Growing up, I realise that there are many things in life which you choose to do and people around you won’t agree with. Despite so, you will persist even as the criticism continues or even gets hurtful. You persevere because you know that you are right and that you will be sorry if you don’t do it. The rest disagree only because they can’t see the light yet. One day when they eventually do, they will be the ones turning around to praise you and envy you.  

My parents are one good example. Born into a typical Hokkien family, my dad’s siblings and relatives are mostly loud, crude, uneducated and illiterate, with moral values equivalent to those of a Hamadryas baboon. A typical extended paternal family gathering is pretty much like getting stuck amongst the missile shooting and bombing of World War II. One will get deafened from the loud Hokkien spewing out from everyone else’s mouth, and of course possibly injured from the backstabbing, badmouthing or open sarcasm thrown about.

My dad’s like, as how I always like to put it, the white sheep of the family. He’s the much more sophiscated side of the Soh/Soo/Soe* family. Yes, he’s also not very educated but who can blame him. Being the third son in the family, he had to start work since his teens, alongside with my grandfather who built houses. But he likes to read. Half of the time he’s at home, he’s reading the Chinese newspapers or some paperback. Hence although he’s Chinese-educated, he’s not really the traditional type of father people would expect fathers of his age would be. He’s very modern and open-minded, and is up to date with current trends. He doesn’t really talk loudly but when he does, it’s mainly because of his poor hearing. Try working at a construction site for half your life. He does cuss but he never does it in front of his children for our sake. In short, he’s somehow very different from the rest of his family, which is why my mum married him eventually. For who he is, and not who his family is. Even though relatives like them could mean hell for future days.

For more than a decade, before we three sisters started proving what we were capable of, my parents were given the flak by the paternal relatives who thought my parents were crap at parenting. You see, my sisters and I were well-brought up by our dear parents, which meant that we were well-mannered kids. At a regular gathering, we would greet all our relatives politely, smile shyly (yes we were shy!) and proceed to sit at a corner by ourselves as our parents went around chatting with the relatives. We were far too happy to just sit through the entire gathering happily joking around with each other. Afterall, a paternal gathering was just too scary for us. Nobody ever talked sooooo loudly at home.

You wouldn’t see us running amok around the house, screaming at the top of our voices, pushing each other around, jumping around or doing whatever which remotely reminded anyone of a terrorist attack. Like I said, we had manners. And what did our relatives think of us? They thought there was something wrong with us. They thought we were stupid and thus seemingly boring (bored was more like it). They thought our parents messed us up. “Normal” children of the family, ie my cousins, nephews and nieces, would run amok around the house, scream at the top of their voices, push each other around, jump around or do whatever which would remind you of a terrorist attack. My relatives felt that that was how children were supposed to behave, and therefore we were abnormal.

My parents knew what they were doing however and kept quiet to all the criticism and sarcasm. They knew we were normal because our own house looked like it was subjected to terrorist attack every single day with the three of us. We were as playful as any other child was, but when we stepped out of the house, we were taught to behave, and behaved we did. My smart parents persisted and by the time we were schooling and scoring As in school, that shut the relatives up. By this time, our cousins were going in and out of prison like a holiday chalet. Some dropped out of school. One went to a boys’ home. One nearly eloped with her much older then-boyfriend. One ran away from loansharks whom, coincidentally, one of my cousins worked for. I can write a three-thousand-word essay on all the troubles my cousins, nephews and nieces have gotten into.

A few more years down the road and my relatives who used to diss my parents for their parenting methods are now patting them on the backs, complimenting how well they have taught us. My parents are no show-offs however. They just smile and accept the compliments graciously. I know they are proud of us, but perhaps they have little idea how proud I am of them. To choose to do the right thing is an important task; to persist in doing the right thing despite the hurdles and obstacles takes courage and belief.

There are many things in life which you choose to do and people around you won’t agree with. Despite so, you will persist even as the criticism continues or even gets hurtful. You persevere because you know that you are right and that you will be sorry if you don’t do it. The rest disagree only because they can’t see the light yet. One day when they eventually do, they will be the ones turning around to praise you and envy you.  

I am waiting for my day.

 

* Lol, I said they are the Soh/Soo/Soe family because being born in the 1940-50s, their names were all wrongly written on their birth certificates! Which is why although they are born to the same set of parents, my dad and his siblings all share slightly different dialect versions of the surename Su (in hanyu pinyin). Strangely, my mum also has one part of her name spelt incorrectly!

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