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Monday, March 27, 2006
I Not Stupid

“You are so stupid,” I said, “So stupid to think that those students will not trash the house!”

“How dare you call me stupid!” came the reply.

“Well if you are stupid, then you deserve to be called stupid!” I said.

I must point out that I do not normally call people stupid but yesterday morning was a terrible day. Imagine walking into a three-storey house you have called a home for more than five years and then seeing the place in absolutely shambles and you tell me whether you would call the landlord stupid.

My mother moved the family out of our family home, opting for a much smaller house closer to town. From a magnificent three storey with a lush garden for Milo to run around, she moved the family into a double storey house. Okay, I admit it makes cleaning the house a much easier task for the maids and it has made mealtimes more convenient but my dream house was beautiful.

I had such wonderful times in that house, living alone on the third floor with a living room of my own, en suite bath to my bedroom and a spare bedroom for visiting friends. I loved the garden and had wonderful dinner parties for friends every alternate month. Not to mention the time when I organized a wine party and E konked out in the living room and I did the obligatory girlfriend duty of dragging her three floors up into my spare bedroom. (I don’t think my parents would appreciate seeing her slurring when they get up at 6 a.m. for their walks).

“You know we are never going to move back into that house,” said my father.

It does not matter if we are moving into the house or not. I mean, my heart broke the moment they decide to rent the house out to a bunch of Saudi boys studying in the nearest college. My bedroom is defiled by the stinky boy smell and no longer smells of me. My black corner tub, where I swam and paddled about each evening for more than five years is now the bank containing all the jerking off activities by the boy who slept in my bedroom. It is more than enough to turn me off and I will never feel the same way I used to in my bedroom again.

It mattered to me because the place was so beautiful and now it is in ruins because they have rented it out to a bunch of rich students. So what if they are rich and they drive luxury cars? They are still bloody students who organized disco parties in the ground floor living hall and dining area every Saturday night!! The dining table was still out in the garden when we visited the house with the gardener yesterday morning.

And so I screamed, “you are just bloody stupid to rent to the boys. Of course they say there are only six boys staying in the six bedrooms! Who is going to admit to squeezing the whole neighbourhood into the 6 rooms!”

“Stupid idiot!” my mother screamed. She was hurling abuse at me that morning when I came downstairs many months ago. Perhaps it was more than 3 years ago when this incident happened.

“You are a stupid daughter! Useless! So stupid, stupid!”

“Stop calling me stupid! I am not stupid!” I screamed back at her.

My father lifted his eyes from the newspaper and said, “Stop shouting at each other.” He then looked into his papers again.

“What kind of daughter are you? So stupid! Don’t listen to me. Keep disobeying!”

“I am not you. I have never been you and I will never make the same choices like you did. You are not a happy woman now that you are in your 50s. Why should I make similar decisions like yours and end up miserable like you when I am 50?” I screamed.

Those words cut deep. I knew it did. That was why I said it. So she ran towards me and clutched me by my shoulders, shook me and repeated, “You are a stupid daughter! Stupid idiot, that’s what you are!”

“Stop calling her stupid!” boomed through the white marbled living room on the ground floor.

“She is my daughter, I can call her stupid a thousand times. Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupiiiiiiiiid! You shut up, this has nothing to do with you!” my mother told Alex.

“Stop calling her stupid!” Alex sounded stern, “You are insulting ME if you call her stupid!” He stepped up to her, a six feet tall European breathing down my mother’s five feet tall Chinese neck.

My mother rallied for my father to help her, to defend her against the hairy white man.

“Stop calling your daughter stupid, “ said my father, “she’s a grown woman, you can’t call her stupid. Of course Alex feels insulted. Now stop it.”

“Come. Mummy look for the toy for you,” said PY one afternoon when I was at her place for a visit. She looked through the drawers at the prayer table, sifting through some pile of papers, looking for her daughter’s My Little Pony. It was nowhere to be seen and beads of sweat was crawling down PY’s forehead as she walked to the kitchen in search for the elusive plastic pony.

The scream came and then the sobs. PY’s father rushed to the kitchen to see what happened. PY patted her daughter’s little fingers as the girl screamed more. In her haste to search for the toy, PY accidentally clipped her daughter's fingers between the drawer as she closed it. The little girl was wearing her white singlet and a pink polka dot panty, jumping and clutching her right hand fingers. When PY’s father rushed into the kitchen area and saw his granddaughter crying like a slaughtered pig, his grandfather instinct kicked in.

“Oh your mother is so stupid!” He rushed and carried his two-year-old grand daughter away. “Your mother so stupid all the time, make you cry.”

And I saw PY standing there, with her eyes closed.

“Oh stop it!” PY said in a high-pitched voice. It was breakfast this morning when her three-year-old daughter, down with mild fever, took the cup of warm Milo and placed it close to her lips.

“Aiyah...” PY’s voice said in dismay a few seconds later, “why you so stupid?” Her swift motherly hands took some wet wipes from her red Furla bag and dabbed them onto her daughter’s thighs, where the drink has spilt.

“Come on, PY,” I said, trying to diffuse the situation, “it’s just a little Milo.” I took some tissue from my Tods and reached out to the little girl next to me.

“There, just a little. Aunty Otto help you, ok? “ I said, smiling to her, “it’s nothing right, baby?” The little girl smiled and nodded.

I looked at PY. She knew what I was thinking. We have had this conversation many times before this. She should not call her daughter stupid. She calls her daughter stupid so many times, it is like the little girl’s pet name and it was not good for her to grow up with such negative words. I looked at PY. She knew that I was telling her the same thing again – “Don’t call your child stupid.”

“Nothing is good enough for you!” I sobbed into the pillows. It was another battle between parents and daughter and I was losing this time because I was the first to cry.

“Nothing is good enough for you. I am your stupid idiot daughter, not good enough for you. Not pretty enough. Not tall enough. Not smart enough. Not fair enough. Not smart enough to get rich boyfriends. Not adorable enough nor sweet enough.” I said, words chocking out one by one.

“Who said you are not good enough?” my father said.

“You two!” I hissed at him. I grew up being compared to everyone’s children and each time, it was I who was not good enough. I grew up trying to live up to my parent’s expectation and like all first borns can tell you, you are never good enough. (Then like most parents normally would, they have their second born, third and perhaps even a fourth child. Then they grow tired of comparing with their friends’ kids and cease doing so. Therefore later siblings get let off easy.)

“I know who I am,” I said between sobs, “and I know my destiny and I know where I will be and I know I will go far. Further than anyone else you will ever know.” My heart ached as I said those words. I knew who I was and I still do till today. I know how far I will go in life. But right that moment, I was a child once again, vulnerable and aching for acceptance by my parents. Even as of a few years ago, I would have teary conversations with my parents about this. I was tired of trying to catch up with everyone else, being compared to everyone else and losing each time, in the eyes of my parents.

I wanted to hear my parents to say two magic words: “Well done!”. Just those two words and I know my spirit would fly. Not “Tina’s so gorgeous, her face is so fair. You should use more whitening products,” or “Daniel is working for big company in KL” or “Jenny is so smart, married rich man, who bought a nice house for her parents”.

Because all children want to hear is “Well done, darling. I am so proud of you.”



This post brought tears to my eyes.......

A very well-written post.

12:00 pm  

welcome to the club.

1:13 pm  

You are welcome. Hope you enjoyed the article. Was thinking abt the word STUPID the whole of Sunday and today.

Who is the president?

6:09 pm  

Very well-written entry! I've got to admit that I teared reading this too. It reminded me of my past as well.

Thanks for sharing this!

10:46 am  

Am glad you could relate to this article.... I think all children feel the same right? All we want is a slice of validation from our parents.

10:53 am  

I had the same conflict with my father growing up which created a vast gulf between us.

He died when I was abroad so he never saw his son succeed in life and I never told him: I forgive you. We both became losers.

I hope you could reconcile with them while you still can.


11:36 pm  

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