In the rush of days, lengthening to months, and growing terrifyingly into full Cambridge terms, one thinks too much and too little. (It strikes me that I should be Pseudo-D the Cantabrigian.) I thought I should say something, to avoid skidding past the two-month mark before my last post. Since that post, I have marked yet another birthday (22nd -- an unsexy, uneventful, insignificant number) and I have met and spoken to extraordinary and wonderful people here in Cambridge. I have thought and eaten and drunk and enjoyed the beauty of this city, so similar to and yet different from Oxford. I love it all, of course. But some truths have hit me. (To riff on Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, these are hard truths that keep me going.)
After more than three years in the UK, I know that I love it dearly. I owe a lot to it. It suits me all too well. It has allowed to make and remake myself, according to a cloudy conception I had when I first arrived on these shores a long while ago. (Some of my friends have remarked on this change, but they also tell me -- reassuringly, perhaps they are being disingenuous but I think not -- this change is a better distillation of me. A refinement, paring down the bits that weren't quite authentically me.) But deep down, I know that this country is not my home. It is the home of many good and great people, but it is certainly not mine. This sense of not-belonging -- it is, I hesitate to add, not because I've been made to not feel at home -- is a precious realisation I treasure.
In my undergraduate days, I often chose not to think of Singapore. After all, Oxford was meant to be an experience entirely different. Wishing to experience Oxford and the UK fully, I only went back home in the summers. But now I find myself constantly looking back home. Not out of homesickness -- I am remarkably resistant to that -- but out of duty, and out of love. I feel -- I think all of us Singaporeans feel it -- that Singapore is at a particularly crucial point in its politics and government. There is a lot of room for change, for betterment and for greater freedom. But it could so easily go wrong, through failure of leadership and weakness of resolve, through discord instead of progress. And so I feel a certain call of service.* And when I return, I will return with gladness and joy in my heart.
*You've heard it all before, no doubt. I'd check back in a few years' time, if I were you.