To the mother at the playground, I wish to say…

I have slightly long hair for a guy; it runs down the temporal of my face and it’s coloured. I look hooligan-ish, and it’s so 90s. I know I look like a big time gangster, because of my wrinkles on my sharp face that’s full of freckles.I am dressed in a plain T-shirt and a pair of bermudas. I look nothing like a normal, useless HDB guy as described by Heather Chua. My kid speaks to me in Mandarin, and I converse with him the same. We are just the perfect example of “Chinese-speaking” family that achieves nothing in modern Singapore. My kid speaks in pieces, and not in sentences. He doesn’t know how to complete a sentence of expressions, neither does he know how to speak to people he doesn’t know.

That’s what you saw before you instructed your daughter to “stay away from them” at the playground. I totally understand. But, here’s what you did not see:

I am self-employed. I own my work time; I am my own boss. The fact that I was there at that time, on a weekday, speaks quite a lot on the flexibility of my job. I may not be achieving anything right now. But when I do – I’m sure I’ll be if I persevere to make things happen – I’ll gain more than what you would from your 1/10000 chance every 3 times a week, 1/8,145,060 every twice a week, and the 1/3200,000 once every month. My hair was in a mess, but that doesn’t mean I don’t style it when I am supposed to be “professional”. I look hooligan-ish, but that’s just how I was born with. My hair….well, falls into place everytime when there is no gel to put it nice.

Yes, I will not pull back my punches in the face of threat. But that doesn’t mean I’ll throw punches at every sight of dislike.

I look like a gangster, and that’s what is protecting me from unnecessary troubles. I have wrinkles and freckles on my face, and yes, those bastards are ugly. I hate them too. But do you know, that those wrinkles and freckles came when I was spending two years training to protect condescending people like you, so that you can sleep peacefully every night? It did not end after two years, in case you do not know. Every year, it is still the responsibility of my buddies and I to put on our green uniforms, and protect the coastal line through labour-intensive constructions day and night. These are the coastal lines that you never thought exist in Singapore. We do that every year, so that you and your expensive daughter can walk with your heads high, and judge people without worrying if there’ll be anyone shooting you in your flat chest.

Let me share a secret with you, Madam Dog Eyes. Guys whom served the nation, maybe, just maybe, including your husband, are not total English speakers. We cuss, and we swear. We use dialects, and languages that you can never imagine to your worst horror, whenever we are in green, or blue or grey. I speak with my CO in hokkien, and disgustingly, we never completed a sentence without using dialect terms that describe your pussy or our dicks. But that’s how things are. We are men

We don’t fire our rifles going “Oh God bless the recipient of this holy bullet. May the flow of your blood following this evil bullet bring you peace.”


Because we need to de-sensitise ourselves in the face of life and death.

That’s why I look like a gangster that irked you. I’m not going to apologise for your fashion sense.

I was dressed in plain t-shirt and bermuda. Just because it’s friggin 32 degrees celsius, and the humidity level was standing at 63%. I’ll be god-damn as idiotic as you if I were to be in shirts and pants. God ain’t fixing air-con for tropical Singapore, and if you have the privilege to experience perspiring days and nights in a field with no trees and shades, you’ll appreciate the invention of light clothings and bikinis.

My kid speaks to me in Mandarin, because I believe that schools will teach him English. Fact is, being the “official language” of Singapore, English language is that last thing that I will be worried about. I’ll worry more if he loses his roots as a Chinese. I can forsake the public opinion, but I can’t forsake our roots. Let’s agree to disagree.

One thing you failed to impart to your princess is, many millionaire bosses – I know a few personally – are Mandarin speaking, and they are the typical old group of Chinese that couldn’t complete a perfect sentence in English, and the articulate, educated ones are working for them.

My kid speaks in pieces; I don’t deny that. But I have you know, if I can, that he hasn’t entered any nursery school nor has he gone through any form of formal teaching. We did not teach him either. Well, he learnt his pieces through his exceptional sense of observation, and incorporated what he learnt from observing into what he tries to convey. Yes, he may not speak perfectly, but he knows exactly what are the crucial words he has to use to bring across what he wants to say. All without formal education. I can’t imagine what would be like if he was to start schooling. Perhaps he’ll put your spent dollars and your “precious princess” to shame.

After all, he’s only two years old.

We may not be the perfect example that you wished to let your daughter interact with at the playground. But my uneducated two year old knows how to play safely by choosing the right slide to play with, while your educated girl was doing rock climbing and jumping from high ground before you came from nowhere, into the shade and shouted, “Stay away from them”.

If God was real, I’ll pray to him that you, not your daughter, will learn to see others from a different perspective, and impart the right moral to her one day.

Because if you were to one day see yourself in the midst of chaos in this peaceful country that everyone is complacent with, this gangster looking uncle who looks like he is not going to achieve anything in his life will be the first dirty, sweaty and smelly soldier who’ll be protecting your daughter whom you once warned her to stay away from, with his not-so-trusty SAR21.


Andy Lawson is the average man on the street that you’ll not even trouble yourself looking at him if he passes by you. He’s sensitive to bullshit, and he hates mediocrity in most people. He is the author of his self-published book: Facts and Fiction of Fengshui: Facts that Masters are NOT Telling You. He doesn’t have Facebook or Twitter, because he hates to be associated with people who tend to be passive-aggressive online, but he does have a very limited set of vocabularies, terrible grammar, a twisted mind that makes himself God in his own twisted world and an ability to communicate with people who wish to be his friend.


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