Thursday, March 20, 2008
This is a city drowning in the cacophony of voicelessness-
I don't often come up with pretty lines, or have epiphanies-of-the-day. I'm not as brilliant as Victor.
Back to point,
this is something that struck me as i was drafting my essay.
That this is a place where personal point of views are locked up, buried and then covered with cement to build tall shiny buildings on top of. The opinionated are an endangered species and risk being skinned alive at any first sign. Having brains means knowing how to be a perfect carbon copy.
I'm sure you all think that this is a purely biased take, and I'm just going out of my way to look for something to dislike. That's not true.
Of all the things i might not like about this country (not much to tell you, very honestly), this isn't one of them. It's merely an observation of sorts, and not exactly a baseless one at that.
Truth be told, I simply resent being brought here against my will.
I say i hate this country, but i actually really don't.
People do piss me off like crazy, resulting in my unwarranted "It's just this country" statement, but I mean, this is where I've spent most of my life already.
I have friends here who are family.
As much as i might lie to myself and tell myself that I will fit in when I'm in the States or even the UK, the truth is, I don't think I will.
I'm just unfortunate enough, to have been born in place A, bred in place B and will spend (probably) the rest of my life in place C. Sad, but quite true.
My point is, I am finally admitting that i don't hate this country.
I just sometimes hate living here, knowing I could be in two other places which seem more ideal.
I'll probably just get over there, to find out that carpet-grass is no greener anywhere.
Okay, my major digression was to solidify, somewhat, the ground I'm tip-toeing across. Though as you already know, fat girls like Charis Vera can't tip-toe anywhere without the entire world knowing about it.
I really am not talking about the government or play political tennis because not only do i have no clue how, I am also a complete ditz. Fullstop.
What my thoughts were straining towards was more like random conversations at Starbucks or CoffeeBean but most of the time, Macdonalds. (People never seem to chat for hours at a Kopitiam do they?)
I definitely don't mean conversations with my group of friends because our chatter and laughter, highly-spirited(i mean that literally) or not, is usually a cause of dirty looks being thrown our way.
I'm leaning towards the quiet talks that convent girls (sorry, steph, zoe, hannah, michelle, nad and the rest!) gather round stone tables to have. The kind of deep discussions that yes, PL girls, and students from other methodist schools/schools which have academics spewing onto their sidewalk have.
Anyway, these conversations, especially when it concerns school, or especially when it includes adults, usually center around what you've been doing since the O's, what you plan on doing with the rest of your life, and stuff like that.
Common answers like bankers, accountants, lawyers, doctors, teachers- those get you an approving nod.
If you say something like MISSIONARY! or even a plastic surgeon or GASP! AN AUTHOR!- you get this "do you really think you'll make it" look.
-Who'd have thought you can go wrong with the first, right? But the truly old-fashioned wrinkle their noses and tell you what a burden you'll be to your poor ailing parents.
-The second makes them think that you have serious issues about yourself and therefore want to help people change the way they look. (After that, when no one's around, they'll ask you to remember them so they can get a discount)
-The third, or anything in the line of arts that promises to be as stable as a Unicycle, or anything that is under arts, period, would set you in for a three hour lecture from EACH aunty, uncle, toilet cleaner, great grand uncle three times removed. A lecture that mostly centers around how you're setting yourself up for complete failure, how "Ger ah ger, you are doomed" how will your parents cope when arts is so "EH-SPANG-SIEVE" to study. How will you support them, no one wants to marry girls who have to kiss their co-stars. Etc.
I'm lucky enough to say, i haven't heard it all yet. Though of course, I probably will soon enough.
See, in my long, round-about way, I have come back to my point!
Anything that's different, earns you a lecture. Anything that hints at you taking a step on the less-taken path gets you pitying looks and questions like, "How's your mother?" In a soft, gentle way that reads "Poor soul must be suicidal by now".
You won't believe how many times I've heard stuff like this.
It started when i left school of course. At the mention of "private school", their eyes grew distant and you could hear them thinking "Wah, lucky my ger not like that." Then they tell me to study hard in a way that says, "This is the last time i'll see her like this because she will become a demon-child."
At the mere mention of arts (which i've been excited about since i was eight), I've had my knee patted and a condescending smile flashed before they tell me that, i should "concentrate on studies" and "play during holidays".
In this culture (the Asian one is the only one I know),
when an eight year old (I chose eight because by this time, they're taken more seriously) goes, "I WANT TO GROW UP AND BE A LAWYER!" The adults applaud and laugh and tell the parents how blessed they are and "Isn't she cute! She will be successful, I tell you!"
When an eight year old goes, "I WANT TO BE AN ACTRESS!" The adults cast apologetic looks at the mother before they all take turns to tell her that, "No, little girls must grow up to be smart."
Thank you very much.
Now when they see me they like telling me that, "Wah big ger now ah, I saw you on TV. Wah so sahsessfool (successful) ah, on mediacorp some more! I tell my friends know! That you from young like that one leh! Lucky ah, we encourage you! We got right! Tell you must play during holidays!"
Slight exaggeration but, same food different gravy.
Maybe some of us think the arts is a pointless career and some of us don't. But those who don't are unlikely to stand up in a roomful of academics and say, "I'm chucking my scholarship for acting classes." They're unlikely to do that even if it was just a roomful of mirrors anyway.
I've always felt that you need to figure out your reason for doing something. These were words that Mrs Suzanne Tan left me with and which I always go back to. If you don't know why you're doing something, that initial spark of excitement's gonna die out and you won't see your shit through.
It's not that i didn't like studying you know, it's just that i hated my everyday being exactly the same. I didn't want to be stuck in school because "i had to", because "it's the right thing to do", and because "everyone's doing it".
So i went off and made sure that I was studying for me.
It's sad that, even if there are a hundred teenagers out there who think the same, they won't do it. And they might not exactly have such supportive mothers either.
These people who go to school for the sake of going to school and study for the sake of studying, either explode and become slush-brained turds stuck to the telly OR they get stuck in dead-end jobs, with the same saying that's pulled them through school; "I do this because I have to do this."
This is a city drowning in the cacophony of voicelessness-
Some are desperately trying to find their own voices, while others are selling them to Ursula for that pimple-plantation-scholar-prick-with-278 for psle-who-thinks-like-everyone-else.