I think its time for me to be honest about this! It has been bothering me through out the month and escalated when I received a call from someone last friday night. It just got me thinking and i can’t focus on studying.
As y’all know, i have a really ordinary background. No prestigious school, no rich parents. I was from a typical neighbourhood school. Too hostile and black face to have ah beng and ah lian friends. So i had a bunch of really weird secondary school friends and i eventually brought my closest sec school friend to church. She is happily planted.
Since secondary school, I lead a very ordinary life. Every weekend, when i’m studying at home, i can hear kids screaming at 11pm at night. I can hear the Indian man staying at the opposite block talking loudly on the phone everytime he receives a call on his mobile. ( I’ve been giving him dagger stares since 2 years ago. The time length of each stares increases during exam period). I can hear uncles chit chatting and it echoes up my block. Children running. Chantings during funerals and karaokes with awful singing during weddings on weekends. Couples quarrelling in the middle of the night. Like a typical auntie, my mum gossips about everything on Earth with the auntie on the first floor. She calls her “bo zhua” newspaper in hokkein as my mum always gives her newspapers to read. My dad makes fun of the stupidest things. My neighbour on the first floor always have kids and they always invite us for their childrens’ birthdays in exchange for ang baos. My dad will always take the lamest thing and make a joke out of it. My neighbours frequent 7th months ke tai. And my dad makes fun of people who fall off stages. And my neighbour next door pees at the stairway. I’ve no idea what’s going on upstairs but i never liked them. I grew up surrounded by technicians, bread seller, karang guni, onion peelers, potato sellers, air con cleaners and truck drivers.
I grew up in such environment and i used to laugh at these demeaning jokes. I used to hear my mum’s gossips every morning. I used to greet the uncle at the 1st floor good morning. My parents nicknamed everyone in the block cause we don’t know their names. And i used to think these nicknames are funny.
However, after I studied, especially in university, I realised i’m a lot more critical. Which is a really good thing. But I started to question everything. I questioned the validity of my own religion. I questioned how real is my God. I questioned why my parents hardly work. I became very critical about the jokes my parents joked about and everyone’s behavior. And this is probably very much determined by the people around me that really moulded me into who I am today.
These are the people who are intolerant of my mistakes. Who were merciless. They correct every single grammar mistakes and pin point out every single general knowledge that you should know. To them, they are surprise that I do not know how to read the world map, where are the continents, how do Australia look like. Where is Singapore on the world map. But I know things like the durian husk can remove the smell off your hands. I know which herbal drink is good for what. I know and can speak different dialects. I know how to polish cars and leathers. And I can wash cars very well. I know where to get the hokkien operas at a cheap price and I know where you can get hair cut at 3 dollars.
I learnt the importance of knowledge and the way people treat me has a very bad spill over effect. I became intolerant of people’s mistakes too. And this applies to the victim of neoliberalisation, my parents. I shouldn’t be so critical on them, yet I can’t stand the fact that people use ” can they speak english” , ” oh, you mean can but not perfect english is it?” to judge my parents. I dont like it when they use ” are they chinese educated?” “but they dont have a degree right” ” can they use computers” to judge the intelligence and the social status of my parents. I know what my parents are capable of, but there’s no need to prove it. Its time for my parents to rest. To enjoy life and I advocate that. Yet, I feel a strong urge to get them back on track, improve themselves, just so that they are not categorised under the “kampong people”. But there’s no need for self-improvement as their jobs dont require them to.
I’m disgusted by my prideful self. I feel very guilty towards my parents because of this.
But on the other hand, this doesnt mean its a gateway to auto-integration and acceptance into the university life. Its really very hard to fit in, even till today, even with the closest friend in school. I can never ramble away, I can never tell them a joke without thinking twice if they will like it. Just recently, I told someone an episode of my neighbour’s wedding. I thought it was really funny but I think that person just don’t see the punchline of the joke. They are not humoured by what i think is funny. They are not amused by what I think is amusing and they definitely do not understand why I skip 3 steps down my stairway or why I have love-hate feelings with my neighbour. They see hokkein as expletives. They see chinese medicine and herbal soup as drugs. They see the shoutings, loud talkings at the urban new towns as rowdiness and uncultured. I can’t fit in.
And yes, i grew up like that. In fact, right outside my door, my parents talk loudly in Chinese laughing at the smallest stuff in life.
I’m not afraid of not being able to fit in or feel slightly belittled. But i’m afraid to be like that. I’m afraid to see my parents differently just because I’m still receiving education, just because i hang out with people at the other end of the income range. Just because they speak english at home. I’m afraid to look at my neighbourhood and one day judge the very place that i grew up in.
As for fitting in, I know with my background, I can never fit into the whole elitism system subtly encouraged by this capitalist economy. Maybe that’s just a euphemism. But, its never the way I worked and it will never be the way I work.
It has been a perplexed with struggling with my own thoughts. Yet who can i share this with? No one will understand what i’m talking about. No one speaks this language, no one lives this sort lively or in other words, uncultured and rowdy life? No one will understand the singing, shouting, gossiping and the daily cramping in the life. And no one will understand the pain of blue collars workers in this rat-race.
Thus, i choose blogging. Speaking to everyone but no one in particular.