A Heart in Place

It’s been so long since I wrote that essay declaring my love for Medicine. Five years ago, I was 17 and hopeful. Dentistry proper was still a month away, and I entertained the notion of pursuing Medicine after graduation. I was young, naïve, and like Jon Snow, I knew nothing. I thought that life would work in your favor if you put in enough effort, if you wanted something hard enough—that things would magically fall into place, if you just pulled yourself together, gritted your teeth, and went through with it. I realized that magic, in real life, was nothing grand; it can be found in the little things: kind gestures, help when you most need it, the comfort provided by a person listening. I learned the hard way that people are made for some things but not for others. We have a niche in this world, where our respective skills, talents, and capabilities belong.

There is truth in the saying that nothing worth having ever comes easy. I was adrift for a while, untethered, searching. But even then, I knew what I really wanted. I could’ve been on my way to it earlier, had I written a different course for my first choice in that application form, or had I shifted as early as my second year in college. But I didn’t leave, at those crucial junctures in time when I had the opportunity.

So I got lost in the process, but I also found myself eventually.

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Seven Cheers


Seven years. It took me seven years to earn a college degree. That’s a full Hogwarts education right there. That’s as long as Carson’s college life and unrequited love for Dio in I’m Drunk, I Love You.

Still. It has been seven years of grace for me. True, it took me a long time compared to my classmates in high school—but, more than anything, these past seven years have been formative. I have learned to look at the bigger picture: that there is a world out there lacking sorely in justice and compassion, but this world is where my true calling lies. To help, to serve.

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I don’t know how to write anymore. I don’t know how to put into words the all-encompassing jungle of emotions in my head. All I know is that I feel; I feel so much it’s overwhelming. I have lost my way with words. I do not know now how to push through with my thoughts, vanishing already in vapor trails as I type these words.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been going through a difficult time with myself. This inner turmoil has been brewing since last year, and like a tea bag with aromatic dried leaves, I have been steeped in way too long in scalding water.

Everything is out of focus. There are days when I no longer remember what it is I have been aiming for in the first place. Where am I going? I always ask myself. It’s so hard to think through the fear in my throat and the helplessness in my veins. I have lived so long, so long, in this pale blue dot in the universe, but what for? Suddenly, I feel so ancient with my 21 years.

Writing this is my way of reminding myself why I am here, and what it is I stand for. Like Arya Stark and her prayer strung with names, I will say these things to myself to never forget.

I am Sjerlive Clare Dioneda.

I am on my way.

I am becoming.

Neither Created Nor Destroyed

What’s comforting about the law of conservation of matter is that all that have ever been never really leave us. They will just change into a different state, into a new combination of atoms and molecules: the new thus born from the old.

And it’s not just about having some part of the oldest stars within us.

It’s about knowing that we are still under the same sky, no matter what form we are in. It comforts me to know that your atoms are still part of this world, that you are still here—ready to become something new in time. And someday I will change, too. My atoms then will be ready to join you in the flux.

Until we meet again, Papa. All my love and longing.

Radio Silence

A draught comes in through my open windows, stirring the stillness in my candlelit room. Outside, the silhouette of houses and trees absorb light and reflect none—pitch black, against a grey crop of sky. My dogs bark, their voices magnified by echoes. Distantly, another dog answers. But there’s no sound of technology: no televisions, no music, nothing save for the tapping of my fingers against the keyboard, the glow of my laptop illuminating the gloom. This brownout feels a bit like radio silence, a bit like the provincial quiet I grew up in. It feels like a much-needed pause, a break from a decidedly urban life.

And just when you’re starting to grow accustomed to the semi-darkness, to the silence, to the temporary disconnect, the lights come back on.

At least you’ve remembered something important: breathe. (Your old mantra, remember.)

Until next time.

For Papa

This is for you, Papa, for when you chose Mama to spend the rest of your life with, no matter how early or how sudden it was for both of you.

This is for you, Papa, for when you chose to leave the warmth and comfort of your home and work abroad, in order to provide for our family.

This is for you, Papa, for when you braved the loneliness in foreign lands yet you worked so hard you impressed so many people.

This is for you, Papa, for when you saw me for the first time—your first and unexpected grandchild—and you called me your angel.

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