|i could go on for 40 days and 40 nights about my blog title and bore you to bits and pieces with 10,000 different ideas i actually had for the name of this blog but because of the 500 characters limit that is imposed upon this mechanism which, by the way, is supposed to promote free speech, i shall shorten it to just two words basically describing what the hell this is all about and who this hell belongs to.|
Saturday, May 24, 2008
adulthood is no more than childhood betrayed
i've never liked racket sports (not that i like sports to begin with). events such as tennis, badminton, hockey, floorball and whatnot, they seem to project this image of... blame. each time the player misses a ball, whacks the puck out of court or bashes someone's ankle accidentally, he instinctively starts looking at his racket. it's as if to say, 'it's not my fault that the racket's possessed.' which is perhaps why i prefer watching rugby and most contact sports that involve the physical body and the body itself. of course, it certainly helps that the men playing such sports have bodies that appeal to the general public. especially rugby.
but sports aside, it seems that people these days seem to fault everything that goes wrong to everything and everyone else other than themselves. in the context of law, serial killers can get away with a plea on insanity by stating childhood stress and trauma related to a parental divorce. employers who abused their maids relate it to work stress. serial molesters claim that they are the way the are because they were molested by others when they were young. so everyone gets away scot-free just because of their traumatic childhoods and seemingly traumatising stressors, so it seems.
as for me, i'm morally grey with three shades down the darker side. i'm no criminal unless you consider buying the occasional contraband cigarettes to turn me into one. and of course, not forgetting the consensual anal sex with other men. but this got me thinking that in one way or another, we're all quite possibly damaged or at least influenced by events that happened to us during our childhood. after all, the minds of children are considered to be at their most malleable. childhood is like taking a plunge into the great big fondue of life. you may be a bright red strawberry or a colourful fruit by any other name. but once you take a dip into life, you definitely will emerge as a change person. mostly darker, no thanks to the sinfulness of chocolate.
most events that children go through will almost always leave lasting impressions on them. and believe you me, children have really good memories. they remember the good stuff well, and remember the bad stuff even better. which is perhaps why i coined the phrase that 'Adulthood is no more than childhood betrayed'.
admittedly, i can't say that my childhood wasn't enjoyable. there were good moments like Happy Meals, 10/10 spelling tests (i was really good at spelling), Sonic the Hedgehog, Rockman comics and things that endear a lot to kids of my time. however, it wasn't all that a bed of roses as well. i never played with the neighbourhood kids (mother was afraid that i would get kidnapped or molested). i had only one official birthday party with my classmates in my entire life, and that was in kindergarten. i spent a lot of time doing homework, studying and reading. these may have coloured my life today in some way. at the root of myself, i guess i'm still the fat geeky kid from the primary schools. unfortunately, the ultimatum of my childhood that really defined me was my father and his violent tendencies back then.
father was a very violent man. of course, he's not that violent these days, Thank God (literally, because he somehow saw 'The Light' along the way and gave up his violence). he got pissed and irritated very easily, which made him very unapproachable. we used to live with my paternal grandmother in this jumbo apartment. if it wasn't for her, i would have perhaps been caned to oblivion and psychologically scarred beyond repair. it was the screaming, the canings and the shouting that made me hate my childhood so much. i remember praying a lot to God that somehow or other, my parents would throw away the cane. i prayed that they would never use the cane on me again. in fact, i remember one time i prayed so hard that i spent practically fifteen minutes just squatting by the bedside, hands clasped together with eyes shut tightly. though i really think that the reason why i spent fifteen minutes squatting there was due to the fact that my father had just given me a can of whoop ass.
for the record, God never answered my prayer about the cane. when the cane finally started to splinter, they simply threw the old one away and bought a new one from the local provisional shop downstairs. the auntie at the shop would always give me that demeaning stare whenever my parents bought a new cane, as if to say, 'isn't this like the fifth cane they bought this year? i bet this spawn of Satan really deserves it! hmph!' these days however, what with the law and protection against the ol' skool method of chastising children, you don't really find provision shops that sell canes any more.
so for the record once again, maybe God does answer prayers, just that it's a few years too late.
i decided to skip church today again. in fact, i have been skipping church for two months on alternative weeks. there were certainly what i considered to be 'white lies' involved. i mean, i couldn't jolly well tell the parents that i hated church and wanted out. that would be like grabbing the cane from them and using it against them. and i hate having to hurt people, whether physically or emotionally. therefore, i used to rather solid excuse of work commitments and group projects.
truth be told however, i simply can't help but hate church, possibly because it makes me hate myself. the idea of church that has been branded on my mind since young is the warm and stuff place where everyone has black hair, long skirts and hairy armpits accompanied with fat arms. there's an organ at one end of the sanctuary and a piano at the other. people live their lives according to the word of God, as if the other practicalities of life never mattered. if their lives were an Electrocardiogram reading, it would be a pure flatline. a flawless, straight and narrow little flatline. boring, true. but flawless and leading to heaven, none the less.
it's because of this hate that i've turned out to be what i call a 'church bastard'. i don't single the hymns. i don't contribute to the offering bags. i don't partake of the Lord's Supper because i haven't been baptised. i haven't been baptised because i don't want a part in the Lord's Army. i keep my eyes open during the corporate prayer to update myself of the family mechanics of the various church people ('Oooh... new girlfriend!' or 'The three teenage children are sitting between mommy and daddy... spousal dispute'). i end up noticing the hairy armpits and fat flagging arms at this junction actually. i do my best to fall asleep during the sermons. and if i can, i escape from the service for a quick cigarette and come back smelling like smoke.
a lot of this church-hating sentiment i guess, is derived from events that happened during my childhood. nothing major i guess, but there are plenty of scenes that i remember vividly. scenes that are apparently more negative than positive in context. and i don't remember a lot of my childhood to begin with for some reason. it's these events therefore, that contribute to the building blocks of my relationships with my parents and how i've come to hate Sundays and church-going so much.
why i find that i can't express myself in front of my parents
this happened when i was about eight years of age. it was a sunday evening with the paternal family and the cousins. i've always enjoyed hanging out with them because it was the only time that i got to roam around in public by myself. my protective mother would never let me out of her sight and it was quite irritating that i had to follow her everywhere. okay okay, to be fair, the only point of time she did so was at the lingerie section where she would officially hand me over to my father for safekeeping.
we were out at this ancient and run-down shopping centre called 'Beauty World Complex'. it was one of those old buildings that served its sole purpose of housing a few random stalls. these stalls usually sold really outlandish clothes and skin-toned bras. even at eight, i was surprised that i could tell that those clothes were really horrid. stuff that i would never have worn (and no, i'm not referring to the skin-toned bras). i vividly remembered the multi-storey car park to be this dark and creepy place. the type of setting that's perfect for young nubile things to get flashed at by perverts in the middle of the night.
well, the only point of interest for us kids back then was the video game arcade. it didn't stock any of the latest games in the market. but it did have games and kids are quite possibly the most easily-satisfied people in the world. it was these small little joys that help endure the whole outing to Beauty World Complex. why they would have a video game arcade in this run-down shopping mall is really beyond me. truly, the beauty of this place is indeed, complexed.
lame jokes aside, we kids anticipated that one or two of our parents would be bringing us to the arcade after dinner for some fun. the whole lot of my paternal family members were milling and ambling about in a women's departmental store. the kids were just randomly touching and rustling through the women's clothes in the most obscene of places. i was as usual, following my mother. when one of my uncles did finally make the announcement that we would be going to the arcade, i jumped for joy. you know that kind of 'yay! we're going to the arcade after a boring family dinner' kind of jump. all of us screamed and shouted and whoops and pumped fists into the air. just the way happy kids do.
it was also at that same point of time that my father delivered a big slap to my right cheek. i remembered that it was at the intersection in the women's departmental store that separated the lingerie section from the pants. my mind processed what just happened and decided that the best course of action back then was to shut up. somehow or other, i also got the understanding that when your parent slaps you in the middle of public for no apparent reason other than being extremely happy... well... as a kid, you just know that there's nothing wrong that you've done. it's your parents.
i instinctively put my hand to my left cheek. i remember my vision blurring from the tears that started accumulating in my eyes. all i could see was the blurry colours of beige (presumably the bras) and a few familiar faded faces. i hated my father so much at that point of time that i didn't want to see his face.
the rest of the kids went on with their arcade session while i was forced to stay with the parents and endure the public shame. it was also with that day that i think that i must have decided to not ever be happy when i'm in the presence of the parents. i actually think that it was a three day tantrum sort of thing, to refuse to smile or even talk when with my parents. three days turned into three months and then developed into three years. and since then, i can never bring myself to smile, frown or show some signs of feelings when i'm alone in the presence of the parents. i'm just a passive flat line in the eyes of the parents. of course, it's easy to smile when in front of the relatives and family friends. after all, we all have appearances of happiness to keep up with in public. but then again, i don't really express what i feel or think when the parents are around. the thought of a quick slap to the face somehow just lingers in the air.
but this is quite possibly the reason why i never say anything when i am forced to go to church every sunday.
why i hate teachers and can never get close to them
you know sometimes when you think back about the things you did as a kid, you really can't figure out for the life of yourself as to why you did it. it's as if someone or something influenced you to do this unusual course of action. i remember one time during a primary school music class, we were all marching and dancing to a particularly enjoyable piece of music. for some reason, i just flipped up the skirt of a female classmate that was jumping in front of me. i seriously have no idea why i did that. and i was only seven years old then. the music teacher only warned me that that was a very wrong thing to do. children, as you might have realized, can get away with most things.
the event in question happened in primary school during year one. i was seven and bored to death and irritable. i'm thinking it was the afternoon heat actually. it was hot and humid and in the middle of a boring reading session. i decided to up and leave the class and take a walk around the school. i ended up staring at the flag poles that stood proudly at the front of the courtyard. there were two apparently, one with the school flag on it and the other with the Singapore flag with its red, white and five stars & crescent. now from the first day i stepped into school, i have always harboured a secret fantasy of lowering the flag that only the prefect did. they normally did this during the singing of the national anthem. i mean, as a kid the pulley system of a flag pole is like the coolest thing that man had ever invented (aside from video gaming consoles and the computer).
and so i succumbed to temptation and decided to try out the Singapore flag pole. of course, we learnt about living things and non-living things during science class. but the topic of pulleys and forces had not been taught to us yet. so with the simple undoing of the knot on the flag ropes, i basically undid the flag. there was this loud zzzzzzzipp that seemed to reverberate around the whole school as the flag sild down the pole. that loud zip certainly did attract the attention of one teacher that i will remember for the rest of my life. she saw me as i tried to return the flag back to its original position. and like every other good citizen would do when they some something wrong being done, they would shout out the obvious and start giving chase.
'OI! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!!'
i was only seven and could run like the wind. she was over-weight, in her 50s and wearing sandals. unfortunately, she had the advantage over me simply because she taught me for Health Education classes and knew who i was.
it wasn't till later that evening when i was about to return home that all hell broke loose. my father was in his smart-looking army uniform (he was with the military back then) when he came to bring me home. it was white and gleaming with respect. and with all the luck in the world, the Health Education teacher was there when i met the father. when i think back, either she just really happened to be there or she was actually nesting there, awaiting the arrival of my father. none the less, she went ahead and told my father about what had transpired during the afternoon. i'm thinking that it must have been a very shameful thing for him back then given the context that he was in the smart air force garb. my father apologized profusely and walked away without even a second glance at me. i stared at the Health Education teacher with all the hatred, ninja knives and nuclear bombs in the world before making my departure.
i tried to keep up with him as i lugged my heavy school bag to the car. i remember that i said nothing at all during the entire drive back home. he was constantly berating me in the car. and you know what quarrels in the car are like. quiet. imaginatively echoey. and quite awkward. i've come to hate that silence when my father shouts in the car. i do recollect that the first thing that happened when we got home that evening was that he went straight to the store room and grabbed the cane. it was a thin bamboo rod with a pink handle.
that was the night whereby i was caned the worst in my entire childhood. my father locked me in the dark store room for what seemed like a long time. i even remember the scratching sound of scotch tape that pierced the air as he tried to seal the entrance from outside. my grandmother and mother were pleading that he let me out. of course, an angry man is almost always a man you can't convince. it was that long period of time in the darkness of that store room that i hardened my heart against teachers and figure of authority. i hated people who did the right thing without considering the implications of their actions. the right thing, may sometimes not be so right after all. especially if it involved the drastic physical punishment of a child.
the Health Education teacher has since then passed away from cancer from what i last heard. she was remembered as a loving teacher who was a firm Christian and strong morals.
i remember her to be the catalyst for my punishment.
why i hate good people (and Chinese language teachers)
i used to be a class monitor when i was in primary three. i was nine years old then. i was really proud of it because the responsibilities were minimal and you got to wear an uber-shiny badge that stated the words 'MONITOR' and a lot of other unwritten pride on it. all the monitor had to do back then was to count heads, announce the arrival of the teacher of the next class and look really important. in today's modern day context of office rats, it sounds almost like the CEO's lackeys.
i was a good monitor with a penchant for the occasional impish naughtiness. being in a Christian-mission school, that was highly unacceptable. but then i think i got to keep my position as class monitor because i did my job well. it wasn't till one fine day that i blurted out the word 'SHIT' during class when i forgot to bring my Chinese textbook. one classmate of mine took the bloody initiative to report me to the strict Chinese language teacher. as with most Chinese language teachers, for some reason or other, there tend to like wearing sleeveless blouses and stockings. not helping is the fact that they have armpit hair and unshaven legs. i'm not sure about you, but ALL my Chinese language teachers are like that. tradition or trend? you decide.
maybe she was pissed with me, maybe she hated my occasional misbehaviour, but i was stripped of my monitor status there and then. and this is why i hate goody-do-gooders and Chinese language teachers. i know, it's a petty thing. but i valued my class monitor status a lot back then and it was a kick to the gonads to me. my church has a lot of these goody-do-gooders apparently, who simply don't consider the implications of their morally-upright actions. sometimes, it's good to remember that you maybe a Christian, but above all, you're still a human. and humanity prevails.
why i hate youth groups
a friend and i agreed yesterday that Christian youths are quite possibly one of the most sheltered people in the entire world. statistically speaking, the average Christian is middle class, has a stable career and a quite a fair amount of luxuries. looking at my church car park, one will see Beemers, Mercedes, and an entire barrage of space wagons and family sedans. so the average Christian youth has hardly tasted hardship. 'trial by fire' to a majority of these people seem to mean examination and minor classroom disputes. when you compare these problems to that of the poor, the abused and the destitute, it hardly makes you bat an eyelid.
the youth group that i grew up in were children that accompanied me for many years. from kindergarten to secondary school, we have seen each other grow and mature. most of them are now in some foreign country studying something worthy of today's working world. arts, economics, financing, banking, zoology, et cetera. in my batch of youth group members, there were only two of us from schools for the lesser mortals, some other guy whom i don't see in church anymore and me. my youth group leader was this family man who was raised in an elite school and was working in a managerial position of sorts. he had a nice car, nice family and a pretty nice home in somewhat prime estate.
unfortunately, he was the type that favoured intellectuals. i couldn't hold a conversation well back then. i didn't know what to say when they brought up topics. and so i was more often than not neglected during those youth group classes. i was pretty sure that the other guy whom i don't see in church anymore was really left out. he was raised in a traditional Chinese family where they spoke mandarin. my youth group leader over the years, seemed to focus all his attention on the intellectually-endowed crowd. prolly all the mental-sparring shit that they loved to indulge in so much.
but what really made me hate my youth leader so much was one church camp. this happened when we were all in secondary school, teenagers to be precise. teenagers as you might have grown up realizing, are one of the most easily-influenced crowds around in town. you could prolly blame it on peer pressure. and it's most likely true. they seem to value the opinions of their friends more than their family members. indeed, it's one of the complexities of the youth.
peer pressure was what this youth group leader employed after a night sermon. the task was simple: there was an imaginary divide on the center of the floor. if you're on the Lord's side, please stand with me. if you're want to be with the world, you can scoot to the other. all of us were already on the Lord's side as the sermon was preached on that side of the floor. so perhaps we were all too lazy to move (it was a NIGHT sermon after all). as for those who were on the edge of the imaginary line, you could see them hurridly shifting over to the Lord's side, as though as the darkness will claim them if they don't.
in this context, peer pressure would never allow the teenage youth to go over to the carnal side. to do so, would be to allowing yourself to be officially recognized as 'one of the others' in the youth group. it's what a youth fears the most, not being accepted by his peers. of course, this would entail of whole barrage of follow-ups like one-to-one heart talks about your spiritual growth and a tedious exercise of checking up on you constantly.
it seems like an insignificant use of peer pressure upon impressionable youths, but i felt betrayed that night.
and so, these are the events of my youth and childhood that might perhaps have damaged me in some way. but upon recollection, i think that they might have strengthened my resolve to not easily be influenced, to not give in to physical punishment, to grow stronger. some people lead great childhoods with fond recollections of their parents and the good times together. some have really bad childhoods. for me i think, if it needed a lot of caning to change my father into a better person, then i say it's simply no more than a matter of trial by fire.
like they say, 'what doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger'.
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