Can I write this w/o sounding too much like a NY Times op-ed article? I’ll try. And there’s no pt 1 because I deleted part 1.
On being a Malay guy in a predominantly non-malay world.
Can I still follow my own path? Feel like I’m being pulled in different directions now. Ever since I’ve finished A’s for some reason, the race card keeps appearing. I just want to go along doing whatever I want k.
On one side, there’s MENDAKI. It’s telling me, “Good job on your A level results! Now accept our commendation award and give back to your damn community. Come to our ceremony and shake hand with ministers! So we can tell the world we’re not totally useless.” I keep feeling this obligation to do more, be more. My brother met this girl in his uni camp and she said she knew who I was. Because my essays are passed around by the teachers to their classes. But if I met the girl, I probably wouldn’t have a clue who she is which makes me feel pretty bad. Then my mom has this understudy in Jurong who’s going to be studying teaching and on attachment. I’ve never even heard of her name. But she’s says she knows who I am and that my lit is very good. The worst thing is that she says I’m arrogant because I don’t mix around with the Malay community in AJ. The truth is, I’m just really socially awkward and I don’t really make friends that easily. But it makes me feel terrible to find out this way that people are badmouthing me behind my back.
There’s also the thought that I have to do well because of that. I feel like I can’t ever drop law because people will say “You have to continue! Do you have any idea how few Malay lawyers there are?” And it’s true because apparently in SMU law there’s only 3 or 4 other Malay students. I imagine it’s much harder to be a female Malay law student. I have to do well. I have to succeed. I’m not just doing it for myself but I’m carrying an entire race behind me. Or at least that’s what they’re telling me.
I didn’t bother applying for any scholarships because I didn’t want the pressure of having to do well every single time. But why is it there’s already pressure?
Medicine, law, business. Society’s idea of success.
It really shouldn’t be a big issue. I always liked Alfian Sa’at’s writings but always felt he was too fixated on race. But I think he felt the same pressures only much worse.
I told a friend about my interview a while back. He told me “wow it’s like being a black man in America.” I hated that comparison. Hated the parallels it drew. But I know it’s somewhat true.
Have you read “Mr Mercedes?” it’s like being Jerome in white America.
If this was a black op-ed piece, I’ll title it ‘The struggles of a sub-urban upper-middle class African-American in post-Obama America.” But it’s not.
I’m thinking of the MENDAKI Scholarship. Should I apply? I’ll be obligated to perform mandatory hours of community service and start giving back to MY community. I still have one half years to decide and applying doesn’t mean I’ll get it anyway.
I grew up in a predominantly non-malay environment. Which means no soccer at void decks, no matrep friends, no underage sex, no minah girlfriends and no smoking in the toilets. For the first time, I’m in a predominantly Malay environment. And it revolves around clubbing, Geylang, alcohol, smoking and bikes. And it’s kinda disappointing. And I still don’t feel like I fit in.