Visual arts / October 2018 (Issue 41: Writing Singapore)

Does Film Grain Feed Pneumatic Hunger?

by Ho Kin Yunn

The street bore her father's name, and his father's, and his, which was Teo. By virtue of his making a name in rubber, probably, he would prolong his space in the world via this sixty-metre stretch of road. But she bore no fondness for the thought. What made her more Teo than this Honda driver? Than anyone? She had hoped to avoid this street and what it didn't mean to her—six times she had protested the posting—but it wasn't a road to escape. The Honda man knew it, too, and he tried to outrun it. But you don't run away from a summoning.

The distraction was brief but effectual enough that I missed what she had said. I asked her to repeat herself, but she shook her head. "Nevermind," was the last word uttered for the rest of the way back to the end of the green line.

I looked back in time, about six stops, and relished the laugh of success we shared about the car we had just sold and the faulty ignition that we hadn't mentioned. I listened to us, celebrating the conveniences of our transportation system, but I saw that we had looked down and away at the same time, and both out the window, at the tunnel lights that dimly beamed by.



It was an hour before I decided that the shade of orange wasn't a shade I had seen before. By then, the colour of the sky had changed again and the off-white of the paint was catching it unfamiliarly and inaccurately. But it was all I could go on. A slow-decaying canvas that caged my view of the world I had been removed from. Like a stopped clock telling the time twice a day, except time was not a governing force but merely a perpetual movement, like an iron over an endless cloth. And now, probably for the first time in months, maybe six, it was showing a hue that I could not recognise, and I pondered in my mind what this could mean, but in my soul, I shuddered at the thought of enduring a new palette in a static room, reminding me of the existence of change that was indefinitely out of my reach.


-Excerpts from a film viewed in and out of context:

"… and I think that's what made him cave. Not Peiling, or that afternoon in the train, or the outcome of the road renaming. He wasn't trapped by those things. You're not trapped when you can still look outside."

"Just us. Six of us. Maybe we could accept that our behaviour had been bureaucratised. We weren't looking at the big picture, but only because our pupils fit the pinholes. We can barely see enough, but were we made to comprehend more?"

"Right. Like a parallax error. Did he tell you that? Or did his father?"

*A plane on the tarmac, about to take off. Cut abruptly to a spear being thrown, barely slicing the surface of a flowing river.

"You, probably."

"But I did. I tried thinking directly into his thoughts, if that were even possible in the first place." sighs exaggeratedly "I guess we only see our own view of the trees. We're all so damn selfish, aren't we? But … But I do want what I've dreamt to be mine. And I can't satiate it. I never will. Even though I've dreamt that I have."


You recount your life in thirds. You count three generations in your family, but there are no bridges in between. You speak with your mother, the grandmother of your children, and you find that the stories have been altered. You find that the stories have been rebooted. You look to your children as an anchor. You look to your memories that are already lost, the memories held on to, and you choose a third to be salvaged. You feel guilty for the remainder, as they float to the bottom. You feel a guilt that follows those who do not swim downwards. To those who know not how to swim back up.

ImageHo Kin Yunn is a part-time undergraduate of English and Film at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, and is looking to further his studies in creative writing. Through his travel writing (supplemented with grainy photography), he currently hopes to explore the deeper issues underlying voluntourism and the importance/unimportance of maintaining a geographical identity. He is also a perennial pursuer of the perfect lasagne recipe. 
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