The World is a Great and Perfect Animal

On days like today, when I miss my mom, I try to imagine her in her life before the sea, even if that means I wasn’t born yet, because I know she was happier then. I try not to picture her in her red urchin form, though that is the only form I know her in. When I picture her human body, I see her skin tattoo-painted in the most beautiful Italian frescos, winged-humans and toga-wearing great thinkers and bosomy fruit trees and storm clouds covering every part of her…

Flux

It wasn’t the clamor of the birds, or the loneliness of the buildings, or even the guilt surrounding the stolen contents of the crates behind me. I had long since convinced myself to stop worrying about these things. It was something in the air—a heavy, sticky feeling. A sense of dread …

The Historical is the Personal — Reflections on Postcolonial Guilt, Mi Koo Buns, and Writing History

“Where did your Malaysian accent go?” A close friend asked me after I came back from my first year at university. We were sitting at a café with sleek glass windows in Kuala Lumpur. “Give me a few days, it’ll come back.” Till then, he had to deal with speaking to a foreigner …

Through the Forest

I was on my way to visit my grandmother in Pasuruan, a five-hour bus ride from my tiny hometown Caruban. Every school break, my mother and I spent a few days in the countryside. My father took us to the square, dropped us off at the gate, and reminded me, while my mother was busy buying snacks and water for the ride, to protect her and myself on the bus…