Saturday, February 12, 2005

What Roots?

painting by Xue Jiye

Today's ST ran the articles of 4 Singaporeans each defining their own Chinese identity:Incidentally, I recently wondered if my grandfather would appreciate a visit to his hometown in Shantou, China. After all, there's so much of my roots that I do not know. I also wonder how much of his hometown would he actually recognize, having been away for more than half a century.

When I visited my mom's eldest brother, there was a sepia-toned picture of my grandfather, his siblings and some sworn brothers. Posing with expressionless faces, they were all decked in Western-style suits with hair slicked back. My cousin then pointed out that the "gold" accessories they had on them were all painted on. And on closer look, the crude image-editing became apparent.

But knowing my roots wouldn't make me feel more chinese, would it? Or more Singaporean, for that matter. I definitely see myself as Singaporean, albeit a shallow sense of identity meshed with Singapore's brief history.

What then defines our roots for us? Is it tradition, customs or patois? If yes, then my roots are getting eroded pretty fast.

On the topic of living with parents, a friend commented wistfully that most young Singaporeans long for the day they can stretch their wings and flap off to their own nests (HDB or otherwise) in a proud manifestation of their independence.

In a different conversation about a coming house warming, another friend also voiced his desire to get his own apartment. "Isn't it a curse to be Asian?" he remarked.

Perhaps they, having seen how our Western counterparts are booted out of their homes the moment they turn 18, are more liberalized than I am. But it sounds like a fairly presumptuous to me to state that young Singaporeans value independence more than family.

For one, I love my family and see it as my obligation to look after my parents as they age and to continue to spend time with them after I get married. I've no statistics to prove my point but I would think that for the same reason I've stated, a fair number of young Singaporeans prefer to continue living with their parents.

Ah yes, I also hear the cynics out there pointing out the economics and conveniences of living with your parents. Honestly, that's not among my main considerations but it's definitely a pull factor.


Ivan said...

i'd certainly continue to live with my parents to take care of them.

Lemming said...

Well, you don't exactly need to be "homed" with your parents to take care of them. And, it seems that Westerners look at us increadously and go "Don't you parents need any 1-on-1 time?" when they learn that most of us don't move out till we're married.

I do want to take care of my dad, and I don't want to leave him alone at home either. Guess there's only one solution...