I had the opportunity to watch my seven year old cousin’s dance recital at her dance school, TFA. I was thinking about skipping it, but since my mum and grandma were going, and I was going to be in the area earlier in the day, I decided to hang around.
Karma hit me like a brick the instant I stepped in. You see, this was the same institution where I was learning how to play the flute till I was twelve. And coming back (albeit to their new premises) after twelve long years, in which I had written my three major Singaporean exams and done my national service, I truly felt dizzy. But I swallowed it. I’m a stranger now, no one recognises me anymore.
Ah, but not really. I saw several familiar faces, several older staff. Remember the brick that hit me when I stepped in? Let me describe it.
There was this girl, AP, who I met in my university, whom I had a chance to perform with in February. She was chatting with her friend beside the door to the show’s room, and I struck up an awkward conversation with her. Explaining my crush on her is a story for another day, but my guess is that she guessed I liked her, so…
Anyway, I had started talking to her and her friend noticed the spark. And out of the door comes my cousin’s dance class. And my cousin too. And my aunt, running after her. I tried to introduce my cousin to AP, but she ignores me and walks on, engrossed and excited along with her classmates. This is where my erstwhile aunt grabs me by my sleeve and drags me away from AP (to help take a photograph). I didn’t even have a chance to say bye to her. My aunt does do that from time to time, but in that situation it was very embarrassing for me.
Brick having hit me, I slowly went into the performance room and sat beside my grandma. Dance recital 1, 2, 3 (my cousin’s). And then a FLUTE RECITAL.
All the reasons why I quit in September 2005 came back to me as I sat there. The favoritism, the racism towards my clan, my family’s finances and health back then. It was too much for me. I stood up and waited at the back. Lo and behold, the student’s teacher – my ex teacher – comes up and stands beside me.
I turn to say hi. He said hi. And I thought that was that. Fast forward to the end of the show, I had come out of the show room, and my flute teacher is reentering the room. I didn’t notice that right behind me were his students who had performed. So when I greeted him to start a conversation, he totally ignored me and went to greet his current students. It was a truly embarrassing moment.
I walked back to the area outside where there was a mini-carnival and there were food stalls and seats. My aunt and uncle were buying foodstuffs and sweets and I just sat there. My mum and aunt saw me shaken but they kept quiet. My uncle, who married my aunt in the 12 years preceding, was concerned and kept asking if I was alright but I kept saying yes, I was just tired, and stuff like that.
My folks and my mum wanted to stay on longer to watch another dance recital. My grandmother was feeling tired, so I called my dad to pick the two of us up after his work ended. As we were leaving, I confessed to my grandma that ‘my school friend’ (AP) was dancing in the second recital and I felt awkward about staying on. She chided me and suddenly wanted to stay on too, presumably to size her up?! But I reminded her that my dad was on the way.
That day was truly an emotional waterslide for me – it began on the high of my other event, and slid downwards very quickly afterwards. It’s a reminder to me, that there is a God (or at the very minimum some higher power) that has mandated that I go through this.