Anna Onni’s life goals include pasting giant googly eyes on public property, getting over her debauched postcolonial hangover, and bribing someone to sing “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park” while feeding birds in Singapore’s UNESCO Site. In her spare time, she is an educator who illustrates and writes in her unfinished sketchbooks. Her work is in the literary anthology Food Republic and she illustrates for The Singapore War Crimes Trials Project.
The recipe is as follows.
Do not undercook or understand cored softness. When freshly cored, softness is messy. Do not worry. Over-sentimentalisation causes this curious fermentation process. Naturally occurring softness causes clingy mushiness. However, when rendered with high-pressure living conditions, softness is a highly sought-after supplement to the harsh blandness of instant gratification.
Remove the softs, also known as fake currency. The expectation of sweet softness is a lie that denies the gristle and bristle of bared skin. You have wrinkled your body into the crinkle of false capital. Once tender, now illegal. Access denied at home, at work, at supermarkets, at hospitals, at morgues, at the feet of someones who will begin the coring process. Each scrape a shovel to empty you out and shape your heart into the space others need.
But soft—you already began as hollowness cored out of wholeness. Which is to say you have always been an un. An underneath to understanding that surface crustiness fails to show. Suggestive of this underworld of underwhelmingly banal truths which everyone else seems to unknow. You are an un-something scraped haphazardly from the insides of someone else. A hard mass of rapidly dying tissue that escaped from the mantle that would have kept you safe. You try to name this un-ness and come up with absence. You do too much and keep running on empty.
Show up for breakfast. Eat fruits until you reach the pits. In the pits there is new life. To soften your edginess, dip armies of crusty toast soldiers into runny egginess. Forget about carbs and cholesterol and cortisol. You were prescribed a dose of sunny yokes free from toil. Your nervous laugh will turn into snorting derision. Your breath is rasping from the effort to relax. All this is normal. You are holding space for all the world and then some more. It is the most natural thing in the world to feel this much. It is too much. Always too much.
Once cored, check for tenderness. It might hurt. It will be sore. You will stare longingly at the effortless smoothness of everyone else. This is as it should be. This new softness will force you to be full of care all the days of your life. This soft core which you delve into will expand till it can take in the vastness of all the world. You will resist the hardness of the world with equal and greater strength. You will yield to the softest touch that brushes against your cheek.
When he’s not wallowing in anxiety over school and submissions, his relationships with others and himself, you might find Kishore Kalaichalvan peering at the skies in a daze—ironically enough for someone who prefers their feet on the ground. He hopes to write more poetry as a form of connection but first, to conquer his fraternal twin vices of convolution and procrastination.