DISCLAIMER: This post may come across as me being very self absorbed. This post isnt going to be written well either because this is my exercise in free writing so whatever here is it goes.
I’ve really been thinking alot about my family heritage this week. Why? Many reasons. Most obvious is the fact that it is racial harmony day and everyone is going on about how much they love their race/ethnicity. It actually makes me happy that many of us are proud of where we come from because there is nothing I can stand more than a chinese trying to be ang mo.
Besides the fact that its racial harmony day, I’ve also had to come into greater touch with my roots. Why? Currently, we’re learning something called experimental or (devised) theatre. It’s the kind of theatre where people come out and tell different stories and it’s somewhat disjointed. Culture and heritage is a very common theme in this form of theatre, so we’ve had to really look into ourselves and pull out these things from personal experience and all.
And so, I’ve decided to do this. I’m going to tell the long story of my family’s heritage, or my father. No, there isn’t any juicy gossip and I’m not like related to a president. It’s just the story of my family and I hope I can get more inspiration for my theatre from writing this piece. \
Sadly, since this is all an exercise in free writing and I’m just writing things as I go along, I don’t have any pictures on hand to post (not like you want to see it anyway but oh well).
LET US BEGIN.
A bit about me
I live in Singapore with my parents+ two sisters+ two dogs. I speak chinese (broken), fairly fluent in conversational malay and trying to learn cantonese (somewhat failing). My IC says Malay but I am Chinese Malay Jew (I’m not making this up)…. I’ll explain as I go along.
So basically, my father is a Malay. But the thing is, he isn’t a muslim. Weird right, because the culture and the religion is so closely linked, I mean when was the last time you’ve met a Chinese Malay that wasn’t a muslim?
Anyway, this all happened because my grandmother (a Jewish) married my grandfather, who was a malay postman. It sounds very cliche but their marriage was not recognised by either of their individual religions. This is because you need to convert to Islam if you wanna marry a person who follows Islam, and vice versa for the Jews. Since neither converted, their marriage was considered legal under the eyes of the law but not in the eyes of their religion. Of course, it pained them to know that them and their kids (who were considered “bastards”) were outcasted but oh well thats life.
Back to the main story, my grandmother is, to be more specific, a middle eastern jew. In case you didn’t know, Jews are actually from the middle east, and not all are caucasians. So no, I’m not Eurasian ( SO CLOSE TO BEING ONE ). Since they couldn’t specify what my dad was because it was so confusing, they just placed him under the malay category since my grandfather is a malay (ethnically javanese). He never became muslim, and he followed his mother to the synagogue, which is the church for Jews (Waterloo Street and Oxley Rise). However, he was looked down upon by many other Jews since his parents marriage was considered illegitimate. He only started going to the synagogue properly and got accepted once he grew up and became a very rich lawyer (hehs).
OKAY IM BACKTRACKING ALOT.
Anyway, they struggled and worked hard for many years because they were poor, with my grandmother being a seamstress and my grandfather working as a postman/driver/security guard (2 at the same point of time). He finally went to NS where he went to OCS and all and continued working to save up money for university.
My mother’s side is slightly less diverse than my fathers but interesting to me nonetheless. My mother is a Malaysian and fully Chinese. Her dialect is Cantonese and her side is so traditionally chinese to the point where I believe that the entire family line has literally ALL BEEN CHINESE. I bet she was the first one to marry someone who wasn’t a chinese. Anyway, they come from one of the Southern Provinces in China, though even they don’t really know where they came from. Oh, not to brag, but do you know my mother’s side owns a village with a humongous watch tower and is a UNESCO site? Okay this is bragging and self righteous but just thought it’d be interesting to share. (Idk what its called and cant ask my mum since she isnt at home but apparently its owned by the fang clan?? okay whatever)
Anyway, this all changed when my great grandfather hopped on a boat to Malaysia for trading opportunities. Apparently he changed his mind in the end and became a pawn shop owner in one of the more ulu towns. Then, my mother’s father got a job working for the government in Kuala Lumpur so they all moved there. My mother grew up with her five sisters there. And because of that, she can’t speak a word of Mandarin but can speak amazing bahasa. I somewhat blame her for my shitty chinese.
THEY FINALLY MEET
In the end, my grandfather worked round the clock to put my dad to university and my dad had to do stuff like play in clubs and give tuition to fund himself. My mother did very well for her exams and went to NUS in Singapore after the Malaysian Universities rejected her under their law of bumi putra or something like that. And so they met in the dorm. Keep in mind that my mother was two years older than my dad which technically makes her a cougar.
They created three children who are all girls. Eldest one looks the most chinese, probably from my mother. Middle one looks the most middle eastern, from my dads. I personally followed my fathers side and inherited malay eyes and the ability to play guitar and eat sambal/chilli ( CHINESE PEOPLE CANT HANDLE THE CHILLI hahahah jkjk) . Honestly, I can say that I am proud of my heritage but I identify myself as a Chinese Malay. People only find out I’m somewhat Jew when they get to know me better but I love telling them that. It’s like pulling the rabbit out of the hat :D. Okay that was bad and just me being weird. CONTINUING ON, I love the fact that I am a mixture of these races and I will continue being so. I’m undecided on religion, but I think they’re both different things and I won’t try and mix them up. However if I ever feel like it I can walk down to Waterloo Street and ask if I can be Jewish and my grandmother will be so amazingly happy she will cry but thats something I’ll consider when I’m older.
IVE COME TO THE END OF MY LONG RAMBLING on my race/ethnicity/religion/heritage. I’m so sorry if you got bored or think I’m self absorbed but this really was me just free writing and I’m just spewing out my thoughts as I go along. If you’ve made it to here, congratulate yourself.
THANKS FOR READING im so sorry i wasted your time kthxbai