By Rei Tanotsuka, 21 May 2019

About 2 years ago, I was going through a challenging time in my life. I was having disputes with my bosses at work and my husband was in the midst of building his business and hence, always away on a business trip. In Japan it is not unusual for couples to spend a lot of time apart.

Despite being in Japan for a long time I am still not able to engage in very meaningful conversations hence forming deep friendships with the Japanese is trying. I did and do have Japanese friends but there is still an opaque barrier due to language difficulties. The friendships cultivated with the foreign community became less fulfilling because, alas, most are not here for the long haul. Japan is an exotic sojourn on the resume of the youth…..home is where reality begins. For the veterans, this is life…….

I wrote ‘Asylum’ because I felt the duplicity of my life…..a life that sounds, feels and looks completely different if seen through the lens of alacrity as opposed to apathy.

I felt, at that time, that I was lost and living in an asylum……I could chose between these 2 false realities and through that choice, I would grant myself the life I believed I had. If you get this one, you get it. If you don’t you will just chalk it up as another weirdo crying for attention in this big ocean of over 7 billion.

Ps. the time line of this poem begins from birth to old age………typical

Here goes….


Glare, Light, Blood.

A struggle for sight, a primal cry, piercing, my sorrow, taken from a place of comfort into a harsh reality.

Fade, Light, Fade.

Even vocalised pain, she sometimes will not heed to me. Left alone, abandoned, with no arms of warmth to embrace me. His touch, sometimes marks an imprint on my infantile skin. His voice, too deep to be soothing. I am the one to awaken him from slumber. My cries of need, he does not yet understand.

21, years confined. Incarcerated as a by product of freedom, permission needed to use the bathroom, punishment executed by authority without the luxury for deliberation. Structured learning favoured over the imagination, automated in a hierarchical structure, not of my own design or implementation. I am literate. I bear the scars of the system. I wear it together with my first suit to my first occupation.

My love…….you are my everything, why must we succumb? Why did we mirror those who we promised never to be? From every night coiled tightly together, to now……sneaking into bed at different times. Why can’t this be halted? We already knew what we shouldn’t do, yet we did it anyway.

9 to 5, I had a lot of ambitions, all gone awry……..the promotion that never came fast enough, the expectations……did I fail life or did life fail me?

Sitting as a manager, feeling the fraud, I haven’t been able to find my own drive, how could I possibly direct anyone else?

This is me. This is my life.

Luminescence, light, scarlet. My first vision. A cry of celebration. The auspicious moment of my arrival. I am here.

Light, fade. light.

Her smile. Her caress. My love and hers in unison……the joy I give her, her unequivocal bond to me. Him, hands of strength, my head on his shoulder. I become his sun, I am the dawn to awaken his slumber. I am the Venus of his creation.

21, years spent in the garden of knowledge. Each piece of fruit eaten gives rise to an understanding not yet laced with wisdom. A foundation to build a sky rise of knowledge which will one day eclipse the sun. Every tree allowing the light to pass, creating my shadows. A seed, now given for me to plant.

My love…….for there’s no one like you. You’re the very reason for my being. Every colour of the rainbow was painted for us. The sun will mark our beauty but it’s the showers which will give birth to our radiance. Every shade distinctive on its own, finally comes back to one. The gold at the end was never a given, it’s the toil of 2 hearts, interlaced, woven.

5 days spent in service, I don’t have a name but my life purpose is of value. To impart my story, to help build my society. A life of dedication to a cause I deem worthy and every night before the final vision fades from sight, serene and calm overtakes me as I realise that my dream still occurs in light.

This is me. This is my life.

2 lives, lived by 1, behind 4 walls in perpetuity. Which one is in fact my reality?