Over the last couple of days, I’ve been busy. A gorgeous 15-year old was visiting Singapore for the first time in her life, and I was taking her on the Orchard Rd Pilgrimage
She’s left, went home earlier today. I’m suffering from withdrawal symptoms, Writing this, it strikes me how funny it is, that I’ll use the term “withdrawal symptoms” rather than to come out right and say , I miss her. Emotional denial, emotional insulation. How absolutely dangerous this world is! How emotionally unsafe. That everything and anything can touch you so easily. A word, a look, a smile, being there. Maybe they were right afterall, about sex being no different from a hug and handshake, because, the moment you open up yourself to deriving joy from the connection, it becomes a danger that can kill you. And I think I liked having her around. I think I like having anyone I love, hanging around.
My mother tells that I’m wasting money spending so much on her, when it’s not necessary and i could get her stuff that’s a lot cheaper. My mother says that she would become spoilt and take all these good things for granted. My mother said that my dad says ‘what am I trying to prove?’. My mother says her father is not happy that I bought her all the branded items, because when she’s used it up all, she would be so used to using the branded items, and can’t use the cheaper brands, and how will he be able to replenish and upkeep all these products? I don’t know how her mother thinks, because, in typical tradition and custom, its not her place to show emotion of any kind — she can’t show happiness, because that would come across as being exploitative of me; she can’t show anger, because that would be unappreciative and offensive to me; she can’t show embarassment, neither can she show gratefulness, because I’m one generation below her, and it would be a loss of face to her husband to acknowlege that i’ve provided for her child. So she can only smile. How strange it seems, and how emotionally unhealthy, that the best way to relate to people has become the need to remain absolutely emotionally dishonest, to become as painted as a chinese mask.
But I’m hoping that deep inside her mother is happy. Happy that her daughter is happy. Happy that someone else loves her daughter too, and someone else wants to make her daughter happy too.
I did not respond to my mothers words. It would just become another quarrel, and I was way too exhausted today for a quarrel.
I felt upset at her words. Her words felt like a poisoned lake threathening to flow into Eden. Which was typical of her words. I had to consciously remind myself that many times, I have seen her misrepresenting other people’s views, and that it was her personality to interpret anyone’s comments in the worst possible way. But I had to acknowleged that she could be absolutely right too. I had to remind myself, often, people get upset because of their own innate issues, and that just because they are supposed to be one generation above us, does not mean they have no issues. And I had to remind myself that it was my choice, how i wanted to respond to their manifestation of their issues. This rationalising helped, but I’m still upset at her words.
I think my dad said, ‘ What was I trying to prove?’ because all his life, he’s been trying to prove his worth to people around him. Often times, we term this in the positive way (which it deserves) ‘ He enjoys challenges’, but maybe deep inside, it’s really this need to prove that you are worth something. Honestly, the thought that i was trying to prove something did not even cross my mind.
Her father getting upset might be understandable too. In our society, where the father is responsible for providing your family’s needs and wants, and society judges success by that criteria, he might have felt upset that he couldn’t provide a life of luxury that his daughter would come to expect (a false assumption, but I wouldn’t be surprised he assumed this, given that his daugter has been bugging her parents to buy all these for her). Plus, the fact that I was a girl, of the generation below him, his sister’s daughter, made me someone he should be taking care of rather than have me take care of his child. Maybe that’s what my dad meant about me trying to prove something.
My mother is a hoarder. I am hardly surprised that anything beyond the bare minimum is uneccessary to her. I’m used to her. That she thinks the girl would be spoilt and take luxuries for granted, is also something I’m used to. My mother interprets many of other people’s actions (mine included) as a attempt to take her for granted, or to take advantage of her. In the same way, whenever I tell her something like “Hey the magazine I bought came with a free hair salon voucher” Her immediate response would be “oh then I can go do my hair!” Or, like the last time I wanted to take her to watch a show, and I told her I bought 2 tickets, her immediate response was “oh then daddy and I can go watch the show!”
My immediate, reflex response to her words, was “why do adults have to adulterate every nice thing you do for someone with such poison?” “Why, of everything that took place, focus on the money?” (I did not say this out). I think it’s situations like this that prevent me from growing up, because I just develop this “me versus them” thing, where “them” refers to the “adults”. I do recognise i’ve been an adult for quite a long while, but internally I indentify with what the children feel. The stuff that the adults think (as analysed above) somehow never occured to me, and even now that it has, I can’t accept that I have to change my behavior to accomodate those feelings. In fact I won’t.
What I felt when I took her down to Singapore, and took her on the Orchard Road pilgrimage, was this desire to fulfill her dreams. How often have i sat dreaming of a fairy godmother appearing and making my wishes come true — even if it were for a day only. I wanted to do this for her. For her to know what it’s like to get everything you want, and all you do was to ask for it. For her to hope for something, and getting much much better than what you hope for. For her to know that it is possible for dreams to come true. For her to have a ball, to enjoy the shopping experience. For her to feel beautiful . For her to see that she was beautiful. For her to not have to envy her friends who could have things. For her to break out of the inadequecy that she was less beautiful than her best friend whom so many boys were after. For her to know that she had the skills to dress up and make up, for her to have the dress and make up, to look more stunning than any of the friends she’s been envying, can ever ever look. For her to see a cute guy, and to have the confidence to talk to him, and to see that he actually sees her as worthy enough to have him shower attention back on her. For so much gain, money is a cheap investment!
That was all and exactly what I wanted to do. That was in my capacity to do. That’s what I did. Perhaps, because, that is something I’ve always wanted too. And I wanted it to actually make it real for someone else, someone I loved.
I know it’s only for one day or two. Life goes back to bleh. She’ll go back to her small town school where, without the clothes and make up, the boys would pass her over for her friend. Where the cutest guy who you believed for one moment was interested, never called you, or never even asked for your number. A life where it was no use asking for anything, because you knew your parents would say No. A life where hope was dangerous, because you knew you’ll be disappointed. Spoilt by luxury? Was Cinderella spoilt by the luxury of the ball after midnight?
No, Cinderella knows very well that life is bleh, and all she would have was a glass slipper for memory. Like life is bleh, and all she would have are beautiful pictures on facebook, and the beautiful dresses and makeup she took home but would hardly get to wear because guys wouldn’t ask her out. And real life is more bleh than Cinderella’s , because at the end of the day, you had to pull yourself out of it all, and there would be no prince charming to come round knocking. Still, Cinderella would never give up the ball even though life goes back to bleh. Cinderella would always remember the ball, HER ball, and oh, how she danced!
There is one tragic victim in this whole episode that I’ve yet to mention. The girl’s sister. Her younger sister. Her sister did not come along because her parents wanted to wait till she was older before she went travelling on her own. Unlike the girl, where everything was a first, everything was a magical fulfillment of dreams and expectations she never even dared to think would ever be fulfilled, her younger sister would be hearing stories. Her younger sister would have a whole new set of expectations — an expectation of having her wildest dreams fulfilled. While for the girl, everything was fulfilment beyond her dreams, with her younger sister, everything would merely be an item she already expected to get; there could only be disappointment. I fear that I might have robbed that magic from her.