Letters of Life

Youth (My History) rss

Many small and lovely things cemented the foundations of my existence, to quote an old friend. They might be yours also.

The Strength of a Castle

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12:15, Saturday, 1 March, 2014

A classmate in the girls’ school I attended gave me this castle for my 16th birthday. It took pride of place near my bedroom window. When I got married and moved out, it came along, as did many artifacts of youth, for what is a new marriage but a continuation of that youth? It occupied… Read More ›

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Friends From The Hundred Acre Wood

A narrative from an online issue of the magazine McSweeney’s called Christopher Robin Friend Requests the Residents of the Hundred Acre Wood  set me thinking about my own Hundred Acre Wood, the place where childhood and youngness resides. Followers of Winnie-the-Pooh would know the Hundred Acre Wood is the forest which Owl and Rabbit (Tigger, Kanga and Roo,… Read More ›

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Sentimental Lines

Looking for some old pictures for an upcoming project, I found a handmade book given to me by a friend from my days in the newsroom. He was a soft-spoken history major who loved classical music and everything to do with the performing arts; he ended up editing an arts magazine for The Esplanade where… Read More ›

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

Every week, The Daily Post from WordPress issues writing and photography challenges. They are fun and I thought this particular theme profound. To take part, I should share a photo that says INSIDE. The word INSIDE recalled to mind an old hit called “Inside” by blind American country singer Ronnie Milsap. She tries for the… Read More ›

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Childhood (Part 3): In Praise of Sindy

Recently, this story How Barbie Crushed Sindy appeared on the BBC website. Such a sensational headline, but it is true. The Sindy doll, created on the other side of the pond four years after Barbie (1959), always played second fiddle to her more glamourous American sista, Barbie. Sindy was a present on my ninth birthday, and she… Read More ›

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Childhood (Part 2): Of Pet Dogs and Mythology

I was introduced to two names in the pantheon of Greek and Norse mythology by way of two pets. For many years since I was little, I used to visit my uncle and aunt, who is my mother’s second eldest sister, in their little house annexed to the grand old house in Jalan Kuala, which… Read More ›

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Enter September

Ever since I can remember, I have wished I was born in September. September. . . the very word is a lyric. I mean, have you ever heard a song with the word August in it? I was born in late late August, the middle month of summer, better late than never. But oh, September… Read More ›

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The Strangest Gift

Truth: The strangest gift I’ve ever received was a tooth. I was not yet 25, perhaps. It was a large tooth, a tooth of wisdom, exhibiting signs of wear and tear, plaque, and roots and all. “Here,” said the giver, extending the tooth to me in an open palm. “I’m giving you a part of… Read More ›

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Childhood (Part 1)

84 Sophia Road. This road was always pronounced So-fire by my grandmother who lived there, and by my school principal, my school being at the top of Mount Sophia, the missionary-founded Methodist Girl’s School (1887). I lived in suburban Holland Road about 20 minutes from the city, but I spent the better part of 13… Read More ›

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These Golden Hours

You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by. Yes, but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by. -James M. Barrie, novelist and playwright (1860-1937) Last Sunday afternoon, several old classmates and I met at our alma mater, a mission girl’s school on a hill in the… Read More ›

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What It Means To Be Young

The good thing about being old is that one can be both authentically young (having been 20, then 30, and then some), as well as rightfully behave like an old codger. An ex- newspaper colleague said that working with young people makes her think she’s also still her mid-20s. Unless we talk in front of… Read More ›

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When Age and Youth Collide

One has created a work that is an obvious product of blood, sweat and tears. The other has created work of a different genre, but also a product of blood, sweat and tears at midnight. The first is a work of immense research, of skilled thought processes which have been distilled and carefully wrought through… Read More ›

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A Great House of The Past

Like most of the great houses built in Singapore in the late 1800s, this house had a name—Panglima Prang, which means war admiral in Malay. My earliest memories of the house go back to when I was five or six. It was the only house on a small road in River Valley called Jalan Kuala…. Read More ›

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Some Thoughts on Thanksgiving in the Tropics

I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land. —Jon Stewart, satirist of the multi-Emmy-award-winning The Daily Show with Jon Stewart   My first Thanksgiving was in Bloomington, at the home of Indiana University’s… Read More ›

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My Past Names

I cannot for the life of me quite figure out what my readers want to read. Yet. So, tonight I will answer this question: “If you could choose any name for yourself, what would it be?” My answer has a context. When I was quite young, I did not like my name. I thought it… Read More ›

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Living with Age

No, it’s not because it’s that time of year. . .  Having recently moved to dramatically different surroundings—a bungalow, not an apartment, and one that is full of relics and old books–I sense a change of mood within—it’s a lot like entering a different realm, the kind that affects your spirits and spirit.  The age… Read More ›

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Old Words, Old Rooms

I am holding in my hand a suede Filofax I’d got from a whirlwind trip to Europe one summer a while back. I remember entering a leather goods shop in Florence, Italy, popular with tourists for its leatherbound goods. The minute I saw this Filo, I’d fallen in love with the texture of the rich… Read More ›

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Barbie & Me

I got my very first Barbie when I was–wait a minute. I had a Sindy Doll (a rival of Barbie), but did I really ever own a Barbie? My mind switches into reverse, picks up speed, past the bright sunlight shining on my adolescence, back even further to my tweens, past the Space 1999 gang,… Read More ›

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When a Higher Court is Needed

The whole history of the world is summed up in the fact that, when nations are strong, they are not always just, and when they wish to be just, they are no longer strong. Winston Churchill, 1874-1965 Where there are too many policemen, there is no liberty. Where there are too many soldiers, there is… Read More ›

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Smells Like Teen Spirit

So 13 teenagers were sprawled over my living room on a Saturday afternoon, doing their Chinese New Year rounds. We played Taboo!, the word game where you describe a series of random words from a deck (e.g “fault”, “rollerblade”, “bitter”) and avoid a list of hints printed on each card, going through the deck in… Read More ›

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Don’t Dream It’s Over

This is the very first post on Featherglass, whose original name was Don’t Dream It’s Over. I thought I’d make this a sticky post for a while as it explains why this blog exists. If you haven’t already read it, I hope you enjoy it and find a bit of yourself in it. If you’ve… Read More ›

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