Since I was quite young, I have known how tenuous my relationship with my home country was. In my somewhat nomadic life, moving from country to country to pursue my education, I don’t think I ever felt that I truly belonged anywhere. There is a word to describe this that I learnt in an anthropology class many many years ago – “ballastless”. And from the first time I heard this word, I knew that it was my word.
Perhaps because I do not feel tied to a particular country, it explains why it is easy for me to take-off and settle-down in new places. Perhaps because I have been fed an almost all-American diet of TV programs, it explains why I have always looked upon the US as my ideal country. Like many who have found the great American dream alluring, who have gone before me.
I have struggled with my existential crisis for a long time. It used to bother me, a lot. Maybe it still does, just that I have become more accepting over time. Now, the Asia where I come from is a melting-pot of peoples and languages and cultures. We morph easily from one persona to the next, from one language to the next, from one culture to the next. The Asia where I come from is a convenient label, a matrix of latitudes and longitudes.
“You speak English?” the Americans would ask me incredulously. “You speak Chinese?” the Chinese would ask me equally incredulously.
I rest my case.