I still can’t forget the faces of those high school girls in Singapore. They were listening to my story, and in the end of it one of them said she would never forget it.
As part of Make Your Own Passport (2014) at Art Stage Singapore 2016, I recounted a story to the people who were deemed “Stateless” by their lucky draw. I told them about my dearest Kak Nita, who was born stateless, and had to live in hiding the first 17 years of her life, moving from one village to another, each time assuming a new name.
In short, I was perpetuating trauma.
I could see how the story pierced. It was painful. Telling it was painful, and listening to it must have been as well. This made me feel guilty. So why?
I wonder why. Maybe there is a sense of justice in it – beautiful lives are to be shared, after all. Perhaps shared pain are easier to bear. There’s some kind of a victory, although I’m not sure over what. There’s some kind of hope, that it will end well, and if it hasn’t ended well then it simply wasn’t the end.
Like a bandage tied around your thumb, the story is a reminder. Perhaps it is a reminder that we are lucky. Perhaps of how human we all are. Perhaps that as humans, we will all die in the end – and if we hadn’t died, then it wasn’t yet the end.
The day before, at his panel, I asked Nikos how force could work together with aesthetics. In retrospect, I know that this was an answer to my own question: beauty is like that continuous pang in my abdomen that used to make me cry uncontrollably. To feel even a trace of this makes us feel human – flawed and weak, together.