I was asked to write a love letter to you.
To be honest, I was a little stumped.
I’ve been between places for work and travels over the last five years. Underpinning this peripatetic lifestyle are all the clichés that one might think of: ‘I want to experience what’s out there’, ‘I want to explore’ etc. etc. On the flip side, there are the push factors that we are guilted into keeping close to our heart, away from the ears of our big-city friends: ‘Singapore is so small’, ‘I want my freedom away from my family’ etc.etc.
The path I’m heading down puts my allegiance to Singapore in a pretty bad light, doesn’t it?
But there’s more…
I’ve been less defendant or might have deferred to popularised descriptions of Singapore, which may or may not include the following such as ‘sterile’, ‘concrete jungle’, ‘fast-paced’, ‘efficient’, ‘aloof’… but I stop here.
Yes, you know how this letter is going. We’re going to make it seem like an anti-love letter, then turn it into a slow realisation of love. Because I’m sure you know how I feel – or would have at some point in your life – whether overseas or not. Many people have touted their love-hate relationship with Singapore. I’m still in the midst of figuring that out.
So I approached my partner, saying I’m not sure what to write about.
To which he says:
"There are a million such cheesy things out there.
How about you avoid the pragmatic, hardworking and singling culture, and have a central theme of adaptability
The ability to react to and meet changing global demands
The ability to put the collective ahead of the individual
All the impressive things in my mind”
See. Our national narrative is strong. You know it, I know it, the whole world knows it.
So maybe the question is… Do I love you?
You’re not a passionate lover for sure. Maybe not even a passing partner. So maybe you’re family. Yes, definitely so. You are welcoming, forgiving, deeply frustrating and annoying at times with your nagging. But you are warm, you are familiar, and you are deeply comforting. Maybe it’s when we have dinners, and it’s a spread of all my favourite dishes… ah, no one makes it like home does. Or the secret code we have that other people don’t understand (Singlish? What is that?).
You’ve made many house-rules that I didn’t understand growing up, but now I do. These house-rules has allowed our family to prosper and shine amongst our neighbours. You’ve been upgrading our house and renovating it so that everyone who comes marvels at the modernity in it. At the same time, you’ve kept the familiarity and comfort that allows me to sink in and go ‘ahh…’. Every time I come home, it’s that sight of those warm lights dotted in the dark sea, accompanied by the phrase that creates a little flutter in the depths of my belly: “To all Singaporeans, welcome home”.
I don’t know why it is that I love you, but I know I do in some capacity. There isn’t a strong compelling reason, but a multitude of little ones that make you endearing.
Always feel a swelling of #sgpride in my heart whenever I see our Tiger Beer overseas