Image Description: Painting of a girl upon a blue background looking at an empty taxi
The day the quarantine ended was the day we matriculated. We could not wait to see each other in real life. I remember she got a taxi to my place. She took the initiative.
Over the previous three years in the UK, I used to cater to non-Asians. I was scared. I had an underlying anxiety that I would not be able to engage with the network of foreigners.
Here, I am using ‘foreigners’ in an interesting way. This appellation is used by many Chinese people. Even though we are in the Western world, we still describe those who are non-Chinese as foreigners. This is probably evidence of my strong Oriental consciousness.
But everyone is a foreigner somewhere, aren’t they?
I felt a sense of inferiority—
Because I grew up in a non-English world?
Because I subconsciously internalised white supremacy?
Because I remember clearly how when I was engaged in conversation with several peers after a reading group in the Dyson building three years ago, they ignored me with their eye contact, and skipped to the next person. I was trying to fill the gap like I was looking for a moment to press the trigger and shoot — I was in a panic. They were resoundly stuck in my throat. I was an unnecessary person.
It was not me who took the taxi; it was not me who made things convenient for her. In that moment, I deeply understood what is meant by equality. She waited outside of my home and walked with me across the bridge through the botanical gardens to our destination.
I measured our intimacy and felt we were closer, closer, and closer.
Image Credit: Matthew Kurnia