Excerpt from “The Perfect World”

I was always there when he smoked. That was when he disclosed his personal experiences. He was exactly the kind of person Ma wouldn’t want as my friend, because he was a smoker, and I could see why. I eventually learnt to smoke. Perhaps it happens when your best friend smokes, but this habit carried the bitter sting of self-reproach. For weeks, I questioned myself. What if Colin saw me? Ma would be so ashamed. How could I do this to Ma, to Colin? I confided in Xen, and he told me I shouldn’t have to condemn myself for wanting to live the way I wanted.

“No point feeling sorry for yourself,” he said.