At the institute of mental health, an old woman meets her husband clad in a pale blue uniform. He is in a wheelchair; she takes the bench. She lays out a small spread of packed food - bee hoon, chicken rice, curry. They share their lunch in silence, make home of whatever they have.
At the institute of mental health a pretty girl who looks slightly older than me holds her bible close. She is quiet, mousey; she retreats to a corner and reads and reads and reads the bible. The way she walks reminds me of how I walked through the school corridors once, for two weeks in 2012; as if caught in a trance, a zombiefied version of luna lovegood, shrouded with an aura of grief. She will not talk to you.
Behind me an old man brings food for his wife. they are having a casual chat in dialect, probably hokkien; she’s just digging into the food and talking and talking about what people did and said and he has his food in one hand, he looks at her, smiles and grunts in affirmation, leans back against the wall.
"These two girls, early in the morning they’re singing the national anthem, it’s so funny. And you see all these people just stripping out of nowhere. Like nicki minaj but not hot. But it’s really sad that there are some people here who are fine, but they express themselves differently, but society deems what is right and normal and they don’t fall within that spectrum.
“Here nobody will judge you. You can sing to yourself or twirl your hair the whole day and they will just smile and acknowledge, you're okay. Everyone knows that everyone has gone through something terrible that brought them here, they are all good people but something happened that made them this way. Here we all understand that.”
A woman is banging furiously on the door. Threatening them to let her into the meeting area. Shouting with a passion. A soft electronic beep, she storms in, a torrent of the food so bad they don't let me go out i cannot see my family. I look around at the double-enforced window grills and the pale yellow hospital concrete walls and the complete lack of natural scenery and the doors you cannot open without a staff pass and I think, I would be just as enraged if I had to live in an environment like that, and then they would simply prescribe me a longer observation period. The woman shouts about having a settle to score with the nurses. "Don't be a coward ah, hide in the glass box. You want to fight you come out and fight lah. I not scared. My father is a policeman. Although my parents are not alive."
The old man has left, but his wife is still talking.