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Kay C., 16 Apr '17


These vultures, these excuses for relatives accost me wherever I happen to be
Minding my own business in a corner,
At awkward dinner parties,
Avoiding pointed questions about my childlessness,
Praying for the whole farce to end.

They look at my body
Craning their long necks this way and that
They examine and decry the defiant arch of my spine
Clucking at the offensive roundness of my hips,
They declare I must not care to diet
Rattling off confidently foods I must be eating to all and sundry
Things that I must wolf down like an animal:
Instant noodles, junk food, countless fried indulgences that fold themselves into every nook and cranny of my dresses until I can't breathe
The disdain drips from their accusations like the reused oil
From the mamaks and char kuay teow uncles they accuse me of patronising daily
Instead of my home, where I craft my wholesome meals from scratch,
Pretty on my plates and even prettier on my Instagrams.

The vultures do not know nor care
That every day after school since I was 10,
I sat on the floor of my room in my unbuckled pinafore
Feverishly looking through my mother's Women's Weekly magazines
Learning about terms and ideas I shouldn't have to learn at that age, like
Low Glycemic Index foods
The Atkins diet
Carbohydrates to never eat
Portion control
Saturated fat
I discovered breakfast is the most important meal to skip
And learnt to count calories with everything I ate.
Each meal I skipped was a prayer
If I told myself enough times I wasn't hungry, the mantra would morph into the truth
I was a desperate supplicant
Pleading to the shrine of my wrong, unyielding body
To unravel all of me
And make me look just like any other girl
But it demanded sacrifices.

By the time I entered high school,
I had it all memorised
Water and eggs for breakfast were
136 calories
I began to only buy a packet of guava at recess
1 ringgit, 100 grams, 68 calories
Lying easily about being too full for lunch
I later made a show of eating dinner
Because rice with dishes was a whopping 1235 calories.
I would leave the house to throw up outside
Before going back upstairs as though nothing happened
As though my throat wasn't scraped raw
As though my eyes weren't bloodshot red
As though my stomach wasn't a black hole of unforgiving hunger
Howling at me as I just looked at myself in the mirror
The cloying shame eating my brittle, broken heart because
I would never be thin
Never be thin
Never be

I would discover years later
In the ultrascan
the cysts – a string of pearls on my ovaries
That have suffocated and strangled me since
The unwelcome red on my sheets that marked the beginning of the loss of my childhood
When my passions and smarts
My talents and art
Meant nothing if I wasn't pretty
And couldn't fit into size 6 jeans
When everyone else just could.

Polycystic Ovary Disorder
Those 3 words, spilling so casually from my doctor's lips
Unleashed the floodgates of my emotions
I screamed and I raged,
in twin rivers of disbelief and bitterness
It gave me the acid truth
The stark reason why I would put on 8 kgs in a month
Despite obsessive visits to the gym and a too-healthy lifestyle
It explained why a menstrual cycle would drag me on a roller coaster for 3 months
It revealed my turbulent hormone levels and the ravaged temple of my body
That had long since stopped listening to my desperate prayers
Because I had laid waste to its shrines under siege
Defaced and devastated everything
Hating and killing myself so deep inside
Until all that I had left was
A string of pearls
At the foot of the ruins

Through the years the vultures tittered
Bile spewing from their pursed lips
With standard issue statements such as
'It's for your own good', and
'Adults know best' and
'We say these things because we care about you.'

How dare you
How can you live with yourself
And say, with a straight face
That your cruel assumptions and rotten words
Come from a place of love and kindness?
You don't care at all
Who I am
Who I've been
Or who I will become.
The only stories you want to hear
Are the ones you're making up about me right now
Because you love the sound of your own voice
They are malicious, spiteful and untrue
Just like you
With friends and family like you
Who needs enemies?
This is why you are vultures
Bullies who can only hunt the isolated and the weak
Waiting for nothing else in your life but the next chance
To feed on a carcass
I would feel sorry for you
But you've done nothing to earn it from me.