This song has been sung every year on our our national day since my birth. Every Singaporean knows it. It permeates our identity. It permeates the many languages spoken on this island.
Music is our universal language. English is just for commercial use.
I am not particularly patriotic and sometimes I feel like a stranger in my own country.
But home is not a feeling. It is an identity. You may dislike the ants that form an army camp through the corners of your house. You may disdain the cracks in your ceiling and the way the water drips imperceptibly from the water pipes at 11:59pm. You may want to tear your hair out when someone decides to hold a party below your apartment block the night before a major exam.
All those quirks make up your home. Home is not really a decision for you to make. It is something part of you that you slowly learn to accept. It is a place, a location where you can navigate with your eyes closed. It is somewhere you unconsciously return to someday because you want to meet your family or your friends.
It is somewhere you can move the furniture about as you wish.
It does not matter if you dislike where you live or if you don’t know anybody there. So long as at the end of the day, you are saying, “Oh, I’m going home after this,” it is home.
The reason I decided to write this post all of a sudden is because my country is celebrating its 50th birthday on 9 August 2015 and the whole country is preparing for this event.
People whom I pass on the street turn their heads at the sound of the national day songs playing on the MRT (our subway system) .
People with vacant eyes smile when the airplanes practicing their skyward spiral roar across the expanse between the high-rise buildings.
People I always thought were cold and cynical queuing up for three hours to get a ticket for a local film production while talking to each other like old friends.
These are my countrymen I lived with for seventeen years now. I guess I don’t know my home very well.
But this process of figuring out is like exploring corners of your house you were never interested in before. Sweeping aside cobwebs to reveal something precious or something to be discarded.
What part of your home do you want to explore? What part of it do you dislike? What part of it can you change?