Untitled by Phan Van Lam

Description: It was all over the news. I didn’t even know him that well. But the idea of someone with a constant bright smile committing a suicide simply stunned me, and left me in a mess. I thought about all the possibilities, what I could have done, what we could have done, and what we never did. In vain, I poured my heart out into this poem and tried to explore the isolation that had consumed him, when it was a little too late, with an earnest wish, that we could somehow learn to listen to each other more, not just from the words of mouth, but also from the words unsaid.

I think I am heartbroken, I declared, on a day when sun was burning hot and wind was whipping crazy. No, you can’t be, they looked at me, with a penetrating smile, Not when you are just in your twenties. What is wrong with being broken at the age of twenty seven, I asked, perplexed, How else do you explain the fact that I am always drowning? Just so that you can learn to swim, they said, this time throwing me a buoy, We hope it helps. I grabbed the buoy, just for show. One colorful buoy, with a smiley duck on the side, it was. However, I would like to think that I was no fool. And had it taken only a buoy to stay afloat, I would have bought myself a dozen and more. In my wildest dream, I found myself laughing, maniacally, holding up a pin, I asked, What is this? They stared and stared, all bewildered, Silence was piercing, until one mumbled, ever so lowly, A pin it is, they said. I shook my head, You, I softly murmured, as I stabbed the colorful buoy I was once given. It screeched, painfully, yet I didn’t find it in me to keep on laughing. I woke up, covered in sweat, blood was gushing, and vision was blurred. As I remembered the concern on their face, I swallowed a choke, oh how I wished it were true.

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