WHO AM I?
“… a combination of descent, dissent, assent, accent …”
Amy Paulussen amypaulessen.com quoting a professor in thewritepractice.com
So who’s spinning all these words?
I’m a Singaporean woman descended from a fierce Hakka Catholic woman. She was a mother of five daughters whose in laws kicked her out of her plantation home in up-state Malaya because at the age of thirty five she’d already buried a husband and her only son. Capable creature that she was, she ran a small town provision shop, shepherded the daughters through the Japanese invasion and managed to save enough to send two of them to university in Australia.
On the other side, my grandfather was a Chinese immigrant who came to Colonial Singapore penniless from Guangdong as a young boy and became the ‘almost’ English gentleman owner of the Cockpit Hotel before he died in the early years of independent Singapore. His wife, from whom I get most of my cultural baggage, was the spoilt oldest daughter of a Malacca Peranakan family.
The things I hold on to are God and the belief that, although shit happens, there’s growth in that manure. I’m committed to my unexpected marriage to a Vietnamese boat-person, whose face I first saw on a BBC documentary in an Oxford women’s college, and my three children. Waking up to my daytime vocation as a financial steward and investor and running to my night time avocation as a wordsmith give meaning to my life. My biggest learning experience was teaching my youngest son, born deaf and adopted at four, how to speak. He taught me patience and showed me how much we’d all taken for granted. Now I appreciate the completeness of my parts and every hearing minute of my day, .
I try to eschew guilt and not be unproductively angry, to lead a considered life and to do no harm.
Accents are what we put on. In my wandering life I’ve spoken English with an American accent in the US, a somewhat British accent when I need to, Vietnamese like a Chinese from Cholon, Mandarin like a Southerner, Spanish like a Mexican. It is good to be home, and to be able to speak English with my own voice and Singlish without need for translators.
As for the other things I put on… Ah! If we knew our pretensions we wouldn’t have them would we?