Letter to the Aether


We go through these rituals never fully understanding or appreciating their function.

We never truly grasp the need, the necessity, as one of the survivors, as one of the living. Or at least, I never did; I have never allowed myself to properly mourn.

But here I am. Writing, too late, the things I’ve always wanted to say, the feelings I’ve always wanted to express.

We will never find out how it would have been: you and I, in this crazy world. Perhaps we would have been bitter enemies, perhaps we would have been brothers. Perhaps our hopes for you would have been realised.

Perhaps… you might have found happiness.

The apparatus of life, filling a home with blessed sound. Perhaps. Maybe. I remember that day I first heard of you, saw you. Both of you. All of you.

I remember when you were put to rest.



… Words fail me.



Remember Me


image credit: mountain rose blog

It is at this point that you realise, with all the dread in the world, that you’ll never see her again.

“Remember me,” you plead, grabbing her hand as she turned to go. She looks back at you, and you notice, too late, the beautiful way light danced in her olive eyes.

Your heart struggles to continue beating against the sudden constriction in your chest as she gently pulls away. Suddenly, nothing makes sense, and in the midst of all this turmoil and confusion, neither word nor action seemed appropriate, or even possible. Words die in your throat; your mind races down a million rabbit holes; and you drown in the rapidly expanding ocean that is time.

You are frozen. Frozen like how you greatly wished time would have frozen when the two of you first shared that long, soft gaze from across the table, kindred souls, alone in the crowded room. It was then that you somehow noticed her cheeks.

Cheeks slightly flushed from the Pina Coladas, her fair skin making the blush all the more obvious.

Cheeks lightly dusted with the most adorable freckles you had ever set eyes on.

And she was smiling; a radiant glow peeking shyly from behind long, jet black tresses that fell carelessly across her delicate, perfect face.

You want to tell her that this is the image that you’ll cling desperately to, till the end of your days.

You want to tell her that this is the image you never want to forget.

The elevator doors start to close, dread sentinels seeking to forcibly separate the two of you; but still you stand frozen, unable to express the pure emotion churning within, thoughts trapped in an endless spiral.

She says something, just before the doors meet, just before your life ends. She says something that stops your heart completely.

“I’ll miss you.”

Coffee – Ankle Porn

The author confirms that these boat shoes have indeed been worn on a ship’s open deck. Sockless.

I was catching up with a friend over overpriced coffee last night when the topic of trends and style came up.

Being an ardent fan of 1920’s Prohibition era fashions, which he describes as “the beginning of everything”, he was lamenting about the seemingly downward spiral that fashion has been on since then: More skin, less class.

A particular pet peeve that was gnawing at him was the whole sockless movement that made its way to our island’s shores quite a few years ago and never left. “It’s repulsive. Let the Europeans keep their ankle porn,” says he.

It was at that moment that I stole a glance at my own near-sockless getup, wondering if my ankles ever made anyone hard.

“Our climate isn’t meant for going sockless in,” he said, before going into vivid detail about what happens to feet stuffed in shoes in a humid climate. The mental image and smell is something I cannot forget. But he had a point about how our sweat damages our shoes, and doing that willingly is just silly.

I then pointed out that many guys do wear tiny socks that are invisible when the shoe is on, and that does help keep the world turning, but I personally agree that your dress shoes should not be worn sockless, even if you had Michael Kors’ ankles.

In fact, every ‘sockless’ attempt should be made with low cut socks. Let’s not shy away from uncomfortable territory now, people, this is a matter of olfactory life and death! I’m sure you know of that one person who has the misfortune of getting smelly feet but still insists on going foot au naturel. And when you invite him into your home or find yourself to be in an enclosed space with him sans shoes… hell hath no fury like damp podiatric musk.

Similar (in some ways) to the Satorialist, I’ve gone sockless in the middle of a Buffalo Winter, and my ankles still work fine, but back here in Singapore… um, no. The Shoe Snob has a great guide to solving the sockless equation, but keep in mind that none of the gents in those photos have had the misfortune to be stuck on our humid shores.

I mean, if you are going to follow styles and trends, at least do it intelligently, and not follow the herd like brainless sheep. I don’t believe you’re brainless sheep, unless you were the boy who beat me up for my lunch money when I was 7. So adapt, not imitate, the styles you love, please.

Black Coffee and Blue Skies, everyone.

Cliff N.

Cliff is the resident wordsmith and kingmaker at Basis. He sometimes cheats on his “No-Sockless” rule; Tweet him for further olfactorily stimulating discussions on podiatric sartorialism.

Never Just An Ordinary Girl

image credit: http://colorless-b-e-a-u-t-y.tumblr.com/You sit in front of a blank page, head full of images and emotions, ready to be unleashed.

There have been many. But she has never left your thoughts; she invades and permeates your very being. You remember her scent: a sweet citrus that makes you think of silk and pearls. You remember her once educating you on the nuances of perfumes and the way her delicate hands handled the small pot of coffee beans while she gestured wildly at her little perfume cupboard.

She never could pronounce cupboard properly, amongst other things, and that was one of the many things you loved about her.

You remember her in ways that seem inconsequential. The way she would glance up from her coffee, dressed in your hoodie. You would look around the crowded coffee shop, before deciding that you were too embarrassed to even whisper “You look cute”. You settled for a scribbled message on the napkin made from recycled pulp. She seems surprised, shocked even, like what you just ‘said’ was news to her.

You remember that night, jazz was playing in the background, and there were laughs aplenty. You don’t remember what came over you, or why you were reaching across the table, but there it was, her hand in yours, neither of you pulling away.

Your heart aches. You now remember everything that happened after. The night at her apartment, in that mad rush to cram facts and figures for tomorrow’s exam, somehow, someone asks “So why haven’t you kissed me yet?” the next thing you remember was being cheek to cheek, breaths quick and urgent, each lungful laced with her sweet citrusy scent, her pet cat looking on in disapproval.

You remember pulling away, you remember saying, softly, but clearly, that you didn’t need a relationship right now. You said never really loved her; you only loved the idea of being in love.

You remember running off to a faraway land, to a land with snow; to a land where there have been others. But try as you might, you never forgot her.

And now you sit, facing a page filled with regrets you can’t forget.


Coffee – There Is Nothing To Forgive

I had coffee with an old friend today.

It wasn’t in a fancy joint; it was in a really breezy hawker centre.

We hadn’t met in over a year, and so this meeting to trade tales whilst consuming hot beverages (reasonably priced!) was a very welcome break in the monotony that has become my life.

He was going through a rough patch in his life, and was just coming out on the other side. As we relived his trials, he dropped a single line that somehow struck an off-tune chord with me.

“There is nothing to forgive.”

Now, while obviously this needs some context, I think we’ve all enough brains to realise that he was feeling guilty about a lot of things. But he was coming to the point where he was able to acknowledge that there isn’t a point in carrying that weight on our shoulders. There isn’t any utility to be derived from nursing that guilt.

Let it go, move on.

The longer you stagger around with sunk costs on your mind, the faster you go nowhere.

I’ve always wanted to be a pilot since I was 8, clutching my Supermarine Spitfire model (1/32 size!) whilst watching our national carrier’s planes launch from the runway at Changi, magnificent in their livery, and when I was finally called up for the RSAF Air Grading (fought for 2 years – long story there), I was beside myself with epic elation. I poured everything I had in me towards my training.

I failed.

This Cadet was given a Cadbury Freddo Frog as a consolation by my LTC (Ret.) and shown the door. I had a difficult time forgiving myself for years.

But, there was, and is, nothing to forgive.

Shit’s happened. You obviously didn’t roll with the punch, seeing that you’re bunched up on the floor, crying. Stand up, centre yourself and analyze your situation with passivity and objectivity. Let the experience flow through you, and do not jump to label the experience as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  Understand that there is an opportunity to learn from this incident. Sieve out the lessons, consume them, regain your balance, and move the hell on.

Often, after a thorough analysis of the situation (coffee helps), I’ve found that many emotions that we feel bogged down with; say guilt, or regret, are simply kinks in the thread that weaves our life story.  We’ve the power to reframe the problem in a different context, a different light, and once we do, the ‘problem’ magically stops being one.

I admit. I am an emotion-junkie. I like feeling down sometimes as it’s when I get my best writing done. But in the long run, I’m just wasting everybody’s time. There comes a point when nobody gives a shit about what’s going on with you; listening to your bitching is simply a pre-requisite for them to have an audience to bitch to (That’s what Twitter is for).

So, finish up that last bit of coffee in your mug, have a last cry, and from tomorrow, get out there and stop feeling sorry for yourself.


One of the last shots I took before leaving the airbase. Poignant. 

First Kiss x First Kicks


Your first kiss; stolen while you were strolling under the bridge. Fireworks sizzling your nerves as you make contact, lips contorted into the strangest shape ever. Fingers bunching up your shirt as resistance gives way to guilty urgency, static burning the both of you wherever skin met. You remember the exact hue of the sky; the graffiti piece on the wall behind her.

Those precious, intense seconds get drawn out into minutes, hours, and eventually, weeks later, you find her in your arms, stealing time together in the stairwell of her apartment building, hoping that her boyfriend never finds out.

You remember the stray cat that was witness to it all: A mangy ball of fur, the only survivor of an ill-fated brood of kittens that the two of you tried to save.

The kick to the base of your spine was unexpected, and nerves tingling (not in a good way), you fall to the floor as more kicks land all over your body.

You never saw her again. Indeed, it was hardly surprising your best friend stopped taking your calls, rebuffing your attempts to make peace with him.

You Hate Your Job / A day in the life of a minion/cog/drone

You trudge into the office in the morning, plug in and boot up the computer.

You say ‘Hi’ to the colleagues sharing your cubicle lot, fellow prisoners in this prison of badly constructed particle board. You can’t stand them, nor what they represent. But you smile anyway; they’re the only ones that understand what you’re going through.

You are angry, simmering with a quiet rage at the state of things.

How did your life end so quickly? It seemed like only yesterday when the world was full of promise, and you’d just received your degree. There was promise in the air, and pride in your parents’ eyes. You stood on the threshold of a bright future. Your folks, school faculty, heck, even your school valedictorian said so. Nevermind that nagging doubt at the back of your head!

Your irritation from work, from the shards of your broken dreams build up, and you snap at the simplest things: slow traffic, bad service, that fella with the hairy mole sitting across from you on the MRT that’s absurdly crowded.

You’ve endured years of putting on plastic smiles for colleagues and bosses that you hate but can’t afford to offend (much). You look around the office longingly, wishing for a quiet storeroom to hide in and nap. But you can’t; Outlook has just piped in another pointless email requesting you to “revert” or “escalate” something. You never quite got how to execute those types of action-items. Must be some fancy magic trick that only the best-of-breed fast-tracks know of. Not you, no. You’re just a lowly executive who tries to use simple English with your colleagues who refer to you as a ‘ker-lick’.

You are also exhausted.

You spend your nights trying to escape. Through drinks; through games; through paid companionship. You feel sick and ashamed of yourself, but your late nights prevent you from stifling more than a yawn.

You should probably lace on that dusty pair of trainers, since the annual IPPT window is closing, but maybe later; you’ve just torrented that latest Hugh Jackman movie, gosh look at those abs.

Good on you if you’ve made friends at work. Until you realise you only talk about work. There is no real warmth in the idle chit chat that goes on over the lunch table or bar top.

“See you tomorrow!” you chirp at colleagues, when what you really meant was “I hope I won’t have to see you in that same carpeted prison cell again. Ever.”