Humanism – Racism
 
Touch Down
On one gliding breath
An Asian baby
Touches Australian ground
Is nested in loving arms
Who does the baby
belong to?
Is it to her parents
living in Malaysia
With four children already born
Or is it to her adoptive family
A pride of many
Whose branches will spread far
Or does she belong to her
Younger sister and brother who
In childhood were brought to a
Strange country like herself ?
 
Primary School
"Twit and twot"
The jeers fly fast
At primary school these girls also
Perform antics to win a few hot chips.
My greasy bundle is
Hard-earned
With a parent’s note
Permitting me to visit the shop
Near school
 
High School
In First year at High School
Mum suggested to me that
I leave my glasses at home.
Short-sighted, I ask the girl beside me
If I can copy her notes from
The blackboard
"Don’t worry about appearances,"
She says,
"See that other girl,
She’s wearing glasses."
On my nose the glasses end up
Making no difference.
Louise with golden hair likes me
She’s studious and independent
The same as me and
In time we drift our own ways
Anne can’t think for herself
She turns sour, her ‘friendship’ clotting
And sticking to a honeyed trap
For flies
The cool girls fight it out
While in their shadows
I wait
Biding my time to take
The boxing ring.
 
Fourteen
In Singapore
My real brother begins
A teaching course
My real sisters, other brother, parents
Are working
I wonder where my real
Younger siblings are.
The mob here is amoeba like
As children are born
Parts of me are split off and
Hate in me is born
When one day in town
A woman is motherly until she
Shoves me aside
Saying, "Get out of the way,
You Asian tart."
 
I still have dreams
Of school children, university
students and adults
Merciless with their taunting,
Of girls younger than me laughing,
"What did she say, get the Japs? and
They’re here to buy the library."
The followers, like curs at
Their Leader’s heels
Are always there and defence
Like a dagger
Was always in my heart
 
I still have a desire to get rid of
The graffiti,
"Asians Out"
When some of my friends said
"You’ll never get rid of it,
It’s the same everywhere"
I wondered if they were really
Trying their best to help me.
I am looking not for placation
But for answers to discrimination
And unkindness everywhere
 
I remember once when
A ten year old at the beach
Said softly to me
"Why don’t you Asian people go Home?"
I love the beach,
The sand, the sea, the moon
Here and far over the water too
Standing where the moon’s silver
Floods thousands of perfectly formed Grains
I feel trapped between
Two worlds
 
Sixteen
In the school photo I look
Hardened, arms folded
Head on one side
The look on my face
Is shrewd, unhappy, enclosed,
Unfriendly,
Deadly serious.
 
At seventeen the students are so busy
They forget to make fun of me
Before final exams,
The girl on the fringes
Turns into my defender
Suddenly at seventeen
With a future ahead
She is against the jeering boys.
 
The Future
Once while I am going on an outing
A stranger says, "I wonder if she can see over the steering wheel?"
"Of course I can," I answer the girl Loudly,
"Otherwise I wouldn’t be driving."
She looks embarrassed.
My father advises me to
Ignore people like that
But I look at him doubtfully
 
My new friend at work tells me
"People like that are in-secure.
She says "People make fun of me
Because I’m slim and they are jealous
They call me skinny."
I take her advice not to worry
About them
But when in town at night
I’m handed a sticker
‘Stop the Asian Invasion’
I think about learning a martial art
 
A New Beginning
I find a new beginning
When the yells from cars
And abuse given out from people
In boats while I am sitting
By the river side,
Being run off the road
By kids on bikes while
I am on walks in my neighbourhood,
The remarks of "there goes chop suey"
By a stranger at a friend’s party
And ‘aren’t they well fed"
In times of recession,
No longer anger me.
It is because I realise that
Even though I am as Australian
As I’ll ever be
I will always be treated
By someone as ‘Asian’
because I ‘look Asian’.
Only when I accepted this did
The threat to my inner security subside
 
Strange would be supporters often
Say to me impersonally
"Isn’t it sad that you’ve lost
Your heritage,
Been ‘transplanted’ from Asia to Australia?"
No-one asks -
"How do you feel about being
Brought up between
Two different worlds?
 
Yet along my unique rocky path
There has been and still are
Lights burning
They are the love of my
Adoptive parents
The bond between my sisters and I
And my Spiritual Self

I have dreams of visiting China
I have dreams of people
Living in harmony.
I believe that pride and confidence
Come in truly knowing oneself.
I know I have Chinese genes
And that I am adopted.
But I am not a foundling
Rather, I believe that I am
a child of God.
I also know there is a lot more to Discover
Yet , already my life has taught
Me much
About humanism and racism.
 
 
Written at age twenty one
 
© Lai Chew Yarn
( Autumn Swallow )
 
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