Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Missed the boats

In the last year since I came back to Singapore, I've been a bridesmaid twice, and had more wedding invitations, proposal events, engagement dinners, and hen parties than I can remember.

Superstition has it that once a woman is bridesmaid thrice, she's never getting married, and I'm just waiting for the third invitation this year. I know it's coming. I can feel it.

I really don't mind the weddings so much. It's nice to see couples in love. More than that, it's nice to see the gradual change from being friends, to being a couple and then husband and wife. There's something different in the way a couple behaves when they're married. The relationship is indelibly more matured. And it's great to see that it people still believe in "I want to spend the rest of my life with you". It gives me hope in a way.

But what's really irked me of late is finding out that a number of guys who used to have a crush on me back in school or college are now married, or getting married or have a baby!

Somehow it didn't hit me until my mom told me an old childhood friend (supposedly my first boyfriend when I was 6 or something) is getting married. Of course she had to add that I must "jia you".

It suddenly occurred to me, if all my ex-crushes are getting married, have I missed all my boats?

I didn't want to come back to Singapore partly because I was afraid I'd be carried away by this marrying spree. Every time I get a wedding invitation, I get the "when's your turn" question.

What kind of question is that? Makes me feel like cattle in a production line, waiting to be butchered. Ok, so I'm not doing my duty as a citizen to help boost the Chinese population in Singapore, and I'm not doing my duty as a daughter to give my parents grandchildren, nor am I doing my duty as a Christian by refusing to date another Christian.

What's wrong with that? Maybe I'm like what they like to call kids who don't do well in school here - Late Bloomers - or maybe I'm just plain not made for this game. Maybe I was made for something else.

Just don't ask me "when's your turn", cos' I might have already missed it, or sunk it completely.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Growing Up

My dad once told me when I was about 17 that I'm too idealistic, but that I should hold on to my ideals.

Then I turned 21 and again he told me (this time with a tad more exasperation) that I'm too idealistic and that life will teach me what reality is all about. He said he was afraid that life will disappoint me when I grow up.

Now I'm in my late twenties, and I finally know what he was talking about. I find myself today wondering if there can indeed be true altruism. Is there a humanitarian organisation that places its role of alleviating poverty and human suffering above its own political and self-serving interests? Are there christians who are kind to strangers without the intention of converting them? Is there a profession that focuses solely on the cause that it serves and not the returns it can bring to the individual or the company?

Can a person be just plain and simple nice, honest and open, without the risk of being manipulated, used, betrayed and stabbed in the back?

What is left of the innocence we once grew up with if this is the reality of life? Is it not possible for grown up adults to still hold on to the child-like faith in humanity - that men are essentially good; that good is stronger than evil; that you can trust in people; that as long as your conscience is clear and you believe in what you do, life will reward you?

A wise friend once told me that idealism and maturity are not mutually exclusive. One can mature in life and still be idealistic. After all, what is life without ideals?

The greatest thinkers in the world held on to their ideals well into a ripe old age and even took them to the grave. Franklin Roosevelt was 51 when he became president of the United States and created the New Deal; Karl Marx believed till his last breath that the proletariat emancipation can happen through communism; Obama is 48 and believes that beyond all odds, America is ready for big Change.

I sometimes feel discouraged by the vileness of the human pride. I like to believe that we all start out with the best of intentions, but sometimes fall victim to our own success. With the success comes flattery, then the power and the bloated ego seeps in ever so insidiously that we don't even realise that we've completely lost focus of the cause.

I refuse to accept that this is the best I can get out of life, and I refuse to let life eat away my idealism. I have precious moments kept in my heart of perfect strangers helping to fix my trash-can scooter in India and not accept a single rupee from me; friends who were there to hold my hand through the darkest moments of my life; my cleaners who are untouchables spending their month's wages to buy me a crucifix for christmas...the list goes on

If anything, life's taught me to cling on to my ideals, live for them, because without them, life won't be worth living.