Cathexis Northwest Press

© 2018 

the essay of our lives
00:00 / 01:07

once i thought we had 

a colon

followed by happy moments.


our story in 

three happy memories

categorized neat paragraphs

one troubled instance

included for variation.


then i thought we had 

a string of commas

capturing slices of life


our story in 

several slices or phases

proportioned clear sections

one concise summary

composed for cohesion.


yesterday i wished we had 

a semi-colon

connecting gendered voices


our story in 

two gendered faces

presented as perspectives

a writer’s voiceover

uniting the soliloquies. 


but i found the full-stop

buried between us.


you are another sentence.

Dr Anitha Devi Pillai is an applied linguist and a teacher-educator at National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), where she teaches courses on writing pedagogy, writing skills and literacy practices. She is the recipient of three Teaching Awards, one from National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) in 2018 and two from Singapore University of Social Sciences in 2014 and 2013. 

She has published academic papers on writing pedagogy, teacher education, academic writing and the Malayalee community in Singapore, and authored five books including, ‘From Kerala to Singapore: Voices from the Singapore Malayalee Community’ (2017), ‘From Estate to Embassy: Memories of an Ambassador’ (2019) and ‘The Story of Onam’ (in press).

Her creative writing publications in 2019/2020 include Monsoon in Kolkata (poem) in ‘Wanderlust: The Best of 2019 Anthology’, That Kiss on your Forehead (poem) in ‘Paragon Press’, Home is a Three Syllable Word’ (poem) in ‘Southeast Asian Review of English Journal’, How do you want your dumplings? (short story) in ‘Food Republic: Literary Anthology’, and Voices (short story) in ‘The Best Asian Stories 2019’. Her next creative project is a translation of Kamaladevi Aravindan’s historical Tamil novel, titled ‘Sembawang’ into English. ‘Sembawang’ is based on the lives of Indians in Singapore and Malaysia in the immediate post British era. 

"The poem 'the essay of our lives' use the language features such as punctuation and structure of different types of essays to express a difficult relationship between two people."