Month: June 2016

Appreciation of exposure to new things

I recently found out that Ryohgo Narita had been writing a sequel to Durara, and it’s called ‘Durara SH’.

“SH” stands for “snake hands,” which is an idiom meaning “unnecessary addition.” It comes from a story in which the person who finishes first in a competition adds legs to their snake drawing, ruining the work. Author Narita explains: “Possibly, people might call this a useless story. “Urban Legends” are like a giant snake that grows, but nothing important has to be added. Nevertheless, we must not forget. A snake’s front foot could evolve into both arms, “hands” that grab at all if it’s acquirable. When that snake might become a dragon.”

When I thought that my respect for Narita could not grow anymore, he proved me wrong. When I read his explanation, I was awed by his unique perspective. I told myself, “Man, only Narita could come up with this kind of idea. It’s so refreshing.”

After reading his work, I became more aware of how much room for growth and improvement I had left, how there are many interesting people out there with their distinct unique ideas and view, how I should not quickly judge works based on my familiarity or others’ views on it. Reading Durara made my view of life and world colourful. Through Durara, I learned that there is no boring person or idea; there’s only a boring perspective.

 

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Snow, Lethe Diana and I

A story dedicated to those who are pursuing their dreams.

Snow rained in Singapore, turning everything white.

***

Orchard Road, once as noisy as a crying infant, was silent; nobody, except my taxi driver and myself, were present. Time remained stagnant, and a yellow CityCab remained still at a 4-way intersection. The surrounding buildings loomed over us.

Seeing the empty street, I asked, “Can we go?”

Just like the red light, the vehicle didn’t budge. I squeezed a crumbled paper in my hand. The outcome had not reflected my expectation at all. Although I now had more time to think of how I could explain my score on the latest creative prose to them, my mind stayed blank.  I still had one more chance to fix the draft. Sensing my unease, a rusted pen inside my pocket gnawed at my thigh.Then, I felt my phone vibrate in the different pocket, and the pen went still. They knew I had received the score today.

Snow continued falling. Shaking, I dug my nails into my neck, but the pain oddly did not calm me as it did usually. Soon, the vibration stopped. I breathed out in relief, when I noticed a movement outside and spotted a couple.

They—a girl and a boy—were my intellectual classmates.

I tore my gaze away, but the echoes of their laughter stung me.

Shivering, I requested, “Can we go?”

Yet, the cab remained still. When I looked out again from behind the window, the couple was  enjoying a snow fight. I sighed, opening the window for fresh air. So what? Even if I began to work hard now and managed to get into either NUS or Raffles Institution, I would just become a bottom student again and restart everything. Just repeat and repeat. This was all futile. Right…it was all…futile.

I dropped the paper and took out the pen. Before adding another one to my collection, I scanned the aesthetic cuts I currently had on my arms.  It was just too cold here. This time, the pen’s icy tip would free me for good. I glanced at outside, but found the window completely blocked by a…

brown butterfly—Lethe Diana.

Several eyes on its wings all gazed at me. Shrieking, I turned to other windows but also found them covered with small lethe dianas. I desperately called for help, for her, for him. But nobody came. The eyes were all patiently waiting for a fragile butterfly inside me to join them. Something wet began to drop from my eyes, but countless eyes simply gazed. And the driver also curiously watched.

I breathed in… and…out. I was…ready.

The pen began to growl. Trembling, I prepared to shove the pen’s tip into my throa—

And something cold struck my face.

I instinctively lunged backward; the sound of the slam echoed through the street, and the silence soon meekly returned. By then, the butterflies and even the driver were gone. I could see the footsteps on the snow outside. Feeling an icy breeze, I looked up to find…snowflakes. Nearby, the guy was grinning, and the girl was waving a pair of gloves. Seeing them, I finally felt warm. Being able to know them…maybe, my pursuit of my dream schools was not so meaningless after all

The red light had switched to green, and I steadily opened the door to step out. As I exited, I saw an unfamiliar person in the reflection of the window…me? I could still visualize the back of the familiar boy, who clung onto his paper alone in his cocoon. I had lost my pen and paper, but I found something of greater value. I finally felt warm.

***

Eventually, the snow stopped, and time woke from its hibernation, signalling the summer’s beginning. Sensing the heat, lethe dianas hid in the shadow of Singapore’s light. And waited.

With their eyes opened, they will rest until the winter returns.

End

I finished reading Durara by the end of March. Yet, I can still clearly recall how the story resounded powerfully within me. However, if it were not for its main protagonist, whom I could relate to, the story might not have been as impactful as it was. This allowed me to realise that good stories are often the stories that the readers can relate to. Thank you for spending your valuable time to read my story, and I hope it managed to reach out to you in one way or another. Perhaps, it’s now your turn to write the story that represents your beliefs.

P.S. 3 fun facts:

1.Lethe diana is a butterfly that is attracted to corpses.

2.It can be found in the regions of Russia such as Primorye, Sakhalin, and South Kuril, and regions of Japan such as Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu and TsushimaIt; it means that lethe diana does not belong in Singapore.

3. It does not snow in Singapore. It is always summer

I hope these three facts can perhaps help you gain a new insight into my story.

Inspiration for my story.

Have you ever had those moments, when you feel extremely eager to write a story after either watching a movie or reading a book? I recently experienced the inspiration I have previously mentioned after reading ‘Durara’, a fictional Japanese novel written by Ryohgo Narita. Personally, I adore fictional novels.  However, Japanese novel was an art form that I was not quite familiar with. My friends refused to read it, as they said that Japanese art form tends to be either perverse or bizarre. Nevertheless, I reluctantly gave it a try after a strong recommendation from Mark, one of my closest friends. And oh boy, am I glad that I did. Deciding to read Durara was probably one of the wisest decisions I had made this year.
After reading Ryohgo Narita’s work, I was itching to write a story that only I, Joshua Choi, could write. I wanted to encapsulate my values and beliefs into my story, and then convey them to my readers in a rather powerful and creative manner, just as how Narita managed to do so. I wanted to write a story that would leave unforgettable experience on its readers. Just like how Narita’s work had done for me. I wanted my story to touch my readers and inspire them to write as well; I wanted to be remembered for my story.

During my earlier years of adolescence, I often experienced relationship problems. Such issues caused me to gradually turn cynical. However, reading ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ saved me and actually changed my perception of people, relationships and the society. In the future, I want to publish a work that not only represents my beliefs and values but also reaches out and saves those who are experiencing predicaments. I want to publish a work that can leave life-changing experience on many people. Hence, have often participated in writing competitions throughout the year. Even while being preoccupied by IB and other activities, I have been constantly pursuing other opportunities to achieve one of my goals in life. For the last competition I participated in, I wrote ‘Snow, Lethe Diana and I’—a story that focuses on the recovery of a boy, who was about to mentally break down due to academic pressure and cynical perspective of life.

I wanted to express that everyone, sooner or later, encounters a challenge that makes him or her want to give up. That is how ‘ Snow, Lethe Diana and I ‘ came to life