Ever since I started working, I haven’t had much time to touch my pens – either because I was too tired or too lazy after a long day running around looking for stories.
I picked them up again recently and realised how much I’ve missed drawing just for the fun of it.
Bunga raya (hibiscus flower), the Malaysian national flower. It comes in various shades, but the most common ones I see are in red. I like it coz the petals are soft and wide, with a long stalk in the middle. When the wind blows, they look just like pretty skirts dancing in the breeze. I showed E and he said it’s called gumamela in the Philippines, where children use the sticky sap to dip into papaya stalks as straws to blow bubbles.
It’s great to pick up a pencil and draw again. Since I was a kid, drawing has always been my first love, but I never got to pursue it professionally because my parents, like most Asian families, didn’t think much of it as a ‘career’. In high school, both my bro and I were avid manga lovers and we loved drawing comics and manga. I even sold them to my friends. But my mum, probably super frustrated that the two of us were gonna end up ‘failures’, flew into such a fit that she tore up some of our sketches. We didn’t sketch so openly at home after that.
In college, being the ‘filial’ daughter that I was, I took up journalism instead. It wasn’t my first choice, but since I liked writing.. it was better than being forced to study accountancy (which was my mum’s choice. We had a big argument about it. Yes, Western kids. You have it good that your family doesn’t dictate your life. Asian kids don’t always have that choice.) Asian parents always seem to think that accountancy, law, medicine or engineering are the ONLY jobs out there that won’t let us starve to death. Common advice – “You want happy? Happy won’t put food on table, happy won’t pay your bills. You be artist, you starve,” (I just read that in a Chinese accent)
I often wonder where I’d be now if I had taken up my original love for illustration as a career path. One of my high school friends did and I don’t think she’s very well-off now (not that I am.. but at least I can pay my bills). Her story is probably one of the reasons why my parents don’t like art. But at the same time, I wish they had believed in me enough to let me try. Who knows?