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The Diary of Anne Ku


29 May 2000 bank holiday Monday

Although my brother is much younger than I, every time I talk to him nowadays - he sounds like my father and mother combined and multiplied ten-fold.  Since when did the youngest in the family shoulder the responsibility of ensuring that the rest of us are in line with what's expected of us?

I wrote a poem in 1995 in protest of having to figure out what I want.  Entitled WANT, it reflects my dilemma of having to decide what I want to do - after finally fulfilling what I thought was expected of me.  We spend our entire lives figuring out what other people want.   Since we seek their approval, in particular our parents' approval, we are eager to please.  Sometimes we end up doing what we think they think we think they want us to do.  The circularity of it makes this whole business of doing what's expected even more bizarre.

When I visit my non-Chinese friends with children, I see that they always ask them, "What do you want?  Which colour socks do you want to wear today?"  They patiently wait for them to answer.  I don't remember such a conversation in my childhood.  Chinese children are taught to obey.  The famous Chinese saying "if you don't hit a child, he will never be obedient" proves this point.  I was lucky enough never to have been beaten or even slapped.  Perhaps, that's why I have always been a nonconformist.  It was easier to rebel against what I think other people want than to figure out what I truly wanted.

Maybe that's why my younger brother has become the BIG BROTHER watching over me.