes that go like this.

“Hey , How have you been. It’s been a long time since we chatted. ….Anyway, I need XXX. Can help me get?”

Okay, it’s not that crass. But that’s how I read it. I’ll reserve my friendliness for those who genuinely try to build something with me before asking for something. I’m fine with clearly professional relationships – I’ll just be clearly professional.  

A Mentor of mine once said “It’s really a lot of effort to love everyone around you. Love everyone still, but pour your heart only into those that matter” 

And that’s one of my principles. There’s a lot of ways to take this, but hear me out. I get we live on collaborations and exchanges. But be polite about it, be considerate about it. Realise that at the heart of things, everyone wants to know that you’re coming to them for who they are, and not just for what they can offer.  We’re still young, and can decide how we want to grow up, here and now.

If we’re going to decide to be so apathetic to others, then that’s a very dismal future ahead. Learn to love back, it’s okay to show emotions once in a while people. 

There’s a dual currency being exchanged with deals – not just money, but trust and love as well (at the heart of things essentially) . If you talk shop without flexing your EQ , then there’s only very far you’ll go, especially knowing myself. 

that’s the thing about me. i’m fiercely loyal to those who I know I can trust.

and I’ll continue to be.

geronimo.