My mother gave birth to me when she was 21 years old. Considering that she just hit her peak of her adulthood, she was feeling suffocated having to take care of a newborn. The endless crying from me, and the mountainous house chores she had to deal with as a young mother, finally broke her, when I was just 6 months old.
I remembered once while walking down orchard road with my school mate, my mom called and started to nag. I got so irritated and actually said ‘去死啦!’ (go and die!) and hung up on her. I definitely don’t mean it, but it must have broken her heart into pieces. I apologized that night.
Cursing can be interpreted in a few ways - as a vulgar language, in wishing the worst for someone and in the form of a spell.
‘Being Home’ may seem like a predictable scene like flipping through an IKEA catalogue.
Yet when we are told to do so, those hours usually spent getting ready, travelling, and hanging out are now.. just there~
Also, how do we manage 24 hours in the same space if the home situation is not exactly healthy for the soul?
Since the same 2-words are experienced differently by each living body and with so much time to search inwards, some of us might end up wondering if we are alone in this.
You might find some answers as you take a walk below!
A big thanks to you writers who made time to share these thoughts close to your heart.
We really appreciate your spontaneity!
Wishing all who arrive here a smooth journey through the rest of this pandemic.
If you know or hear someone experiencing abuse at home, here are some numbers to get help:
- The National CARE hotline: 1800 202 6868
- PAVE Integrated Services for Individual and Family Protection: 6555 0390
- Trans Safe Centre: 6449 9088
- Project StART: 6476 1482
- Big Love Child Protection Specialist Centre: 6445 0400
- HEART @ Fei Yue Child Protection Specialist Centre: 6819 9170
- ComCare hotline: 1800 222 0000
- AWARE’s Women’s Helpline: 1800 777 5555 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm)
by X – , Singapore
You know how when it’s raining hard —
the sound of rain drops pit-pattering on your umbrella is so deafening,
the wind is howling,
you’re trying to avoid stepping into the puddles but your shoes get wet anyway,
your clothes are all getting drenched and
the only thing you’re thinking of and trying to get to as soon as possible is the nearest shelter...
That moment when you reach the shelter, that feeling.
That relief — that’s how being at home feels like to me.
My safe haven, my sanctuary. My shelter from all the chaos outside. A place I’m comfortable in and can be myself.
It’s actually not a place. It’s the people I keep closest to my heart.
by Egan Hwan, Singapore
Home is not a place but a state of mind.
by E S, Singapore x Japan
I love being at home, between my husband and I, we definitely know who might survive longer if there was an impending apocalypse. Especially since we are all in a semi-apocalyptic situation now.
I recently had this conversation with my husband about why some people can’t take being at home for so long. To me, it was a form of mental weakness and lack of resilience but he reminded me that I felt less alone because we lived together. It was about companionship, I wasn’t totally alone. We have each other and he’s right, I probably wouldn’t survive long on my own totally alone.
I learnt something new about myself, I love being home more than I thought. I enjoy experiencing the days go by from the window, watching the rain on rainy days and having coffee on my small balcony on sunny days. I haven’t felt any urges to go out, which is strange maybe? My husband keeps telling me to take a walk because I’ve been home too long. Wondering if anyone else feels the same way as I do
by Janice Lum, Singapore
Allow me to connect with myself more deeply
Allow me to receive love and care more intensely
Allow me to examine what are ‘essentials’ in life
Allow me to reconnect with my friends again
Allow me to encounter new friends in a different way
Allow me to communicate virtually with co-workers
Allow me to experiment with new recipes
Allow me to reinterpret forgotten recipes
Allow me to cook day and night
Allow me to experience an art residency @myhome
Allow me to make art about my feelings @myhome
Allow me to discover the why in my art
Allow me to experience the state of ‘being’
Allow me to practice the state of ‘doing’
Allow me to simply BE
by Anonymous, Singapore
I think I'm an introvert at heart. While I like going outdoors, enjoying various types of activities, I don't think I'm bored of staying at home..... at least, yet.... i think the key reason is, I get to have enough space to do different things in different parts of home (working, potato- couching, sleeping, exercising), and I get to look out of the window, gazing at the greenery for relaxation. This helps to make me feel that I'm not constrained in a place, and not feel claustrophobic with a desire to get out. Life doesn't feel that much different. However, though I'm home now, time spent talking to parents may not have increased, as I'm just as impatient and always think that they're "disturbing" me when they want to talk but I'm doing something else... this makes me feel bad, as it makes it my home, not our home.... Thus, to use this period to make it more our home, I'll make time for interaction with parents, so that we can all enjoy..... being home.....
by Thanh Nguyen, Vietnam
Our usual routines have been turned upside down and the way we are living can be challenging during the Covid-19. I was struck by a feeling of intense gratitude at simply being able to meet friends for a funny chat. But what if we viewed this time as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reset and refresh direction of our lives? It is actually a blessing in disguise where I can increases my feelings of connection and wellbeing with myself. I find peace by spending more time to quiet my mind and do yoga, cooking and looking back all the blessings I had in life since childhood time. My orchids at home turn greener and bloom with bigger flowers. The birds visit and sing at my balcony. All are lovely moments and I realise I have so much in life - less is more.
by Anonymous, Singapore
Ironically, in isolation I found incredible freedom.
I was freed from obligations to have dinners with extended family, from having to look a certain way and even from having to speak a certain way. Finally, I was in complete control of my day.
While family and friends are important, I've realised the importance of having time completely to myself and my immediate family, and this is something I would like to do every once in a while from now on.
by Clarence Wee, Singapore
Home is where I can find love. Love for myself.
Being Home is a place defined not in a physical space but a space within me. Where I ask, 'What is my purpose?' And through the journey of this question.. I find uncertainty, fear, doubt, envy, hate, trauma and love. It is a process that can seemingly take a second, a day or weeks but usually years to unravel.
Every step forward is always 2 steps back. But the deeper I go down the rabbit hole fighting the process.. the more hope I carry of finding my purpose.. but latching onto hope is an ever growing uncertainty. Like watching a scale constantly rebalancing itself whether I want it or not.
Do I like the feeling? No.. I want to tip the scale. I want the rush of euphoria, I want enlightenment, I want an answer now. But do I see the need for balance? Yes. Why? Because that to me is Love. Love is not about taking a syringe full of love and pumping it into my body. It’s about understanding why I need a syringe full of love to begin with. Because maybe my purpose is to Love. Providing counter weights for uncertainty, fear, doubt, envy and hate. Realising my traumas are not me and simply sitting with who I am. Being Home.
by Junko Fukuno, Kyoto Japan
In this quarantine, cuts of daily routine, but I got time.
Time to look at myself, there are lots mind’s talking include negative feelings in my head.
But, wait, where is it came from? Is it mine?
No, I picked up many things from web, SNS, newspapers, other people. There is just a few things originally from me. I have realized I misunderstood all of thinkings in my mind are mine one. However, actually, I just mixed thinking of mine and others.
That small discovery made me lighter.
by Wira Tan, Singapore
Staying at home is one of my fortes!
As an introvert self, it’s a piece of cake for me to stay at home. But my work line fall on extrovert area, being a business developer whose market in rest of the world. Travelling is our norm, without engaging face to face with client. It felt like missing something in a complete puzzle, just like how a dog chew of one piece of puzzle. But thanks to technology we are connecting via wide range of e-meeting tools. It’s funny that being introvert myself I do love face-to-face meeting to see client honest reaction on business part of it. REMINDER: after the business meeting please leave me alone……. The perk of travelling meeting, it gives opportunity to travel to area that I have never been and the best part of all (FREE OF CHARGE) yay! Side note: with tons of tools for e-meeting, internet connection play a big part. It’s a norm for me now to….. sorry I lost you, could you repeat, can you speak slowerrrrr as tat of lagging..(P.S I sound like a broken recorder zzz..).
Well every “Reality is like a face reflected in the blade of a knife; its properties depend on the angle from which we view it.”#theangleoflife Quote by Master Hsing Yun
It doesn’t mean that on the dark side of the reflected area look bad or not as nice.. it just has a different meaning and result or it might serve as a reminder. Eventually the darkside might bring force to you in a good way *wink..
Staying too long in the house (literally 24hours a day x many many days), indeed the house does have bad aura flowing around that make everyone agitated. For me, I choose to ignore and make lesser comment. I am keeping a reminder to myself that if the words splurting sound bad, then I might as well zip my mouth up. But being a buttinsky to the persons I care, it’s soo harddddddd really hard. But I just need to learn to control my own BODY AND MIND that belong to me. I am the owner, they should have listen to me right right right! Ommmmm breath in and out~~. Still and all, I will keep trying until it’s perfect. (although it’s almost like 50% failing everyday but I am not giving up)..
So one advice to everyone is to have a goal or goals to reach, so that it will keep you mind focus on the goal and not wondering off and be depressed *Ahem! (which always happen to me). So my goal is to lost another 20kg by end of this year and I am greatful enough to have gangs that willing to come to either 7.30AM and 6.15PM workout without failed via Skype or Google Meets. I know I know the goal is very ambitious, but I have set it and I am going to reached it. If me failing on myself, not to worry I might have another 2021 to reach if I am lucky enough!
So what is your goal?
by R Y, Singapore
Being home means many things to me. Especially since now we're all home dealing with a pandemic and handling all aspects of our life from one point and mainly one desk. It means literally watching my Netflix, eating cakes off my desk, doing my work and getting inspiration from the same screen. It gets weary and some times I feel a little confused. Thankfully, I've managed to connect with so many of my friends who have been providing support to each other, keeping ourselves sane with primary school humour.
It's been a crazy time, but I hope we all start to give ourselves a little room to breathe and stop criticising our lack of "productivity" because hey, we're only human and we all err some times don't we? Sending love to everyone around x
by Hayden Loo, Malaysia x Singapore
being home is nothing but a real comfort.
being home is where you realize true love begins here.
being home is an ultimate luxury.
being home is how you feel secured and loved.
being home is nothing but where memories lie since day one.
there is no place like being able to stay at home during this strange time of the world.
value and appreciate the time spending at home right now, because,
home isn't a place, it's a feeling
by Anonymous, Singapore
The irony of being home brings about both isolation and connectedness.
Some of us feel increasingly isolated as we can’t meet our friends
But yet some of us saw this as an opportunity to spend more time with our family
by YM Woo, Singapore
I write this as I lounge on my sofa, in the comfort of my house, while a heavy rain battered on outside. I don't have a story to tell, but many thoughts to share. The lightning lights the sky, showing a grab food delivery man riding away on his bicycle. I'll guess there's many others like him. There would likely also be taxi drivers plying the streets, hoping for that rare passenger. I count my blessings for being home.
I recalled about the crowd funding request, seeking to bring a Singaporean home. She was about to start a new life in U.S. with a new job after ending a relationship. The job offer was rescinded as Covid infects U.S. and she discovered she has stage 4 cancer. Sufficient funds were raised and she'll likely be able to come home. I hope she finds solace in being home.
I also read in the news of how child abuse cases has gone up during circuit breaker period. Trapped in a tiny enclosed space with not much breathable space, restless children can get on the nerves of parents who are worried about living expenses after losing the job. When worry escalates and frustration mounts, abuse can happen even at home. I wonder if the children finds peace being home.
I miss the overseas holidays. I miss the gatherings with my friends and relatives. I miss the walks in the parks.
Nevertheless, I count my blessings for being home. For being home in a house, which is not huge and luxurious, but comfortable. For being home with my family who are in good health. For being home with bickering family members whom I often have disagreements with but though peace is not always there, it can always be found.
I will continue to count my blessings.
You know how children grow up and start claiming ownership by saying ‘mine! mine!’ when someone else takes their beloved toy? How most animals are fiercely protective of their younglings? Or how seeds can just sprout in the middle of a cracked pavement reclaiming back the territory we robbed? What a natural behaviour to differentiate what’s yours and mine!
Different location, cultures, upbringing, belongings, thoughts, emotions, actions, et cetera.
Does it always have to be termed good or bad?
As Covid-19 fill Mother Earth’s atmosphere, none of us are spared because of those differences.
That is why this month, we decided on the theme ‘removing labels’.
Thank you to all who made time to share a piece of your inner world with us.
We are very humbled to have you a part of this Storytelling Night!
We hope all who are joining to read stories tonight are taking care and staying safe.
Dedicated to all the brave who are standing at the frontlines keeping us safe regardless our differences.
by Kathleen Dragon, Singapore
I’ve never really thought about how I describe people until I had my son... I realized that the way I speak and the emphasis I place on certain physical qualities would affect the way he builds his perception and opinion of people and things.
When we describe a stranger we see in any situation, very often we lean towards describing and labelling someone according to race and appearance. But, really, a lot of these things are unimportant.
“I saw a skinny Chinese woman on the bus pretend to be asleep in front of a pregnant woman”
If we just removed the unnecessary labels, the story would still be “I saw a woman on the bus pretend to be asleep in front of a pregnant woman”. People are people. Nothing changes about the story!
In removing labels I would usually have given people, I hope to raise my son to be an all-loving person, and I think it’s teaching me to look at people differently too =)
by Sheryl Yeo, Singapore
Today I was preparing parcels to be sent out, and wanted to write "Thank you Mr Postman" but realized it's fairer to remove the label and address it to Mr/ Ms "Postperson" so that it was more all-encompassing. Some job titles or concepts may be dated or due to an old stereotype, but I think some small adjustments can make all the difference to our perception of gendering in occupations and everyday life too x
by Janice Lum, Singapore
A label could be a name given by a company to it's products for marketing purposes or it could be a phrase given by anyone to a person or given by oneself that is formed by an impression but not the truth or even information that is attached to something for description.
All scenarios relates to an attachment of an identity or description to a person or an object to provide an idea or a reference point.
Mislabelling could be a result of inputs from unreliable sources or people with inadequate understanding especially on the act of labelling someone or even oneself. As an artist, I used to think that why is my artwork not 'mainstream' and labelled myself as someone. who makes who strange and weird art. It is only after I get to understand and learn more about art when i went to the UK that slowly changed the label that I have given myself. Even now, I still think I make strange art at times, it takes time to remove anything totally that we attached ourselves to. It takes courage, confidence and learnings from our failures to be removed from any attachments.
To gain Independence and confidence comes with lots of learnings after experimentation and picking ourselves up after after every tries and failures.
by Egan Hwan, Singapore
Very often I have heard that life handing you a bad hand from birth is a precursor to the rest of your mortal journey. Stereotypical rich man sons or daddy’s little girls spoilt with brand new and latest versions of trendy smartphones or even cars naturally fit into the world’s upper class. This was not my destiny and it is not a short story about how I managed to get there despite my less than humble beginnings but how I could never equate happiness and success to material.
Focusing right away on the most tumultuous point in my life, closet depression became a best friend when I was creeping into my fifteenth year. On the surface, it was nothing extraordinary. A broken family without a support system, financially or emotionally, peer pressure, and loneliness resulting in self hurt. From becoming an A student to eventually quitting school at sixteen because let’s be honest, who was putting food on the table?
Most, if not all, would say this is the end. No formal education, no professional skills, no future. The self doubt and hurt continued.
The next stage is where I’ve realized that the most vital decision in life is on how you decide to perceive information around you and make well-informed choices for the best possible outcome for yourself. A big foundation to support this is your choice of friends, especially when you lack family. There were four main stages of evolution in the friendships I’ve made starting from churches I was a part of and well into my musical journey. A wide group taught me not to hate, judge, and bear grudges but to love, cherish and most importantly, manage expectations. All this eventually became what I recognized to be the most basic human emotions that sustains a sense of community that feeds our fundamentals needs as people.
This focus was so important in my life as there were plenty of wrong turns I could have taken. So I don’t have a formal education but we don’t need certificates or outstanding tuition debt to help us hone on doing what is necessary to ensure survival of our people and our planet. Enter the mantra where I believe that our purpose in life, is never for ourselves but for everyone else around you. Whatever you do, someone else will reap or suffer the effect of your actions.
I will remove this label once and for all that a school dropout does not only end one way. If you give up on the vulnerable, the vulnerable will give up on themselves. Cause and effect.
by Clarence Wee, Singapore
I do engraving on bottles so sometimes I will need to remove labels from the bottles without a trace. So here is how I proceed with it.
1) Always start from the corner of the label. Peel off to see what kind of glue is used on the label.
2) Most Japanese labels peel off clean which is a beauty.. but sometimes you'll have troublesome residue.
3) To help with the process.. you can use a pen knife to cut between the label and glass as you proceed to peel off the label.
4) Once the label comes off.. dip a cotton bud with thinner and apply on the residue left in the glass bottle.
5) If they are stubborn.. you can put abit more force to help the process further.
6) Wipe with cloth or tissue. If clean.. awesome! If not.. repeat step 4.
7) Once clean wash with water & soap if possible.
Now it's your turn. Give it a go!
by Anonymous, Singapore
hope everyone is hanging in there. reading this in the comfort of your own home. recently, a conversation i had with a friend made me realise the double-edged sword of adopting labels. in this context, labels are 'tags' that we often place on individuals so we can better familiarise with them. sometimes using their own name just don't cut it—we rather call someone the cool one/that ass/the joker/the emo one. slowly we give labels the power to control our emotions. someone calling you really cool can make your day so much better, someone calling you different make you go into self-realisation mode.
it is inevitable for us to feel depressed at certain points in our lives, and sometimes these labels we put on ourselves can give us the comfort we seek.. be it good or bad. we drown so deep into the fact that maybe we are born this way, "so let's just leave things as it is because i am always going to be this way". we all need to pull the bandage out, stop letting these labels take control of us and start seeing things clearer.
this is a self-reminder.
by Uniz Sim, Singapore
Many of us are blessed and were labeled by our parents. Shortly after labeled with loving or sometimes funny nicknames by our family. Our labels start off with love and hope, once a while mischief yet harmless. Our labels grow as we grow, some are not as loving, playfulness turns into hurtful labels. Labels are as good as it's intended, give loving labels, build lives and we won't have to remove labels. Receiver of labels? why not learn to enjoy it, let your life outshine the labels. Go easy on yourself, don't allow your labels to deter your amazing journey.
Since I was little, I have had this weird tendency of holding up intricately designed objects and looking at them really closely. A necklace pendant, a correction tape, a wallet — unassuming things like these get my attention and I would try to figure how they are pieced together to work.
When I do figure out (or sometimes not) that every piece and part makes sense and how genius the invention is, a strong energy builds inside me because it makes me feel like the world is filled with people who have made contributions to the betterment of one’s lives.
Naturally, humans are tool makers. The pulling of thread, sharpening of blade, hammering of metal, et cetera are abilities our hands have given us. When combined with the pumping of our hearts, we just might edge machines out when it comes to bringing life to a product.
Through senkoubou, we hope to bring back the appreciation of a craftsman’s time, workmanship, and spirit.
And 2 months have passed since the launch of our little studio!
A big thank you to all who came down, sent flowers, gifts, happy messages, brought cakes and made cake(yes, you wira!); and special thank you to Tomo and Junko for flying in all the way from Geneva and Kyoto! We definitely felt the enormous love and support that came with those gestures and are truly overwhelmed and touched by all.
From the bottom of our hearts, we know we couldn't have made it to this starting line without you. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!
Main photography by Joshua Tan and Yvonne Tan