I Wish You Would Let Me Tell Your Story

I wish you would let me tell your story.

I knew what happened that day at the Christian Life Education Centre. You and a couple of other students who exhibited unmasculine mannerisms and qualities were singled out and asked to come before the vice rector of the school and the centre's coordinator. The vice rector proceeded to tell you "it is a sin to have mannerisms or act in ways that do not align with the nature of the sex you were born with."

Short of saying, you are boys. Do not act like girls.

I saw you and the others return to the classroom, your eyes red and wet. I wanted to ask you what had happened. I wanted to comfort you, and stand with you in solidarity. But you kept quiet. You did not want to talk about it.

I saw how this burden of sin had effectively silenced you. And in your silence, I could hear the wail of your pain -- loud and clear. I wished I was there with you to respond to the sanctimonious vice rector, but we all had this fear of them reporting us to our parents, or worse, potentially get expelled.

I found out all the details from another classmate, who was far more fearless. He described to me the judgmental finger-wagging of a church leader and an educator who were supposed to inspire compassion and kindness.

I know that this was so long ago, and you may have already buried this incident in the dusty far corners of your mind, never to be revisited. But I wish you'd let me tell your story.

I wanted you to know, your pain is also my pain.

Mannequins

When I was little, I was both fascinated and scared of mannequins.

There was a small department store in the city that was like a magical place to me. At the entrance was an array of colourful wind-up toys in various animal forms behind pristine glass cases. My parents would get very annoyed when we try to pass by the toy display. My brother and I would wail and point to the wind-up toys, and our mother would frown and shush us impatiently before finally relenting. Our father would come over, ask us which ones we like, and purchase them. Now, thoroughly distracted (and extremely compliant) with our new toys, we would proceed to the upper levels of the store to check out clothing.

This was where the magic gave way to something more sinister. The mannequins in the clothing section were a source of trepidation for me: they were adult versions of dolls that closed their eyes when you lay them down. They were sleek, white, and slim; their hair whipped and coiffed in the style of the day; their eyes were like translucent marbles of blue, brown and gray staring nonchalantly into space. They looked otherworldly to me--beautiful and scary at the same time.

Those mannequins haunted my dreams -- I had nightmares of their lifeless eyes boring deep into my soul with inexplicable malevolence.

One Christmas, my father took us to see the Holiday on Ice show at the coliseum. I didn't know how he managed it, but we got ringside seats. He had me sit on his lap as he pointed to the lights and the skating figures. My eyes grew wide when the ice skaters came out in their full dazzling and feathery glory doing pirouettes, leaps, and jumps, effortlessly sliding across the ice in figure eights. The majesty of the show unfolding in front of me was too much for me to process. At curtain call, the performers approached the audience in the ringside to shake hands.

A lady in a towering feathered headdress and sparkling jeweled bodice approached my family and stuck out her hand. I stared at her: her skin was as white and smooth as the department store mannequins, and her eyes were like blue marbles ñ- wide and translucent. She was moving her arms, and she was speaking to us. How was that possible? She was a mannequin ñ how was she moving?

Her satin-gloved hand clutched mine, her grip hard and strong. She grinned at me, but her eyes terrified me. I pulled my hand from her unearthly grasp. I turned and buried my face on my father's shoulder.

Years later, it dawned on me that it was my first encounter with a Caucasian person.

Ginger Mushroom Chicken on a Bed of Rice

This morning before I logged in to work, I strolled to my favourite dimsum place just a block away from my place. The sky was particularly cloudless and bright blue, the sunshine hazy and warm. But all I thought about was the ginger mushroom chicken on a bed rice — the delicious savoury taste already flooding my mind even before a spoonful of morsel has hit my tongue.

I arrived at the dimsum shop, and I was greeted by a masked hunk: solid arms and strong hands that could have kneaded a thousand rice flour wrappings without breaking a sweat; a handsome chest that wonderfully stretched the fabric of his shirt; kind eyes that made my heart flutter.

“What can I get you?” he asked, breaking my thirsty trance.

“Ginger mushroom chicken, please,” I croaked.

“On rice?”

I nodded, clearing my throat.

He handed me a box of the steaming delicious meal, all the while thinking how delicious he may taste too.

I ate slowly at my desk when I logged in to work.

18 mmol/L

I read an email from a prospective employer on the train today. I skipped over the insipid pleasantries and my eyes scanned and locked into the word "unfortunately" and did not read any further.

When the train stopped at the city centre, I got out and went to London Drugs. I bought a cold 591 ml bottle of Mountain Dew and walked out of the store. I twisted open the cap, removed my mask, and proceeded to drink whilst walking toward the Expo Line.

I finished the bottle before I got on the train. I got off at Stadium station and bought another 591 ml bottle of Mountain Dew from Rexall. I also finished that off before I got home.

When I scanned my glucose monitor over my sensor, the reading double-beeped a warning. I checked the numbers: my blood glucose soared to 18 mmol/L.

I tossed my glucose monitor back to my medicine drawer and started preparing dinner.

Boarding Gate Number 7

I found myself at boarding gate number 7. I was absurdly early — 3 hours before the flight to Vancouver arrives. A short portly woman napped in one of the chairs, her headphones askew. Another woman was trying to hush her baby to sleep. I sat far away from them, and parked my carry-on beside my chair.

I was tired and anxious at the same time, that restless state where my body does not know if it wants to rest or be alert. My mother had just dropped me off at the airport. She had kissed me goodbye, her eyes welling up.

“It will be a while before I see you again,” she said, wiping her eyes. “Say hello to Norman for me.”

I didn’t want to cry — I refused to cry. I fear we’d both be a bawling mess in the midst of other passengers trying to get past us.

“Don’t say that,” I said defiantly. “I’ll still come back to visit.”

“You should go,” she said, gently pushing me away. “Go!”

I gave her a lingering look — her eyes were sad, her hand up to her mouth, trying not to bawl out, and her other hand clutching her faux Louis Vuitton purse.

I turned toward to security and didn’t look back.