The same-old, age-old, all-too-familiar facial movement: it’s like wearing a pair of old jeans. Same same but different. Likewise, the smile’s stretched out, stretched out to reach the ends of the world, and the teeth are bared- an impromptu dentist inspection, files of recruits falling in, trying to stay still, stay tidy, et cetera et cetera – with the eyebrows raised, ready to strike. A naturally man-made phenomenon. If the situation calls for it, you should appear happy; if you detect the same-old suspicions of joy, ditto: monkey see monkey do. Be their mirror, just as they were to you; they smile, you smile, because we are all happy, joyful, exuberant, altogether now. Yet, the creases in your forehead betray you: layer onto layer onto layer – Son, are you bothered by anything, Son, did anything happen , Son, you could practice smiling more, Son – parataxis, questions like quack doctors clamouring to save the sick, to revive the dead, to console the cheerless. They pile up in the corner of my lips. I can feel them, pressing onto my cheeks, both from the inside and the outside; much like that time when you knew you were happy, but you didn’t show it, not by nurture but by nature; yet you caught yourself smiling when no-one was around to see it. Back then, you knew that smile was beautiful, even without looking at it.
I have a problem with smiling.
I’m very conscious of my teeth. They’re very crooked. Some in some out, some big some small. I didn’t brush my teeth enough when I was young. I was also often told that I didn’t smile a lot, or I always appeared moody: so I believed that this was the reason. But I could still smile with my mouth closed, so it wasn’t the cause – I soon realised that this disconnect existed for me, between emotion and action, feeling and behaviour: I could be happy but still appear the same, to be in the default state, the ‘stoneface’…my family won the lottery with my A-Levels certificate a few days ago. My mother was ecstatic, telling me how lucky she was to have bought 4D that day with the certificate I finally got back from my friends a few months after it was released. Who has the time to visit old HCJC in the middle of sunny Singapore when you’re spending every bloody day in the mosquito-infested jungles of Mandai and Joo Koon? I digress, but she hugged me and I could see just how joyful she was, her smile was from ear to ear, and I suppose I was happy too, because honestly I am, I was, I swear, but then I caught a glimpse of my face in the display cabinet door, and I soon saw the ridiculousness of it all – a mother smiling, joyful, embracing the son, standing there limply as though in the wake of a car accident.
will probably revisit this sometime, had difficulty ending it….I’ve made about 4 revisions now. I also wrote about this subject back when I was way, way, way angstier.
Anyway taiwan comes next week. the jungle awaits me…