Rohan Naidu is an undergraduate at Yale-NUS College, Singapore where he studies
Relativity along with Relativism. His poems have been featured in QLRS and the
University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor's International Poetry Prize longlist, among
other places. He takes a shot at the big questions in small ways through his poems
and by conducting research in Astronomy (Extreme Starbursting Galaxies) and
Social Science (domestic workers in Singapore).
after Alvin Pang
To carry a wallet-condom is to believe in tonight.
To carry three is to admit both hope and need. Five means she is a keeper and you are as close to love as it gets.
Other things mean other things.
Drawn blinds are to let the morning know it is unwelcome, it can come back tomorrow with hangovers, deadlines and missed alarms.
The beer cans on the floor are as empty and dented as those who held them. Like last night's poor judgement, they will be taken out with this day's trash.
The lonely sock on the rack means there is less loneliness elsewhere. The leftover pizza digesting with stale ale in your stomach means you're young.
To lock a room is to claim it. To be in it is to arrange a meeting between who you are and who you pretend to be.
To accept an invitation into a locked room is trust. To go there with your toothbrush and contact-lens solution is to owe someone a debt of tears.
To switch off your phone is to replace it with a black mirror you are reflected in. To switch it back on, is to forget what you saw.
The correct answer to a mirror is to always swipe right.
At the Boarding Gates
She searches till her gaze settles on the boy typing poems. She walks to him clutching what is both a scrap of gibberish and the most valuable thing in the world—"Excuse me, would you please read what gate I must take home?" Surely he would. He looks so much like her son.
The man in the crisp business suit is no longer sure where the stamps in his passport came from. The ink that stands for one country's border blots into another and another... He has long forgotten the first time, the night he was too excited to sleep, too excited by clouds, by how close he was to god. It takes him three times to recognize the name they're paging. He stands up. He doesn't know where he is going.
She is always nervous about connecting flights. Straying from transit to arrival could mean crossing from life to death. At the gate, she crosses her legs as hard as she can, regretting the upsize Coke. Here there are only two washrooms, one with a blue sign one with pink.
She knew he was the one as they made it just in time, sprinting, sweating despite the aircon. They will be married in a month, but will miss this flight since his passport lies forgotten on the floor of the Duty Free changing room, right where their jeans were bunched together fifteen minutes ago.
He never trusts ziploc pouches, pockets or bags with something so important. He holds it, as close to him as possible, especially now that he is away. He traces the embossed lions, the perforations that spell the address of his mother's kheer, where to return him if he is lost, the blood type he shares with a brother. What if he lost it? Without it he is nobody.
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