Monthly Musings: Self-expression


Prompt: What item do you own that you think best reflects you as a person?

Blushing shells from ocean caverns in Musandam. 

Inky black pebbles from a remote village in the mountains of Khasab. 

Sediments of sunsets from an ocean of pink rock in Sharjah.

Curlicues of white stone from the shores off Brighton.

Shards of earth to call my own, 

when home is far, 

I hold them close. 

-Zafra Usman


My pink translucent water bottle.

I won it two years ago as a reward for being active in co-curricular activities. It’s past its prime now. The rubber connecting the drinking cap to the lid is long gone, an unnecessary accessory broken off by the trials of time. I wash it daily – sometimes. Other times I wait for days until the water in my mouth tastes musty before I sterilise the bottle with hot water and give it a quick session in the microwave. I use it all the time and bring it everywhere, yet on days where I forget to bring it along, 2 Ringgit and a quick detour to the convenience store renders it easily replaceable. 




My phone.

Seemingly chill on the outside, all over the place on the inside. My notes app is packed with both mundane – and occasionally weird – personal reminders, and LOTS of poems. Both the most random ones and the best ones all jumbled together. Amidst the chaos, there are a lot of interesting word prompts/ideas saved somewhere in there.

Other than that, my gallery is loaded with a lot of personal pictures of me, juxtaposed against memes and reaction pictures. My social media too, a space of the most unusual conversations with the people I know. Plus each platform seems to hold individual alter egos somehow. They range from existential crises, intellectual discussions to even obnoxiously cackling at memes of dark humour or immature jokes. Plus the screen got cracked recently, and it’s broken. Just like me. 




Earphones. (I even own a few pairs. I have one in my car and because I switch bags often, I have a pair in each of them. Well, of course, they’re the cheap ones that function well enough. Big thanks to NinjaZ!)

No, it doesn’t mean I’m that one emo, antisocial young adult that likes to sit in a corner and not have any interaction with the rest of the world. In fact, quite the contrary, I like socialising. Despite having a cold countenance most of the time, I’m actually outright friendly. It may be a simple chat about the weather or a contribution of ideas in a group project. 

However, being around people too often can wear me out and I need my own space every once in a while. Thus, this is where my earphones come in. Listening to music while reading a good book does help a lot in alleviating my weariness.

-Joey Yap



My glasses. 

The most authentic version of myself is when my hair is in a bun, my make up wiped clean and most importantly when the contact lenses come out and I have to rely on my glasses to continue my day behind closed doors. With my glasses on, I have nothing to hide, which allows me to freely express my thoughts and opinions without submitting to societal pressures.

To me, this old pair of stained glasses is all that I have to separate me from who I want the world to view me as and who I really am.




My piano.

Its melody and volume can be volatile, much like my different moods. Like a piano’s dual-coloured keys, whatever I am feeling is often black and white as my emotions show clearly through my facial expressions. A piano can be enjoyed with or without accompaniment, similar to the way I, an introvert, enjoy my own company just as much as (if not more than) the company of others.



An isolated doll.

Once she needed love, she longed for attention, but things took a turn.

She realised her worth, she didn’t need pretty dresses to be pretty, she didn’t need to change the way she looked just to please others. The only thing she needed, was herself.

Often times you see her in the corner of the room, disheveled, ungroomed and shabby, 

but you would never forget that confident, beautiful smile on her face.

-Tricia Ong Jing Xian


My journal.

Literally and figuratively, I’m a hoarder. Always one to assign a sentimental significance to any object or memory, I definitely keep way too many things in various storage boxes all over my room. 

I’ve got everything from plane tickets to city maps from my travels, from sweet notes from friends to business cards from strangers, from polaroids to theme park tickets. It’s exactly like how I hoard way too many pictures in my phone, because each one has its own importance and allows me to revisit a fond memory even through static visuals. That’s until my phone starts nagging at me to clear space in storage though.

 My journal reflects the sentimental aspect of me as a person, and is where I hoard memories visualised through the words I put down on paper (though I haven’t exactly been diligent in updating it lately). Only happy memories go into the journal, events I want to remember and be able to look back to when my memory gets foggy one day. I guess that reflects a negative side of me too, the side that prefers to erase the sad out of the narrative and turn a blind eye. The writing, along with pictures, tickets, and cards stuck in the pages are essentially me, my history. 

-Jaclyn Heng


Fountain pens

I am still a novice in calligraphy. However, I have always written in a mix of cursive and block letters which serves as a headstart when you delve into the art of calligraphy. 

Calligraphy is my own way of meditating, controlling – and failing to control the ink flow teaches me the patience that I so often neglect for instant emotional gratification. 

It all started with my first fountain pen. It was a small Diddle fountain pen that I had purchased from a friend during class. It cost me 10 USD, which looking back must have been about twice the price that friend had originally bought it for. 

We could only find fountain pens in France, but oddly enough we could find fountain pen ink cartridges at one of our local/French supermarkets. I was too poor and too far from the art supplies I wanted or needed to continue my love for fountain pens and calligraphy. I had never been to France despite being a citizen. Growing up with a predominantly Asian setting, I longed for any connection I could make with my European side. Going back into calligraphy and fountain pens now reminds me of my younger self. 

It seems like I have not yet lost the desire to play.



A small plush smirk-face emoji keychain.



If you open me up,

You shall see,

That there is so much more to me,

Every part makes up my whole,

Taking one away can make me hollow,

Though different in their own way,

They all take the form of my soul.

-Julia R.

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