With a name like Pang and a fancy notion that he is an artist, you would think that this so-called photographer would at least have had an unhappy childhood to account for. Besides making the lousy excuse that just surviving daily is agony enough, he really has little to justify his fretful if not tortured soul. If you choose to indulge him, however, he will recount an incident at the age of three, of eating some comely red thing that tasted like a grenade going off in his mouth which subsequently, in perfectly Freudian fashion, turned into a form of masochism so virile he indulges in it by frequenting the nearby Indian restaurant so regularly the chef wants to name his new tosai recipe after our chilly-challenged friend.

Well, maybe that still doesn't prove anything to you. You want some sordid soul-scarring anguish, you sadist you. Alright then, there was this girl whom he had a crush on [yes, it involves a girl, the source of all boyish woes...]. She was the daughter of his father's friend in Singapore. One day, during a family holiday to the island, when they were bunking over at this friend's apartment, for no apparent reason, this aforementioned girl, aged eleven, possibly in the early stages of dealing with PMS, grabbed hold of her father's belt and for no apparent reason [yes, you have said that], well for absolutely no bloody freaking apparent reason, she began to hit Pang blow after blow after blow, amidst screaming and yelling and variously bemused parents. Shocking, huh? Well, that wasn't the painful part. The really painful part was the cast-iron belt buckle. The word 'crush' took on a new meaning for Pang.

Okay, Pang says he wants to get serious. Hmm... Let's humour him. Yes, Pang? He says that what really gave him this confusion, this sense of vagueness, this need to do his tedious autobiography in third person, is the most hair-raising of traumas - late puberty. And what can be more demanding on a kid's emotions than going through that testosterone transition without parental guidance? Sent on a scholarship at the age of twelve to Raffles Institution, Singapore, he was initially giddy with thoughts of freedom; barely a teen and without supervision, he was ready to conquer the world. So he thought. Six years later, in the same miserable hostel, in his room, two hundred miles from home, all alone on his eighteenth birthday, and by some accident of introspection, he stumbled upon a question, "Do I have any... friends?"; as the architecture of his soul collapsed into a void within him, he stopped what he was doing, stared out the window into the night sky, gazed back to the mess in his room, looked out the window again, closed his eyes, and crumpled onto the floor beside his bed, and wept.

He finished his 'A'levels later that year. He was just beginning to realise who his friends were when his father promptly plucked him out of Singapore and plonked him into KL where he didn't know a soul. He was registered into Limkokwing Institute of Creative Technology. He graduated in December 1995 with a diploma in graphic design, and a major in photography. He hasn't, however, collected his diploma yet. After all, we all know that it is the tragedies that count... and though trivial in the passing of grander schemes, the implosion of Pang's tiny universe was so utterly devastating that he now spends his days wandering the earth; singing to himself as he wanders; praying as he sings; and knowing as he prays that he still has a Friend who wouldn't mind listening to him as he rambles on and on, about spices, about misplaced infatuations, and even about the overwhelming aloneness of confronting the night sky with an unanswerable question.

Well, here he is, ladies and gentleman, three years after graduation and still as idealistic and neurotic... No, Pang, that is all the reader can take, I'm afraid. Wait, don't blame me if you bore them! Hey, get away from me - what are you doing? Put down that tripod right now!!...

by pang [ april 1998 ]

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