We; or a Repository for Normal Offenses
The first year of a bleak decade that keeps on returning. When the morning comes, so too the scars all with a name. Is it just the latest hate crime, or are we truly dispossessed even in imagination? It can happen this way: our prominent birthmark suddenly gets erased when it could be the first evidence of our identity. We insist we are still the same child, that precious child who taught people joy even without saying anything. We close the door and try to be gentle with ourselves. We say “this body will never be alone” yet a thing once promising has already escaped. It happens, as how Nimruz De Castro opens his poem by “Your mother will not come to our wedding” and ends without taking it back. We keep the company that brings us safety. “A fabricated safety would even do,” we say. And then possibly, while idle we become the girl in Amanda [Ngoho] Reavey’s poem: “She puts her thumb on top of her mother’s thumbmark. On an inhale. Her body slips through time and into hers. All at once she understands how orphan children are never born. How they—simply—appear.” Do we have to close our eyes at this? Temporary life calls us and we kiss whoever wants to kiss us back. “Your mother will not come to our wedding,” we say it again and how it might feel we can’t be truly done with it.
We are simply the hurt that can’t be completely said. Or shared. Perhaps, speaking our hurt doesn’t mean a liberation from it. This is why it is crucial that we understand the conditions which allow or constraint speaking. These conditions magnify the world/s living within us. In Bodies of Evidence: Practice of Queer Oral History (2012), Horacio N. Roque Ramírez and Nan Alamilla Boyd tell, “[I]f there is not a narrator to claim that sexual space of queer historical being and its retelling, and a queer researcher to hear, record, and draw out yet more details, desire, and meaning from it, no queer oral history is possible.”As critical readers, Leon Wing leaves us with a suppressed account of violence; one that narrates more the context from which the nature of infliction evolves: private, almost microscopic lives. In most of the story, only the two main characters are allowed to be evidence of how queer desire is governed at the personal level. This is an exhibition. This allows a surveillance of them. And yet, when a minor character asked Sefen why his eye bruised and cheek swollen, why did he answer “no, I fell down”? Why did we have to know he told a lie?
Well, oftentimes we come from a long journey only to betray our body. We say it’s normal. We give it the chance to never be hurt even more. Sefen could’ve been shamed had he told the truth why he was hurt. “In a place like this, it wasn’t necessary to divulge the truth, especially of one’s personal background,” writes Jeffrey Pascual Yap. We have seen so much of how the speaking taboo was trained to be silent. A lot of us, undeniably, don’t want to encounter time and time again the pain of being an outcast. However, so much of Queer Southeast Asia is openness for that space in which we deliberate the precarious conditions impairing us. To think of vulnerability in political ways. To pursue the recognition of our body as it is: sensory, important, memorable. Says Cavafy: “Body, remember not only how much you were loved…how they trembled in the voice for you, remember, body!” Like how Khairani Barokka appeals, “you don't need to catch me or breath,/i'm open, come lessen/your need to breathe,” our body is an entrance to what we want to learn and see and touch again and again. Even if it means defiance. As it means defiance.
B.B.P. Hosmillo. ‘Editorial Note: We; or a Repository for Normal Offenses’. Queer Southeast Asia: a literary journal of transgressive art Vol. 1. no. 1, October 2016.