The place I call home

As they say, home is where the heart is.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIFESTYLE -

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

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