N  a  p a  l  m     H  e  a  l  t  h     S  p  a  :     R  e  p  o  r  t     2  0  1  0








Every night, going to bed, often

fall asleep without brushing teeth

wake up 6 AM, lights still on mouth bitter

thank God, condo has a flat fee, utilities included.

Every morning dream nightmares, hard to shake

always, trying to save people who know

better, don’t

want to be saved.  Would rather drown in tsunami.

Imagine.  Won’t know I’m dead till I start

to smell.  Imagine – condo doesn’t let anyone in

without a will. Tired

of the incredible commercial side of the family, from

riverside coastal towns and stinking mud

flats.  People who on the whole care only

about food and money or money and food.  Trying to be like father, poetry lover if not

poet, marrying for money.  No help either. 


Mother always hating me saying

“I know my children.  My middle daughter, you care

about nothing, but yourself and your children.”  Immediate family

now maybe thinks, I don’t care enough.  Distant second cousin who

married, my brother-in-law, richer than his brother.  His monthly income was higher,

but he was much shorter and less attractive, as if I cared.

The tall common great grandfather, who needed a special

custom-made coffin, the one who found  a pot of gold coins, under

a flame of the forest tree which fell over in a storm.  Why didn’t he

save the coins.  Minted when?  Don’t know.  Paternal grandfather killed by

folk medicine, burn lotion containing glass, after

he kicked away an ember and burned his foot.  House burned by opium smugglers.

U Ba Thaw British colonial excise agent. 

Grandmother telling stories but never said she was the second wife and before her he had

a wife in China.  Uncle B. A. a product of that union, no wonder, I always thought he

looked so like, Chinese premier Chou En-lai, similarly calculating and “diplomatic” too.


Mother hated him, said, “He comes every month to present, the bill for the water.”

Other grandmother saying, “Your forehead is so broad, an aeroplane

could land on it.  Your lipstick is so red it looks

like a Shan’s arse gashed by a dah.”  Racist as well as sexist remark

by a savvy and successful businesswoman, who read the newspapers every day.  Well

aware of December 1941, now both HMS Prince of Wales battleship and HMS Repulse, sunk

Singapore fallen.

Everything lost Japanese invasion

house looted.  Chinese grandfather died of a stroke while fleeing on train.  Grandmother

Snow Maiden had furnished her house, with furniture and mirrors from Singapore. 

Had hundreds of Singapore batik sarongs – now only one, an orange one, remains.  I have it.


For a long time I truly thought, given all this loss and hate and

what I know only now is called verbal abuse, I must have been

conceived when

a Japanese soldier raped my mother. 


And yet I was just a regular, bright little fat little

sweet little girl. 

Fond of flowers, food and bright colors.