Six.
It is her first day at her second kindergarten
Fingers pointed to her
Giggles followed
She doesn't understand why

Seven.
It is her first day at primary school
Perhaps it is déjà vu
Perhaps it isn't
The stares she noticed
It was all too familiar
She was approached
Questions were asked
Now she understands why

Ten.
One by one
Names were called
One by one
Their heights were recorded
Her name was called
Excited
She stood against the wall
She is cheating
Someone yelled from behind the line
Her hair is at least 3cm tall
Push it down
Her teacher laughed along

Eleven.
Her parents gave her one name
Her classmates gave her a few
Her basketball teammates gave her more
Maggi Mee
Hot Air Balloon
Broom
Her basketball coach gave her one name
One Hokkien name
Her coach called her
Again
Giggles followed
She doesn't understand Hokkien
She doesn't want to understand Hokkien

Eleven.
She wants to shut everyone up
By shaving her head

Twelve.
You are too short
We need tall players
Even your hair can't help you
Next
She's out of the team

Thirteen.
It is her first day in high school
She already knows the drill
She blames her parents' genes

Fourteen.
It's rad
Unique
Different
Awesome
I love it
Don't care what other thinks
She smiled
She gave her thank yous
She doesn't believe any of those words

Fifteen.
They don't say it
They don't show it
But her three best friends love her
Leave it long
She scoffed
Trust us
She does

Sixteen.
Cut it
Her favourite teacher told her
It's messy
It's worse
Trust me
She doesn't

Sixteen.
Every day
Every recess
She bumps into them
Every day
Every recess
A song will be sung to her
Sampaikan cintaku padanya
Those were the only words she caught
As she tries to ignore the group of senior Malay boys
She doesn't understand why
Nor does she want to

Sixteen.
Down
Down
And down
Down but up
What happened
To growing upwards
She doesn't know
Nobody does
Her friends were right
Her teacher was wrong

Seventeen.
You are a prefect
Tie it up
It's very long
She doesn't know how
Shaking
She walked away
From her discipline teacher
A hairband was dug up from her mother's drawer
Prussian blue with arctic blue flowers
And was shoved into her best friend's hand the next day
Help me
One look and no question were asked
Her hair was tied up to a ponytail
For the very first time

Seventeen.
She's a senior
The boys are gone
Sampaikan cintaku padanya
Answers wanted
Answers obtained
She stares into the photo of the lead singer of Alleycats
Now she knows why

Seventeen.
Pretty
Beautiful
Awesome
I'm jealous of you
She smiled
She gave her thank yous
She believes them all

Seventeen.
Her friends
Her parents' genes
She's grateful
She's happy

Eighteen.
It is her first day in college
She already knows the drill
She thought she knew
She's grateful
She's happy

Nineteen.
Stray strands were pointed out
Unbeliveable
She stares back at her friend from
The other end of the lunch table
She's six again
She hears giggles
She's ten again
She hears her teacher's laughter
She's eleven again
Maggi Mee hot air balloon broom
She's eleven again
She hears that Hokkien word
She's eleven again
She wants to shave her head
She's fourteen again
She believes nothing
She's fifteen again
She scoffs at her best friends
She's sixteen again
She hears her favourite teacher
She's sixteen again
Sampaikan cintaku padanya
She's seventeen again
She doesn't know how to do a ponytail

Nineteen.
She's nineteen again
She scoffs at her friend from
The other end of the lunch table
She's grateful
She's happy
She doesn't care

Published by Cheyenne Jiayun