Ou Ningfei

On Being Asked for Words of Encouragement

My own reflexive gesture of standing at the foot of mount faber with a forest backdrop harks back to my own days as a recruit doing my national service. The standard army-issue green/black with sandals, a seeming blend into the natural colours behind me, signify the cultural uniformity of the identity I was a part of. The shovel/spade and the shaver are common dreaded tools NSFs like me are familiar with. What is of course most striking is the fact that I was not born in Singapore, whereas my brother was. My parents are Chinese migrants, and the video they prepared was only at the advise / instruction of army superiors, although one cannot tell whether or not they would have expressed/done the same had this option not been made available to them. The love of a father and mother is the same across all cultures and nationalities, but the complexity of navigating the layers of self-identity, the other, varied nationalities and love-language mediums is something I found precious, for both myself, my brother, and my parents.