Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Pillow Book: 8. He gave me his name but I cannot give it


8. He gave his name but I cannot give it

xxxWhen I visit Singapore now, I stay with my parents. This means, among other things, that I sleep in my old bed, the bottom bed of a double-decker. The long pillow still stretches out there but it no longer hugs me back. The first man I brought home was an army warrant officer. I was in National Service again, only this time it was a pleasure. He gave me his name but I cannot give it.
xxxThomas’s family migrated from China to Vietnam to Singapore before settling in the United States. He in turn ran away from them by going to serve the Singapore army. Living in the barracks, he heard his officers entering their men’s rooms at night, and sometimes in the day. Their shadows would flit across his shutters. We were eating pork congee in Chinatown in the winter when he told me this, certain of being understood without explanation.
xxxWhen Yi-sheng told the army he was gay, he was categorized as medically unfit for operational duty.
xxxI heard and saw nothing during my time. The deregulation was within. When I watched surreptitiously my platoon in the showers. When a sergeant cocked a crooked smile at his map. Once, the guys carried up a popular mate, spread-eagled him in the air, and split his crotch against a pillar. It was done in jest but, oh, everyone was so excited!

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