Friday, January 27, 2012

The Red Couch

"He went to sea for a day
He wanted to know what to say
When he's asked what he'd done
In the past to someone
That he loves endlessly
Now she's gone, so is he"

Lille (2008) by Lisa Hannigan

Between yesterday and dawn stretched the forever of insomnia. I lay sprawled on a red couch in the Female Surgical Ward, staring at nothing but stillness and listening to no sound but the quiet footfalls of tomorrow, each one louder than the last. It was the thirteenth hour; first night of the Lunar New Year and I was on-call. Outside, through the panes of the seventh floor windows, I saw rain. I could smell its wetness, hear its tremulous pulse.

There's a woman lying in Bed Twenty-Three, waiting for someone to come and tell her that it's time to cut her gangrenous left leg off. I tried drawing from her agony to trivialise my own, but all I succeeded in doing was commiserate with her. In a way, I too was waiting to amputate a cherished part of me which served me well but is now blackened, withered and poisoning me. My wait would probably be longer.

A Self Portrait
A self-portrait.

What happened at 7:56 PM earlier that evening, was the only bright spot of my day, and it came in the shape of a surprise text from the neighbouring Male Surgical Ward - from Liv who is half-Chinese and like me, had to celebrate the New Year by way of a graveyard shift. The text said, "Hey, later my parents will send some food for dinner. Come and join!! :)"

When I sat down at the table with Liv, I realised that I was breaking bread with a colleague with whom I have barely broken ice - and we broke both over the best dinner I had in ages. We supped till the eleven somethings before we concluded our odd little New Year's night dinner party, and I left with the sense of an unfinished conversation I would dearly love to see the end to, feeling something resembling happiness for the first time in weeks. And there is something special, something comforting about home-cooked food. It always seems to say: "Everything's going to be okay."

Then I walked back to my ward finding each step heavier and heavier as good humour and cheer hemorrhaged out of the hole in my heart. By the time I arranged myself on the red couch, I was empty. It's as though I had lost everything again.

I don't actually remember if the couch was actually red in colour, but in my mind it was - and that is all that matters.

Everything's going to be okay, don't you know?

"I went to war every morning
I lost my way but now I'm following
What you said in my arms
What I read in the charms
That I love durably
Now it's dead and gone and I am free"

Lille (2008) by Lisa Hannigan

k0k s3n w4i


nicoletta said...

That's a pretty awesome self-portrait you've done. Such a shame we see so little of your artwork on your blog...must be due to the restricted free time you have. I have very little knowledge about drawing / painting / other visual arts so I'm curious as to how you did it. Did you use crayons or paint or colour pencils or some digital programme?

McGarmott said...

This is a digression but: check out the Roland Emmerich film Anonymous.

k0k s3n w4i said...

nicoletta: well, i drew and painted this piece using my mouse on photoshop cs5. on actual paper, i can only do pencil sketches - but i haven't done any since my first year in med school :/ i think i still have a few in my abandoned deviantart account. i can post them up if you're interested.

McGarmott: i intend to. that and midnight in paris.

yuhhui said...

oh yes. do post up your art work.. it's really fantastic. =) and seriously wow, for using a mouse to draw's not an easy task..

nicoletta said...

Yes, that would be great =)