November, the Month of Nerves and Luck

NOVEMBER is my lucky month. Lucky because it’s my birth month, and because the best thing ever happened to me in November last year. Actually, let me take that back—not the best thing, but the two best things. As all PSLE students know, November is the month of nerves. The days are jolly, sure, it’s the holidays, but they all march up to that big day, rotten and exhilarating all at once, when the results are released. My big day was November 24th.

Amid the crowd and chatter all around the school hall that morning, I heard my name. My form teacher’s voice boomed: “Li Yi Wei!” Over the short distance of less than ten steps I had to take to get to her, my mind was crowded with all kinds of thoughts: Will I get to the secondary school of my dreams? What if I scored below 250?

As I stretched out my hand to get the sheet of computerized paper, Miss Ang smiled, a big, broad smile. “Congratulations, Yi Wei!” she said. “Good job!” I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and held the paper right in front of my face. The moment I opened my eyes, the numbers greeted me: 260. And, my goodness, a parade of ‘A’s!

  • EL1: A*
  • Mother Tongue (Chinese): A*
  • Math: A*
  • Science: A

I screamed. Then my classmates crowded round and screamed too. We all screamed, and hopped about like silly, delirious bunnies—bear hugs, bunny hugs all rolled into one.

“Okay, all right!” Miss Ang cried, breaking up our mad exhilaration. “Yi Wei, could you go to Miss Poey’s office, please? And now everyone, let me continue with my result slips.”

Off I went, half-dazed, wondering why our principal wanted to see me. Was it my PSLE results or something else? Was I going to get a prize? The thought of going to the principal’s office made me nervous, but braced by that slip of paper in my hand, I managed to knock on Miss Poey’s door with a confident rap, three crisp knocks.

Miss Poey stood up the moment I opened the door, and gave me a big smile. “Yi Wei,” she said. “You’ve done the school proud. And I heard you got 260.”

“Yes,” I said, feeling elated. No one had given me such attention before in all my years in school. And for it to come now from not just anyone but Madame Principal made me feel all bunny again.

Without going through any preamble, Miss Poey delivered yet another piece of good news to me. “Remember that first prize you won at the inter-school talent competition in July?” she said. “The one where you sang Taylor Swift’s Never Grow Up? Guess what?”

“What?” I said, my eyes going wide.

“Well, the folks at Marina Bay Sands have invited us to participate in their New Year’s Eve party, and you, my dear, they want you to sing Taylor Swift’s New Year’s Day.”

Wow! First, 260, then four ‘A’s, then three stars, and now Taylor Swift. To call this a memorable morning would be an understatement. No, memorable is not the word. The word is lucky. Truly, November is my lucky month, and November 24th, my birthday.

(542 words)

***

Chia Xin Yu, Primary Six
June 2018

For more essays by Xin Yu, visit Xin Yu Writes.


This essay was written in response to the theme, memorable celebration,” and three pictures:

1. A birthday cake

2. The PSLE result slip of Li Yi Wei with the following grades: EL: A*, CL: A*, Math: A*, Science: A, and a total score of 260

3. A talent competition featuring a girl singing and a boy playing the guitar

Best Friends Are Made of These

Image: Pinterest

‘Her over-the-top kindness and her loud voice suddenly made all my self-pity disappear, but it only made the embarrassment hotter.’

BEST FRIENDS are supposed to be wonderful, but sometimes, they can drive you up the wall. Kennice is just like that. She has been my best friend for two years now, since Primary Five. We have been in the same class, first in 5 Loyalty 1, and now 6 Resilience 1—those are the fancy names for our classes.

She sits in the second row from the right, third desk from the front, and I sit to her left, right across the aisle. It’s a blessing to have your best friend so close. We didn’t plan for this to happen, we ended up seated side by side on account of our height. She’s 1.45m tall, I’m 1.43m. She wears a ponytail, so do I. She’s a loudmouth, so am I, though not as loud as her. She’s the giggly type, I’m the same, except I’m gigglier.

That’s how we became friends. One day, she came up to me and said, “Hey, I like the way you laugh.” I was thrilled because my mother is not particularly fond of my laughter. I immediately warmed up to Kennice, such a nice name!

The only trouble with this girl is she’s not very discreet. She would, for instance, let loose a secret the moment she hears one. One time, I whispered to her that I really wanted to slap Corrine’s face, and as soon as the words left my lips, Kennice shouted out, almost in glee, “Oh my goodness! Xin Yu can’t stand Corrine!”

The whole world heard her, including poor Corrine, who was within earshot. And the worst part of it all is that this silly girl usually has no idea how hurtful she is. Even though in this instance, she may have caught her own stupid indiscretion, she only made it worse by proclaiming, “Oh, no, no, it’s just a dare, I didn’t mean it!” So much for pretending to sound random.

Discretion may not be her strong suit, but she’s got a big heart.

Once, I slipped down the stairs in school and felt my bum bumping down three, four steps before I hit the ground floor. The pain in the bottom wasn’t killing me so much as the hot flush of embarrassment. Some school mates snickered, others just walked right past. Only Kennice came rushing to my rescue.

“Oh, Xin Yu!” she cried. “Are you OK?”

She pulled me up, and surveyed my face, then my arm, and gave a quick inspection of my bottom. I looked fine, but she seemed to wonder if I had suffered some internal bleeding: “You sure we don’t have to go to the general office?” Her over-the-top kindness and her loud voice suddenly made all my self-pity disappear, but it only made the embarrassment hotter.

But that’s just Kennice. Her readiness to please is so hyper, it smothers you to bits. And nowhere did I feel more smothered than when we were eating chocolate-chip cookies our classmate Lindsay had brought to school one day.

“Mmm, this is so good!” I said.

“Yes, it is,” she agreed. “But I can make it even better.”

And it’s true she could. It was everything I could have wished for in a cookie, much the same way that Kennice is everything I could have wished for in a friend.

(556 words)

***

Chia Xin Yu, Primary Six
May 2018

For more essays by Xin Yu, visit Xin Yu Writes.


This essay was written in response to the theme, “Best Friends” and a picture of two girls whispering to each other

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You may also enjoy Not Just Friends. Best Friends.

When Luck Is On Your Side

image: vimeo

LIFE as a student here is not fun. Everyday is a homework day, including the holidays. Sometimes, we get stressed, sometimes, we can’t even catch up. And it gets worse if you are not an ‘A’ student like me. For Maths last year at the mid-year exams, I got 73; for science, 68; for English, 78.5; and for Chinese, thank goodness, I made myself proud. I scored 83, that’s an ‘A’. Still, overall, it was a lackluster performance. To the teachers, it was not lackluster, it was just bad.

Like the good student that I am and always strive to be, I worked hard, very hard, night and day, day and night, in the hope that lackluster and mediocre would turn into something shinier and brighter.

Would the toil pay off? Would it ever make a difference?

There was a mad kind of desperation for a month, then two, leading up to the final-year exams, but by the third month, I felt so tired I really didn’t care anymore. My motto, as the days approached the exam, was, “Ah, just go do it, and do your best!” I like to think this was all inspired by my mom and dad. Am I lucky or what?

A week after the exams, Mr. Goh, our science teacher, called upon four students to his desk. I was one of them.

“Well done!” he told us. “All of you, you’re going to get an award.”

“What are we getting?” Jeff asked.

“I’m not going to tell you.”

A week later, at the prize-giving ceremony, I still didn’t know what award I was up for until Mrs. Sachi, some Head of Department, announced my name: “Chia Xin Yu, second best student of the level.”

As it turned out, luck was truly on my side.

(303 words)

***

Chia Xin Yu, Primary Six
April 2018

For more essays by Xin Yu, visit Xin Yu Writes.


This essay was written in response to the theme, “A Proud Moment,” and three pictures: (1) a pair of clapping hands, (2) a trophy, (3) a sheet of paper with the word “Well Done” written on it

Don’t Mess With Dad, He’s Got OCD

Image: Goodhousekeeping

BRYAN has OCD. He doesn’t like people to touch his things. It would drive him crazy. Walk into his study and you would find everything spick and span, neat and tidy. His laptop is never on, except when he sits at his desk, doing some paper work, sending a couple of emails, surfing the web, and dawdling over Facebook. No one can touch that laptop, not even his mother, his wife, his daughters three, or the cat.

One time, his eldest daughter Xin Xin, tried to push her luck. She had to submit her term paper by 5PM on February 23, but for some reason, her own laptop died on her on the eve of submission deadline. She panicked, and she cried. Then her mother said, “Sweetheart, don’t worry, go use Daddy’s laptop. I’ll take care of it.”

“You sure, Mom?” Xin Xin said. “He’d kill me.”

With her assurance, Xin Xin went for it, taking care not to mess up his workspace. Her father was away in Shanghai for business, and so she worked through the night of the twenty-second, typing away. Every so often, she would log into Facebook, which was where the mess started. She logged out of her father’s account so she could log into hers.

The next day, when her father got home in the evening, he was so mad. His mouse had moved an inch or so to the right, and his keyboard was a little off-kilter. Oh, and when he clicked on his Facebook icon, all he saw were photos of Xin Xin eating chocolate cake with her best friend, Winnie, and a slew of other silly posts!

The next morning, at the breakfast table, Xin Xin got an earful from her father, but her mother intervened. She too got an earful, only louder and angrier. Xin Xin was so upset she vowed, “I’ll never ever let Mom be a shield for me. When Dad’s triggered, nothing can stop him.”

Truly, nothing can, except coffee, his peanut butter toast, and the morning paper.

(342 words)

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Chia Xin Yu, Primary Six
March 2018

For more essays by Xin Yu, visit Xin Yu Writes.


This essay was written in response to the theme, “An Argument,” and two pictures: (1) a man and a woman in an argument, and (2) a broken laptop

Scream, and Courage Will Show Up

Scream! (Image: thetravelingnomad.com)

ADVENTURE is not my cup of tea. I don’t like pizza, I don’t care for Mentos, and I don’t even like Coke or Sprite like every other normal kid. So it’s only natural that someone like me can’t handle the Viking—that evil, treacherous pendulum-like ride you find at outdoor carnivals, the kind that incites the wildest screams.

I would be the last person to get on the Viking, but I did, thanks to my elder sister, who is a complete daredevil. She can be a daredevil all she wants, just don’t involve me, but she did, during the December holidays just before Christmas at the Marina Bay Carnival.

She pulled me onto the ride with an eye for the back-most row, but fortunately, that row and the next got snapped up very quickly by the brave souls. How wonderful I didn’t have to beg her, “No, no, please, no, not the back row!” No one needs to know I’m chicken, though at that very moment, I have to confess I was something of a brave chicken.

If I had been a true chicken, I would have long ago resisted my horrible sister’s pulling, yanking, and dragging. So I was in for the ride. I needed no strength or muscles, just an ounce of courage. The moment the boat started it’s back and forth swing, gentle and slow, the chicken had already started screaming.

I screamed on the way down, I screamed on the way up, I screamed on the way down, louder than when I went up, I screamed and screamed till my voice went hoarse.

At one point, I seemed to have almost lost my voice, and the stupid ship was still rocking away merrily, just as my sister was screaming her giddy, gleeful scream. I, on the other hand, was just going: I want my Mommy! I want someone to rescue me! But Courage never shows his face when Mommy is around. It strangely does, however, when your idiot sister is just sitting next to you.

If it hadn’t been for her, cajoling and bullying me to get on this crazy, mad ride, I wouldn’t ever have tasted the thrills of being a daredevil. She was in cahoots with Courage. She got me to meet him face-to-face. When I clambered out of the ride and felt my feet on terra firma, I did feel a strange sense of triumph.

Courage has nothing to do with strength, courage is about confronting your fears and saying hello to new adventures. Don’t be surprised if you find me eating a pizza soon with a Coca Cola, but getting on a Viking again sometime soon? No way. 

(450 words)

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Chia Xin Yu, Primary Six
February 2018

For more essays by Xin Yu, visit Xin Yu Writes.


This essay was written in response to the theme, “courage” and three pictures: (1) firemen in a rescue effort, (2) a crying boy in his mother’s arms, (3) a muscular man showing off his muscles to a kid