We didn’t start the fire

When I was a kid, I was very close with a Malay girl living right next door. Her parents were approving of our friendship and told her, you see your Chinese neighbour learned to speak Malay, shouldn’t you also be learning to speak Chinese?

Much, much later on, I learnt from my parents that my childhood playmate’s parents were in fact shunned and harassed by the other Malay neighbours for being “too liberal” and “not religious enough”. (They moved away after a few years.)

Some things never really changed.