By Terence Mah (15S06F)
personal photo

Plutarch’s Ship of Theseus:
You are a young boy and I
call you Mark.
If fate should change such that
your interests no longer aligned and
the final vestiges of your former feelings
notions and beliefs were
leeched
from your soul,

who are you……?

We are seven billion people
to seven billion minds.
Each morning we awaken
into the foreign faces of people we once knew,
madly scrambling to remind others who they
were the day before, lest
we forget, permanently.

I am bound by silent hesitance
even as I watch you go.
I choose carefully the
words I will use, because
who I am to you
is affected by what I say
and not whatever I feel (which is immaterial);
I know we live in a world where
the people we truly connect with
exist only in our own minds

and after a pensive pause, a mere “I love you”
slips from my lips, an empty
placeholder. This goodbye will not be
our last meeting, but it is nonetheless
a final one

because after you leave, I can no longer
be around to remind you
when you awaken
of what a dear friend you have always been
to me.

Terence’s first inspiration for this poem came during the time his grandmother passed on. ‘I vividly remember spending her last moments with her, painfully struggling to find in everyone’s presence the right words to express gratitude for sixteen years of unconditional love and unyielding selflessness, to no avail. It was also then that it first occurred to me that I had only ever viewed her in her role as my doting grandmother, and not the other aspects that also made up who she had been in her lifetime. To each person among all the others in the hospital room, she had been a different woman, and it was strange to me how I could be so close to her, and know her so well, and yet know her so little at the same time.’

That sense of loss applies too, to friendships. ‘Soon after, I came across a senior’s lament about parting ways with her closest friends, and how they could all become changed people after just a few months apart,’ says Terence. ‘This led me to think of how the primary school friends I once shared wonderful memories with and wanted to have fun with forever were all but complete strangers to me now.’


 

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Find this poem and other Rafflesian art at CultuR, an online community of Rafflesian students, staff and alums where experiments in art, writing, fashion, design and photography are shared, appreciated and disseminated. Our focus is to discover, encourage and promote creative types in Raffles Institution. We are the sum of our contributors and our content represents photographers, writers, musicians and artists working in a spectrum of different formats, with a lot of interesting things to show you.

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