samedi, janvier 09, 2010


Many-faced Buddha Head/Vase

2 years ago, Baby Girl's teacher informed me that the Girl had the habit of going up to people telling them that they are fat or have a moustache (when they are female) or something embarrassing like that. I was therefore given the delicate task of telling the child that it was wrong to tell people that they are fat - even if they are (though actually people in question were really just nicely plump).

Faced with a situation like this, I suddenly realised that if the child is told that it wouldn't do to tell people that they are fat (when they are obviously not thin), she would also be taught that being fat is not good. We are therefore putting a value to the word "fat" which up till then simply meant round to her. What should I do?

I have been fat almost all my life. My own mom refers to me as "Fat Girl" (feimui) when she was talking about me to other people. But lovingly, of course. I wasn't born to be a model and I don't think most of you are anyway. We all know that being fat means that the boys shun you when you're at school (e.g. one guy at University told me that I shouldn't share his bench or it may break), that you look like a dumpling in your school uniform which is blue and has a very white belt, and you don't quite like going to the pool or beach or gym - when you really do need the exercise.

But how many times have I looked at a plump person and told myself that she looked beautiful the way she was, that I prefer a woman with curves than angles, that like Caesar let me have around me men who are not thin...Should I tell my girl that fat is not good?

Of course we know that the problem with being fat is that it carries with it health risks. But will a little girl understand that? What if she only picked up half of it and turns into a diet freak as an adult? Of course we understand that being told that one is fat hurts, but if you know that the child really just means it literally and nothing else? How many times has Baby Girl told me that I am beautiful - but we all know that it's not true, she's just looking at me through the eyes of a girl who loves her mummy (haha).

It is also fashionable nowadays not to mention that you are a housewife - but a Home Engineer or some other fancy thing in the same vein. Housewiving is definitely important, but certainly not glamourous. It is just a necessary job and a choice for many. The day we all have to do a BSc in Home Economics to stay at home to sew and cook, we may start getting State pension for being housewives. So why is a housewife no longer called a housewife?

And why are we living in a country that is officially Catholic and not be able to celebrate Christmas at school? Because it is not politically correct. We choose to be colour-blind when we should be seeing all the colours. In order not to offend others, we have to efface ourselves, be neutral. The thing I like about Singapore is that we actually have the main religious festivals as public holidays and everyone celebrates everybody's festival - any excuse to eat and shop is a good one. When I was back home, I celebrated every single festival from Hari Raya (you would see me at the Geylang Serai market and eating away at Mak's house) to Deepavali (thank you Indian friends, neighbours, colleagues for your sweets) to Chinese New Year and Christmas (sweets from Catholic neighbour, roast turkey at friends' house...). Living is knowing. Knowing is understanding. And understanding is perhaps the first step towards acceptance.

I studied in a Methodist school when I wasn't Christian and a number of my classmates were - Muslim. And they sang Christmas carols with us - and remained Muslim. And how many Chinese wedding banquets will have at least a Halal table? And how many halal food courts have now sprung up around the island cooking up truly Singaporean favourites from Chicken Rice to Fishball Noodles to Yong Tau Foo? That was how it was : first we co-exist, then we start to share. Or was it the other way round? And we can still share and co-exist while doing our own thing. Am I making sense?

I gave (what I thought was) a lovely head of a Buddha (from an art gallery) to my SIL for Christmas and she said that she didn't like religious artifacts, prefering a hundred-euro check instead. Is my beautiful vase art or religion? Is money not a religion too?

Now you know why I stay at home, cook, eat and talk to myself blog. I do not know how to be politically correct. We somehow didn't learn that when I was still at political school.

10 commentaires:

sraikh a dit…

Right, we celebrated everything? I remember lining up first at RC party for the Mooncake festival with my silly lantern.

My Chinese and Muslim friends all came over for chole bhature on Diwali..

This is why, I have a tree in my house and Santa comes and gives presents to my kids. And why we do Halloween.

SIL turned down Buddha? Dude thats like 100 years of bad luck or something.

Anonyme a dit…

Hear hear! I really like this line:
"We choose to be colour-blind when we should be seeing all the colours."

Am putting your post on my tweet. You understand stuff that even Prime Ministers don't.

One Wheel a dit…

oh pity the buddha gift was turned down, definitely worth more for those who appreciate art.

Beau Lotus a dit…

I keep looking at the buddha head and it is very serene. I feel good looking at it, I'm glad she didn't want it, now I have it for me.

Pris a dit…

Hey S.! I´ve been thinking of this post and thought of sharing my thoughts on this too.

I actually do believe that the Buddha head is not just "art", but a "religious" and more so "spiritual" artefact.

Its like hanging a cross with Jesus on it and calling it "Art". But the cross is still where Jesus died and a symbol of how He died for humanity.

Or saying that the Bible is just a "book" with no religious truths in it. But the truths (for those who believe in it) are life-changing truths for these people.

Likewise, the Buddha head stems from Buddhism and it is a symbol that is tied in with the religion.

I used to think that Buddhism wasn´t a religion and just a way of life, hence Buddhist artefacts were supposed to be just "art".

This was until a friend of mine told me about her encounter with "buddhism". She was cleaning the house of one of her employers and saw a huge Buddha statue in the bedroom. Being a Christian, she prayed for this family on her own and blessed them in Jesus Name.

That night she got woken up by a terrible "nightmare", but it was so real that she knew that it wasn´t just something "coincidental".

In that dream, she was "warned" by "Buddha" not to ever have any contact with that person (whom she prayed for), because she was threading into "forbidden territory". That´s when she knew that Buddhism IS a religion and a harmless Buddha statue was more than just art.

Yeah, it might sound far-fetched for you or anybody else reading this. It wasn´t all that easy for me to believe it either. However, I trust my friend and know that she wouldn´t joke or lie about something like this.

I´m Singaporean too so I´m all for cross-cultural and multi-religious holidays where we get to celebrate together. However, I wouldn´t throw caution in the wind regarding any "religious" artefacts or art, especially those I place in my house.

Beau Lotus a dit…

Pris, I suppose you could be right. I am drawn to this Buddha head, it makes me feel good; whereas those Christian paintings and artifacts I see in museums or churches usually scare me.

SIL doesn't believe in any religion. And I guess she doesn't want to be reminded of any of them either. Hub's family is very secular.

By the way, why was your friend praying or blessing people when they didn't ask her to do so? Isn't that kind of intrusive?

Pris a dit…

Hey S.! Yeah, I can imagine that Christian paintings aren´t exactly "bright and cheery" esp. those you see in museums.

I don´t know exactly why my fren was praying for them. I would think she just wanted to bless them.

I usually pray for my students before class begin, just that we would have a good class, great conversation etc. So its kinna normal to pray for our employers too when we work.

Actually its written in the Bible to pray for our country, the government, our employers, colleagues etc....basically our sphere of influence. And as far as I know nothing bad has ever come out of that.

Beau Lotus a dit…

Hi Pris, I guess it's one's right to pray, bless etc except you see what happened to your friend. Is she still working for them?

Yes, the Chrisian paintings in museums tend to be quite morbid. I was also thinking that the Buddhist statues in temples usually scare me too, but the one at home doesn't. So maybe the location does matter in a way - and how you look at/use it, it could also be psychological.

Anyway, most buddhist sculptures etc have to be "activated" before they can become religious. Otherwise they are just empty shells even to Buddhists.

Pris a dit…

Hey S.

Yeah, most of the time prayer works wonders. Sometimes, its plain difficult, like when we´re supposed to pray for our "enemies" and "bless" them. Definitely not smth for the faint-hearted.

My friend only worked that one day for this employer. It was her "probation" day, but she didn´t get the job. Its better that way too, cos the employer wasn´t nice to her either - Maybe that´s why she was praying for her employer! hah. She´s found herself another job in the meantime.

I agree that Buddhist sculptures have to be "activated" before becoming religious. However, I ask myself whether during the manufacturing process, if that "activation" has already took place.

I know my friend´s father who owns a peranakan restaurant in Singapore. He said that in his decision not to make his restaurant "halal", he has chosen to limit his customers a lot.

And I thought, but its only a sign that says you don´t use pork right? And he said, nope. Apparently they get the priest from the Mosque / Islam heads to go to your kitchen, pray over it and fulfill a number of Islamic procedures.

Since my friend´s Dad was a Christian, he didn´t want his kitchen to become "Islam" so he decided to live without the "halal" sign instead.

Yeah, I guess what I´m saying is, I think sometimes things aren´t as black and white as they appear to be.

SIG a dit…

Very interesting post. What I want to know is, did you talk to her about the 'fat' issue in the end? Well, you didn't have to emphasize on the 'fat' part, but rather try to get her to see that it's not nice to go up to people and comment on them. I too have the fatty issues with my very insensitive dad on my not fat daughter as I have blogged about before.