Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Straddle Between Two Worlds

My last week of duty was a truly surreal experience for me. Finally, the time has come for me to hand over the team to my understudy, and for him to be responsible for whatever befalls upon the team. It felt good, knowing that I've managed the team well, with no major conflicts. As I sat at the Tower, looking out at the vast horizon before me, I could recall my nervousness at having to report to a new base, with a whole new system to familiarise myself with.

Perhaps the time has not yet come for me to look back upon the past year at Tuas Naval Base. I still have a month left before I leave the place for good. But as I ended my last duty, I sat upon the breakwaters and contemplated about what the past fourteen months have entailed, and what the future will hold for me. I chose my duty timing specifically so that I could look at the sunset one last time at that very spot. Someone in the team once mentioned to me that the best scenery in Singapore are all occupied by the military bases, and I could not agree more with him. They're often situated at the furthest reaches of the island, away from the prying eyes of the public.The quietness of dawn breaking over the horizon, and the eeriness settling in once dusk takes over; it gives a very calming, somewhat soothing effect over those of us who are away from home.

As I slowly cleared out parts of my locker, the younger batches of guys sat at the table in the middle of the bunk, talking amongst themselves, lamenting about "when will it be my turn?" and in hushed tones, wishing that it was them instead of me who would leave the base for good. I cannot help but chuckle inwardly, because that was me over a year ago, as I saw the first batch of seniors I know leave this place for good. I tend to ignore those conversations, because there is nothing much to be said about the topic. I can't fast-forward their time serving the nation, so the only thing I can do is to not rub it in their faces that I'm leaving.

Somehow, it is always those who have to stay who are most excited about the prospect of leaving. For me, I am filled with a sense of dread, of not knowing what my next week will be like. As much as I hated National Service, it did give me a sense of purpose. And until University starts in August, I feel like I'm a pollen, drifting in the wind. I will miss familiar faces, and late night movie marathons, and binging on the most unhealthy of food. Even now, despite still having to come to base for administrative clearance duties, I already know that I am not part of the platoon anymore. It's as though the tie has been severed, because I am no longer that comrade who has to suffer with them; to do duties with, to have gruelling physical trainings with, and to complain about everything with. It's sad, but it's the first step to regaining my life outside again. For now, I am in a limbo state, constantly being pulled back and forth, and having to straddle between two worlds

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