21 January 2008



        The Schoolgirl Kills Herself After Failing an Exam

        She jumps from the tenth floor of a housing block
        into the brief wild terror of freedom, and transforms
        into twelve paragraphs of newsprint in the Straits Times,
        cool and objective, black and white, the verifiable facts only.

        We are told that her classmates are "shocked".
        And that her parents refuse to comment. We know that
        for her last exam she scored 41 marks, a fatal result.
        A teacher describes her as a "quiet, hardworking girl".

        We feel obliged to pause to reflect. We wish to search
        our conscience. She was only eleven, we remind ourselves.
        There must be others like her. There must be another way,
        we suspect, for children to grow up in this country.

        But yesterday’s news is quick to slide into the grey of memory.
        She will become another incidental casualty. We turn the page.
        We forget. Again we trip and fall head first into the future,
        down into the depths of a national urge to never stop excelling.

posted by Gilbert at Monday, January 21, 2008 10 comments