A lot of events led up to that conclusion. I had to see a child psychologist when I was in primary three at the age of nine. My insecurities manifested themselves into a fear of what I thought then to be a fierce Chinese Language teacher. My Mandarin, while not horrendous, was not up to par. I did not speak it at home and could not for the life of me understand why learning it was necessary. I abhorred the language then and due to transference, cared little about the teacher teaching it. She picked on me a lot it seemed. She was always asking me to read aloud by myself the paragraphs the entire class had just read. I hated that she was able to tell when I lip-synced because I had not been able to scribble in sound words in English under the Chinese characters so I could pretend to read flawlessly. But what I hated more were the loud sniggers from my classmates that told me I was not good enough. Those feelings of inadequacy at home and in school snowballed into an episode of school withdrawal.
I cried everyday that period, refusing to go to school because of that awful Chinese teacher. My grandmother had to deal with progressively worse tantrums, particularly at night before bed. My mother had to be called in to calm me down.
I had lived with my grandmother until I was ten and had stayed with my parents only over the weekends or during school holidays. They would make time to visit me on alternate weekdays, staying about an hour each time. That arrangement facilitated working schedules of my parents and alleviated some child-rearing responsibilities. So when Poh Poh called, they had to rush down after a long day’s work, out of their regular scheduling, to see their only child weep her eyes out because of a Chinese teacher. That occurred a few times before my mother decided to make a call to the school to do what Singaporeans do best – complain. It was also during one of these emotional episodes of mine that there was an altercation within the family due to my abject refusal to let my mother leave after one of their visits. I was bawling, desperately hanging on to her skirt and being quite impossible to reason with. That was obviously not my usual meek self but I remember a derogatory comment made to mock my behaviour along with the genes that I inherited that stayed with me to this day. That convinced my mother that she had to take me with her. So I stayed with my parents for awhile but the episode was far from being over.
If you are reading this, a big thank you for getting to this point! I am not sure if I should ask for feedback this early but should you like to, I would be happy to hear them.
If you’d like to read the story from the beginning, click here.