Note To A Younger-Self Part I

A four-part, real life journey about coming of age and coming out .

by R Ishi

Hi, how’s your day? It has been kind of slow and quiet here due to the Covid pandemic. A little poignant as I’m writing my thoughts at Raffles City, Singapore, where your future adult life become an open book by “coming-out”.  

You will always hear that mantra, ‘life will get better’ repeatedly growing up.  Being an older-future-you, I can assure you, it does get better. It is based on your own perspective, really. It might not be as glamorous or high-flying as other’s but just being yourself and accepting openly what life has thrown in your direction is the way to go.

Home and school played a lot of different roles in your life; it is a bit confusing. Putting on different personas for family, relatives and friends. Hey, you know what, you were born an introvert but work environment will turn you slightly extroverted. Oh, you will master that – and too well at times. You will know when to be the quiet guy and when to let your hair down. It’s good that you could feel happy, be in times of solitude or amongst friends and colleagues. You’re a survivor!

I know you do feel lost at times with family situations and somehow unsure of your own identity – distanced father, controlling mother, an estranged elder sister and to add to that equation, you are an adopted child. Then, the worst hit you; realising around the age of 12, that you are gay. I know you must be wondering who will have your first kiss? Nope, I wont tell you that now. Keep on reading * wink *

I have good news though; Dad matured over the years and became much responsible father. Mum will always be controlling but then you realised that whatever she does is all because she cares and loves you. Errrr…your sister?  That would be a whole book by itself. We’ll talk more about her another time.

Surprised you are adopted? Don’t lie, young me! You already sensed and realised you are an adopted child without anyone confirming it. Clue number one is, whenever mum had done her ablutions (wuduk) before prayers, she would often reiterate for you not to touch her hand or have skin-to-skin contact or she would need to do the ablution again. You were already well aware that as Muslims, men and women who do not have blood relations are not allowed skin-to-skin contact.

But this is such a strange world – people always remarked how you and mum look so alike; but then again, maybe you do. To the unknown, you are mother and son. With that, later in life, you and mum will really be dependent on each other.

Puberty hits you hard at fourteen when your height peaked at 1.8m. You will grow-up into a gentle giant. Weight issue is another story all together. Well, not obese – just a tad heavier than average and it becomes a constant issue. Some said I carry it well with my height and that is jolly good to hear.  There was constant name-callings by primary school friends – fatty bombom, jumbo/dumbo was their hot favourites but know what, it was good that you are just able brush it off. 

You discovered the love of books; the quiet fantasy of other worlds; reading the crime-solving stories of The Famous Five, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys. You will join the school library as an assistant.  I vividly remember you completed The Man In the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas at thirteen and understanding it! Well done and congratulations; ahaaaa, the start of your journey as a book nerd! Though now, I would rather watch Hobbits, the movie than reading the book. 

Karma sometimes comes knocking onto your door at a later stage in their life. You will hear that your primary school bully lost his child in an accident. It was reported in the national papers and became a major news coverage on television of the rescue and such. Yes, of course you do feel sorry for the loss of life but some parts of you will also feel that he deserves it for the two years of constant bullying at primary five and six; you were just about eleven. I am not sure when you will read this note, but my advice would be never ever be afraid to face life head-on.

Secondary school will be easier, you will have been so immuned to some name callings. Being you – you will just shrug it off.  If there is something I may add here – study harder!

You will be surprised that you were able to balance school life while exploring the gay evening scene in Orchard Road, Singapore with a fellow schoolmate.  You and the friend were on the same boat, really – both mums did not allow any over night stays – YET!

We’ll continue later, younger self – I have tons to tell you…

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