Sunday, 20 November 2011

For Mike

For church I decked myself out in a long black skirt and a bright red hapi coat from Japan. As my parents are not here to drive me to church, I buttoned up my mother's coat, strapped the box drum to my back and headed out into the wind like a lone hermit bent against the unyielding landscape. It was cold outside, and I'd forgotten my hat, which happens a lot, but I succeeded in staying the wind with the my green scarf wrapped around my head. It started to snow, the first virgin flakes of the season. Winter has been remarkably slow in coming.

Church began with all the harried preparations it always requires; after setting up the sound and arranging the tables and starting up the projector, I finally found a moment to linger over the fika table, deciding between coconut squares and gingerbread. Mike--for whom I brought the box drum--found me and gave me his usual Sunday hug and then looked me over. "Why do you look Japanese?"
I raise an eyebrow. "Why do you look African?"
Mike laughs. "I am African."
"I'm Asian."
"No, you're not."

I have a sneaking suspicion he may be right, though his succint argument does not overturn the fact that I took my first steps and said my first words on Singaporean soil. I have spent half of my life in Asia and have only in recent years strayed from its boundaries. How long must I live in a country before I call it my own?

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