Road Trip in A Place Where a Different You Once Lived

Fiction by Sumitra Singam

is a melanoma sun scorching your driving hand while your other sneaks pineapple lumps and chocolate fish, sips of L&P sugar-rushing you straight back to CDs and spaghetti straps and first kisses. It’s single-lane highways stretching long as a piece of string, sweet as bro, until a logging truck slows you right the fuck down, so high can’t get over it, logs bleeding sap onto the road to stick you to it, the traction and the tread making you sneeze like a hayfever moon. It’s no bypasses through Tokoroa, Putaruru, Tirau, and don’t you dare stop at the café for wedges with sweet chili and sour cream because then you’re done for, the taste of grease and floury potato struggling in your mouth with the other memories. It’s driving full tilt into the fertile Waikato Valley, the green bowl that birthed all Kiwi farm boys, apple-cheeked, staunch in their Swannies. Just like the one who brought his scalpel wit to medical school, who used it to carve his white white name on your brown brown skin, then said I just don’t feel the spark, eh? It’s Neil Finn writing the soundtrack to your life while it bleeds straight into the Waikato River. It’s she’ll be right while he goes round with someone else, and it’s kia kaha while your heart is breaking. It’s your mates telling you to snap out of it and where’s your pride and it’s that you gave it to someone else along with your whole self and they threw it away. It’s standing at the edge considering the swirl of the white water below, no bungee cord to pull you back. And it’s realising that Aotearoa is a long white circle and you’ve been coming back for years.

Sumitra Singam

Sumitra Singam is a Malaysian-Indian-Australian coconut who writes in Naarm/Melbourne. She has traveled through many spaces, both beautiful and traumatic to get there, and writes to make sense of her experiences. She’ll be the one in the kitchen making chai (where’s your cardamom?). She works in mental health. You can find her and her other publication credits on twitter: @pleomorphic2