(un) Wanted Inheritance: A Malaysian Alien Column #8

Leap Victo Ngai

Inheritance. It raises up so many questions, like what did I get left with, and what didn’t I get? I find it strange to trace the things I’ve inherited from my Mum across my face and body. I can see the way she pulls her lips from her teeth when she smiles, in my smile. I can see her cold eyes reflected in mine when I am not happy about something. I can see the how we’re both heavy in our hips and strong in our legs, but with tiny wrists and and humble hands.

What about inheriting a way of thinking? I know I definitely have, I’ve inherited thinking that art is a hobby not a job, and that making money and achieving titles is a marker of success. I’ve inherited thinking that certain things are ‘Right’ and certain things are ‘Wrong’.

I’ve also heard so many parents say that they did not do a certain thing, or they neglected to reach for a dream, just to give their children a stable life and childhood. But is being a withering martyr a good role model? Wouldn’t it be better to show through example that you should be brave and dream big? If you had the opportunity, wouldn’t you prefer to show your child that s/he has the potential to do what they want in the world. And that their voices and choices are worth something, so pursue them. And if they are worth that, surely you’re worth that too.

I can only say these things because I did have a stable life and childhood, maybe I’d be singing a different tune if my mother had decided to chase her fame on a stage somewhere. However, this post captures what I’m thinking perfectly. A woman’s struggle to step out of the ‘safe’ and do the thing that makes her blood pump.



Image copywright: Victo Ngai


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