Leaving Home, Finding Home
From breathing behind the bars behind the mask of conformity, into… wild grass and facelessness.
I returned to Singapore a couple of months back after sniping a chance at moving to the UK via an ancestry visa two years ago. Back… Home? To musty memories. I can’t wait to clear them all out one day — deciding which ones will follow me through the rest of my life.
Surrounded by mementos of my late dad, struggling to keep memories of him afloat, rushing to integrate the sudden responsibilities and decisions I had to make. All the pieces I dropped the minute I learnt I had a chance.
All the tokens of my first half of my life, the old Jasmine packed away in pieces, hoarding a life resolute to nothingness. All those surrounding me like reels of a film cut and wallpapered in my room, my quiet jail, my tomb. My blue confines which I have spent tirelessly all those years to polish into a smooth marble, worthy of my end, my headstone of this fountain blood in the shape of who she once was.
Barely two years and I’m realising the magnitude of how much I’m not that person anymore. So much has changed so quickly. We are two completely different characters. She used to be the emblem of my strength. Now she is just the child in a black and white photograph from a different specie of a tree with nothing but curiosity and that the cartography of inner battles wrinkling at the corners of her eyes. She was the one who tried to make the best of everything but failed at every turn.
Singapore is still a beautiful facade that still takes my breath away as one of the best cities in the world. Being in the UK just reminds me how far it has reached through history and modernity, and still going forth like a lion in this side of the world. We ARE lucky, and I think it’s easy to take Singapore for granted. We know true multicultural harmony. I feel privileged to have experienced living here as a local and can only pity some few people I’ve met in the UK who are ignorant and think we’re from China or think we’re still one of the old jungle island people the colonials needed to “educate”. I think the number of Baz’s jaw-dropping moments say enough — I don’t think even he was prepared for our tiny little city.
But the amount of pacifying Singapore gives doesn’t justify the realities that people face living here. The amount of wool over our eyes. I guess it’s the matter of what’s important to you. I valued truth and freedom and the natural chaotic instabilities of life and of man and its natural courses going at a natural speed; I wanted challenges, I wanted to suffer a little more like the rest of the world does. I wanted imperfections. I want to live life like a normal person with choices that isn’t contained by a shopping mall or food menu. Singapore is a perfected, protected and highly-crafted life in a glass dome… everything that scares me. The only thing worth living for here are my family and friends, but to be with them meant that I had to watch them live stifled and plagued by the stoicism that haunts everyone here. I decided that I can’t face that and would rather be somewhere else as a tiny monument to go to at the other side of the world to remind them what life can be outside that dome, a little gas tank of fresh life. I want to be the other chapters that are banned in the book of Singapore.
I’m proud of myself for deciding to step out and take the risks, caring enough to give myself a second chance. On hindsight, it was an effin’ crazy, desperate move, and it still tears me apart to leave my loved ones and to face things on my own and (semi) alone. But I haven’t a single moment of regret. I have complete control over my life now. I can choose my paths. I can breathe. I spent too long believing I was a complete kook. But just by the third day, I’ve seen and experienced with my own eyes how wrong I was. It was hard at the beginning but I haven’t a single moment of regret.
Choices and adventure, living in actuality — the freedom is exhilaratingly liberating.