On love letters to home
"Making Meaning" - the CBD area at night, on Fujifilm Superia 400 35mm
I wrote of a life I once lived. So, as a creature of habit, I shall return to it again with more musings that I will house in this week's letter to you.
"Why did you study abroad?"
"Alright, time to pull up The Script™," I mentally quipped, gearing myself up to passionately elaborate on the greatness of 2D anime characters and how my obsession over 80's Japanese music was so intense that it propelled me to drop everything behind and hurtle myself over to the land of the rising sun. In truth, I didn't have the heart nor courage to admit that I had a rocky relationship with the idea of Singapore as my home. My patriotism was limited to enjoying classic NDP songs and nothing else. My cynical attitude to politics didn't inspire any hope for the future. I was just a despondent individual trying to understand what it meant to be a citizen of a state and to have some sort of affection for it. I departed from Singapore that rainy April morning four years ago, ready to leave behind whatever attachment I had left for this tiny island at the boarding gate.
The years rolled by; it was time to churn out a graduation dissertation. Whilst my pals took to their Japanese source materials, I found myself interested in various texts our local academics wrote instead. Unbeknownst to myself back then, I was yearning for a reason to look back at Singapore and do something about my unresolved angst. My colleagues here at Ethos can attest to me sounding like a broken record, but I really do owe it to This Is What Inequality Looks Like and Air-Conditioned Nation Revisited for being my true north and guiding me back. In their honest, candid and eloquently worded thoughts, I recognised snippets of my confusion, frustration and desire. I realised my compassion for civil society and its potential looking through our various local activism groups on Instagram. In this newfound sense of 'camaraderie', I was determined to recognise this version of Singapore as home. And so, 60 pages worth of research and arguments (and an unholy amount of Red Bull cans) later, I was back in this tiny island.
I hope your ideas and version of home house all your love and joy within it, dear reader. I also hope to see you on the 1st of September, where we'll be celebrating the official launch of The Singapore I Recognise, a love letter by Kirsten Han that speaks of a Singapore already moving towards communal care, solidarity, empowerment and hope! Exciting stuff ahead. For now, however, I shall leave you with the promise of more to come and well wishes for those still on their journey of finding the meaning of home.