Monday, April 21, 2014

Bubble of Joy


Dear readers,

This short story/fiction is inspired by real experiences of what a fibromyalgia patient goes through. It is written with hope to bring awareness to fibromyalgia as well as shed some light to those who are suffering from it or other diseases that involve chronic pain, depression or even mental illness, panic disorder and etc. 
If you are suffering from any kinds of pain physically, emotionally, mentally or even spiritually, I hope this story will enlighten you and give you hope. Enjoy.


Pain in Silence
A Sketch by Angelina Bong

BUBBLE OF JOY


On the sands of a foreign land, her feet trudged along with unbearable scorching heat purging her porcelain skin burning it beyond skin deep. Miles and miles of golden sand stretched out ahead as the grains infested her blistered, bloodied toes. There was nothing living anywhere around, not even the thorny sights of cactus.
           She had thrown herself into the beginning of a dark, forsaken journey alone. Loneliness and hunger took over her sanity as she longed for a visible companion. Thoughts of dying permeated her mind every single second. Yet it did not happen. Death would not visit her.
She could not turn back although the quest already appeared to be a lost cause. Her vision slowly dwindled as the ravaging wind blew sand into her eyes. Her wounds stung as the dryness continued to worsen. She wished to take her own life yet an unseen drop of strength kept her moving as she hoped to reach the oasis at the end of the desert. The living water that would never run dry lay beyond the oasis in a promised paradise known to many as a legend. She believed it to be more than mere folklore.
Intan woke up in agony. It was only three in the morning. Her muscles groaned in soreness and her body felt bruised. Her left feet burned with a deep penetrating ache. Her dream felt real as she recalled the thousand miles in the forlorn desert.  Would she ever discover a paradise on earth? She cried in hopelessness as she popped another painkiller into her mouth.
Intan had been living with fibromyalgia since her diagnosis a year ago. She had been riding a rollercoaster as she fought to keep from falling into the abyss of despair. Her days were filled with pain, gloom, depression and extreme fatigue although there would be a few bright days which were becoming a rarity. It was common to have piercing pain poking her simultaneously like nails being hammered into her flesh. She wondered how anyone could undergo crucifixion in the old days. At times, tingling sensation spread throughout her entire body as if ants were crawling and feasting on her skin. The worst ordeal came from tackling multitudes of symptoms accompanying her physical afflictions ranging from migraines, irritated bowel syndrome, occasional hives flare ups, sinusitis, and so forth.
Waking up every morning was a struggle for her as her body mimicked bouts of arthritis with stiff fingers clenched up refusing to be loosened. As soon as her eyes opened to the rising sun, she would beg God on her knees to give her strength as she prepared to enter the warzone. She clawed her way through tiredness for the rest of the day with what little energy left to make ends meet. Her nights were not of rest and rejuvenation as she battled with insomnia and sleep disturbances. Once in a while, she would sail through her daily chores smoothly and pondered whether the previous day’s combat was a stroke of ill-fantasy.
  She devoured on every new research she could get her hands on and tried making lifestyle changes but nothing worked. She suffered alone for she knew not one single soul in Malaysia who had the same sickness. No one understood her and she wished she might as well be dead since her quality of life had gone down the drain.
Her colleagues accused her of faking it to gain sympathy. Her friends perceived it was all a hallucination of her mind. Her family thought she possessed some psychological disorder. Intan was also afraid it might all be a conjuring of her messed up imaginations. What if the distress brought upon her flesh was non-existent? How did she end up with this mysterious illness leeching on her? She buried her face in her pillows and cried to sleep again.
Bubbly, jovial and carefree were the words one would use to describe Intan. She was always bouncing with energy and everywhere she went, she was the life of the party. A Sanguine with a warm heart, she was always caring and almost always effortlessly enjoyed putting one at ease. Bringing laughter into people's lives was once her life’s purpose. Where had it all gone to? What happened to Intan’s joyful radiance? How did depression get to her? When was the last time she had truly laughed? Fibromyalgia had transformed her into a dead corpse walking on thin air waiting for her bones to dry up completely and crack.
She knew that no great person breeze through life without overcoming the strongest hurdles. She recalled her grandmother telling her about Abraham who had to leave his comfortable life to go through the crazy hot desert to reach the Promised Land. She especially admired the late Mother Teresa who continued to tend to the poor without fail despite her deteriorating health even when she was ailing in her old age. Intan also recently followed Nick Vujicic on Twitter as she felt a hint of solace to know that a man born without limbs could live a life of fulfilment without complains despite his inconveniences and disabilities to do what normal people could do.  Why could she not have as much endurance as them?
A dark cloud hung over her. Like a shadow transcending from below, there was mist creeping up from the earth. Fogging her vision and blocking her bloodstream, it was violating her senses. Gripping on her nerves and pressing her chest, something emerged from the shadows and began strangling her. Her veins were on the verge of bursting while she choked from suffocation and sent jolts of throbbing pain to her head. Her muscles were aching to be freed but her limbs started to numb. She could feel coldness sending shivers down her skin as she smelled suicide breathing on her face. She heard death knocking on her door and before she could run to hide, she saw hell burning in her soul. Frozen, captured and imprisoned, she blinked away tears in silence. Crying for pleas of help and fighting to overcome death, she forged to stay alive.
In the darkest hours of giving up, Intan’s eyes flipped open. It was another night of restless sleep. Every night, she had to go through multiple episodes of dreams. Her doctor told her it was normal for fibromyalgia patients to have sleeping disorders. She felt handicapped for she was unable to control her intense dreams leaving her worn-out even after ten to fourteen hours of sleep. Any amount of sleep was never enough. She woke up every other morning feeling like she had pulled an all-nighter. She wondered why her Lyrica never really worked.
Doctor Lee prescribed Lyrica to Intan in order to relieve her pain. Somehow her body reacted indifferently to it. Her somatic aches were not eased at all and her sleep was still in turmoil. On top of that, her finance was diminishing as both Lyrica and her doctor’s consultation fees were expensive. Frustrated, famished of rest and burnt out, she dragged herself like a zombie to work. It was another day of fighting fibromyalgia.
Cloistered behind high walls, she could hear the bustles of cosmopolitan lifestyles seeping through the bricks that surrounded her. Ambushed by creeping poisonous ivy, the thick walls were made of dusty moulds of wood. Occasionally, there were voices outside this little cavern unknown to the exterior world. The noises did not distract her. In fact, she was oblivious to them. Inside the walls, there was immense silence. Not even a drop of water could be heard. There was no breeze passing through at all. Listening intently to the stillness, she could hear a voice calling from within her. She sat down quietly facing the walls with her ears perked up. She wondered if the voice from inside her was her own.
Soon, darkness came. A dim candle flickered in the hollow where she sat. She could smell the stench of blood engraved around the walls. She suddenly felt a deep aspiration to be a martyr and to be killed for a cause. It was better to die than to wait in vain and not lived at all. She embraced this torturous yearning not knowing what she was looking for. Where was she and why was she there? What was her purpose in this enclosure? Was it the beginning or the end of her journey in life?
Her emotions were fragile yet not conforming to the voice within her. Finally she understood the voices and societal pressures outside those barriers. It was scary to be out there yet it was even more horrific to be inside with not a single soul to be seen. She craved intensely for an audience to listen to that voice mysteriously sneaking up her throat. Whose voice was that? Was there something living inside her? Why was she trapped in there? She was alone in the world yet not of the world.
Hungry and crouching with her disjointed knees, she sensed a surge of insatiable thirst. Dressed in white and gold, she remembered she was a princess in exile. Malnourished beyond the naked eyes, she starved not for bread but for the voice within. The presence of the voice grew stronger but she could not bring it out no matter how hard she tried. What did the voice want of her?
Many days passed and she had a hunch that the angel of death would visit her soon. She vowed to become a glorious bride but by the look of it, her desire would never be fulfilled. Where was her prince charming? There was a vague memory of a prince asking her to wait for him. She reminisced about the promises he made to come and rescue her. There was no sign of any living person. Would he ever make it? Her parched throat made no sound and she sat motionless waiting for her groom.
Intan woke up with cold sweat enveloping her entire face. She gasped for breath as she called to mind the stale air from the small dark chamber with towering walls. Why was she having all these disturbing dreams? There were many times she thought she would rather have cancer or some autoimmune disorders. A life-threatening sickness would eventually lead to death and end all the miseries in her life.  At the very least, that could satisfy her human mind that she was truly ill. She was sick of fighting an illness that has no known cause. Most people she knew only burdened her with advices on how to eat and exercise right without truly knowing what she had to bear night and day. At times she imagined her own death approaching and wished very much it would come sooner.
A bright light was shining down on her. She smelled fresh dew. Hearing voices of angels floating above her, she saw an injured lamb at her feet with blood all over its white fleece. Pools of water started to swell in her eyes. Suddenly, the lamb leapt into the clouds and disappeared. A blinding ray flashed down and cast away the spirits of anguish that was lurking in the air. The dark clouds gradually rolled away. The lamb reappeared spotless and pure white. It trotted in good spirit towards Intan and she automatically ran to hug it. Flowing tears streamed down her cheeks as she cuddled the lamb in her arms.  
She woke up and found herself beaming although her mood was somewhat melancholy. Her face was flustered and wet. She must have cried in her dreams. Could it be that she finally could smile after so long? Were that truly tears of joy? This was the first time she had awakened without feeling afraid, anxious or terribly disturbed. Would she ever feel this way again? Why was fibromyalgia sucking away all her happiness? Was she depressed and not know it? How long had she been living in this state?
Soaked in divine sweetness, she woke up to the face of a King. His warm brown eyes gazed at her in a fatherly manner. He gave her a cup of honey, served as tea to quench her thirst. She stared at him in suspicion as he seemed to understand all her thoughts and longings. He nodded and exchanged words without audibly speaking. Was she in heaven or some fairy land?
She sat up on the bed of roses as he poured water from nothingness onto her. The feel of the water on her skin was magical beyond human expression. She understood she was instantaneously being cleansed of every impurity ever existed in the history of her life. He caressed her hand softly and on the spot, she could catch a glimpse of his kingdom. He gave her a foretaste of treasures that were to come. She was not even of royal blood but this king had bestowed a part of his glory upon her; something so rare and prized. She did not know whether to cry or to laugh as an extraordinary flame of bliss burst forth from her heart. No words could fully explain what she was going through. Nothing in this world could be compared to this moment. She felt belonged and utterly loved. Who was this king? A renewed vigour soared through her heart.
She opened her eyes and looked around. It was all a dream again. Prickling sensations were crawling all over her legs and her right foot was frozen. She was itching with hives infesting her arms like fiery parasites making a nest on a piece of meat. Yet, something sweet lingered in her. She did not feel frustrated but instead, peace held her. What were her dreams telling her? They were beginning to take a completely different direction from the usual dark nightmares. Would she be able to meet the King again?
Someone shook Intan hard. She jerked herself up as soon as she became aware that the hands firmly gripping her right shoulder belonged to Frodo. Frodo from ‘Lord of the Rings’ was sitting beside her? What nonsense!!! He summoned her to wake up, sleep no longer and beckoned her to follow him to the balcony. She gawked in disbelief as she tried to soak in the picturesque view of Rivendell where the elves from the story were living. Could it be possible that she was even there? Frodo waved his hand in front of Intan and brought a series of flashbacks presenting Frodo’s life journey in preserving the infamous ring to play right in front of Intan’s eyes. Forging ahead in difficult circumstances, she could see that Frodo never gave up. He stayed true to his task entrusted solely to him till the very end.
Intan felt ashamed. She broke down and started to weep. How many times in her life did she wallow in self pity and gave up on trying to get better? Tears of helplessness from overdue penned up frustrations led to wailings of bitterness. Frodo stroked her hair as one would to a little girl crying as his other hand found its way to Intan’s. As he held her fragile fingers in his small palm, he whispered to her that she was precious. Intan shook her head and blurted, "Precious?!! I'm a failed creation. Fibromyalgia has consumed me." 
Frodo’s sombre expression turned into one of good cheer as his eyes lit up with a twinkle. Grinning from ear to ear, Frodo said gently, “You might think that this fibromyalgia that you’re having is a curse but will you believe me if I tell you that this can be turned into a great opportunity for you to reach out to people?”
Intan’s ears perked up as her eyes blinked and signalled Frodo to go on. “Remember the king that you met? He sees the pain you are going through and he knows you have a kind soul. He has sent me as a messenger to ask you to fulfil a mission. You have suffered much and with that, you will be able to relate to the sufferings of others. He wants you to be his hands and feet to bring comfort and love to the bruised and broken-hearted humankind that the king so dearly loved. When you seek to console them, you will be healed from within. Be the bubble of joy that you are meant to be.”
Tears flooded Intan’s eyes as she glimpsed a silver lining in her fibromyalgia. For the first time, she accepted fibromyalgia and clasping Frodo’s hands, she spoke, “Thank you Frodo for coming to me. Please tell the king that I am so grateful for this special task. Who am I to deserve such a high honour?”

Intan rose to her feet and she began to dance, rejoicing like fluttering butterflies. Frodo jiggled along with her and as they were swinging side by side to invisible music, a dove flew towards them and perched itself on the balcony’s railing. 
Intan woke up and her heart was beating rhythmically fast as if she was really on her twirling feet.  Feeling light-headed, Intan propped herself up on her pillows. A gush of wind blew across her face and goose bumps surfaced all over her body. She glanced towards the direction of the wind and realised it came from her ajar glass window. Sitting stock-still on the window sill was a dove. Intan’s mouth fell open and her hands trembled as she cowered behind her blanket, pulling it up to her neck. There was a streak of grey shade running across the milky white feathers on its right wing which happened to be exactly the same as on the dove in the dream. How coincidental could that be? What if it was not a dream and her soul was in another realm?
The dove took flight, flapping its wings vigorously and stood for like a second mid-air fixing its gaze towards Intan’s direction before it finally flew off. She felt strangely excited as she relived her dream and it was as vivid as if she was still there. She closed her eyes and slowly drew a long breathe as she noticed a new power rising from within her, that of a new found purpose. 

Ties that Bind

Words of a passionate soul trickle down

Like sweet honey to her lips, caresses her mind

Sending delightful waves of daydreams, she hides

Precious fantasies in the corners of her cavern, to be

drawn only when thirst are parched along the pathways

of deserted trains. Alone with none but these, she feeds

her mind with lingering memoirs. In the shelters of misery,

the poetic imageries flash before her eyes and the guitar

strums to the beat of her melodic longings, bringing teardrops

to the eyes of her heart. Rain pours down like floodgates

of mercy consoling her strapped chest stricken

with heavy burdens. Nothing distracts her from that one moment

of touch. Hand in hand they stroll past busy passer-bys

 and straying glances. Whispering promises of great things flee by

as her long hair swooshes past his masculine jacket,  An unbreakable bond

forging between invisible lines with shades of near blackness.

Intentions to break free loosens its stronghold and she finds

herself in the arms of ties that bind. Not even a hint can spark

a crush that buries deep within. That desire shall resides and burns

as soon as she wakes up to reality knowing she will never own

the love she feels.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Scarred Face

This is a contemplation of Our Lord's suffering, our brokenness and how he shared our humanity. May it be a reflection to you as well especially that Good Friday is tomorrow.


In the quiet
A face appears
Scarred beyond features
Teardrops smear bloodlines

In the chaos
Confusion blurs His image
Yet that war torn emotions
Keep coming back

In the anguish
The eyes of deep sorrows
Return and pierces me
Like none has ever done

In the emptiness
His scourged hand touches
The broken shell of mine
Cries broke out

In the suffering
The nailed wounds embrace
My heavily soiled soul
He understands my pain

In the fall
He rises and picks me up
Each time He smiles
And says it is all right

In the comfort
Of His arms I rest
A thousand miles away
At home at last

In the light
I soar on His wings
Never looking back
And His face glows



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Make-Believe

Carry me into arms of fire ablaze

with swords of love shining down

like heaven’s eyes



I cry rivers of sorrow to be kept

in crystal glasses made from

divine perspiration



Strokes of anguish set the fountains

flowing like mad into chambers

of mercy



Swift dashes of cold air sending

me to hide in exile from my

deepest desires



Forbidden truce exists in worlds of

make-believe and I wondered why

I come running



Shadows of my torn soul sit in

crooked alleys of the morbid

world beneath



Half-reaching to climb the stairways

to free conscience of warlock

twisted in anger



I fly not to grab a strand of hair

that passes me by with lingering

scent of hatred



Reside I shall in that nest of amber

till the fantasy of joy blow me to the

path of sanity

Friday, March 21, 2014

Press on MH370

When I heard of the missing plane from Malaysian Airlines in Africa, my heart sank...I could be on that very plane. How devastated the families must be. After I got back, there were still not much good news. I pray with all my heart that they will find the plane soon. I am glad that the whole world is coming together to work for good in finding the plane.

Here's a poem that I would like to dedicate to all the families and loved ones of the passengers and crews on board MH370.

All over 
High and low 
Wide and deep 
No cure is near 

Search continues 
One on one 
Multiplies by thousands 
Hope is far 

One clings on 
A thousand miles 
Hearts wail and mourn 
Terror strikes 

Uncertainties prevail 
Can one see 
Beyond debris 
Where and why 

Hijack or death 
Only God knows 
Lives come and go 
Hidden from eyes 

You and I 
Hug each other 
Pray to heavens 
Never give up 

Press on 
Seek and find 
That day is near 
Truth will arrive 



Please don't give up hope and don't despair. We join hands with everyone in the world to pray for you.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

'The Calloused Hands' written for Basadi Balefatshe - An International Journey of a Woman

It's been a while since I wrote in this cavern.
I just got back from South Africa. Its been an enriching and wonderful experience. I've learnt so much and been blessed over and over by the places I visited and especially by the amazing souls that have touched my life while I am there. I've got a million stories to tell and a lot more to weave into stories that I know I will use someday.
I went there to perform in a musical play and also to engage in cultural exchange.

Here is a poem-story that I presented/performed for a musical play entitled ‘Basadi Balefatshe’ (World Women) – ‘An International Journey of a Woman’ at Joburg Theatre, Johannesburg, South Africa in conjunction with International Women’s Day. This poem-story was also told during an International Storytelling Festival at Pretoria, South Africa.

The story is a fiction inspired by the lives of some Asian women. However, the photo below is a real picture of me and my popo’s hands J

Me and Popo's hands


The Calloused Hands


Popo!!!! I call out in high pitch glee
Her wrinkles curve and smile at me
Happiness awakened from distrait
Finally after all those years of wait

I rush to her side, she coughs out blood
Lying on her deathbed without a word
Her body lays motionless but her eyes
Twinkle with whispers of love and cries

Tiny and frail hardly explains her body
More fragile than a new-born baby
She lifts up her bony shaky fingers
Cupping my face and let one lingers

Rough and dry her old skin against mine
Worse than burns from acid and alkaline
Her teary eyes pierces deep into my soul
Bringing me back to great times of old

********
Mama died when she gave birth to me
Papa sits in jail for raping her repeatedly
Popo brought me up with love and care
She took me in which was an act so rare

She woke up at five every morning
Chicken porridge was her best cooking
Alternating with butter buns and bread
There was nothing my taste truly dread

I was a noisy and naughty little girl
Always caught with my feet awhirl
She never spared me from the rod
Never to spoil but instil fear of God

When I behaved well, she would fry
Banana fritters so good you would cry
She would hug me and laugh out loud
Chasing rain from the hovering cloud

Popo’s hair was always in a small bun
Neat and tidy not a hair seen in front
Wraparound sarong tied with a knot
Her lips wearing a shade of red hot

Day and night she worked hard
Tending to vegetables in her yard
A kind soul, still sharing a fruit or two
Turning away the needy was a taboo

A storyteller at night with her hair down
Filled with tales to enchant and astound
Memoirs of her younger self and ah kong
My grandpa who had died forty years long

I once asked “Popo, are you not tired?”
Pointing upwards, her secret transpired
“My strength comes from high above”
“All is made possible in the name of love”

I continued, “Why did you choose to keep me?”
She held me tight and said, “Why would I flee?”
“God gave you to me, one of his greatest gifts”
“You’re innocent no matter who your papa is”

Time passed, I had to leave for university
Popo would come to see me in the city
Each time she grew shorter and shorter
While the hunch on her back grew bigger

Work began to eat away all my time
I strived to pay back every single dime
Popo was far from my heart and mind
I was exhausted after a long day’s grind

One day a phone call made my heart broke
Popo fell down the stairs and had a stroke
Panicking I prayed it was not too late
I had promised to bring Popo on a date

********
Her mouth opens wide gasping for air
I keep muttering that it is so unfair
She holds my gaze in blinking tears
Am I facing one of my biggest fears?

Popo softly moans “I’m going home”
“I am not leaving you alone to roam”
“Do not cry my cucu, I know you care”
“I will watch over you from up there”

Her calloused hands clasp mine tightly
Not letting go I grip them to me closely
“I love you” springs from her watery eyes
Breathes her last and to heaven she flies


p/s: If you like poetry, feel free to browse my poems at my previous posts labelled 'My Poems'.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

Are you afraid of His Calling?

Have you been called to do something beyond your comfort zone? In fact, perhaps something risky or even dangerous, like preaching to hostile countries that are not particularly friendly towards people of our faith.
I think we all experience this at least once in our lifetime. A few times in the past, I felt the nudge that God was calling me to do something far beyond what I think I can do. He seems to be more confident about my abilities than I am myself. I hesitated thousands of times and even begged God to close the doors and choose someone else but His will always prevail in the end.
You might be facing the very same thing. Perhaps all along, you’ve only known your neighbourhood and have never travelled overseas. You have a comfortable desk job but all of a sudden, you feel convicted that God wants you to go to a faraway land that does not speak your language and you will have to stand in front of multitudes of human beings of a different race to talk about your faith. Yet you never even stood on a stage before. Will you go?
Let us look at David. A young shepherd boy was not only anointed by God to be a king but he beat Goliath, the great Giant of his times. Who would have thought he will ever beat Goliath?
It is stated in In 1 Samuel 16:7,” …..The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
We might not think we are capable but we can do all things through God who gives us strength no matter how risky, scary or overwhelming the task might seem. Remember how the Lord used Moses to split open the red sea? There is nothing that is impossible for God. If he can use Moses and David, he can use you. You need only to obey and do your part.
Sometimes we might doubt whether it is truly from God. I find this prayer truly helpful.
Dear Lord, I feel this is your calling for me but I am afraid and would rather do without it, for I am weak and feel that I am not as strong, talented and experienced like the others and if this is not from you, please close all doors for me. But you Lord is the mighty one and you do not see as men see and if truly you have chosen me to do this task, let your will be done unto me. I trust that you will be with me and you are all I need for I can do all things through you who strengthen me. Show me the way and lead me on the right path. This is my faith and trust in you that you will answer my prayer.

If He shows that it is indeed Him calling you, then trust in Him. He will provide ALL that you need to fulfil your mission. May God goes before you and be with you. Go now and proclaim His good news!