Thursday, November 07, 2013

Leaving no legacy

Part of what defines me as a person is the fact that I was an athlete. It's shaped how I see things, how I look and how I behave. In my most impressionable years, I spent my life obsessing about thundering down a synthetic track, hopefully ahead of everyone else. Though I would say that they were the years where I grew up the most and shaped me the most as a person, I wouldn't count them as the best years of my life or the happiest years of my life. I learnt what true pain and true disappointment were when I lost races or got so badly injured I had to sit out races and seasons. I learnt that girls could be bitchy and ruin your life just because they felt like it. I learnt what loneliness and alienation were because the cliche that 'it was lonely on top' did ring true.

But at the same time, I learnt the meaning of true spirit and true friendship, the meaning of truly fighting and working for what i wanted and I learnt how to pick myself up when I hit rock bottom.

It is because of that rather than the fact that I won many medals and topped the standard in many subjects that I feel great amount of attachment to and pride for my alma mater. The little hairs on my arm still stand when I hear the school song.

So it was with great heartbreaking sadness that I read that the track, where I spent the most amount of time and what was the landscape of my adolescent years would be torn down to make way for a new estate. It really brought home all the lessons I have preached to my students about how Singapore seems hell bent on getting rid of all things old and of value; that help people lay roots or identify with. Of course, 400 m of red synthetic rubber may not seem to have much value to many people, but it truly truly was part of my past and part of the legacy of my school.

When a reporter asked me if I wanted to be part of a story she was doing for it, I didn't think twice about it and I asked if I could bring JED with me. It wasn't just because we had no one to watch them if I didn't but I needed for them to see the track and to see where Mommy went to school and spent a great amount of time and to meet Mommy's old teachers. It became very important to me that they did.

I cannot put into words the memories and emotions I felt being on the track. Neither could I truly explain the big lump in my throat as I watched JED run the entire lap of the track and Jordan pushing herself to sprint to the end.

Soon, it won't exist and just like so many other things in Singapore that I grew up with, they will no longer be there for me to show my children and for my children to say that "I was there and my Mommy was there when she was small too."

And that, while unquantifiable, is a true waste.'s Talkative Thursdays


  1. Like too many of our fellow countrymen, I too, have suffered loss after loss of places where I made many deep and fond memories. There is no way to express the feeling of having a hollow in one's heart after what one cherishes and hopes to share with others, is simply annihilated.

    And so we continue to build our progress, as we accelerate our sacrifices.

  2. I was deeply saddened and disappointed when they announced the closure of the Macdonalds @ East Coast Road. Its like a chapter in my life forced to close indefinitely (and for many other people).

    The next one will be the Macdonalds @ King Albert Park. I know its just a fast-food joint but seeing my friends bringing their little ones for breakfast, and telling their kids that this place was where mummy and daddy first met speaks for itself. As cliche as it sounds, it will always remain a memory for us which nobody can erase. Or demolish.

  3. Growing up, my grandfather and father would bring me to all kinds of monumental places, make me stand in front of them, and take pictures. I resented it back then but now I look at the pictures and think "Wow, me at Van Kleef Aquarium. Me at Fullerton Hotel when it was still a post office. Just wow." and I strive to do the same for my kids too.

    I'm saddened too at seeing all these beautiful places that hold so many memories for us get bulldozed away, but with progress comes change, and I suppose we can't fight it. We're not a big country, so I guess we can't afford to hold on to places simply for nostalgia's sake. I don't like it, but I have learnt to accept it.

    But our memories will forever remain, and while it's really special to bring our kids to the places that meant so much to us, it's also very meaningful to be able to tell them about those places, and the memories that they represent :)