I’ve been a minority my whole life. In Singapore, I’m Indian. In India, I’m Singaporean. In Britain, I’m Asian. In Japan, I’m a gaigokujin. Foreigner. The essence of who I am is truly lost in all the labels that people keep giving me. I went to the National Gallery in Singapore last weekend, and the docent told me – ‘Enjoy the rest of your stay here’. No, the comment did not annoy me. To be honest, I thought it was quite amusing. Our preconceived notions about who and what people are can be startlingly different from the truth.
One footstep led to the next and before I knew it, I was in front of Sri Mariamman Temple. I felt a strange indescribable sense of deja vu as I gazed at the gopuram of Singapore’s oldest Hindu Temple. I have been here before. I know this place. Its soul reverberates with mine as though the two were one and the same.
On this day of Pratipada Shradhha, I honour your memory and the life you lived on earth. You passed away a decade before I was born, but your teachings have come down to me through the stories and photographs of those who knew you before you even had a granddaughter.
This year, Shradh runs from 13 Sept to 28 Sept 2019. It is believed that during this time, ancestors visit earth in their subtle form to bless their descendants. The kin offer food, money and other gifts to the ancestors as a sign of respect.
In Hinduism, the fortnight of Shradh is the time during which one pays homage to one’s ancestors. We have a responsibility to our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents as they brought us into this world. Their genes are part of our body system and their mental traits influence our thinking.
I’ve known a few people like that. People who won’t listen to reason. People who cannot make a decision for the collective benefit of all. They create situations where they win and you lose. There is no point in trying to reason with them. No matter what you say, do or explain – they will simply refuse to listen or understand your point of view. They are right. You are wrong. End of story.
When I decided to become an author some 12 years ago, I didn’t think I’d end up starting my own publishing house to publish my books. So in addition to the artistic process, I find myself dealing with the business of selling and promoting my debut novel The Little Light.