I can't sleep. The past two weeks have been a breath of fresh air, a sharp reminder of what I've missed. The clutter of sounds from hawker centres, the laughter of students on the streets, the sound of trains pulling into stations. Days with you by my side.
Three more nights and I'll be staring through the darkness at the ceiling of a new bunk - trying to sleep, trying to get used to not having you by my side. The horror is in losing yourself - in the daily left-right-left of military life, in the ritualized indoctrination of meaningless values, in the terrifying regimentation of your mind. The first week is the worst; waking up each cold morning and pulling your grey singlet over your shaven head. Falling in like a prisoner - exercise, march, eat, shit. Rinse and repeat. After a while, you forget there was ever a life other than this. After a while, you lose the unsoldierly urge to cry at night. It's not that hard - clap when you're instructed, cheer when you're told. Sing when you're marching. Lock your elbows. Don't show your shack face. Smile.
But sometimes at night, past lights out, I have dreams of my very own, dreams that aren't SAF-approved. Dreams of freedom; of contentment. I dream I am sleeping on a quiet afternoon, and you are curled up around my arm, your face buried in my shirt.
And all I can hope for three nights from now is for those dreams to pull me through.