“Why not move back to Singapore?” my aunt whispered when we visited her recently.
I remember it clearly. I don’t remember the first nor the second, but I remember the third time. The third Singapore letter. The last notification that broke my resilient heart or the third thread that broke the Merlion back in the case of Singapore.
I stared at the Singapore letter, informing that the application had been rejected, in disbelief. My breath shortened. I was having a mini panic attack.
Rejected again. But why? I don’t understand.
I have been in love with Singapore ever since I started living there. I fell in love with it for so many different reasons, from the potluck to the food culture. This was where I grew up to be a real adult.
I was ready. You were it for me, Singapore. But then you kept rejecting me. One Singapore letter after another. Essentially saying: “It’s not me, it’s you“. Without telling me what was it that others have that I didn’t.
I always highlighted you in the best possible light, bringing flavor and spreading joy when I was living as a local in Singapore.
But that Singapore letter. Opening it once I reached home almost after midnight still in the towel made me sit down.
So much of realizations weaved into the single paper Singapore letter. It’s not that you didn’t get that I love you. It’s just you didn’t want me.
The next day, I sat in my office building Starbucks and drafted the email that I’d one day email to my boss almost a year later because that was how long it took me to process and understand that No. No, you will never love me and accept me as I do you. For you, I am just a number. Welcome to stay for a short time, kept in foreigner-limbo, but always to be vigilant to be kicked out.
That’s okay Singapore. Maybe I wasn’t the one that you were looking for but we could have been it.