Had a dream: There were all the places I used to dwell. Obviously the kind of dream I loathe the most, for it triggered the sentimental memories buried deep down. It’d even make me cry if Dad was there. Never liked that heartbreaking feeling.
Few days ago, I was having tea with a friend, who’s a single mother, at the cafe. Hers are very soulful eyes, sparkling with wholesome kindness and a hint of mischief. She said to me, “I don’t belong anywhere…”
The words hit me, as we’re basically on the same boat. We both moved to this small town to give our children the best education, alone. But, where do we belong?
I’ve been an immigrant for ten years. But frankly, the word “immigrant” or “foreigner” never really means anything to me. I’d never thought much of moving away from my place of birth, probably because I’m curious by nature and easy-going. Whatever the environment is like, I work on quick adaptation to it, and even if it’s not a pretty sight, I know there must be something for me from God. I believe that Attitude decides.
There was a period of time when I didn’t really know how to introduce myself. Taiwanese? Singaporean? Chinese? Complex for people who don’t really understand our history. I resent it when some argue that holding a foreign passport makes you a traitor and the like. What the heck is the logic? If you’re disrespectful, mean, and unkind, you’re just a scumbag regardless of your nationality, race or religion.
一直到了兩、三年前，在 British Council 上課的時候，課堂上小組討論「全球化」的利弊，每個人要介紹自己的國家，我突然不曉得，該說台灣還是新加坡。。。這是第一次，我驚覺到自己生命航向的改變幅度。
About three years ago, we were given an assignment regarding “globalisation” in class. Everyone was supposed to make a brief introduction of her / his own country. I got confused, because I didn’t know which country I should be talking about. Taiwan? Or Singapore? For the first time in my life, I was aware that the change of course has begun.
Lena, the gracefully beautiful grandma, heard of my confusion and said, without any hesitation and with her signature wink, “Of course it’s Singapore. ”
Lena is Argentine. She married to her Turkish husband a few years ago.
True. I’m after all a citizen of Singapore, which doesn’t harm the fact that I was born and grew up in Taiwan. Not at all. All the differences I’ve been through made me who I am today.
Last September, when I finally began to feel a sense of belonging in Singapore, I had to depart and start anew, again. I recall how, almost 20 years ago, a so-called “master” prophesied that I “will go abroad”. Intriguing, eh?
This July, I made a 10-day trip back to Taiwan so as to spend more time with Mum. To my surprise, many of my favourite dishes tasted different from what I remembered. It might be me — I’ve been away for too long, perhaps. Well, I will be lying if I say I wasn’t disappointed at all. But luckily, I’m not obsessed. Life’s a constant change after all.
Strangely, people everywhere seem to be confused about my identity. In the West, unless I speak, the locals always regard me as part of them. But while I’m in the East, I’m often mistaken for “a foreigner”. When I first met Panda, he couldn’t tell where I’m from. Even his colleagues asked the similar question, “Mixed?”
Locals in Leiston always ask me if I’m American due to my American accent. I feel that British people (or rather, the British here in Leiston) don’t really think much of races and nationalities.
恂姬一直很好奇，我顯然是鎮上唯一常見的東方臉孔，可是似乎有很多好朋友（其實不是，只是打照面會哈啦一、兩句）；昨天一起去買 Chinese takeout，她看我和店家的互動，說好像一家人吶～
Soon-hee has been very curious about my life here. I’m obviously the only Asian face you get to see on the street every day in this town, but I seem to have a lot of good friends. Actually, no, I’m just responding to people’s kindness and friendliness. Yesterday, when we collected our order from the Gold House, the Chinese Takeout, she witnessed the interaction between the cashier and me and commented, “You interacted like a family.”
The truth is, I believe that you reap what you sow. As simple as that. After the ten whole years of “roaming” around, I’ve come to recognise that home is not a place, it’s a sensation. In that sense, it doesn’t really matter where you belong, eh?