Race was naive enough to think that dyeing her hair was enough to alter the pigment of her name, the nature of her shadow. She tried lime green to generate more zest, a fiery red to suggest deep-seated passions, even black, for that laid-back retro look. But nothing changed.

    People walked past her on the street, eyes averted, clasping their gaudy shopping-bags watchfully. In school she sat in the corner, hoping to blend in with the cracked paint. Her lovers continued to call her by other names when making love. In the dark, and in the throes of ecstasy, they claimed, everyone looked the same. It was easy to be confused.

    Race was not convinced. She felt different inside, a place where the moonlight could not reach. She tried using a microscope, a DNA test, her rose-tinted glasses, but could not figure out why the softly pulsing engine of her being remained invisible to her. Did she not have a name? A history? And did she not buy her own clothes with money she earned the same way as everyone else?

    Disappointed, Race realised that her soul was not the sum of her choices, nor her genes a composite of caresses and strokes leading up to her conception. She envied her friends, the purity of their obliviousness, how they wore their hair casually long and streaked with gold, gleaming against their skin, beneath which the blood coursed, without question, like a final answer.

    She wondered if she peeled back their flesh, unhinged the bone, eased apart the knotted sinews, whether she would also find nothingness there: a space worn away in the shape of their own silences; what colour it must be.

19 July 2002   22:48 hours
in the lost gallery of memory { } the merlion takes flight