I spent my primary school years in SKTM.
I spent my junior high school years in SMKDJ.
I spent the remaining years of high school in Sri KL.
Before I left for the Midwest, I spent my first two years of college (seemed more like my summers to me) at Taylor’s Lakeside.
I sound like your textbook Malaysian Chinese born and bred in PJ (MCBBPJ), don’t I?
At least, that’s what you thought, mr. member of parliament.
For all that you have done for this country, for coming home when you could have made a life for yourself in the West, you have all the respect that I could possibly give a politician.
Still, do you really know what it’s like to not be a textbook Malaysian Chinese born and bred in PJ?
My love for the English language, my love for reading all started with me attending educational developmental classes. English-speaking Malaysian Chinese snobs, I’ll tell ya.
If it weren’t for my ‘banana’ experience in SKTM, I do not think my passion for reading would have grown and prospered as I spent hours poring over books, books from the West. Lads and ladies who still managed to have the time to love reading despite the heavy Chinese school homework loads, hats off to ya.
So naturally, what I read about in my books guided me in how I begin to form perceptions of myself as me, just being me.
Majority of the books I read about were about White people.
Everything that I watched on tv was about the West.
Unlike most MCBBPJs whose parents were British educated, my parents got the ‘best’ of the West, all hail the Queen of England and the land of Uncle Sam.
I grew up dressed in Baby Gap (rejects, nonetheless) and my parents sang me to sleep as a baby with Western nursery rhymes.
I had Gerber’s baby food and not once did I ever remember being dressed in traditional Chinese cheongsam when I was a baby or toddler.
At age 5, I went off to read about Don Quixote and Enid Blyton.
I remember learning all sorts of new words and using them in all the wrong contexts.
My English vocabulary grew and so did my Malay vocabulary.
When I got to secondary school, I was reminded of how I would have turned out if I did not spend my primary school years in SKTM.
Back then, I thought the West was where the grass was greener. In some ways it is, in some ways it really is not.
By the time I finished my O levels, I could see how I fared in comparison with my peers.
While everyone seemed to be doing well at math, accounting etc. my strongest selling points were English and Business Studies.
That was when I realised British education was stifling to me. Stifling in the sense that what I was taught would be what I was exactly going to be tested on.
The America that I knew as a tween was not the America that I knew as an Asian international student.
For one, the racial landscape that I was exposed to as a tween was slightly more palatable and something I was used to having grown up in Malaysia.
In the sea of white undergraduate students in landlocked Wisconsin, I was not your typical MCBBPJ.
Most people would chalk it off to me being me because of the good silver spooned life my parents I have given me.
Sometimes, I think that my depression is the result of my class privilege.
That I had ample time to ruminate and overthink while your typical MCBBPJs had better things to do such as attending the #Bersih rally or partying it up at Zouk or vaping away their lungs at vape bars (now now, stereotypes exist for a reason).
There are also childhood experiences that I had as a child that made me feel like I have to be the counter-culture to the culture of your typical MCBBPJs.
Yes, I do have that condescending, holier than thou American accent. I do wonder why you British educated lads and ladies chide me for it. Although I suppose, you fail to realise that beneath that American accent is my usage of British words and spelling.
After all, be it if you are in America, in Britain, in Malaysia, we are all bigots. We just do bigotry differently.
I do not have many achievements to my name. To the rest of the MCBBPJs out there, I have a lot to prove.
No, I do not go to a third tier British university.
No, I do not go to an Ivy League university.
No, I will not graduate with honors.
No, I have no idea what I will do after I graduate.
No, there is no confirmation that I will be able to get a job straight out of college.
Yes, my mother and I are comfortable enough to discuss my reproductive rights.
Yes, my father and I can talk about foreign affairs and rake leaves whenever the garden calls for it.
Yes, I am a voracious reader but my sister can be the queen of sports.
There is that real chance that I will turn out like your textbook MCBBPJ, mr. member of parliament.
You speak from experience and you know stereotypes exist for a reason.
The real me, struggles with depression.
The real me, would rather debate how the TPPA would affect Malaysia with a self-righteous American lovin’ American.
The real me, feels like a third culture child.
The real me is more comfortable being open about my sexuality, eating my food right away instead of snapping photos before I eat.
The real me is a snob. The real me is privileged. But I know that.
So to my dear MCBBPJs out there, will you let the ‘letter to a 20 something Malaysian’ become your dogma for 30 minutes since that’s how short our attention spans become?
Or will you just recognise that you do not have to be a typical MCBBPJ, that even if you could not have crafted your feelings the way she did in eloquently written English, that you are more than that?