The House I Lived In

Today’s Prompt: Where did you live when you were 12 years old?

It was common for their neighbors to hear them have altercations. But attempts to help have not been returned kindly. Denial were all that met their ears when the neighbors acted out of concern. The doorstep was guarded by a grate, and what lies between had not changed for the past 12 years: an ordinary shoe rack, a red welcome mat and the umbrella stand.

It could be described as a perverse blessing for what lay behind the door to remain behind the door, for their neighbors to be fortunate to be spared from the family’s troubles. This was not a happy family. A temperamental father, a heartless mother were the ingredients to the unpleasant brew I call my family.

The front door opened to the living-cum-dining room. It was a rectangular room of warmth brightly lit by natural light, with a cozy ring of sofas with the TV on the side. The dining table was at the side nearer to the front door, and people who dined there had the unhealthy privilege of being able to watch TV while dining. Behind the TV was the corridor. It led to three rooms along the side and the final one at the end. One kitchen, one storage room, and lastly two bedrooms.

The bedrooms were awkward and their purpose were confused. Two people slept in the smaller one: the mom and her son. The father slept alone. He tried to repair the situation but

“It was the snores!” she exclaims, then she would retort, “I’m taking care of Fred!”

But it was the ultimatum that was never dropped; the key to unlock the marriage that was not twisted: “I don’t love you anymore.” But it was the truth. Here was where I lived when I was 12.

The House I Lived In

How to Be/Not Be A Good Parent

You don’t bring up issues from years ago. The past is the past. If it’s not a frequent habit, then do not attribute someone to a phase or a tendency that is past and long gone.

You don’t release an outburst of feelings on your family just because you are having a bad day. Your family is the one who is supposed to be make it feel all better when you return home to them from a bad day of work.

You don’t compare your kids to yourself. Your kids are not you. They were brought up by different parents, in a different generation, where everything is different. You can’t blame them for not taking things as seriously as you would and god forbid the use of this quote: “When I was your age…”

Okay, I shall stop here before anything gets worse, here’s a poem to wrap it up, enjoy:

    When I Was Your Age
    by Shel Silverstein
    My uncle said, “How do you get to school?”
    I said, “By bus,” and my uncle smiled.
    “When I was your age,” my uncle said,
    “I walked it barefoot–seven miles.”

    My uncle said, “How much weight can you tote?”
    I said, “One bag of grain.” my uncle laughed.
    “When I was your age,” my uncle said,
    “I could drive a wagon–and lift a calf.”

    My uncle said, “How many fights have you had?”
    I said, “Two–and both times I got whipped.”
    “When I was your age,” my uncle said,
    “I fought every day–and was never licked.”

    My uncle said, “How old are you?”
    I said, “Nine and a half,” and then
    My uncle puffed out his chest and said,
    “When I was your age… I was ten.”


How to Be/Not Be A Good Parent

Why I Don’t Want Children

Today’s afternoon was a wet one. But it was the cold, soothing, stay-inside-and-nap-all-day kind of afternoon.The sound of the rain falling itself was enough to make the entire atmosphere peaceful and tranquil. It made me forget about time and made me just want to sit on the front step and stare at the rain together with my dad, and my dog.

Then my father said something that somewhat spoilt the mood. “I wish I can listen to this kind of rain all day.”

Of course, to anyone, this sounds completely innocent. But no one knew the suffering that my father goes through everyday. He has a condition called tinnitus, more commonly known as the “ringing of the ear” illness. He describes it as a high pitched screech that goes on and on and he’s the only one that can hear it. Kind of like a mosquito trapped behind your eardrum. He wishes to listen to rain all day because it can drown out the ringing.

He has other chronic conditions too. Consistent neck aches, scoliosis, numbness from the neck down, short-sightedness, poor memory, and so on. It pains me to see him wearing all the medication, ointment and various other things he uses. He says it comes naturally with old age, and there’s nothing I can do to prevent them. There’s no miracle food I can eat and no miracle life habit I can practice to prevent them from coming to me. It runs in the family, he says. My father had scoliosis, and so did his father, and probably the father before that too.

Surely with all the advanced technology and science, there must be some way around this? Like, extract the DNA that causes these ailments and vanquish them. Or produce a gene that counters aches and tinnitus. Someone could design nanorobots that help to promote blood circulation and prevent numbness. And let’s hope that these solutions do not cost me an arm, a leg and a kidney.

If they do, then I hope I live a short life so I’m spared from going through the suffering. Maybe I will commit the greatest sacrifice and save the rest of the Tan generation from suffering by choosing not to continue my lineage.

Yours faithfully, in support of birth control,


Why I Don’t Want Children

The sister I never had/Who is this stranger?

The sister I never had

Raised me and nurtured me,
Fetching me to school daily,
My breakfast, luncheon, supper
My rolled-into-one chef and chauffeur,
and nurse. She healed my wounds,
kept me well groomed.
She did the mother’s part,
She listened to my heart.

I saw her tears,
She saw her worst fears,
as I boarded the plane
her bird leaving the nest.

Six years an only child,
in a foreign land.

Now I am home,
I want to see my sister,
but I see a motherly woman.
I don’t recognize her.
Where is my sister?
“I’m here, she says,” but I don’t see her.
Who is this stranger?

Her tantrums childish,
Her ego juvenile,
Her thoughts immature,
Her affections flawed.

Who is this stranger?
Where is the sister I never had?

The sister I never had/Who is this stranger?