From a Fish: Diane Chong, 16, Singapore

From a Fish

I am a fish
Looking out from my fishbowl.

There are people laughing and dogs barking,
Cats climbing and squirrels yapping.
The scent of danger and risk fill the air,
And I take in whiffs of excitement and adrenaline.

There are cars speeding and leggy people going running
Clouds floating and a sun shining.
The aroma of city life and bucolic peace mingle in the open air,
And I can detect the lingering scents of summer romance and freshly picked pears.

But I live in a fishbowl.
And there is no such thing as excitement or adrenaline here.
There are only bubbles and water and more bubbles.
Don’t get me wrong- I’d love to partake in the festivities and share the love.
But no one ever really invites me.

You see, I’m a special type of fish.
I swim, but I don’t really swim.
I blow bubbles and do my own thing, but I don’t really blow bubbles.
I’m a fish, but I’m not really a fish.

I consider myself a fish because I do all the things a fish does-
Lives by herself, eats by herself, hangs out by herself.
Looks out of a fishbowl while the rest of the world looks in.
Observes what the world is doing but never partakes in its doing.

They are rather cruel sometimes:
They walk by and stare at me, watching me swim and blow my bubbles and breathe.
The braver ones come by and tap the glass, watching me come closer
but quickly leave when the look in my eyes become too hopeful.
The bravest ones come by and dip a finger in, rippling the water and watching me pump my goldfish of a tail to the surface,
but quickly retract when they see I’m actually coming up close.
Not all of them do, but some of them go blub a blub a blub and laugh in my face til my fishbowl fogs over;
And that’s when I really want to dive and duck and cover.

But even so, what can a fish do?
I do my best to be the best fish I can be.
Listening to doctor’s orders and taking those pills
Injecting those shots and making sure not to take too much Rockstar.
Comforting my mother when she cries and breaks down
From the four word phrase my doctor writes down.
Wheeling around in my own sweet ride, trying not to constitute so much chide.

I so want to experience the outside,
Yet something tells me we won’t really match.
It’s a thing of dreams, something of the past.
If I never make it out of these glass walls,
I promise myself I won’t be too sad.
I’ll forgive and forget and just live in this watery land.

For fish like me,
Who ride in wheelchairs
And are friends with their doctors
Who take their pills and are good little daughters-
Perhaps it’s safer-
Perhaps it’s better in the water.


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