Educate and enable

Would have liked to keep consistent at writing in this space but procrastination has been my biggest foe. Let’s try to restart. 

The past year was spent doing a couple of things that nourished my soul – educating and enabling.

How felicitous to have scored gigs as an adjunct lecturer in NAFA and NTU; and am slowly evolving myself into being a critical, but hopefully still nurturing, educator. I’m glad that my interactions with my students thus far have been beyond classroom management and that we have very open communication channels and an appreciation for learning together. I draw a lot from lived experience as a ‘problem kid’ in my earlier days and perhaps that’s why educating has become something instinctive and innate.

I have also managed to divide and devote much time to my Yishun kids, in particular, Hafiz, Arash, and Hifzhan, whom I bring to climb at boulder+, thrice a week. The Straits Times featured it on their Causes Week 2018 - you should watch the video where the kids talk. Hilarious bunch. Can’t seem to hotlink it well, so this would have to suffice :

At the onset, class difference was brought into sharper relief when them, the ‘uninitiated’ and the ‘Other’, were thrown in a middle-class environment. “Can help me borrow shoes from the counter?”; “I don’t dare to ask him, you help lah”; “if you go home, we also go home.” – very typical requests at the beginning when they came to the gym.

Over time, those feelings of alienation and being ‘out of place’ dissipated. It took a while to teach them how to behave appropriately in the gym, but much still falls short - you cannot entirely undo fourteen years of socialization in 1 year. The boys have been an incredible source of joy and pride to me, but they have been extremely exasperating and disappointing at times too. You win some, you lose some.

In terms of personal work, I was on a hiatus but the engine is now revving and ready to go. I ruminate most when I go for a long swim or for a backrub. It is those times when I am totally in my zone and my headspace least convoluted. One recurrent thought that has surfaced would be of how I would like to dedicate the rest of my life to do three projects – School of Hard Knocks; Ki and his whirlwind transformation from headman to pottery; Family Stories (working title). 

Let me talk more about ‘Family Stories’. It is a personal story about my family; the easiest and also the more difficult to put together. I have been documenting this in bits and pieces over the years. It also helps that the fam has a whole truckload of images in our archive so it’s much about consolidating items too. I’ve chronicled my grief, from 2015 to 2018, on losing my dad. Still, a very sensitive and delicate topic to me that asphyxiates me from time to time.

My work now veers towards remembering him. I find my memory fading; but so many stories still left untold. I need to pick up speed. But first, I finally mustered some courage to review a video interview I did with my mother in 2013. It was of my father. She was very shy and reserved with some answers, but she spoke of him fondly. Father was downstairs watching TV; she was probably afraid he would come up and listen to what she had to say. I always think that they share a very pure form of love. So, it was very difficult for me to watch this clip, because it would remind me of him. 

And his absence now.

(psst. I didn’t force papa to do anything!!!!)

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