Issue One: Choices
I think about the time my brother and I were walking to the bus stop; I was seventeen and my brother would’ve been fourteen. It was a really windy day, cars sped by as we waited along the side of the road. All of a sudden there came this huge truck and the driver — you know, a redneck bogan type guy in a tank top, wearing sunglasses and a hat at the same time — leaned out of the window and shouted, “YER IN THE WRONG COUNTRY!” as he drove past. I remember looking at us; me in my black and red leavers jumper, my brother in his school uniform consisting of a polo shirt and trackies, and thinking to myself, Where have I heard those words before? When we realised that we’d spent the last primary school term cramming for exams in Singapore while my “aussie” cousins made paper-mache reindeer, my parents jokingly said, “We’re in the wrong country”.
When I found myself, year after year, chin-deep in workbooks and calculations that I couldn’t even begin to understand when all I wanted to do was draw, I thought to myself, “I’m in the wrong country”. Then we actually moved to Australia — When my classmates told me to bring my thongs to swim carnival and I thought they meant a g-string; when nobody understood what I was saying even though I speak perfect English, or asked if Singapore was part of China; when I sobbed my heart out to my best friend in Singapore over Skype and knew that I would kill for a legitimate plate of chicken rice — my heart cried out, I’m in the wrong country. I love it here, though. Whether it’s the right or the wrong country, it’s the one I choose… for now.