Where I’m From

Rebecca Vincent, a good friend of mine and an exceptional writer, sent me this writing prompt not too long ago when I was asking her for suggestions on how to write regularly outside of what I was already did at work. Good writers understand that motivation (and reading) is  a big part of writing frequently and writing well. Unfortunately, that’s been a real struggle for me, but in a “glass-half-full” fashion, this is my first attempt at any sort of writing prompt.

I am from thick rimmed pink glasses, hot Milo every night and books written by Enid Blyton, which took me to far away places and secret adventures.

I am from plaster ceilings, tiled flooring and green grass in the city of Shah Alam, a suburb about 45 minutes to two-hours away from Kuala Lumpur, depending on traffic. Where 80+ degree weather is not an anomaly and hot and/or wet is an every day occurrences.

I am from pink bougainvilleas, the flowering vine that flowers best when the weather is hot and dry.

I am from weekly Bible studies and “you can do better / no excuses,” from “Nalliah” and “Beulah” and “Pandian.”

I am from the “we don’t say I love you but say take care to mean the same thing” and “sarcasm and dead-pan British humor that including rolling eyes and possibly judging eyebrow frowns.”

I am from a traditional Tamil Methodist church with a “no-clapping-hymn-singing-tradition” in a language I barely spoke to “fire-and-brimstone-speaking-in-tongues” Pentecostal Sunday School in the afternoon with Sunday School teachers who practiced faith healing regardless of whether they were having a heart attack or the common cold. Needless to say, I learned the Christian faith in two very different extremes.

I am from “Petaling Jaya” and “South Indian heritage, (that’s really all I know)” and “made from scratch chicken curry” and “hot steaming nasi lemak.”

I am from six positive pregnancy tests – five losses – and by chance or luck or divine intervention – a successful pregnancy (2013). From people who say “at least you have ‘insert name'” as if the other pregnancies never mattered because they were “unborn.”  From well intentioned friends and family who have told me me that “God knows best” or that “I’ll draw closer to God” or that “our babies are in heaven.” 

I am from old leather photo albums in a brown dresser in my parent’s bedroom. From faded faces of people I don’t know, but share some kinship because of biology. Pulled out at family gatherings and stories fondly shared, but not recorded.

I am somewhere in the midst of those albums, photos of my childhood to my teenage life before I left home for college in the United States.

From finding my way sans the familiar, taking the road less traveled (good old Robert Frost), graduating top of my class at Old Dominion University (a little known fact), meeting my husband (who has seen me at my highest and lowest), struggling with loss and failure, learning to lean on friends (grateful for them), struggling to find meaning in faith and God, facing conflict head-on (I got over  that fear last year), missing my family and those ties that bind,  looking at the worst of life has thrown my way and not letting it consume what’s left of my joy.

I’m sure there’s more to this and I didn’t exactly conform to the “Where I’m From” template, but it’s not business writing. A little raw, but it’s something.