Homesickness is a natural affliction even among those of us who have semi-migrated (as in we’re not sure if we want to remain away for too long, and yet have accepted that we won’t be going back anytime soon).

Aside from the occasional yearning for the familiar, most of which has to do with the food, there is also a keen sense of not being part of what has defined me for so long: my nationality as a Malaysian.

15 months after leaving home, I find that I have become more patriotic, in that I now care a great deal more about what is happening in my country.

Before, I had been too busy living my life; getting married, popping babies, playing video games. Now, when I am not at home, when I have more time to read and reflect, when I have the chance to see how other people live in a whole other country, certain issues come into perspective and it is as though someone has given you glasses or one of those newfangled Lasik procedure thingies.

Even though I was a writer back home, the field I was in (technology) did not give me a lot of opportunities to write about Important Stuff. Sure, I read the papers and knew all the right people but it was also because I never truly cared about much of anything else except the next Bioware/Wizards of the Coast RPG because I’d always thought that nothing I could write or say would ever make a dent in what was wrong with our country or in fact, the world at large.

Which may be why you rarely see me comment on anything serious unless it really ticks me off.  

There will always be greed. There will always be corruption. There will always be the same asshole who tries to take your place in line or your livelihood or fool around with your wife/husband. Until the Vulcans make up their minds to descend upon us and make first contact (or until Samy Vellu imposes another toll hike), we will always be divided by these petty issues. My philosophy in a nutshell.

All that has changed.

This is what having children does to you, sad to say, especially for those of us who can’t be moved to care for those not related by blood (or boon). It makes you want to control and predict everything.

We relocated here for very practical reasons: money and opportunities. We had the chance and we took it.

My girls are pure Malaysian Chinese but even as I am writing this, they are rapidly losing their identities. Rae speaks only English with a strong American accent, and Sky will probably not learn Chinese nor Manglish. They love their adopted country and already possess significantly Western palates (sandwiches for lunch, not economy rice; pasta for dinner, not hokkien mee).

Everything seems to be pointing us in the direction of never going home. As such, why do I still want to stick my nose in the affairs of a country I may not call home again in many more years?

It’s homesickness.

It’s patriotism.

It’s the damn food, I tell ya.

What keeps me up at night these days are things I read on Malaysiakini and other prominent political blogs.

Like last night, when I read how our Tourism Minister called me a liar.

And how two of said prominent bloggers are being hauled to court because some people high up have been embarassed and now want blood.

And how scandal has been allowed to fester because of high-level cover-up.

And how important books are being banned, while penis origami literature is being hawked for all to see at shopping malls.

And how buildings of heritage are being torn down for big business.

What is wrong with Malaysia? What do we need for our country to survive the 21st century or risk disintegrating into a civilisation lost to corruption, complacency and apathy?

What will it take for us to make it?

We already know the answer:

We need to raise literacy levels.

We are in critical need of a proper education system.

We need real democracy.

We need integrity in our leadership.

We need integrity, period.

We need equality.

We need financial wisdom.

We need change.

 

Come this August, Malaysia will be independent from British rule 50 years.

Will we have to wait another 50 years for real change?