The place I call home
As they say, home is where the heart is.
AS I write this, I am sitting in an office in Rome, where I shall be working for the next week. Outside, the rain is lashing down and a strong wind is whipping at the coats of passersby and turning umbrellas inside-out. For the first time in a long time, I’m thinking of my native Scotland and feeling a little nostalgic. But not nostalgic enough to make me want to return there. You see, Scotland is a cold, wet, miserable place – even in the summer.
Nostalgia can grip your heart and mess with your head, but only if you let it. It can whisper in your ear and make you yearn for yesterday. Worse than that, it can point you entirely in the wrong direction – backwards.
Where we come from is important, as it helps shape and mould us into the people we eventually become. But sometimes we have to say goodbye to the place we call home if we want to move towards the life we want for ourselves.
After 28 years living in Penang, I consider Malaysia my home. But that hasn’t always been the case. Like the wind-whipped coats, my thoughts have sometimes been pulled in different directions.
As a single parent, I used to think I might move away from Penang after my children left home to pursue their tertiary education. But now that my son and daughter are both gone, I think otherwise.
You see, while they are both at university, one in Kuala Lumpur and the other in the United States, I want to maintain a base for them in the only house they have called home.
Perhaps my feelings will change after they finish their studies, but I don’t think so. After all, the house I live in is my home too and it has been so for more than half my life.
Now, as I look ahead, I have to acknowledge that my children have adopted a little of my own attitude towards the place they call home.
More than two years ago, shortly after my son arrived in the United States to begin his studies, he announced that he would probably stay there after graduation. It seems that his career prospects in his chosen field are much greater there than anywhere else.
Similarly, my daughter recently completed a three-month professional training stint in France and now has a joie de vivre that she feels is due entirely to her newly found appreciation of all things French.
With a Scottish mother and a Malaysian father, it’s hardly surprising that my children feel comfortable living pretty much anywhere in the world. Indeed, they have now broadened their comfort zones to the extent that they don’t see geography as a barrier to anything they want to do.
When I was young, going to university was lofty ambition for a girl in rural Scotland. Even if I’d been fortunate enough to be able to do so, attending an institution outside of Scotland would have been beyond my reach – the stuff of fantasy. At the most, I might have been able to hop across the border to England.
Today, the educational landscape has changed beyond recognition, with many parents sending their children to places of