Halfie-High Fives

I was never very good at maths. At school I was in tenth in my class (out of twelve), and at one point drove my brother to such frustration with my multiplication tables that he broke his own glasses. Yup, his own glasses. And he’s *very* shortsighted. My maths is so bad it made my brother metaphorically gouge his eyes out (p.s. 6 x 4 = 24, not 48).

Now, I may not be fortunate in my mathematical ability but one thing I do feel lucky in having is what I consider an extremely awesome heritage. My father was born in the small town of Cranbrook in the South East of England, growing up on a childhood of scones, fish and chips, and Earl Grey. My mother, born some 6,000 miles away in the hot, humid climes of Singapore had teatimes of char siew baos, fish head curry, and Jasmine tea. They were without doubt worlds away. And yet, despite the vastness of the ocean and the even vaster cultural differences that seemingly lay between them, my mother ended up in the arms of my father after a transatlantic pursuit, and a hell of a lot of roses.

So, after said horticultural bombardment, my parents produced three half-english, half-singaporean boys. Schooldays spent in England, holidays in Singapore. “Halfies” in all senses, and proud.

Someone once asked me why I mentioned it with such pride in front of those who asked about my heritage (and those who didn’t) and why I always felt the need to give out my patented ”halfie-high-fives” when I met a fellow mixed-race compatriot. Aside from a lot of the time it being a decent enough conversation-filler, being a halfie benefits you muchly in your world-perspective. A better appreciation for the differences and the similarities between whichever cultures your father’s family and your mother’s family are from, and wider acceptance for beliefs and decisions different from your own. Family values, personal vs parental ambition, relationships, and tolerance of others – these are all things which having two different cultures to learn from provides a fantastic reference-book which you can take into the world. The background I’ve been given helped me grow up with a wider world-view, and an understanding (most of the time) of the difference choices people might make.

Now, for all those with pitchforks up and fire’s lit at my referral to my brothers and I as halfies, hang back a second. I know a lot of people see it as a derogatory term, figuring it describes you as half a person, an inbred with only half the capacity of your regular (whole) human. Well that’s obviously not the case. Being a “halfie” actually presents you with the exact opposite of what it says. Being called a “halfie” is very much a misnomer. Like how a koala bear isn’t actually a bear, and a peanut isn’t actually a nut. In the same way, being called a halfie doesn’t mean you’re only half a person.

In short, next time I say I’m a halfie, I am actually saying I’m a whole.

Told you I was never good at maths.


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