We Are a People

Oviya Ramesh

We are a people,
painted from a diverse palette of skins and faiths

Wool-knitted hats or hijabs or baseball caps or jasmine flowers or yarmulkes
white Tat Sing slippers with blue straps or bare calloused feet or limited-edition Nike Air Jordans
handcuffs or cufflinks adorning wrists

Beneath layers of grime or gold
who are we
but anthologies
of people whom we’ve met
kept alive by the urge to take the next
diagnosed with the human condition

We are joined in
the euphoria of rhythms and movement of ourselves
the thrill of running to find shelter when rain hits our heads
the transfer of fear, excitement, and courage through gripped hands
the liquid love in a mother’s lullaby
the solidarity in rejoicing for someone else

Then why is one worth any more than another?
why does one serve while another is served?
why are some blatantly disrespected for choices they could not make?

Some of us have won the lottery of life:
a family that stands by us
a reliable source of food and water
a well-rounded education
a home to wake up where we fell asleep
what about those who don’t qualify for the game?

Let us empathise over our shared experiences and recognise our unique differences
let us remember not to place others below ourselves
as it is pure luck that our consciousness exists within us
let us empower them to lift up their communities
using the great privileges we’ve been so fortunate to receive

Let us link arms
and pull one another through the finishing line for simply,
we are a people

Oviya Ramesh is a Year 3 medical student at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. When she's not plucking her guitar strings, she can be found engrossed in a book, best accompanied by a hearty cup of genmaicha.