Hello there. I am Terry and I am a full-time undergraduate based in Singapore. I take photos, write a blog and design websites.

And no, I'm not a teddy bear.

Family is still the dearest

Family is still the dearest

Family is still the dearest

I returned to my mom’s hometown to celebrate the biggest festival of the Chinese culture – the Lunar New Year. My mother was born in a modest family in a town named Bukit Mertajam, which is located at the foot of a mountain. After graduating from secondary school she traveled south of the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur in search of an interior designer job, and that was where she met my dad. She could still recount to me with great detail how her Ugly-Betty-esque experience when she first started work – her colleagus scoffed at her comprehension of the local dialect, or rather my mom’s lack thereof, and how she had a hard time working with colleagues that are cunning and throw knives at your back (or sometimes right in your face).

That’s just the backstory. We have been traveling to the sleepy little town of Bukit Mertajam every year since I was an infant. My mother would tell me how much my grandpa loved me – as an infant I was very disturbed by the foreign envrionment in my grandparents’ house, and grandpa made great effort to make me feel home, which includes using a lot of money making all the windows mosquito-proof.

It has been a tradition of my family, as well as the extended maternal side of my family, to travel to this place during Lunar New Year. We would gather at my granduncle’s house where my greatgrandma is living to meet each other on the first day of the new year. In the 20 years of my life, we only missed it once – back in 2009 there was some problem and all of us decided to celebrate it in the capital instead, and boy I tell you how different it felt. If you ask me, I’d prefer celebrating this time of the year with my family in Penang. Nothing beats the close bonding of a family.

603km on a jet plane

603km on a jet plane

Oh, and here’s a photo of the plane that I took to Penang. It’s pretty cool, isn’t it?

Returning to Singapore

I had to leave Penang on the third day of the new year because my unforgiving, unapologetic lecturer decided to conduct a test. Unlike my other Malaysian friends who remained in Malaysia for the entire week, I didn’t have the luxury to do so all thanks to a pathetic quiz.

The halls of residences were totally deserted, even when I arrived on the evening before school started. Even locals are skipping lessons in the spirit of the new year, and I couldn’t believe I am missing out all that family loving for that test. For once I regretted by decision to return early. I even got a little homesick, especially when mom called the day after hearing all my other relatives in the background having a really good meetup.

However, my trip back to Bukit Mertajam renewed my hopes of my family. As I grew older, I was informed of problems that were deep-rooted in my family. Conflicts and bickerings, disagreements over care of parents, financial issues and etc. Mom felt that I was too young to handle the truth back then, so she didn’t really inform me about those. Over the years I uncovered flaws of my dreamy extended family – no matter how close we are, we are still imperfect and I guess that is what makes us human. I was very worried about one particular thing – what is holding my extended family together is the close bonds between the older generation. The younger generation congregated into cliques. I could not imagine the family fabric being gradually torn apart as we replace our grandparents and parents. What will my extended family be like, say, a decade into the future?

However, that doesn’t stop me from loving them. Afterall, we are family. Problems can be resolved, if everyone take a step back and look at the big picture instead of being increasingly obsessed with their personal interests. It is nice to see everyone together again this Lunar New Year, and I hope we can keep this tradition alive as long as possible.

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