Snip-snip. The metallic scissors expertly work through the frame around my face. I stare at myself in the full-length, over-sized mirror. Perfect time to have my face magnified to maximum exposure. Oh, wow. This light is the least flattering thing that has fallen on my face since a girl’s elbow met my cheek as we were wrestling to get the ball during water-polo. Sunken eyes. Dark circles form hoops under them, becoming the focal points that have taken central stage. Skin with an unhealthy, yellowish tinge. I spy that double chin peeking out from under there (Mate, what are you doing?! Please hide). Since when did my cheeks get so full? I have seriously gained bad weight. Since when did they jut out so much (Not cheekbones, mind you)? And wow, where did my jawline go? Nonexistent. It has melted into the hues of my neck. I look at myself, shifty-eyed. I do not like what I see.
Noise flooded the air, as inviting as the scents that lingered amongst the particles in the atmosphere, as dense as the complicated harmony of sweet, spicy, sharp, and fragrant that wafted in and out of the night market. Excited chatter from your standard tourists. Couples on a romantic getaway to a place filled with provoking stories etched into the building foundations and street pavements. College students, gap year-ers, early 20s on the lookout for adventure, thrill seekers painting their visions with the first steps they take in this world so green to them. Families that come for the memories, often life-long souvenirs they can cling to, bonding time and a break from school and work. Locals call to each other, know their way around easy enough, and smartly maneuver their way weaving through the usual crowd of foreigners. These rowdy tourists, with their cameras, sandals, baggy elephant trousers, backpacks, fascinated by everything, pressing their faces into the space of each cart, peering at the local food, squinting at the local prices, placing an order with the local hawkers.
“You have freestyle?” Those three intimidating words step out from the pursed lips on an expressionless face, hidden behind dark shades that reflected the other’s face, frozen with anticipation, looking up at the tall, thin figure. Suspense climbs like a roller-coaster to the top of its tracks. The gears shifting, with a slight creak of unoiled desperation and scrambling, are almost audible from the contestant’s working mind. Draws in a deep breath. They open their mouth. And it comes out. Words flow with the rhythm of spontaneity—a stream of spoken word, poetry, lyricism. Rap.