Everything Else

Chasing Memories

This is the last blog to expect successful promotion of any product, but I felt the need to do this, if only for the things that it has done to me, for me.

It’s called The Resident Tourist (http://www.drearyweary.com/TheResidentTourist/index.php?showimage=1). Created by one Troy Chin (I-S calls him the Underground Maverick, which cannot be more true), it’s a comic strip drawn and written by someone who isn’t into the comic book genre in the first place.

He was born in the same year I was, and pretty much the same period many of you are. He’s lived the same era we did, and pretty much thinks the same way a lot of us do. I do, anyway. If his comic books are anywhere close to accurate, he’s not currently in any paying job, so I’m heading out to buy his graphic novels, not so much to feed him, but to firstly let him know I share his vision for making this happen, and secondly to keep a part of the memories I’ve had as a child growing up in Singapore in print, for myself, and hopefully the generation ahead of me (that happens to be popping out in another 4 months).

It’s uncanny, to say the least, when I clicked on page after page of Troy’s site, immediately recognising the images he accurately rendered of the places I’ve been, past and present. What’s even more uncanny is the fact that he lives in my area, and seeing the images of the surroundings I see every day depicted with such accuracy in a graphic novel gives me goosebumps.

More importantly, though, is how his stories, whether they form the crux of the novels themselves or stray from it as an aside, are so closely reminiscent of my own childhood and current disposition. To say he is a voice for the fat lot of us 80s’ children in Singapore may be stretching it a bit, but at the very least he has seen the things I have seen, and felt the things I felt. (Crikey, I even look like him right now, but then only because I’ve been too broke to get myself a haircut.)

I’ve since been asking my secondary school friends about our past, particularly about some of the things we experienced in our childhood that Troy has detailed in his books. Not to reminisce, though; to remember, because I had flat out forgot everything until Troy came along.

Perhaps I always wanted to forget. The one thing I do remember is wanting to forget. I didn’t think my childhood was that much of a stunningly good time to begin with. I had my fair share of suffering, school bullies (who travelled in packs), government-employed schoolteachers who put you down like you were nothing, and parents who expected too much of their children, and thought too little of their children’s friends.

I just about succeeded too. I did too good a job of it though. It wasn’t until I hooked up with Terence and Eddie again a year or so back that I started remembering again. And even then when we met up for beer every now and again, I would get lost in their memories of our childhood, because I had already largely forgotten everything, the pretty girls and their names and cup sizes, the good teachers and their lessons that no textbook covered, the friends that taught you everything else, the good times.

Troy Chin gave me a reason to remember. I remember Nintendo and Delta Force, arcades and shooters like G Darius and 1942, bo-tak-cheh gangs, and secret shops that rent Nintendo playing time at $1.50 an hour. I remember the one schoolteacher that made a difference that 100 other schoolteachers combined could never hope to impact on a child’s mind, and primary school boys who stuck together and called each other “friend” because no one else would bother with them. Most importantly, I remember being a Singaporean child fighting for (or against) conformity to the society this country has built around him, fighting against the loneliness of being different, fighting with adulthood, and fighting with the idea that despite everything that this country has represented in the past or in the present, I don’t hate the place.

Thanks to you, I remember everything now. And I never want to forget it again.

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