DURING THE SUN'S PEAK: DREA'S PRELUDE
Boom! Plak! Plak! Paak! Hammering down a 3-inch nail on a 40-year old concrete wall is truly harder than earning that PhD graduation picture and diploma which by the way, I’ll hang on this wall. I thought, the nail should be really sturdy enough to hold a double glass box frame, which I designed and customised along with the help of my trusted frame craftsman.
Voila! I stepped a foot back and there you go... My beacon of pride. My visual journey of sweat, blood, tears and an empty bank account! My wall of glory! My own version of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution!
Surely, I was way thinner when I graduated Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy Major in Arts Therapy, a few more pounds added when I graduated Master of Arts in Art Education, shed a few flesh in that Masters in Business Administration graduation pic and acquired lots of adipose and layers of chin in that PhD graduation pic.
Yes, whist I was collecting additional brownie points for my CV, I accumulated cellulites, fat, and extra love handles as well, but who cares? Those triple stripes on that black sleeve, countered all those bulges I tried to hide with a shaky smile. I couldn’t hold a smile for more than 5 seconds because for a person like me, smiling is very rare and an extremely challenging thing to do. It is not because I didn’t want to, but my face could’t paint what I really don’t feel, that’s why photography sessions are always a struggle. Heck, just taking a mere selfie is already a cringe-fest for me. This graduation picture is going to be the last studio picture I’d do. That, I subconsciously promised myself.
"Woah! That is intense!" My brother spewed in a sarcastic tone. ”That should be enough sis! The next picture on that wall, should be... You, wearing a white dress, with an arm of a man around that broad shoulder, and a ring on your pudgy finger."
"That’s easy." I said in an irritating tone. The last thing I needed under this intense, absolute summer heat is an unsolicited advice from a person who’s been single for more than 3 years and only had a relationship that lasted for four months or so.
"Silicone dolls are now cheap online, maybe I can haggle quarter of its price if I only need an arm!" I told my brother with a smirk.
"How about the ring? You can’t recycle the engagement ring that your ex gave you for the last picture, because it doesn’t fit you anymore and it looks so cheap. The lustre and sparkle from your academic medals might outshine that ring." My brother nagged.
"That’s why! That PhD corner there...is the last." I told my brother. ”Please, stay away from this hard-to- build literally and figuratively wall-of-fame of mine. Your opinions on this wall are extremely invalid if you can’t even reach the third level."
"Hmph! With that kind of attitude sis, I agree. That PhD picture is the last. You’ll never get an upgrade, wearing a white dress!" my brother answered mockingly.
"Who says, I’ll wear white?! I don’t like white. I like ecru, mother of pearl, and beige-pink. I am never a fan of white."
I stormed away from that vexing conversation with my brother. He never failed to get into my nerves.
An unwavering amount of dark pressure suddenly surrounds me. At 36 years old, even though my skin and face don’t look like it spun over three decades; my body shape, chin count and the first page of my resume say otherwise. I have given up on being fit and maintaining a straight ladder for my career.
The more I earn a degree, the more my career leans to a downward spiral. Having a preposterous amount of titles don’t really equate to a successful career lineage- and I am a living proof of that. It is lucky for me to stay two years in a company, and I was never regularised. I don’t know if I am just naturally thirsty for a new opportunity or I just easily get tired. Maybe, it is the latter, or maybe, I have never found my dream job yet, or just maybe, I am still in the wrong place.
Normally, people my age should be established; as established as what most families in those TV commercials portray (I wish that TV commercials will show what real people experience in their lives). I ignored this fact and now I am reaping all the unnecessary consequences- the dark, heavy pressure to fit in this modern society is one of them.
“You can have it all, but not all at once.” An Oprah Winfrey quote that played through my life for the past 10 years. But that quote is not applicable now, because the invisible eyes of judgment are creeping around my thoughts like a high-definition CCTV.
I went back to check my wall-of-fame. The evolution of Drea is so strong, yet so incomplete. I thought to myself, yes, probably, my brother is right. He is right with the color, but he is not right with the type of clothing. He should’ve said a white blazer instead of a white dress. A white dress with a fake arm around me can come later. I’ve used and nourished this single life for almost four years now. Love is something I really don’t anticipate. If love and marriage is for me...It will come. If it is my destiny, I’ll have it, but for now, I need to straighten this roller coaster of a career I have.
At 36, I have achieved so much and I have achieved so little. I let out a disappointed sigh.
A few seconds later, an unfamiliar sound rang from my phone. I have never heard that ring tone before.
Wait, this is a call. So many numbers. It is an overseas call.
“Hello, good day! Drea speaking. Who’s this please”?