(maybe you need to read this one first)
Okay, I didn’t really know if I wanted to write about it or not. But here you go, the short version.
The service was much quieter than I had expected, at little tense here and there, cautiously friendly, but nevertheless we ended with all the drama that would have been enough for a Korean TV-show (or a bad Singaporean one).
“You!!!” my uncle yelled at me, “If it weren’t for your infectious Homosexuality and your Ang Moh (Caucasian) dad!”.
Maybe I have to back up a little, to understand some of what is going on.
My dad is Caucasian and Dutch born, my mom is Singaporean, Chinese – and yes I know that I should write about them in past tense since they are both dead now, and this happen at mom’s remembrance service. But it still don’t feel right to do so for me. So there you go.
I have two siblings, a Sister and a Brother, who is 10 years my senior, with my brother as the oldest. I don’t look like them at all, my brother have inherited most of my dad’s look. Tall, hmm wide, and very white looking, with the exception of his eyes and some other minor features that gives him a more boyish look than my dad had. My sister is a perfect mix of Eurasian blend and got that look that everyone talks about when they talk about a mix of Asian and European, and omg that I hated (envied) her looks when I was a teen. She got everything located in the right way. I guess her constant diets and gym memberships also helped, so I am sure that she would have been able to end up on several front covers if she had dared to go against my mom when she was younger. But she didn’t, and is now the typical accountant type, who rule her kingdom of finance department with an iron fist.
But when it came to me, then all the white genes was used on my siblings – Yes, I do know that you can’t split it like that for real, but it surely feels like that when you look at me and my siblings, especially when I was growing up. So I am an almost identical copy of my mom – with the exception of my height. I am slightly taller than the average woman in Singapore. But still I have grandparents – or that generation, who call me by my mom’s name when they see me, and seeing pictures of mom at my age is stunning.
For the average Singaporean, there is still something about my looks, the way I walk, talk, look or dress because I have through my whole adulthood always been asked questions like “Oh how long have you been in Singapore?,”, “Wow your Singlish is good”, “Are you a PR?”. But I spend most of my childhood here, I feel at home in Singapore, got the right IC, but can still questioned if I belong by the average Singaporean.
In the first school I went to, I was called the Banana Girl, because of my Caucasian dad, and always walked around with a feeling of being less than the others, because of my parent. Something that is quite odd, when you think about the envy and fear there is about Caucasians, but is in general blatant racism and a fear of the unknown when it comes down to it.
The name Banana Girl came from a teacher where I in my early days in a Singaporean school was so excited that I asked questions about everything, something that I was used to from the Dutch education system, and was perfectly acceptable and encouraged – in the early school years. But my excitement about being in a Singaporean school and school system ended with the reply “Oh shutup you Banana Girl, you! Do you think you are so important because your dad is Ang Mog? No more questions from you!”, so from that day on I was known as that, and several other nicknames by the rest of the class and around in the school.
My dad has always been against elitist ideologies, so my first meeting with the Singaporean school system was with an average Singaporean school. Not good, not fantastic either, but where students from the lower middle class came to study. My dad had always seen himself as an average middle class person and that he should be more or less than anyone else, was an alien thought for him. Maybe a contradiction to other Singaporeans, who for some reason have a habit of placing doctors unnaturally high on the social ladder as well as using highly complicated algorithms to place people in some predefines social boxes.
But when my parents found out what happen, then the school after much yelling from primarily my dad, agreed that it was better that I changed school and was whisked away to a posh upper-class school, something that my mom more than welcomed.
The change from one school to another school, one system to another system was incredible. The change for me was incredible. First I was at that time miss insecurity number one because of all the bullying and teasing that occurred. So to end up at a place, where my dad’s skin color was seen as an advantage to my social status, that both of my parents were doctors, was yet another, but what I didn’t expect was how much I got noticed for being the younger sister of my brother, was scary alien. Everything that I guess should have helped me gain confidence, but what it did in the first years there, was to replace my inner insecurity with a feeling of not being enough, that I had to compete with something undefined to match what my parents and siblings represented in my classmates eyes.
Until I graduated from there, I constantly had that feeling of never fitting in, I didn’t feel comfortable with the trust fund Barbie’s, the constant comparison of social status and levels, so I managed, I learned to hide myself and to my mom’s pride, I rocked the world academically, but I never really fit in emotionally with either of the larger groups.
Same when I was in my teens out in the Singaporean world, going out with my dad could sometimes be an emotional challenge of always be reminded of the racial difference that I in Singapore always or often got reminded about, something that I have never (on the same level) felt in for example in Netherlands, or at most places in Europe. But in Singapore I have always felt this classification in race and especially as a teen and late teens when going out with my dad.
“Aiyaa see that dirty old man and that young girl together. Tsk, Tsk, Tsk”, “SPG at such a young age!” Oh how many times I haven’t heard that and seen the pain in my father’s face when he heard comments coming from behind his back, made by fellow Singaporeans thinking that he didn’t understood the Chinese dialects spoken in Singapore, when the two of us went out for dinner or had lunch together at his later years.
But he always took pride in learning the culture he was living in, this included the Languages spoken in Singapore, something that many Singaporeans don’t bother to know or learn about themselves. He spoke several Chinese dialects fluently, he spoke Malay – rather brokenly besides speaking both Dutch and English fluently.
I have in the last years wondered if I because of all those comments, didn’t go out with him so often as I liked it to be, just me and him. I know that I from I was 16 and 2 years onwards didn’t go out so much with him because I felt ashamed for what people openly said. That I felt shame going out to a new hawker center or mall with my dad for what people openly said about us when just the two of us went out alone. Did we stay home together more often because of the subtle racism in Singapore? Yes we did. We did for some time. But we never really talked about that part and is something that I wished that we could have discussed when he was alive.
On Friday before the remembrance service I told my siblings all this while exchanging stories about growing up. So I wonder if my brother would have reacted in another manner, if I haven’t talked about it, or if he would have done the same, no matter what I have said the day before.
My cousin who had been staying with me, had asked if it was okay, that he came out of the closet at the service, now that everyone was gathered, because he felt that it somehow could be easier for him to do so.
So he told his parents, my uncle and aunt, among other, that he was gay and was to be engaged to an Australian male, and that he in the last years have been living with a guy in Perth.
My uncle did not take that well.
“You!!!” my uncle yelled at me,
If death rays could come out of his shaky fingers that pointed towards me, then I would have been zapped dead at that moment.
“If it weren’t for your infectious Homosexuality and your Ang Moh (Caucasian) dad with his Caucasian attitude! Nothing like this would ever have happen if your mom had married a Singaporean Chinese, as she should have done if she honored our family values!”
That was all that my uncle managed to say before my brother was on him and shook him like a boneless chicken. I have never ever seen anyone been lifted up like that and I almost peed myself in surprise and shock, when I saw my brother that fiercely angry at my uncle. I never realized that he was that strong and fast. He is much taller than my uncle, but he look rather overweight and does not look like he is that fit either. Neither of them are that young any longer, so think that everyone, including my uncle, was surprised and equally shocked to see that he got thrown around like it took no effort at all.
“What did you say, you fucking prick,”
3 of my uncles and cousins had to hang on to my brother to get him to lower his arm so my uncle could get down and get air again, and I have never seen anyone as scared and shocked as my uncle looked.
My relatives really got all the entertainment and drama that they hoped for, so I am sure that everyone got what they came for, but I feel sorry for my aunt who looked sad and humiliated over my uncles outburst.
No one else, said anything about or commented on the other issue that is going on between me and a few of my other relatives. But I guess that any discussions about my right to my inheritance ended when my brother got that pissed at my uncle and doubt that anyone would have dared to confront me or anyone else after that. So let’s see what will be happening in the future.
I guess that it was the perfect time to come out on, because my cousins coming out didn’t get mentioned at all after this through the rest of the evening, but he stayed on in my place over the weekend in the hope that he could get to talk to his parents, but with no luck, and is for the next week going to stay at a friend’s place in the hope that they will have an adult talk with him, before he returns to Perth.
I’m leaving Singapore tomorrow. I can’t stay here and need to clear my head, so will go back to Netherlands for some months, mostly for work and will then return to Singapore in April or May.