A Letter To My Uncle

Being away from Singapore has always given me the time, space and environment to function properly as a human. My mother recently texted me about how my uncle came over to our place and asked about our well being. He asked about my plans for my future, if I’ve enrolled to university, and what my course of action would be. My mother also mentioned the stress she has been under given the circumstances that I’ve had the freedom to decide for myself what I wish to do with my life. And it worries her, as it should, because clearly I’ve not demonstrated clarity in many of the things that I’ve done in the past 2 months.

At this point of my I cannot say that I have things going good. I cannot say that I have big life plans – five years, ten years, as many years – and I cannot say that some day I’ll be well settled. Because as it is, the life in Singapore for me has always been troubling. The biggest problem, potentially, that I have now is that I cannot stand up for my ‘belief’, and what kind of life would it be to not be able to live as you wish. Even now, I am troubled to use the term ‘belief’ because whenever we mention this to others, that ‘my belief is this this this, or that I believe in this and that’, you instantly put up a wall. And often in extreme cases, such conflicts would eventually come to certain form of detachment. Because we are a family. We hold on to our traditions, our roots, and our culture. And how do you live within a community of people who have different opinions on these sort of things?

So as it is, while I am able to be myself with people I cross paths with – be it family, friends or strangers – where I could demonstrate a certain level of respect and appreciation for the differences, I cannot stand up to my upbringing and say that I am not there with them.

This is not something that I would say up front to my uncle yet, but if I do have this conversation, and if I can muster these clarity in thought, I think this is what I would say. But I do wish, that when the moment comes – and it will come – that I will be to say this up front.


Dear Uncle

I understand the concerns that you, my parents and everyone else share with regards to our well being and our future. I understand that you care for us, and to a certain extent, as men, we take pride in how we stand as a family and as individuals in society. I know that it must concern you dearly to know that you do not know the direction or the path that we’re on at the moment. To make things worse, it is also worrying that we do not share or discuss things. You have hardly any glimpse into our lives and the more you ask, the deeper in we hide. But there will always be moments when we’d wonder if our elders are right, and if we should accept their wisdom and experience follow through with that guidance.

I guess what I want to say is I don’t know where I’m going, and I am fine with that. I worry about my own education. I worry that I do not fully utilize my capabilities, however we define it. And I worry that I will not have comfort, ease, love, companionship, wisdom, health and wealth in the future as much as everyone else.

But how can I assure you that I care for myself more deeply than a parent would for their children? I cannot assure you anything at this point, clearly. I cannot assure you that I would be disciplined in my endeavours, and that I would always be focused and on track. We can study as hard as we want, go to university, live a life studying so that we will be better than others, that we might be invaluable as a person but surely you cannot assure me that the path I ought to be on would bring me success? I know that the least you would ask for is that we be disciplined and focused and be good and righteous and firm in our decisions and seek advice, but even that is quite a lot to ask. We go through this hell of a life and I guess there will always be people that will lose. But who’s to say that we will never ever lose?

I’ve been defeated countless of times – in life, in relationships, in maths, and yes it’s better that we lose while we’re young and while you still have an eye over us but I need you to know that I am fine. I have the love of my mother and I have wealth – a sort of wealth I cannot really explain – but I will live. I want to make it as much as everyone else.

We all have our own separate journeys and I am really taking my time. But somehow, I just need you to believe that I am on top of this, even though it might not seem that way now. And I do hope that you would understand this.



P.S – Maybe you could go after my sister and brother instead.


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