The Chinese Scapegoat

“Do you understand or not, har? Don’t know must say”, Mdm Huang eyed Meng Hua suspiciously, shooting off questions in rapid succession. Meng Hua nodded impassively, instinctive reaction to the spasmodic pricks of shame that hurt his battered pride. He didn’t say it, but her words were painful,for they spared no opportunity to rebuke him openly. Often, Ah Leok and the rest would laugh at him for it, or sometimes mimicked his expression before rolling on the floor guffawing loudly. Meng Hua was always the last in class for the chinese exams, but it wasn’t because he was dumb or a ‘banana’’, as Ah Leok put it. “Yellow on the outside, white on the inside’, he would say. Stupid prick, Meng Hua muttered under his breath, a much hated Mdm Huang waving a chinese dictionary materializing in his head, full of vitriol.

 

Mdm Huang dumped a battered copy of the Analects onto the table, signing heavily. Lee Meng Hua the illiterate, always staring at her with the impassive face, was currently the largest problem weighing on her mind. She didn’t understand. Why couldn’t he pass even a simple test? Did he know what he was doing, impeding the learning process? Did he even understand the language? Her head swarmed with incomprehensible questions, all too vague and ambiguous for her to understand and break down. She sipped her oolong tea slowly, reflecting on the past lessons. She firmly believed that her teaching methods were highly effective, and capable of thoroughly shaping students’ foundations in the language- yes, it wasn’t her fault. Everything to do with Meng Hua. It would ultimately be his own responsibility to reap good results, and she had already done all she could.

 

Meng Hua stared at the miniscule words on the paper. “Kuan…Shu…” He mumbled uneasily, before giving up and watching the pen roll from his fingertips and onto the smooth glossy surface of paper. Meng Hua wondered if he could even comprehend elementary chinese words without faltering in his wobbly pronunciation. Suddenly, he felt angry. “Crazy Huang,” he thought indignantly. It was her fault for speaking in that funny accent, teaching in incredible speeds, neglecting him when he needed her help most and worst of all, chastising him in front of the whole class for his low-grade chinese. She had to understand, Meng Hua spoke loudly and nonchalantly as if delivering his personal tirade, that not everybody could very well understand her teaching methods, let alone deliver the expected results in such a short time frame when one’s chinese wasn’t as good. She had to understand… Meng Hua’s steady voice trailed off into the uncertainty, as he reflected on the past months of lessons. He firmly believed that the teacher had to fulfill necessary duties of helping poor students cope instead of reprimanding them coldly-yes, it wasn’t his fault. Everything to do with Mdm Huang. It was her responsibility to help, and he had already done all he could.

 

Meng Hua scribbled furiously on his paper.

 

“Everything to do with Mdm Huang”, Meng Hua thought.

“Everything to do with Meng Hua”, Mdm Huang thought.

 

-Calista Io(1 Unity 2013)

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Happy 2014!

Red is the colour of the wintery nights spent wrapped up in thick blankets and layers of jumpers,

holding onto a steaming mug of hot chocolate by the fireplace – warm, relaxing and cosy. It is the

colour of the banners the people raise into the air as confetti showers down upon you and your

trophy, showing you that you are indeed as great as you think you are – if not, greater. It is the

colour of your cheeks when you meet that special someone, and it is the colour of the beautiful rose

they present to you.

Orange is the colour of the days you spend with your closest friends, laughing about silly jokes or

giving comfort to each other in darker times. It is the colour of a day out in the unknown, exploring

every inch of the universe, may it be ours or your own. It is the colour of your photo albums filled to

the brim with memories of your family and friends.

Yellow is the colour of your smile, no matter rain or shine outside your window. It is the colour of

that imaginary light bulb above your head, sparking a brand new idea for something far greater than

you seem to think. It is the colour of your textbooks, filled with knowledge of all sorts, and with

them come the techniques of analyzing.

Green is the colour that breaks through the blanket of white after a while, blooming and thriving,

all starting anew. It is the colour of a warm hug and a word of ‘welcome’ into a group, as well as the

colour of the national anthem being sung as the flag raises high into the air. It is the colour of nature,

the very heart of Earth.

Blue is the colour of the baton passed between two relay runners, one trusting the other to run

faster and be victorious. It is the colour of a soft ‘how are you now?’ on a rainy day as you curl up in

your room feeling down and it is the colour of you not giving up. It is the colour of signature on the

peace treaty after the war, the colour of soothing words and hugs after a difficult journey.

Indigo is the colour of the words poured out into a simple card filled with wishes, straight from the

bottom of your heart. It is the colour of a duty carried out well. It is the colour of your very first

reaction when someone you care about is hurt, as well as honesty.

Violet is the colour of you, and only you – unique. It is the colour of your mind and everything caught

inside, as it belongs solely to you. It is the colour of your journey to answer a question not yet posed

by anyone. It is the colour of giving a hug to someone even if you never received one when you

needed it most.

The colours of the rainbow are, hopefully, the colours splashed onto the seemingly blank pages of

your book for the years to come.

Loo Yan Ling – 3U

Keep Me, Alive

‘Keep me, Alive,’ he always said.

Alive stared at him from the edge of his bed, creasing her brows as she fumbled with her words again. Giving up, her fingers grasped the hem of her dress tightly. She turned her head from the heart-wrenching sight of John to gaze at the view outside of the claustrophobic hospital room.

It was snowing outside.

Please keep me, Alive. Please.

He begged with his fists clenched up tightly underneath the layers of his blankets. His shaking form was losing hope as the hands of the clock moved on, not waiting for his silent cries.

All Alive could do was just wish that Fate didn’t send her to John, there were many other guardians from the headquarters to choose from. Why her? She couldn’t believe she is getting emotional over a client. It’s written in the handbook to never get emotional over a client.

Alive, we received your wish. It’s time, Alive. You can’t stall this any longer.

Alive jumped at the familiar voice of Fate and slowly turned to the door. She forgot that the headquarters receives all wishes, guardians alike.

Fate. Do not interfere. This is my client. This is my time.

Frustration leaked into every word Alive directed to Fate, wishing she would just understand.

Alive. You’re being stubborn. You’re one of my favourite guardians hence the reason why I entrusted you with John. However, you must forget that being here too long isn’t going to help but only cause harm. Do you forget that his friends can’t see you? We’re only visible to our clients, Alive. The longer you postpone the parting, the more emotional damage will be inflicted within the boy.

Exasperated with Fate’s truthful words, Alive glanced at John’s shaking form and sighed.

She remembers walking down that street, looking at houses with gardens filled with orchids. She remembers watching children running down the pavement she was walking on, skateboards in their hand, sneakers with grass stains glued onto their soles. She remembers how she leaned against the fences watching them run, waiting for some response. No one responded to her queer interest.

Anonymous