Sunshine, Freedom and a Little Flower


For the first time my grandfather
walks slower than grandma;

they’ve been through WWII,
got here on boats and bicycles,

survived the Japanese Occupation
that forever changed our last name,

(or first name, in our culture)
and now we’re puttering at the mall

in Singapore, ex-British colony of immigrants
I left behind a decade ago.

They say I used to be a little monkey
jumping around,

hiding from the thin rattan cane they
would wave in my face.

Heck, most times I threw it
out the window or hid it in couches,

and more magically reappeared.
I prattle in rusty Teochew,

the clan’s dialect (first language I ever learnt);
Perhaps I’m too American now, Australian,

Have some more asparagus,

I try to pick up thin green spears with chopsticks,
while he declares solemnly:

Can’t, I have no teeth.
There’s no fortune cookie in the aftermath,

that’s purely an American concept.
If there had been one, mine would probably say:

Little flower got on plane aching for freedom
but come back for many sunshine.
Learn Chinese.

© Alicia Khoo

NaPoWriMo Day 21

“Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”- Hans Christian Andersen


16 thoughts on “Sunshine, Freedom and a Little Flower

  1. I’m from a different part of the world..but the beauty of this piece, I feel, lies in its simplicity and of course,
    “The little flower got on a plane aching for freedom
    but come back for many sunshine.”

    • Thanks so much for reading and commenting on this piece dedicated to my grandparents…and also maybe I should start writing fortune cookie fortunes and make a fortune! 🙂

      • Hahaha 😀
        I don’t see why not, really 🙂 Here’s your chance to have a little hand in people’s destinies…give them hope, or even steal a bit of it 😀

      • Life is a mismatch of hilarity and disaster,
        Sometimes I wonder, what holds it together?
        Living, breathing, screaming, and hurting
        Is all a part of this colossal checkerboard
        Of doors unlocked and subtle risks taken
        Often backfired, more than often, forgiven
        Who holds together the root and the tree?
        It is you, my friend, you make your own reality 🙂

        Thank you so much for replying 🙂

      • Haha, thank you, it was more of a ‘spur of the moment’ kind of thing, and I couldn’t resist 😀
        Its not like you aren’t 🙂 You incorporate so much into your poems…its amazing..

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