About Me

Singapore
I am an indie writer. This is not a blog, it's a berth for my scrawling. Read my works and you'll probably think that they are either just plain junk or maybe knacks of a decidedly Bohemian attitude.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Stereotyping - Name tagging

Stella's story

When I was a little girl, I fell in love with an older girl. Her name was Michelle, she was pan-asian, with long hair and beautiful hazel colour eyes; she was slim and tall but despite her not smiling all the time (she doesn't need to) she looked just as lovely. She was the talk of the neighbourhood and my elder brother who hung out with boys his age was about a few years younger than Michelle. They never fail to cycle around her block to try to get a glimpse of her.

From that moment till now, I have always loved the name Michelle. I tag the name to a girl that looks just like the one I had fell in love with and wanted to grow up to be just like her. And true to my words (with the exception of 1 fat one) all the Michelle(s) I know are tall and pretty too. 

Whilst there are names that I tag to beautiful people, there are names that I tag to nasty ones too. This is usually the case when I met the first person whose name I first encounter and then, that person's personality is stuck to that name forever. So when it comes to negativity, stereotyping certain people according to their names is a most natural thing to do. 

You often hear people say, "I hate the name Vincent..." or "I hate people whose name their son Melvin..." or "Eeww, Chloe, I knew a girl who was named that and she is such a b****..." 

And if you didn't ever near people say that or you are not one of those, then I think you can skip this article and fly to Venus and not be poisoned to death because you are simply not human. 

Yes, so I do classify myself as one who stereotypes people according to their names. And I am here to share just how much I hate the name "Jimmy" or "Jim". (No offence to anyone of you readers who is reading this).

You see, I have an uncle named Jimmy and boy is he a jerk. When my family was going through a really bad patch and we lost our house, he offered to take us in. We were grateful to be able to have a roof over our heads especially when we were on the verge of a bankruptcy. But to our dismay, he took us in only to show other how 'kind' he was. He actually took rent from us and demanded we cook for his kids and clean the house too. 

Only when his father, my grand-uncle found out, did he then came back to us (when we finally moved out and got our own apartment) like a sorry dog with his tail between his legs to return part of a one month's rental to us. He said sorrily to my grandmother that he'd spent the rest of the 10 months rental we'd given him and he was only left with some. 

He pushed the money to me when my grandmother refused to take. Seeing money in my hands, I really wanted to pocket it but a harsh tone from my grandmother made me drop the money on the floor. She picked it up and gave it back to her nephew saying that if we take it, it would mean that we'd stayed in his place free of charge for a month and she didn't want that. We agreed to pay rent and so we should. 

So the screwed up man left with that money still in his hands and his tail still between his legs. But that didn't change anything because he proceeded to insult my mother in front of me, wrote me nasty emails saying that if I did not turn to Christ, I would be banished to hell. 

I never forgave him nor did he not feel ashamed every year when he comes over to visit my grandmother over Chinese New Year. Initially, I made sure I was there to shame him; once, I told him he need not buy us anything because now, we can very well afford it when he asked if we have money to buy stuff for the new year. 

Perhaps being a rebellious teenager aided me in shaming him and degrading him. But now that I have grown up, I no longer shame him but I watch him and on times when I could, I reminded him on how he has treated us in times when we needed help most and he would text my mother on how rude I was. But what was most important, was he got my point. 

Along my years to adulthood, I have met other 'Jim(s)' and 'Jimmy(s)' and you can bet, just how all of them are the same. But I guess all in all, this uncle of mine really takes the biscuit. He is not only the embodiment of all of the above, he is more than what you can imagine.

Now that Chinese New Year is around the corner, I look forward to taking another opportunity to humiliate him. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Occupation : Hater

I was always ready to hate. 

Every since I was born, I had always been a hater. I was easily jealous then I proceed to hate; I was easily irritated which caused me to grumble and then hate; I have a bad temper and would hate more when people tell me so.

I recalled when I was young, my brother was more loved than me. That was because he was fat and chubby and was always ready with a smile. I, on the other hand though was fair and cute with my little beady China eyes and cherry lips, I was selfish with my smiles. What rare times that I did smile, was hardly captured by cameras and when they were, they are as precious as gems.

So on the part of being more loved than me, I came to know that I hated being compared to and with screwed up adults telling it to my face that my brother was cuter than me and more well-behaved, it sparked an internal boil in me that was always almost at the point of over-flowing. Since I could not direct my anger at these adults, perhaps I could direct it at my brother.

But thank God I was not made to be this way and I was nurtured to be a better person. 墨家 or Mo Han Zi as I was taught said that humans are born evil, they have to be whipped and caned to learn good. 老子 or Lao zi said that humans are born good; it is because they are faced with adversity and negativity that made them turn evil (I'll get to the topic of nature versus nurture some other day).

However, from successful nurturing doesn't mean a whole new human being. I was still easily irritable and my temper is still as raging if not worse than before, but I was and never had been a hater of anyone or anything. Even if anyone was close to being put on my hate-list, no one lasted long there.

I look at the internet which became such a indispensable 'thing' in our daily lives now that it has nurtured even the good-natured people to what they are not. It started out with emails and IRC chatrooms then morphed into Alamak online chats; then to MSN, YM, ICQ, Skype and so on. After that, we stop communicating and start to stalk people on Friendster, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram etc. It is from these that we began to build a natural urge to talk. And what about? Some bad things about other people, of course.

I remember I was in Bali with a bunch of friends that I was quite close to but not close enough to travel and each other for 24 hours a day, 3 days straight. I know such sudden closeness will always make friendships tensed and tested and I was ready to not make some mistakes and always be on my best behaviour. So in order to make silence less awkward, I picked out certain things to talk about when we were on treets shopping. I talked about the hot weather, about how some tourists wore their bikinis, about the drinks we had on the beach only to realised later that I was honky criticising them. How did I know? Because a friend told me to shut my mouth because I kept criticising people wherever I go.

I don't hate all those things that I'd picked out to talk about, but I thought that mutual talks about negative things do bring people together. Like in the office, you get together during lunch time to almost gossip about another colleague or simply to bitch about your boss. No one gets together to talk about how happy they are because it would only make other people jealous and eventually ditch you as their lunch buddy.

So if we don't talk about bad things, we should at the very least not say anything even if we can't say anything nice right? But then how does one not say anything at all in order to fit in? If you don't post anything on your Facebook, does that mean that no one remembers you? I would say to that because when I don't, all I got from people was "Eh, how come so quiet ah you?" "You ok anot? Sick ah?"

Back to the part about the internet being the surging part of this problem. It causes the rise of haters but it is not the root of the problem, it just made being a hater easier. For one, I can hide behind the monitor or the mask of pseudonym. I can also scold and criticise all I want, then delete my entire account and disappear for good. No one will chide someone in their face without a proper shield. I mean, you won't bitch about your boss knowing he is standing behind you listening right?

Therefore, what is THE root of the problem then, I hear you say. A friend of mine blamed it on the milk powder formula that kids drink nowadays which make them more bold and outspoken. Another friend thinks its those American movies that show teenagers as heroes and other people idolising them because it was cool to flip the teacher the middle finger in class.

I think it is the reason why and in what we do and how we put ourselves out there that is the reason for all these hatred to sprout from.

Take for instance, a teacher gives you and your classmates green beans and you put them on a wet cotton wool, do you often turn to your friends and think inwardly, "I hope Amanda's bean sprouts don't grow taller than mine."

But if you decide to just take some green beans from a packet and grow them yourself, you only purely wish that they grow as healthy as any other plants out there and happy when they grow taller and sprout leaves and flowers. There was no malice in your thoughts, only clean, pure thoughts and maybe love.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The poor Singaporean girl who thought she had the life she'd wanted

Choo Ann's story

I was impregnated by my Caucasian boss who was more than ten years my senior. At a budding age of only 22 and freshly out of university, I was all ready to take the world on, but to be pregnant at such a young age was not something I had planned. My boss who later became my husband, Bart was quick to propose marriage. He was divorced twice and both marriage left him ready to start a new life with a new woman and a baby on its way. Though I was kind of skeptical on how ready he seemed to me, I was also attracted to his status as CFO of a prestigious company at only the age of 33. My parents were hopping mad and my friends were worried that I will only end up as his third failed marriage. But in Bart I trust and even though I was only working for barely a year, I was ready to be a stay at home mother to our child.

A wedding was promptly planned and with Bart's status and fame, I must say that it was the envy of my other friends and uni classmates. My older cousins who used to bully me when I was young, all stood in the shadow with their newly wedded husbands struggling to pay for their HDB apartments and that dream wedding venue of their choice. For me, because of my bulging tummy, I had only to compromise my dress to cover it up, but pregnancy has made my breasts swell with milk, complimenting my low cut dress further.

The first few months of our marriage was beautiful. Bart was very attentive towards me, he accompanied me to my doctor's appointments regularly, and despite him not being able to understand mandarin, he accompanied me to my parents' place every weekend for dinner and tried his very best to fit in. His bachelor's pad was quickly converted to a baby's haven with toys, the cot and clothes. I was filled with over-whelming love with this new guy in my life. I was very sure I loved my husband, even though I missed my friends and family, I was without a word of a doubt ready to play my part as a wife and a mother in few months time.

When I was into my 3rd trimester, I was alone at home having the music on full blast and texting my friends in a group chat, when Bart came home high from drinking too much. "Ann? ANN! Damnit, I can hear the damn music all the way from the elevator! Shut that damn thing off!"

I quickly scrambled to my feet to the iPod dock to lower the volume but being 7 months pregnant made it difficult for me to be fast and nimble. Before I knew it, Bart stormed towards the iPod dock and with a clumsy lift of his leg, kicked the iPod from the table. I was stunned to silence and looked at him in shock, but all the did was hurled a few F words at me and staggered to our bedroom and fell asleep.

I'd thought that he probably had a bad day at work, but in the morning, he woke up without talking to me and left for work with just a swift kiss on my cheek, then he came home the next day as high on alcohol as the night before. This continued for couple of days until I could no longer keep my anxiety in check, so I picked up the phone to call his colleague and ask a vague and harmless question. Little did I know that Bart would be taking it the wrong way and thought that I was checking up on him. He came home that night more mad than ever and yelled and shouted at me. I had never seen him like this before and it really scared the hell out of me. I cried and asked him what was wrong, but he shoved me to the floor and the next thing I remembered was waking up at the hospital with Baby Wren by my side and Bart was no where to be seen.

I asked the nurse if my husband had left the room to go to the gents but she told me he brought me to the hospital and left when I was wheeled into the operation theater. I was heart-broken. I have no idea why the sudden change in Bart and for him to do this to me, not to wait to see his daughter and not even bothering to call my family was devastating. I sobbed into my pillow, much to the depressed nurse who asked if she can call my family for me. In desperation, I asked her to call my parents who rushed to the hospital to see me.

Bart was unreachable, he did not answer his calls nor was he at home. My Dad was cursing him and my Mum just cradled Wren in her arms while my siblings continued to make fruitless calls to his mobile. I was almost in a state of post-natal depression, I gave birth to my daughter because my husband pushed me and then disappeared altogether. Then it dawned on me, I don't even know who I married. His parents did not fly in from overseas to witness his 3rd wedding, his only brother was somewhere in Canada rock-climbing, only a handful of his friends attended our wedding and none of them I know nor is acquainted with. The only people whom we have in common were his colleagues. So I picked up the phone and spoke the same colleague I had before whom told me that Bart was on paternity leave and it was odd for me not to know.

Absolutely devastated and shattered, I cried and cried and could not stop. My parents wrapped me up and took me home to care for Wren and me while everyone tried their best to look for Bart. Then as suddenly as he has disappeared, he appeared. The kind security guard at Bart's condo called my Dad to tell him that Bart has come home. My Dad and my siblings marched to his home and demanded he explained his disappearance, only to receive a nonchalant look at a stack of papers being thrown into my Dad's face- they were divorce papers.

What was stated in the papers were how I was gallivanting every night of our short marriage, I was not a wife fit for a CFO, I did not clean the house, I did not cook, all I cared about was spending his money. My Dad was so outraged, he punched Bart and 2 weeks later, was sued by him.

With Bart's powerful status and fame, my Dad was jailed for 3 months but not before I pluck myself off the bed and begged Bart to let my Dad off. When I pleaded and begged, he was as cold as ice. I could not fathom this sudden change in my husband and demanded an answer. He told me all the reasons were already stated in the papers.

I called the colleague and asked him out for a talk. He turned me down and said that it was not convenient for us to meet. With a last desperate attempt, I tried to recall the name of Bart's 2nd wife and tried to find her on facebook. She was not on his list but not surprisingly, she was on that colleague's. I dropped her a message and waited with fingers crossed that she'll reply. She did and throughout a span of a few days, I found out that Bart did the exact same thing to her, and he married her because she was pregnant too.

She told me that Bart is seemed to be having a bi-polar disorder or some sort of commitment phobia and that everytime he gets serious or is thrown into a serious relationship, he wants out. The best way is not to fight him, just leave him and leave him alone. Armed with this information, I went back to see Bart, only to be met with another asian girl in our house. I screamed and yelled at her to get the fuck outta my house. But Bart put a protective arm around her and shouted at me to get out instead.

I was overcome with rage, without thinking, I picked up whatever that was nearest to me and threw it at Bart, it missed him but hit the girl instead. Every time happened so fast because after it hit her, I charged at Bart and started to pound on him. Then I was taken to the police station, handcuffed and disgraced.

My Mum bailed me out and begged me to stop and divorce him as quick as I can so I can get on with my life, I am after all only barely 23. But I could not think straight. I only worked for less than a year, I am now burdened with a child whose father didn't want her. I am penniless and broke, broken and husband-less. I had the marriage envy of all girls, I had money and lived in a beautiful condo with a dashing and rich husband. Now, I have nothing.

I stood in the shower for a long time and let the water beat me from the head down. I sobbed and sobbed for as long as I wanted and when I could cry no more, I stepped out of the shower and fell to the floor with a sharp pain to my pelvic. I cried for my Mum who called then called my siblings to take me to the hospital. I was diagnosed with Gonorrhea, a kind of STD that was life-threatening. When I found out that Bart gave this terrible STD to me, I realised that I was just one of his toy, just like all his other women whom he slept around with, the only difference between me, his other wives and the other women was that all his wives were pregnant.

When I was discharged, I locked in my room, I picked up a broken mirror and slit my both my wrists.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The modern people

Bertha's story

We all know someone or a common story of someone who strived to work hard in attaining material gains or financial freedom until he lost his health and realised that nothing in this world beats one's well-being.

That usual story about motivation and striking a balance between work and life, is so common that we often brush it away every time someone wants to remind us of it. Even though it does move us for a moment or two, it does not stay with us and we continue our pursuit of wealth, fame and status we desire.

Today, I met a friend whom I have not seen for a long time. The routine of catching up over coffee, talking about current affairs and updating each other about our spouses and lives, you know, the common topics that fit a conventional inter-catching up between friends. We ordered our coffee and plunged into catching up when it struck me that my friend has lost a considerable amount of weight. I did not ask but eventually, he brought up the fact that he had been ill and was hospitalised for a week.

I was bracing myself for him to announce an incurable disease like cancer but he told me it was pneumonia, while it was not serious enough to kill him, it made him realised that he could have been rendered incapable to work anymore if he continued not to care about his health in his quest for financial freedom.

Silently, I heaved a sigh of relief that he didn't come down with anything cancerous and was about to tell him so but caught myself mid sentence when he told me how afraid he was of leaving his newly wedded young wife widowed and so many of his dreams unfulfilled. I listened on and tried to empathise with this dear friend of mine; on one hand, I was relieved that he was not at the brink of death but on another hand, I failed to recognise how something not amounting to death can make this friend make a mountain out of an anthill. Yah, so you were hospitalised. But you are all well now, so what is this epiphany on life and death huh?

Later when I drove home from our meeting, I thought for awhile on how when something doesn't happen to you, it is really very difficult to understand what that particular someone is going through. I was complaining like mad to this friend about work and all he did was to criticise the way I view things, how I could have made things better, so on and so forth. And it too stuck me that no matter how bad and pathetic a picture I paint of my working relationship with my boss or in my working environment, there is no way he can fully comprehend my feelings, just like how I am unable to put myself in his shoes and picture how he would have truly felt, lying on the hospital bed for 7 days.

Gone are the days of a knight's chivalry, or a gentlemen's honour. Also gone are the days when you see a beggar at every corner of a street. It seems that we are all one of our own being, we do not belong and neither do we separate.

There is a lot of suffering in this world- with war, famine, ebola to unemployment, dealing with cancer or something as minute as leaving your pen at the library. One cannot determine other people's level of hardship and adversity for that person. As the saying goes, the lost of a doll for a little girl is as great as a king losing his crown. We cannot force ourselves to empathise (while it is a good effort and a virtue to do so), we are also not wrong to be unable to do that. No one's suffering belongs to you nor does your suffering belong to anyone else. It is this realistic.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

An extraordinary Singaporean woman

Ling's story

One may say that our country is still very much embodied with traditional values and ideals. Despite being one of the top countries with almost every citizen owning a smart phone, we still look women who bind their breasts with a look of disdain or at men inter-locking lips in public like they are aliens.

But there are people who can just cleanly ignore those stares, finger-pointing and name-callings or even the whispering and bad-mouthing in front of you and just carry on with their lives. 

This is one story of a Singaporean woman who doesn't care. 

Her name is Ling and she is a social butterfly and a sophisticated, successful property agent. Neighbours see her walking in and out of her house with 2 boys, one in studious black-framed spectacles who is 9 years old and a younger one freshly out of kindergarten always armed with a toy car. They are her sons, but both of them are not of the same surname. 

9 year old Adam was born out of wedlock because his father is already married to someone else. Even though, Ling knew the consequences of bearing a child without is father's knowledge, she grit her teeth and went through the pregnancy alone - the father of the child, a man over 50 is not ready for a fling to turn into something serious. 

Adam was brought home from the hospital one day, with Ling's mother in tow who helped with her confinement until she is well to get back to work. The neighbours observed her growing tummy and no man to follow her in and out of the house, nor was there a wedding band on her finger, and so they talk. 

Relatives and friends who weren't supportive for a 24 year old budding new talent in the property arena to keep the baby, pushed for her to think twice, but best friends who knew that she has gone through 2 abortions knew that the perhaps, it is better or the Chinese would put it, fated to keep this one. And so she did. 

When Adam was growing up, Ling did succumb to the society's pressure of letting her son grow up in a proper nuclear family. Edward was mature, he loved her and was willing to accept Adam in his life. They got hitched in a jiffy and in order for Edward to feel better in this new family, Ling quickly conceived another baby boy. They named him Clive. 

Alas, Adam did not get to enjoy the joys of a nuclear family for long. Just a little after a year, Ling realised that it was a mistake to get married for all the wrong reasons. Despite Edward's pleas at trying again, Ling filed for divorced and moved out with her two sons. 

She continued to strive hard in her career and was determined this time, to bring her 2 boys up on her own. If love comes, so be it; but if it doesn't she doesn't give two hoots about it. 

But love did come and it came in the form of a man 10 years her junior, Nigel who ran a drug syndicate. They fell head over heels for each other, he moved in with her and this time, the neighbours managed a positive remark about Ling finally having a man who can take care of her, but little did they know that their love was short lived. After a year and a half into their relationship, Nigel and body of tattoos was thrown into jail and Ling was once again alone and pregnant. 

Did the neighbours and relatives talk again? Oh you bet they did. For the 3rd time, she came home from the hospital with a baby boy in her arms with a different surname. But still, she held her head high, continued to close her deals and put money into her bank account. 

Ling's story is extraordinary not because she decided to have 3 kids from 3 different men, but because she simply did not care for what other people are thinking or are saying behind her back. She is not someone who breaks the rules and traditions just because she wants to nor is she a feminist heroine who wants to prove to the entire world that she can do this alone - fact is, she just doesn't care. 

In this age of technology where people commit suicide or murder by a mere comment on facebook and the entire world criticising this one ingrate if he complains about his mother getting him a silver iphone5s instead of a gold one because we are still tied by our values and traditions, Ling stands out like a rose among thorns. 

Just how many of us women are ready for this life that Ling has paved out for herself?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ugly Singaporeans?

Today, I read articles and watched videos in aghast about a Malaysian turned Singaporean (or so I read) whose name is Han Hui Hui clashing head on with the director of Nparks (National Parks, a body which governs all the parks in Singapore) and the police about their marching and protesting for the Singapore government to return us our CPF (a forced savings sanctioned by the Singapore government to that Singaporeans will not be reduced to nothing when we needed money).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxT_juycbZw

First of all, I have nothing against her, in fact I was in awe for her courage when I knew about her; for someone only 22 years of age, stepping out in all her tiny height and chopped hair to lead a protest against the Singapore government, is simply wow.

After watching one particular video though, I was disgusted. I cringed at the way she spoke, the childish way at forcing the Nparks director to produce his ID for verification and the repeated demands at which law was she defying when she marches and protests at a said place that she has applied a permit for.

There is no denying the juvenile and foolish, market-like, degrading way in speaking to demand this and that, to ask for papers and rules and law and such when all the director of Nparks was asking was for their cooperation. You may be brave to speak up to grown men, but you still need some education and class to ratter your mouth off, little girl.

But yes, we all know she is merely 22. She still hasn't worked for a single day, no wonder someone yelled at her to get a job before even asking for a return of her CPF because she doesn't even have any. We should all forgive and not forget that she is only someone who is barely out of her teens. For her to face a group of intimidating men and still speak normally, not to back down or show any signs of weakness, it really does take a lot of guts.

I also watch in terrible shame at the few men who are said to be policemen (when only 1 showed his ID) having their arms crossed and looking all fierce like hooligans and one of them was even holding up a video camera shooting the poor girl. Shame on them! And shame on those other policemen hiding behind the investigation officer and not even bothering to show their IDs.

And what was the worst crime was the media giving fake reports, putting the protesters in bad light by saying that they were 'heckling' children with special needs when there was an adjacent event at the protesting area at the same time. To make matters more heinous, was ministers putting up ridiculous comments on the protesters. Gee, do you people whom we have voted into parliament have to stoop this low too?

http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/special-needs-children-heckled-cpf-protestors-hong-lim-park

https://www.facebook.com/therealsingapore?fref=nf

We all know what is a snowball and how it always gets bigger and bigger. Perhaps by writing about this, I too contribute to the snowball but nevertheless, it is merely a protest. As for the rest of the gentlemen involved - the 5 or 6 act tough police-hooligan-men, the ministers who only know how to make rude comments on their facebook page and to the media who likes to write nonsense, bugger off and just leave the poor girl and the special needs children alone.