I spent last weekend with my parents in Kuala Lumpur. My usual trips to KL would be eating trips because everything is halal there and thus, I would be stuffing myself. But last weekend was a journey of relaxation and reconnection.
My parents and I were not focused on hitting as many spots as we could. Instead, we were taking our time and enjoying each others’ company. I think we just wanted a break from this crazy thing called life. Even if it’s for 3 days.
As I grow older, I enjoy my relationship with my parents. Yes, we disagree and argue. But also we tend to have open and honest conversations. Not so much as friends. As a daughter, I am now at the stage of my life where I would take advice from my parents because the fact is living longer would mean they have experienced life enough to tell me what to brace for. I am incredibly lucky to have parents who have supported me (despite me feeling like I’ the worst daughter ever). I am a product of these two amazing adults who yes, are not perfect but nevertheless, always try to be the best people they can. Because that’s what life is doing the best with what you’re given. But that isn’t an excuse for laziness. It just means that whatever you want in life, you have to put the hard work.
That’s how I feel towards my grandparents. We visited their hometown of Melaka/Malacca on our way back to Singapore. It felt so strange being there because firstly, I haven’t been back since I was 10 and secondly, being back was my way of paying hommage to my late grandfather. Imagine leaving home and everything comfortable to find a new life and better future for your family. I mean I won’t compare my family’s move to Singapore with those people escaping poverty, gangs and whatnot in Latin America. But being a 3rd generation Singaporean and still having close ties to where my family is from, I can empathize with the struggle and grit it takes immigrants to want better for themselves. My grandparents did it 65 years ago.
I love being where I’m from and I am (partly) proud of where I come from. I know that Malaysians may not consider Singaporean Malays as legit Malays. But I am happy to know that I come from a long line of hardy people who make me look like a weakling. (Also, I love the fact that Melaka culture can be quite feminist. Land and property passed down through generations of women. Girl power!)
Wherever you are, it is equally important to know where you come from. It’s not for bragging rights (staring at all so-called Arabs and Causcasian Malays), rather it is to emulate the people who came before you and made it possible for you to be where you are. If my late grandfather didn’t take a job with the British police and moved his family to Singapore, I might not have been educated or even be this person that I am. His and my grandmother’s struggle and determination helped make me the person I am today. I am incredibly blessed to be part of their lineage.
My only hope is that I can somehow be worth of their sacrifice and hard work.