Harold’s Confession

This was what Harold wrote:
I was born at Lorong Silat. As I was growing up, we stayed at Race Course Road, and later removed to Kempas Road. After some time as my father could not afford to pay the rent we removed to 35 Joo Chiat Place, Telok Kurau, till I got married in 1951.

Of course we’re deeply ingrained
in our geography. Of course, my dear,
so if ever we found ourselves some place
else we’d have to pinch ourselves,
see if we’re only dreaming.

The sun’s luminosity dazzled me
as I came out of a brief illness.
All the body’s work. The mind’s
taking it all in with a grain of salt.
I reached for his pages and found,
firmly anchored, Harold’s confession.

Misgivings about a self not
entirely known to oneself.
How does one help oneself–
is that the question? And you,
being dear to your father,
that was what touched me.

And what of the future?
It was already known, how lucid
Harold was, the day before he died.
How humdrum life was. Granddaughter,
Celine, came to visit. And how reverent
life’s meant to be, and rigorous too.


The thing about vintage stuff is that they die. I’m thinking about one of those old school coffeeshops that I’d go for dim sum and congee, and reading that it’d be closing end of the month. You know how it is. The people get old. There’s no one who’ll take over the business. So each generation that dies off carries off with it a trade that, if it doesn’t get passed on, die. It’s poignant really. Used to be that the generations passed it on. No longer. I really like my old coffeeshops.
In somewhat the same vein, I’m sharing with you a poem by an Argentinian poet called “The Future”.

And I know full well you won’t be there.
You won’t be in the street, in the hum that buzzes
from the arc lamps at night, nor in the gesture
of selecting from the menu, nor in the smile
that lightens people packed into the subway,
nor in the borrowed books, nor in the see-you-tomorrow.

You won’t be in my dreams,
in my words’ first destination,
nor will you be in a telephone number
or in the color of a pair of gloves or a blouse.
I’ll get angry, love, without it being on account of you,
and I’ll buy chocolates but not for you,
I’ll stop at the corner you’ll never come to,
and I’ll say that words that are said
and I’ll eat the things that are eaten
and I’ll dream the dreams that are dreamed
and I know full well you won’t be there,
nor here inside, in the prison where I will hold you,
nor there outside, in this river of streets and bridges.
You won’t be there at all, you won’t even be a memory,
and when I think of you I’ll be thinking a thought
that’s obscurely trying to recall you.

by Julio Cortazar, translated by Stephen Kessler

Hope you’re inspired to write something.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s