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  • Michael Ong

Mr. Bicycle!

Updated: Dec 15, 2018

Poem by Quyền Ngọc Khánh

An extract from the book "Tea Talk: One Story at a Time."


Hi everyone! I am a box and my name is Boxie. For a long time I have a color of brown, so I must be a cardboard box. This is a short story about me. I used to be a fun and cheerful girl when I was a kid. However, in recent years, I have not been as happy as before. I feel heavy, I feel blue, I feel broken. As a girl who usually looks for solutions, I meet different people to ask about my situation.


I come to see Mr. Scales.

After weighing me, Mr. Scales says:

“You are actually very light”. “How come I still feel heavy?” - I wonder.


I come to see Ms. Palette.

After seeing me, Ms. Palette says:

“Your color is truly brown”. “How come I still feel blue?” – I brood.


I come to see Ms. Glue.

After reviewing, Ms. Glue says:

“There is no crack in your surface.” “How come I still feel broken?” - I ponder.


So I wander around, looking for answers. One day, I come across a strange course named “Let’s Talk” – it is for people who wants to add mirrors to themselves. “Uhmm, maybe this can help.” I think, “I can have my own mirror to see myself better and help other people see themselves clearly too”. So I sign up for the course and be very excited.


In this course, I learn very useful techniques about mirroring. I can gradually help other people and myself see ourselves better through my mirror, but I am still not able to answer my questions fully. One day, I eavesdrops on my classmates that there is a very supportive master named Mr. Bicycle who is quite mighty.


“A mighty bicycle - he must be a tough mountain bike” - I imagine. “A strong wise master like him may be able to answer my questions.” So I come to Tea Talk Cafe to find Mr. Bicycle to share with him about my questions.


To my surprise, he is not a tough mountain bike like I imagined. He is a gentle road bike with many accessories on him. There is a flag as green as peace. There is a mirror as pure as water. There is a bell with soothing music. And there is also a basket full of cakes and juice.


I bring all my questions to ask him and he says: “I cannot give you the answers, but since you feel heavy, blue and broken, have you tried to open your own box and have a look?” So I follow his suggestion, I open my box and look in there. It turns out there are a lot of balloons in my box. Some have worries, some have concerns. Some have pains, others have regrets. Some are quite big, some are small. Some are grey, others are golden, but most of them are dark.


“I think these balloons have overwhelmed you for such a long time, Boxie. Your box has no space left for love and joy. So maybe now you should learn to deflate your balloons.” Mr. Bicycle suggests.


From then on, I learn with Mr. Bicycle to deflate my balloons, which is no way an easy job to do. When I try to deal with big balloons, they can be popped and hurt me. There are also balloons that are hidden in the corner and I just do not want to handle them. However, when I see Mr. Bicycle that he always moves forward no matter how difficult his own life is, I have more courage to continue. He helps me develop my mirror so that I can see myself better. When I feel bad, he lets me borrow his bell for the soothing music. When I successfully deflate big balloons, he also gives me a cake or juice to celebrate my little achievement. Time by time. Bit by bit. I gradually deflate many of my balloons.


Observing my process, Mr. Bicycle once says: “Boxie, you have learned to decrease negative balloons quite well, I think you can learn and develop anything you put your mind on in the future.” I am quite doubtful about that. “I am a brown box, what else can I become rather than a cardboard box?” Still, I work on my balloons and learn from Mr. Bicycle to develop other accessories. I have a green flag as Mr. Bicycle has. I also pick up a little bow for myself too.


After a long while, my box starts to be filled with air of love and joy and less balloons of pains and worries. I also do not forget Mr. Bicycle’s reminder to open and look within my box often. One day, I wake up and open my box. This time, as there are less balloons, I start to see something different. I see chocolate! Mr. Bicycle is right! Now I know that I can learn and develop to be a chocolate box!

"Mr. Bicycle" by Michael Ong (2017), Acrylic on canvas
This is a tiny story to express my gratitude to Mr. Bicycle (aka Mr. Michael Ong). I feel very lucky to have Michael and Tea Talk’s support in this healing journey. If I have to choose one quote to describe Michael, I would say: “Having a soft heart in this cruel world is courage.” Thank you Michael for spreading the courage. Michael often says “Tell me your story, I'll buy you a coffee” at the beginning of Let’s Talk class. Maybe I can learn this from Michael in the future: “Tell me your story, I’ll buy you chocolate” ;) Quyền Ngọc Khánh

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