Log 2: 9-8-13 / Singapore and the distant idea of Home
August 9, 2013
This afternoon I attended a do in a lakeside resort organized by my tiny community of Singaporean friends.
As usual, everyone always expects me to say something – so I blurted out something pleasant, for a change. (I think, as I can’t really remember the words precisely)
“One should always make it point to remember home. To stay rooted and connected to what really matters.”
Judging from how no one puked, fainted, clutched their crucifix, walked out for an extended toilet or cigarette break (which always happens when Mrs Pang suggest I say something just to grace the occasion). I reckon it must have gone down very well with the crowd this time. An auntie even pinned an orchid on my lapel – another offered me some Bak kuah all the way from home – another insisted asked me whether I could pose with them for a family photo.
It was short and sweet. But that’s only to be expected. As in all honesty, I just made it up – I don’t even believe in what I regularly spout out any longer. You see, it is very simple. There you have it – confirmation – I am a hypocrite. Or maybe I just don’t really care any longer.
The idea of home is very distant to me these days – fainter still is the idea that I should make it a point to return home. There are moments when I wish I could believe in that ridiculous idea, that by doing so, I can some how recapture something that is missing in my life. But I don’t believe in all those homily sugary comfort food lies any longer. You could even say I have grown out of that phase or maybe it’s just by product of despair. I don’t know any longer.
Truth is, I have my own life right here – and my mission is the only thing that really matters to me these days. I live only to destroy my enemies – as for the rest…. it has nothing whatsoever to do with Singapore – may not be much of a life, I guess, but nonetheless, I am truly well settled into my routine in the way a block of Lego fits snugly and nicely into it’s rightful place.
I don’t blame the PAP for this change within me. Not at all. I know many Singaporeans who work abroad do so. But not me. It was my decision to come over here. Mine entirely. No one put a gun to my head.
Besides I would never presume to believe for one moment politicians have so much control over my destiny. Never (to me, they are just a few rungs higher than a food court manager and an over paid one at that) – to cut to the chase – I imagine that is how it is when a man works away from home for an extended period of time. The idea of home can only grow fainter and fainter with each passing year – it’s inevitable as its probably subtle, like how you suddenly notice its time to cut your nails or have a haircut – it just creeps up on you – till one day out of the blue – you just find yourself standing there with the realization that the whole idea of home had just disappeared completely.
Don’t get me wrong. Sure, we all try to hold on to the idea of home when we turn the wheel of life abroad.
That I imagine is why - in the very beginning, the idea of being away from home is heightened and sharpened - in probably, the same way a new inmate struggles with the sense of abandonment, desolation and estrangement as he tries his very best to make peace with his 10 by 4 cell. But time, I am reminded is a great equilizer – and at some point in the litany of work, life and play abroad, a perceptive shift is bound to occur. As the years chalk up, a metamorphosis of sorts slowly takes shape and form – till those same walls that used to have the power to disturb and intimidate somehow grows on him – he even acquires a fondness for them – that I imagine is how it is when you keep looking at a thing day in and day out. I know it sounds perverse, ironic even, but that’s really how I see it – the change that is.
And even if one day providence smiles on this man and he is suddenly released into the liberty of the free world. Instead of basking and reveling in his new found freedom – this man can only feel an acute sense of lost which can onl lead him to commit a crime just so he can be reunited with his beloved bars and walls again. As in truth, he can no longer live anywhere else…..except….here…in the very place that once tormented him. A place that he has come to call home.
That’s how I see the whole process (for lack of a better word) - in one sentence: there nothing for me any longer back home - not even the food that I can reproduce here with remarkable ease and fidelity.
As for my wife and children, they’re dead.
What about my friends? What about them? Most are now either driving taxi’s or trying to get by as estate agents or tuition teachers - they don’t even call me these days. As they are too embarrassed. I for my part play along. I don’t blame them, as it must be terribly humiliating for a man to sink to such depths. I blame them at all. As I know only too well how even the best us can from time to time run and hide from the world in the way a wounded animal runs into a jungle to heal it’self. Besides I much prefer to remember them the way they were, confident, proud and happy – it would just tear me apart to see them now. They too are dead. So what else is there left?
There is nothing back home for me in Singapore any longer. Absolutely nothing.
It’s just a hollowed out shell like one those old faded posters of a circus that once came to town. A distant memory.
All I really have now is the faint suggestion of home. I know it’s not real. It’s something that I cobbled together in my mind out of old remnants of the Singapore I used to love – this place is like a movie theater in my head that seems to replay happy scenes of some distant past life with my wife and kids in Singapore.
These days I spend most of my time in this place somewhere in my head. A place that I can only call the temple of hopes and dreams.
I once read somewhere, one should never live in the past – but I can’t help it – what else can one really do when there is so little in the present and future to look forward too.
Last night I had that same reoccurring dream again – an old man sitting in a rattan chair surrounded by his bodyguards. There was no dialogue. No movement even. No sound. No color. Which isn’t really unusual – as most of my dreams always seem to be sepia toned silent movies – only the litany….of what I still do not know. In this dream I try to hard to get close to this old man – but I never seem to be able to get through no matter how hard I try – it’s not a pleasant dream, not at all.
I think it’s best if I just take walk around the lake all by myself – the crowd is starting to swell now. They wouldn’t notice me, if I just slipped away – it’s after all national day.
One should at least make an effort to be happiest. Or at least pretend to do so.