Ah Ma,

you said once never to compromise my tongue
which is to say you never liked the boy.
when i ordered teh o siew dai at the
coffee stall, i notice you wince just a little
which is to show you not happy when i
told you that we went steady already,
because he called you auntie instead of
missus, rojak years of formal education
in front of you, and you look at me
macam lose face. so gg liddat.

when he said you were qia zha bao
because of the way you raised me
and he thought i was too damn cheem
to be seen among his friends – so paiseh
i chopped my words until they resemble no
more than mere punctuations. you knew liao.
because i was never the kind to play
play when giving parts of myself away.
and for him, i gave up my tongue.

that day he raised his hand on me,
you explained it was never the words
garang like fire on my lips but
the boy who dared to kiss them
without consequence. i half-expected
you to say i told you so but instead,
all you whispered was “see la”.

Jocelyn Suarez is only sometimes a poet. Actually a nurse, she gathers inspiration from her experience at work, delving into the psychosocial intricacies of human relationships and expounding on issues such as death and human suffering. She has been included in a couple of SingPoWriMo anthologies and has participated in various spoken word events. She hopes to be able to write more poetry beyond the month of April and maybe even adopt a cat.

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