Some blogs are truly engaging. Often I am so drawn in that I feel compelled to leave a comment. Usually the writer has been incredibly generous and brave with their life story.
I can’t help but wonder, am I wasting the reader’s time or am I producing content that is actually helpful to someone out there. I don’t want my blog to be superficial. My dream is to write about my life so that someone out there can find comfort in my revelations. My joys and my pains. The whole spectrum.
I feel self conscious that I’m a much older writer and that most bloggers in Singapore are incredibly tech savvy, gorgeous to look at and in their twenties.
I’m 51 (Generation X) and have benefitted from a 70’s childhood free of the internet and iPads. I have so many nostalgic memories I want to share but wonder if the younger ones would be interested. They may hear enough from their parents.
In trying to discern my value I ask myself, how is my voice unique? Well, I’m of a unique heritage. I’m a 3rd generation Singaporean whose grandparents migrated here from Ceylon. I use the old name, because that’s the only name I knew as a little kid.
I used to be embarrassed about my heritage (it was definitely internalised racism) because I was trying to survive as a minority and there was so much discrimination. You hide whatever is unique about you to blend in and be accepted. Messed up right?
In mid life I am actually quite proud of the ties to the beautiful isle of blue sapphire, golden beaches and Serendipity, where my great grandparents and my ancestors before them lived their whole lives mostly as poor farmers with crops like rice, coconut and mangoes. My mum always pointed to the map telling me India is like an ice cream cone and Ceylon is like a drip of ice cream. It was also a Pearl in the Ocean. So many lovely references.
I am a native English speaker, but with a Singaporean Indian accent. I code switch from formal standard English to informal Singlish. And sometimes with a spattering of Ceylonese Tamil words (peelease for plate, klopadi for naughty) and English with my close family. I’m pretty much an Anglophile. Just like my dad who could hardly speak Tamil as he studied Malay in school and he pretty much grew up pretty much an orphan, with only his elder brother looking out for him as his parents decided to return to Ceylon with his other siblings. I’m still trying to still reconcile with my love for all things British, because why am I loving the Coloniser’s language and customs. For as long as I can recall we’ve had tea and biscuits in the afternoon. I absolutely adore British TV and I dream in English.
So is it acceptable that we in fact adapted and make it our own? By excelling in it weren’t we taking back power? Like Salman Rushdie winning the Booker prize and then the Booker of Bookers.
To be upfront, my community is pretty much ethnocentric (lots of arranged marriages). The logic behind it was to keep the wealth within the community I think? I am the result of generations of inbreeding which does not bode too well for our health. The gene pool is rather narrow and there is a high incidence of heart disease, diabetes and hearing impairment. Also dating was very much discouraged and total emphasis was on good schools, good grades and success meant being a doctor, lawyer or engineer. It’s why first cousins are becoming a rare thing. So many of us are single not by choice and have no children not for lack of longing.
My more self assured younger cousins broke from this trend. If they hadn’t, I wouldn’t have the most miraculous, amazing little nieces and nephews in my life. I just feel sad that I couldn’t provide them with some older cousins who would adore and care for them after I’m gone. I grew up with 10 first cousins (9 maternal and 1 paternal) and it made my childhood amazing. I hope the next generation is free of constraints and can just choose happiness in whatever form. Our parents had no choice and their lives were not their own. They sacrificed their own happiness for their children. (That’s the silent and boomer generation for you)
Some choose to be child free and I support that as it is your life after all. I on the other hand always wanted children, but the timing was off, so it was just not meant to be. I wonder how many there are, like me, in Singapore. Childless by circumstance. Probably a large number, hidden in the shadows of a society that puts marriage and conventional families on a pedestal. There is a kind of shame and sadness, to being an unmarried childless woman living in this society. We are very backward. Men are bachelors and women are spinsters. It’s cruel.
If you are in a successful career you might be given a pass, but I don’t even have that. (I can’t imagine how those in even more marginalised groups feel, due to sexual or gender identity. To me it’s an equality issue, a civil rights issue.)
I also always felt that I would be infertile, or it could be a self fulfilling prophesy as this was predicated by a fortune teller. And I will end this rambling post by saying, never get your fortune read because it might just be very negative and it will keep playing on your mind.