Kris and I are host parents to 4 Malaysian students at the local university. Apparently there are hundreds of Malaysian kids (yea, makes me sound old) running around. Anyway, we attended the Malaysian night this weekend, an evening of performances and Malaysian cuisine. They did a good job with soto and mamak mee I think. Though the wife found it spicy
Anyway, one of their performances was about a Malaysian boy who left for the USA for 3 years of his studies. And I have to say, for some stupid reason, that brought back a surge of memories and emotions. After all, I remember that August night, when my buddies came over for a farewell party in my honor, of how I told them "Take care of yourselves. Don't have too much fun without me. See you in 3 years." That was before residency turned into a 3 year additional fellowship. And then meeting my soulmate and deciding to settle down here. Gosh, that was 12 years ago. And though I feel blessed to have so much, there will always be a part of me that ponders the 'what ifs'. What if I had never stayed? What if I was there with my family, to be able to be a better son to my parents? A better friend to my buddies? What if, what if?
Often, I get emails from Malaysians who are thinking of emigration. And I try to tell them that as much as you think Malaysia is dysfunctional, there will always be ties within your heart, ties that will always make you yearn, and miss what you have grown up to call home. It's a home that your children, bred in a land foreign still to you, will never know. And so, despite how I've been away since 1998, there is much I miss. But it was at least fun to have had the chance lays night to have a taste of Malaysian food, and to hear so many people speak in the accent with which I am so familiar.