Leaving by Milaine Thia Puay Yi

speeding to the airport at the crack of dawn
my father realizes he left his phone at home
and I worry if we go back—if we turn around
I won't have the strength to leave again

my brother at the check-in counter
trying to repack my bags spilling
everything onto the shiny floor for everyone to see
because I tried to bring too much of home with me

I find my friends at the airport mcdonald's
drinking shitty coffee to stay awake
I am sobbing in all the pictures
you see, they woke up at 4am for me

my cousin bullies her father into letting her skip school
rolls up at the airport last minute
tells me white boys and hamburgers are not to be trusted
“几岁了? 哭哭哭。丑到要死。”1

and in the midst of all this I remember my mother
in that terrible bright blue shirt I keep trying to throw away
telling me she is proud of me
she loves me and all I will ever do

but what I do not remember
is the moment I broke her heart

maybe it was that acceptance letter to a college in America
or the fact that I wanted to go
or the time I told her I hated her for making me miserable
a woman
without realizing that she was a woman too

 Illustration by Gisela Levy

Illustration by Gisela Levy


1Roughly translated, my cousin said to me: Oh my god, why do you keep crying even though you're literally an adult. Stop crying. I love you. You're ugly when you cry. But I still love you.

Milaine Thia (CC '20) is a junior from Malaysia studying English and History. She enjoys cooking Malaysian food with her Instant Pot, reading about the dangers of late-stage capitalism, and writing what everyone else thinks is very sad poetry. Sometimes, she sits in the sun on Low Steps and feels halfway home. Website | Instagram | Facebook