Everything is text.

Everything is text.

So I’m filing medical certificates and letters from parents, and I come across a document which a student passed to me some time back as proof of her/his absence from school.

This document is an important one; it marks a point in the life of someone the student knew.

I hold the document up to the light, to differentiate between fine print and photocopied smudges.

I read the document, and then I read the document again.

I do some calculations, then it hits me: said student’s life story is contained within the digits that have been inked on the document.

I wonder what the limits of professionalism will allow me to ask said student.

I remember that it is not within the limits of the job to wonder.

The document returns home, slipping into its plastic folder like a late night out at the clubs.

The folder, like its compatriots, is crinkled. Each bears its owner’s name, scribbled with a marker on a white sticker, pasted on the top right-hand corner of each clear sheet.

I carry on sorting the stack of papers that sit on my desk, sheaf after sheaf a demonstration of  presence, of absence, slotted into its assigned vault.

The bell is going to go in a few minutes. There is marking to be done when I go home from work. There will be papers looking for lodging tomorrow.

About the author

Laremy Lee

A versatile educator, writer and editor, Laremy Lee (李庭辉) has the uncanny knack of being one of the few among his generation in Singapore who crafts compelling stories in different genres.

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