The Right to Write

Archive for May 2010

In Malaysia, a popular conversational question is “So… where do you go to school, ah?”

“Er… I’m home schooled.”

My answer would attract weird looks, confusion and disbelief, so much so that I’ve come to dread the question.

I am not home schooled because of a disability or even because our school system is poor. In fact, much to the incredulity of many, my parents chose to home school my younger brother and I. Seeing as they resided in a country where when people are told that you are home schooled they are most thoroughly confused; this was very brave of them. When they first started home schooling, which was practically from my birth in 1995, it was the late ‘90s, and home schoolers were very, very scarce.

Andrea; 5 days old.

“Home schooled? School… at home? Got such a thing, ah?” People would ask. The answer is yes, got. Another frequently asked question would be, why did your parents decide to home school you? The answer could be that they breastfed me from the beginning (another abnormality in a small town) and it just evolved from there. Or that I did go to kindergarten for about three weeks but I didn’t like how they forced me to study.

I was born in Ipoh, Malaysia, and lived there till I was seven. It was an idyllic childhood in Ipoh – which is a rather sleepy, small town. Thus, Ipoh is one of the last places you would expect to meet a home schooled kid.

My brother and I in Ipoh.

Living in Ipoh was very peaceful, if stagnant; we could ride our bikes in the lane behind our house, and draw on our concrete backyard. However, it certainly was not the case where because we were home schooled we did nothing all day long. We did do activities – to an extent.

When I was two I asked for a violin. This proved to be a pickle, as at that time, there were no violin teachers in Ipoh. Not a single one. Fortunately (or unfortunately), there were piano teachers there. So my ever devoted parents coerced a piano teacher to teach me the violin.

Of course, given the circumstances, things did not work out. My violin was much too big and heavy for me, and in a few months time, I had stopped playing the violin. I have always wondered what if I hadn’t stopped the violin, to be honest. If I had started at that age with a good teacher, well, the possibilities are endless. But you can’t rewind time, and it was not till several years ago that I picked up it violin again, and now it is a central part of my life.

The violin is now a central part of my life.

When I was seven, we moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital. KL was very different from Ipoh. For example, in Ipoh everywhere is more or less 15 minutes from each other. But now we had to deal with KL’s immense traffic jams (at least they seemed to be immense, compared to Ipoh’s tinier ones, but no doubt are tiny compared to Hong Kong’s or New York’s). We sold our 20 year old Mercedes which we nicknamed “Benny”.

I had been promised it as my car when I was old enough to drive, but I didn’t mind Benny being sold too much as there were various insects, including a cockroach or two, living in him. In fact, I was relieved. To this day, cockroaches have scared the living daylights out of me. I don’t know if it is their disgusting antennas, the fact that they carry diseases, their tiny, plentiful legs (I am not sure how many they have, as I have never been curious enough to check, but they sure can run fast) or their yucky brown, muddy colour. For me, they are just gross, gross, GROSS.

Anyhow, it was here, in KL, that a huge part of my life would commence. I started tae-kwon-do (a Korean art of self-defence; a variation of karate) in Ipoh, but back then I wasn’t too good at it. But when we moved to KL, all that changed. If I’ve learnt anything in life so far (besides learning how to read and write – just kidding) it’s that the most important thing is to believe. My second tae-kwon-do instructor believed in me greatly, and by the time I was nine, I had achieved my black belt, the highest of all the belts.

But there was one catch – sparring. I was fine with the patterns (a sequence of a set of moves), but to fight, one on one with another person, I just couldn’t do it, and so I stopped TKD.

Now, I am at a cross roads in my life. I am 15, and very soon I shall have to decide what I want to do in life. That is a huge pressure; this one decision will decide the rest of your life, or at least the next four years. However, I am already fairly sure it will be music. But it will not be something to do with bugs, I can tell you that much.


May 2010
« Mar   Aug »