All stories are imperfect: are translations, transcriptions, transliterations.
Today, I want to talk about @ahma_says, the "micro" facet to these Singapore-projects of mine.
Struck last year by a terrible sense of the Future, I started @ahma_says quietly as a future-archive of my grandmother: of all her stories (which she repeats ad nauseum), but also of her everyday moments.
If things indeed stay online forever, I guess I'm seeking some semblance of immortality for this matriarch who raised me, and is now growing older (cutely, painfully, anguishingly) everyday.
Over the past few days, for a variety of complicated familial reasons, I've found myself spending more time with Ahma. I've also been reflecting on these stories I've put down.
And it came down to this - they are all unreal.
Unreal because she only speaks truly in the Teochew. Ahma is illiterate. To show an accessible, understandable moment, I've had to translate, mediate, interpret her words into English. Words, meanings, connotations, nuances get redirected, rerouted and utterly lost sometimes.
Unreal because it is spliced, re-woven. To tell a neat Instagram-able story, I've had to edit, curate, truncate. There is no 'full story' because that idea is oxymoronic. All stories are sewn up, structured, silenced somewhere.
On some level, the Ahma you know doesn't exist. On some level, the Ahma *I think* I know* is indescribably alien, even to myself.
After all, consider: she was born in 1937, at least 2 generations and 5 countries away (China, Malaya, Malaysia, colonial Singapore, independent Singapore).
There are provinces of her past that have long sunk into the gilded oceans of memory, resurfacing only rarely. There are pieces of her self slowly oxidizing, and flaking away.
Ahma flickers, swells, shrinks, changes. Like all of us, like these myriad Singapores we inhabit, she is unknown and unknowable.
And so, a brief reminder about all Singapore stories, even the Real Ones: that they are mere translations, transcriptions, transliterations of reality.
Every year after popo passed away i would help mama select the flowers for the florist to arrange to place at her tomb. This year i decided to select and arrange it myself. Hope popo will like it :D. On a side note wont be able to do the same for ah ma cuz the columbarium place will juz throw them away after we leave. Thus will get her real flowers everytime i visit her :D
Cannot wait to celebrate these two beautiful souls in March. As incredibly sad as it has been to lose Ama and Gong Gong so quickly and so close in time to one another, it's been amazing to see how it has brought our family closer together. We all now hold the torch, the responsibility of preserving and passing on the stories, the journeys, the recipes, the traditions of our family. I wish that I had had more time with my Hom grandparents. I was younger, only 21 when my Yeye died, my dad's dad. Self-involved and less inclined to truly understand the finite nature of the precious time with my elders and the utter importance of soaking up every bit of wisdom from them. One of my biggest regrets is not learning the family recipes from my Ying Ying, my dad's mom. So many traditional and memorable recipes died with them, foods I've never quite seen elsewhere. Death has a way of connecting us to one another. It's a universal experience that brings us to a place of sameness, compassion, empathy in the grief and sorrow of losing someone and the beauty and memories of their life well-lived. Grateful to have been led into this world by the brave creatures who are no longer with us. They undeniably paved the way for us to have the lives we inhabit today. Thank you, Ama, Gong Gong, Yeye, and Ying Ying, we love and miss you so much.❤
3 3914 January, 2020
Happy 93rd Birthday to the most badass Grandma there is! 😎🎊🎂 💝Thank you for all of the sacrifices you have done for us throughout the years. We are beyond blessed to get the opportunity to spend another birthday with you. 🙏🏼 Thank you for your love, strength, encouragement, advice and perpetual prayers❣️Te quiero mucho, abuelita! 😘 #grandma#ahma#birthdayvibes#Godisgood
Weekend wit my loved ones 🥰 my bb jus started N1 childcare tis yr Jan.. after first 3 half days in school, he started full day in sch for another 3 days then he fell sick on fri wif flu and slight feverish...so he nv went sch on fri..thkful for mil help to take care bb 🙏although alot ppl told me is inevitable to fall sick when go childcare but still v heart ache to see him sick. But thankfully, he is slightly better, and we are still monitoring his temperature every now and then. Speedy recovery my baobei 🙏Get well soon @maori_85 #motorshow#ahgong#ahma#舅舅#kysongoh#arcadegames
No mutta mikäs pariskunta se siinä on? Matti ja Julia ahmat esittäytyvät vielä viimeisellä opastuksella loppiaisena. Tule seuraamaan ahmojen leikkiä ja kujeilua! Opastusaikataulut: ahtarizoo.fi/vuodenvaihde
Ahma kulkee hyppien tai laukaten ja osaa myös kiivetä puuhun.
Sen voimakas purenta murtaa suurenkin luun ja uppoaa myös jäätyneeseen lihaan. Ahman ruokalistalle kuuluvat muun muassa porot ja muut keskikokoiset hirvieläimet, jänikset, jyrsijät, linnut ja sammakot. Ahma on kuitenkin kömpelönä saalistajana pääsääntöisesti raadonsyöjä, ja sitä on elintapojensa johdosta kutsuttu myös ”arktisten alueiden hyeenaksi”. Sinä voit nyt seurata ahman elämää suorassa lähetyksessä osoitteessa luontolive.wwf.fi. Linkki myös biossa.
Tavoitteenamme on tehdä ahmaa tutummaksi ihmisille ja muistuttaa, että yhteiselo niin sen kuin muidenkin suurpetojen kanssa on mahdollista 💚 #luontolive#lajifakta#ahma#uhanalainen#luonnonsuojelu#luonto#wwfsuomi
3 1,6556 September, 2018
Wolverine climbing up a tree