home, in a hundred words


You haven’t found what you’re looking for, I know. Neither have I. Manufacture a thousand empty clicking cliches to cure this twisted longing. No place like Is where the heart is Sweet home. Call them soul balms, anesthesia, call them idiocy. Hear them clack listlessly in the sodden air, warped beads hanging disjointedly. Cooked dinners, cousins, TV — elusive perpetual motion, the mundane’s whirring, humming, clanking, clattering in hapless tattoos. Home — stretch the syllable over your tongue as your mouth dries. Sucked cavity, yawning ache. For something beyond this drooling suffocation. Tell me, how does one find something that’s not there?




more like censors.

Vein-discoloured haphazard thread in and out

of my gums

sewn like a purse, my gum and lip

locking my prodding tongue out

Feels like mosquito-net gauze.


when the bottom half of my face


a crippled grin

straining against the seams

Swollen it’s hard to straighten my face

when tangled with stitches

The right half winks up

the left immobile treacle.

I like wry smiles – pretty attractive. Just not

when it’s because of




Written in July by Fara Ling. A reflection upon the larger meaning of her first oral surgery to justify the pain she experienced once the anesthesia wore off during the first post-op week.


Smudged tents clog streets

tissues wadded in a sink

cars park in pregnant bulges

stale sun rusting as

day hinges to night.

Tudung-covered mak ciks and

pak ciks stack yellow plastic trays

fold pink checquered tablecloths

unpin hand-printed signs

wedge tables into vans

heads bent, hands oily and caked with flour.

Maghrib’s scent weighs heavily in the air

Night stars unobscured percolate

The last lights remain.

So do the beggars sewn down the street

hem cleaving road in two

Posture as crooked as back alleys

like knobbled carved staffs.



Written in July by Fara Ling

Feeling like a banana

I wonder if it is wrong to feel some days like a banana, the slang term for someone’s who’s Westernized. Someone who’s yellow on the outside and white on the inside. Someone who’s lost touch with his heritage and roots and imagines himself to be Western and modern. Now, it seems, in the post-Modernist era (assuming we’re still this era) the prominence of histories over history and scripts over script is highlighted, even exaggerated. National pride, ethnic pride, the dizzy embracing of the cultural potpourri — some days it feels more like mashed stew — wherein lies your roots.

Nationalism seems to be on the rise again, be it in the Western Hemisphere, Middle East, or Asia. It’s a markedly different kind of nationalism from the kind that drove World War I, thankfully, but nationalism nonetheless. I deeply appreciate many aspects of it, such as the reassertion of local culture (dances, paintings, pottery, the opening of cultural museums) and the new attention given to studies on various ethnic and linguistic groups. Generally, the world has become more inclusive.

But sometimes I feel as though there’s almost an expectation for people to behave a certain way — perhaps it’s only among adolescents; I really can’t say. ometimes I see adults giving kids weird glances when they choose to eat fish-n-chips in a coffeeshop when Chinese stalls abound. Being Malaysian means speaking Manglish (mangled English or Malaysian English?), dropping “mahs” and “lahs” and “mehs” and “sias” into every other sentence — people who’d chose Penang Assam Laksa over pizza any day.

Come to think of it, I’m fairly certain this “problem” is one of language. Arrival argued the Sapir-Whorfs theory that the language you speak affects the way you think and ultimately the person you are. While I don’t believe learning an alien tongue could give us the power to see time in a non-linear fashion, there is some validity in this claim.

Being a banana has to do with a different way of thinking and a different way of communicating, a way that runs divergent from the majority of the others in your birth culture. In Malaysian context, for reference’s sake, this vague assertion means that young people are suspected of being more white than Malaysian/Chinese/Malay/Indian/whatever they are supposed to be.

Personally, I don’t see why banana tendencies need to be frowned upon. White a banana may be, but it’s still inherently Malaysian.