Saturday, 18 December 2010

clarissa tan

Clarissa spends her life trying to separate fiction from non-fiction. As a journalist, she focuses on travel and the arts. As a desperately hopeful author, she writes short stories and is working on a novel. Clarissa won the Spectator’s final Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for travel writing. Her blog, Words and Letters, is a series of vignettes exploring the nature of fiction.


Contact Clarissa

-A +A
April 9, 2010
Special to asia!

Paris, let us make a pact.

I will take no photos of you. I will walk your streets as though I and your ruelles were one. I will descend into the bowels of your Metro as though returning to a mother. I will disappear into your museums, spirit myself into gilt-edged paintings, occupy your statues, breathe your stone as it breathes me. We will need no images of each other; we will write no letters. I will take no mementos of you, nor will you receive a lock of my hair.

Lovers remember each other in other ways.



April 5, 2010

For days, I have been unable to write.

The space that I was supposed to fill became a void, then a gaping hole, then a chasm over which I could not even hope to cross. Something tells me that if I don’t jump into this hole soon, one day I will wake up to find it gone; I will no longer even have this glaring lack to signify my loss. I will forget, cease trying because I wouldn’t even know there is something to try for.

In other words, it could be worse.



March 23, 2010

Well I remember the day I met my Maker. Or rather, his Auditor, his right-hand man who keeps all the accounts of how we have spent our time on earth.

The Auditor showed me my life measured in buckets – here was a bucket full of time I had used wisely if rather tepidly, here was a joyous pail of all the hours where I had had fun, there was a huge tin of umpteen minutes passed worrying, and here a large, so-so bottle full of weeks spent pissing about. And then I saw a large barrel filled with empty, uneasy air, a space brimming with vacuity. “What’s that?” I asked.

“Oh that,” said the Auditor, rolling his eyes. “Those were the years you wasted trying to be cool.”



March 22, 2010

I met a British person and we were chatting along nicely. “Well, drop us a line some time,” he finally said. “Us?” I asked. “Who’s us?”

“By ‘us’ I mean ‘me’,” he said, testily. “It’s a manner of speaking.” “Oh,” I said, feeling stupid. I honestly had not encountered this before.

I never heard from them again.



March 20, 2010

I decided, just for 24 hours, to go about with my heart wide open. There would be no filter, no lid, no safety net between the world and me. I would feel everything, and let the universe hit me with whatever it had.

I hailed a cab, for I was due for a meeting. Halfway into the city, with the afternoon rays streaming through the windows, staring at the mobile TV screen at the back of the seat before me and breathing in the lime scent of the car freshener, I started to cry. Down Nicoll Highway we went, with the Flyer gazing down upon us, sweeping into Marina Bay we rode, to where the bankers were, and with Madonna’s Like a Virgin playing on the radio. I sobbed because our world is so peculiarly beautiful.

The taxi driver gave me back more change than was neccessary.



The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
(Comments on asia! are moderated before they appear on




Chilli Padi

Couch Potato

Field Notes

From Jerusalem to the West Bank

Words and Letters