(After Wendy Cope)
I remember seeing a shooting star for the first time in Bali. I made a wish and that wish came true.
I remember the way I used to eat ice cream in a cup. I’d hide in a corner and stir the ice cream till it melted and drink it like a smoothie.
I remember my piano teacher would hit my fingers with her ruler. She was not nice I thought, and told my dad. I never saw her again after that.
I remember once in a school swimming competition I was so proud of myself for making it till the end, even though I was last in place.
I remember punching my brother in the stomach fighting so hard over something I don’t remember now.
I remember picking up a cigarette butt from a public toilet floor and pretending to be a smoker, acting all adult like. I was 7 years old.
I remember opening my mouth wide open to show the stewardess my toothless gum, telling her that I couldn’t eat meat because of a missing tooth.
I remember saying to my mum that I wanted to go to a school with the best looking uniform, only to be disappointed because all public schools in Malaysia have us dress the same.
I remember playing The Cranberries on the stereo so loudly day and night that it annoyed the crap out of my mum. She called my music “noise”.
I remember I dreaded going to school in Malaysia because teachers were allowed to use rattans to cane students. I felt humiliated on several occasions.
I remember our big blue trampoline in the rumpus room. I would pretend to be a world-class gymnast and attempt to do the splits high up in the air.
I remember feeling so left out and hurt when my stepmom gave my brother more attention. It felt clear to me then that I was not worthy of love and would do anything to gain her approval.
I remember three of my favorite movies that I would watch over and over and over again. They were The Never Ending Story, Edward Scissorhands and Honey I shrunk The Kids.
I remember coming back to Malaysia, thinking to myself and asking my dad why did every sentence end with the words la and wan?
I remember the first time my stepdad showed me what a constellation was – we were under the bright starry sky looking at The Big Dipper.
I remember for weeks I cried myself to sleep because I missed my mum so much. I’d call her everyday, and got reprimanded by my dad and stepmom for it because international calls were costing them an arm and a leg.
I remember making jars full of paper stars and went selling them door-to-door around our neighborhood.
I remember thinking we were going to die because my aunt’s mum forgot to put on the hand brake of the car. She realized after she got out of the car that it was gradually moving down steep slope. She tried with all her might to stop the car from rolling down. She pointed to the handbrake, and shouted to us “PULL THE HANDBRAKE!”
I remember being an all round helper in my mum’s restaurant; from serving food, to toilet cleaning, to dishwashing, to take-away food packing, to being the sous-chef to my mum’s sous-chef, to eating whatever I wanted on the menu.
I remember traveling frequently as an unaccompanied minor; my brother and I were treated like VIP’s on the flight. I wore my “Young passenger traveling alone” badge with pride. We were first to get on the plane, upgraded to first class thirty minutes before landing, meals were served to us first, and we received a bunch of goodies!
I remember one evening my brother and I accidently fell into a deep drain. We were so scared because it was dark and smelly. And instead of helping us out, our uncle scolded us whilst we were still stuck in the drain.
I remember the times when I was late for school (which was frequent), I would be too embarrassed to walk in to the classroom, because I was filled with so much guilt and shame. All by myself, I would stand outside the classroom till I have mustered up the courage to walk in. I remember wanting to run away and hide at times.
I remember the loneliness and fear I felt, when at 3am I realized that my dad was still not home.
I remember my childhood best friend and I had a crush on the same boy. She told me she was jealous because he was interested in me.
I remember my dad cupping my mouth shut so tightly with his hand because I was about to tell the landlord that my dad accidently burnt her carpet with an iron.
I remember wishing to be an adult as soon as possible because I hated school so much. And all I wanted to do was work and earn my own money so that I could live my own life.
I remember my grandparents telling me that my Australian aboriginal friends who were also our neighbors were dirty and unhygienic. I couldn’t care less and still invited them over for sleepovers.
I remember wearing leggings for the first time and thought they looked very sexy and adult like. From that time, all I wanted to wear to school were leggings.
I remember a small take away bag of chicken nuggets used to cost fifty cents. I would put the coin in the brown takeaway bag and place it in a basket, which would then be delivered to the canteen for our lunch order to be processed. I remember schooling in Australia was extremely fun.
I remember falling in love with Superman Christopher Reeve. This is another film that I would watch over and over again.
I remember feeling really scared thinking that spiders would keep on growing in size and would eventually devour us.
I remember thinking that when two adults hold each other’s hand that they would get a baby.
I remember feeling so angry and stuck because it felt like I was constantly being used as the middle person for my mum and dad, tossing messages back and forth. I remember feeling lost, confused and abandoned.
I remember sulking and feeling disappointed because what I got for Christmas one year was a metal letter holder.
I remember feeling extremely fearful living in Malaysia as a young kid because I was told repeatedly by my relatives that young children would get kidnapped, have their limbs chopped off and would be forced to beg.
I remember hanging out with a boy I liked and thinking it was gross to drink out of the same straw.
I remember the car ride from Melbourne to Canberra took ages, but my brother and I enjoyed it a lot because we turned the back seat into our own little playground, filling the back seat floors with duvets and pillows and soft toys.
I remember telling myself that one day I would be an airhostess. That was the wish I made upon seeing the shooting star for the first time in Bali. My wish was fulfilled and I ended up globetrotting for ten amazing years.