Monday, 19 July 2021


Were one uninterested in corresponding with a diary

As is the practice of utmost privacy

Should that be the case dear Sir/Madam or Whom to Be Advised

What follows is a consultation between the conscious and unconscious facets of one’s mind Wherein the deliberate subjection of the latter to the fore

Through conjuring it from the depths of suppression

Will cure it of its facelessness

Or of having to live in the recessive premises of its rival

If thou will

Abridge them, Dr Sigmund Freud: in eliciting thy counsel, I hereby volunteer my repressions 

To save thou of having to excavate them thyself

And in doing so

To liberate myself

That is, to wield a catharsis that duly unifies my cogitation

I pledge to commit transparently to my admissions 

And am no fool to believe I would have robbed thou of further unmasking

The authorial veil of my psyche

As is the undertaking of psychotherapy

And its heresy conventions thereof

Dear Founder

The Father of Psychoanalysis

Take this not as a deposition of thy psychotic philosophies thus

But an armistice between the author and patient himself

By necessity

For he will sustain

His suffering otherwise 

Construe of the following accounts what thou will

As one would assume thou would



I have come to fetch the monk from his temple

For Bà Ngoại is dying in the hospital

Which is filled with many people around the bed housing her

Consuming the little oxygen 

She has left for her lungs

I am steering through the rows of streets of suburbs quite frantically


I am on an expedition of steadfast determination

Which one may allude to as one’s sense of Duty

My mission is thus:

To escort a monk to Bà Ngoại’s bedside

Who is in dire need of his presence and the prayers to be issued

Henceforth from him

The holy expert of admitting the entitled to their utopian residences

Beyond the realms of mortality                                   

Which one may know of as the Pure Land

I have deprived myself of any weeping as I ought not yet to, or ever

To entertain the catastrophe that is myself losing itself

As does consciousness in discharging its vile ordeals onto or into the unconscious 

On this excursion 

Whereupon the people’s houses convene on either side of the paralysing perimeters of a long laborious route

Oblivious toward the tragedy befalling this passer-by

And them the bystanders

Of an otherwise paradise I am praying for Bà Ngoại’s ubiquitous hereafter


An abundance of street signs successively

I am passing till I have dozens without the temple in sight

I am petrified of the suffering I am capable of inflicting upon myself

As if the sea is conscious of the tsunami brewing inside its abyss

Its conscience, then, is the only preventative safeguarding devoted shore-dwellers

From its hysterical annihilation 

What does it take to summit the mountain?

My consciousness flickers like a wuthering candle affixed to the Fansipan

Would the unconscious mind that the conscious is without any conscience

Does it pity it even, therefore ironically? 

A traffic light morphs into a time bomb that wilts in the depravation of the destruction

Destined of it

To terminate the motives of drivers with decadence

On the road I am halted by yet more amber 

I am held a hostage inside this vehicle

Or is my unconscious being bombarded?

Which feels progressively like a tank that hereon should be referred to as such

As if this enterprise was not an affliction in and of itself


On the asphalt

I envision armies of ants bearing the burden of desperate tyres like these

Finding themselves lost


Frankly, I am uncertain who this is that commands my consciousness anymore

If what is currently conjured ordinarily resides in repression

Is this but a stream of the unconscious unfolding consciously

In which one diverts and digresses as one does

Or a symptom of the conscious and unconscious minds discoursing

Within one’s brain – the respective workforces of the front and back of house


The conscious and unconscious respectively

Whose stance I know not

To side with, or who I am 

Even therefore thinking, I interrogate myself as a scholar might

In the mirror, which usually clogged of cars, now reflects a rather vacant rear

And I think to myself I look very empty


I am particularly pale 


I am the designated driver of Bà Ngoại’s fate and thereby, therefore mine

Under the bright boundless sky

Harsh in its joyous fluorescence

Shimmers indifferently

Is it not slightly cruel for the sun to be shining

On me when my world’s disclosure of its consequential demise

Coerces me, its involuntary audience, to devour what it divulges

One might empathise with this as the collapse of one’s own civilisation, too

If only they knew Bà Ngoại

The way that I do


For every accomplishment 

I wholly attribute to her, conventional or substantial 

Professional or personal

The fruition of who I am is all but her doing

The architect of my fortunes                              

Who had built the futures of her eleven children as a widow aged forty-two

Having fled the conflict and famine of Vietnam

Smothered in napalm the skies of saffron that stretched endlessly she had traversed

Now ninety-two

Remains the roots of an ever-growing tree

And I a bud of a flower of a fruit of a stem of a branch of the trunk of the tree

That is her breathing legacy

I have today assumed the privilege of facilitating her dwelling 

In heaven 

Awaiting her at the top of the hill

Surely is I see now:

The flag of Buddhism flung for the salvation that it so signifies

Marks a territory as a destination

My place of refuge

Overcome with nostalgia

I inhale the frangipani and the opulent incense of agarwood

I kneel before Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara

Smiling, whose name Bà Ngoại had chanted each morning

Thus, taking my cue from her, I hold my hands in prayer and surrender my vision

As if in not seeing reality will rid itself

Of its prevalence 

Nam Mô Đại Từ Đại Bi Cứu Khổ Cứu Nạn Linh Cảm Ứng Quan Thế Âm Bồ Tát


I greet the monk as he emerges with the Dharma and feel my face as cold as stone

Abruptly, my phone rings

My voice crackling as if my mouth spontaneously is an intrusive firepit


Like a twig that yields on the forest floor

In retrospect:

In reiteration:

I scarcely could believe myself: 

Thầy ơi, Ngoại con mất rồi!

We force ourselves on to the road

The monk now my passenger; anyone who is not a bystander

Is a blessing

In times like this, I believe, and pray even harder than I had before

Under these fluorescent planks of an artificial sun

I am standing over Bà Ngoại

Observing the quiet that presides over an entirety of eight years shy of a century

Before me

Beneath the golden silk sheet

As still as a pond…

That is Bà Ngoại

And I think that this is what the elusive looks like: 

Nirvāṇa, after all