The Colonial Master

Too red, too tall, too wide, too fat,
the refrain repeats over and over,
whilst I listen to others talk about how,
they, with all their representation and qualifications through
scholarship and history and media,
cry about how they are oppressed and not beautiful.

There is plenty of writing that talks about how,
if you are dark in a world of white,
you will feel alienated and ugly.
Not meeting high beauty standards
is only a struggle if you’re Asian or black.
Apparently.
And these are the people who talk about Eurocentrism!
They, who have constructed an entire theory of race,
solely on how it functions in the West and a colonial past.
Have you ever stepped outside your tiny world?
Have you ever thought that it’s just hard looking different?
That prejudice isn’t always bound up in the history of colonialism?
That it might just be human nature to reject others?

You might know this if you’d grown up white in an Asian country.
There, where posters are covered with tiny, petite, cute, dainty, delicate women all trussed up in pink and giggles and smooth warm-toned skin that hugs a pelvic bone structure I could never hope to have.
I am told that I should consider myself lucky as people at school poke my arms and call me fat and comment on the redness of my skin and I look down at my blotchy red and purple legs all covered in dark hair.
I look at myself in the mirror and wish I could shrink down my pelvis,
so I would be petite.
I wish I could knock several inches off my height so I wouldn’t feel butch when every inch of my body screams femininity.
I try to buy clothes and they’re double XL,
shouting my alien status in my face.
I go out in public and people stare and dare to call me foreigner to my face and think it’s ok when I live here, I exist here. This is my home.
But I’m not allowed to be in public in my own home.
For I am a relic of the past, I am the colonial master.

And even as you try to ease your guilt by holding up Asia
as this beacon of beauty and culture,
you say that white women are ugly, age badly and have no place in a post-colonial space
where white men are entitled to fuck Thai women to kid themselves they’re cultured.
I listen to Thai men and white men say, “why would you have a white woman when you could have a Thai woman?”
as I am told that I am the beauty standard that everyone looks up to.
I am told that having white skin is easy as my surroundings and peers tell me I’m not feminine enough, I’m not woman enough,
I’m too red, too tall, too wide, too fat.

I am not fat. I’m not ugly. I am desirable. I am feminine.
But when the West is obsessed with the East
it spreads through your mind like an infection
that your complexion is riddled with the guilt of hundreds of years of actions that aren’t your own.

Intrusion

 

Low throbbing.

The neighbour is playing music again.

 

Laughter.

The neighbour is talking too loudly.

 

Scraping.

The neighbour is moving furniture.

 

Stomping.

The neighbour is walking around for no reason.

 

Chirping.

A bird is chirping even at 4 am. Why?

 

Alarm ringing.

I turn it off.

 

I try to study at the library.

People are talking. Too much noise.

 

I try to study at home.

The neighbours play club music at 3 pm. Why?

This constant onslaught of noise – I can’t think straight with a thousand thoughts and a drill boring into my head.

Drowning

Slowly, I wake up. At first, I’m only aware of the gentle murmurs of the breeze. The humid air weighs heavily upon me. I feel coarse sand against my cheek.

I notice after some time how the wind disturbs the peace, jostling the palm leaves, scattering sand over places it doesn’t belong. A thought finally crawls into my mind as the wind gathers more force: “I wonder if it’s going to rain?”

The mundanity of the thought brings me back to myself, and I become aware of my body, curled up in a foetal position. I must have fallen asleep on the beach like this. I gaze at the sea, not really knowing what I’m looking for.

I sometimes wonder what it feels like to be an unborn child. Fragile, weak, vulnerable – yet full of potential. Warm, and protected. Untouched, innocent. People seem to go all their lives looking for happiness, this innocence they leave behind at birth. Seeking the comfort of submersion in darkness and fluid seems to me a desperate, and primordially human thing to do.

At this hour of night, nobody is on the beach. I am in my own little world – a world that only exists until the conquering sunrise destroys it. Those few hours though, the early hours of the morn – they are my dominion.

I stand up and walk down to the water’s edge. The moon stares at me, a great luminous eye in the heavens, watching my every movement. The sea sighs and creeps up on me, tugging at my toes; playfully beckoning.

The tropical warmth of the fluid surrounds me.