Concerning our collective grandfather story.
I rejected it. for the longest time.
Becuz there were numerous occasions which i could not find myself identifying with the so-called “asian values” and “cultural system”.
Becuz we seem to come from such different contexts, background and generation.
I did not so readily embrace that part of my chinese heritage. I flipped my parents out. i hated the name. i was teased. i openly rebelled. i showed and gave no-face at all during rarest gathering visits.
I craved for freedom.
And I think that never really sat well with the set of belief system in strict asian families.
I simply loved the west, (i went angmor) in the period after liberation from the communist regime aka. R.V.H.S.
I took the (raved) bi cultural programme in rv which ironically made us study china studies in chinese ) i got a C in the end.. sorry. and they sent us to numerous chinese cities and the united states every holiday for 2 and half yrs.. But i was in it for one simple reason — to get away from my house here. It sounded absolutely coherent reasoning to a 14 year old kid then.
To be away out at all cost.
Nonetheless. funy. There’s always a silver lining. I guess what opened up was a first wave of cultural immersions and expeditions. They sowed the first seeds of cultural exposure and flamed my craving and thirst for diversity, heritage, history and the arts. I first touched clay in the holy ground district of the terracotta army. I liked museum visits although we hated waking up for them. I loved all the Smithsonians even tho we were sent there because nothing else was free in DC. I bonded with my group of overly scholarly scholar travel pals whom were ever so concerned with grades.
I seriously saw the education in those 6 years as one of the most stifling periods of my development. My spirit was repressed. I nvr saw and felt myself fitting in the heavily regulated system of uniformity and conformity. I did not rally excel. I couldnt really find my talents and things i was really keen in. Expectations and standards compressed my curiosity. My subject combination was a clear minority. For those who did the pure arts combi, we were very much sidelined. (On top of all these, we really had to put up with the stringent-est set of rules made in high school years. The bald corrupted and fined principal was a serious screw up.)
Duh. tats why im harping so much on creative output now. i was nvr given the chance to do so.
The creative process. It makes you come alive.
Exiting high school, i went to work with Pasarbella, the Farmers Market which was heavily influenced by London Borough and Australian markets. I spoke to all the traders. i loved the atmosphere.
I took french. i went philo political thought in political science. i refused to do any chinese related mods in the whole of college education even when i knew i could hav scored thro from prev contextual knowledge.
I launched myself, literally plunged my whole being deep into anything in the European hemisphere, trying to soak in all they had to offer. I loved London borough market despite the cold, my heart and stomach sang as my brains froze when finally got to experience it in person.
I probably pissed afew frens off with code switching accents which i picked up from all the people I interacted with.
Now, looking back at yester-years, i am glad for both the positive and negative experiences for they nurtured the lens i hold.
I am grateful.
First gen immigration is always the most difficult and arguably prosperity came through numerous hardships and struggles. They sacrificed alot for us to be where we are at.
Ancestry. History. Family roots.
Some say that sometimes they are a burden.
Some are a little more “fortunate”. With a lucky token for a more favorable “birth rights and privilege”.
I was blindsided for the longest time and I knew, but I was struggling to own up to it, until a recent act of chanced upon coincidence re-centered my way of looking at it.
It draws me in to remembering what I heard during an artist roundtable. (i always love how artists incorporate their narratives, thoughts and inner realm onto their creations and way of being.)
Recalling that moment of epiphany.
I like how he phrased it:
“ History is sometimes an inheritance.”
And what we choose to do with it is our choice.
My father was here and my mom brought me to visit often aft Iwas born.
We settled for real when I was 4.
I still think I don’t have alot of answers but I grew to love Sg and its organized mess in these couple of years.
I once hated the soulless landscape but now I want to do my part in building its intangible assets and social capital.
We have a crazy diverse population of people living together side by side LEL. We have four fathers from the surrounding seas whom voyaged down. We have a lovable cosmopolitan culture and precious heritage. We have vibrant shophouses and the Peranakans. We have amazing food. We have the gallery now. We are kiasu. We have more to offer than what we have been known for as a stable pragmatic garden city. We do.
The Little Nonya.