Poem: The Schoolgirl Kills Herself After Failing an Exam

In building up a repository of poems…

This is fromĀ QLRS.

The Schoolgirl Kills Herself After Failing An Exam

She jumps from the tenth floor of a housing block
into the brief wild terror of freedom, dies and transforms
into twelve paragraphs of newsprint in the Straits Times,
cool and objective, black and white, verifiable facts only.

We are told that her classmates are “shocked”.
And that her parents refuse to comment. We know that
she scored 41 marks for her last exam paper, a fatal result.
A teacher describes her as a “quiet, hardworking girl”.

We feel obliged to pause to reflect. We wish to search
our conscience. She was only eleven, we remind ourselves.
There must be others like her. There must be another way,
we suspect, for children to grow up in this country.

But yesterday’s news is quick to slide into the grey of memory.
She will become another incidental casualty. We turn the page.
We forget. Again we trip and fall head first into the future,
down into the depths of a national urge to never stop excelling.

By Gilbert Koh