“I’m a mix of four different races – Javanese, Chinese, Japanese and Dutch. My dad is Javanese-Chinese, while my mom is Japanese-Chinese with a bit of Dutch in her. It’s really complicated; we didn’t know of our Dutch relations until we met a distant relative.
Growing up, I wasn’t sure where I belonged; I was half here, half there. My family converses in Mandarin at home, but I spoke mostly Malay because it was my mother tongue and I had lots of Malay friends in primary school. In poly, I spoke more Mandarin because my badminton coach was Chinese, and so were most of my friends.
I’m also Muslim, but I grew up in a liberal household, so it was a bit hard meeting up with my Muslim relatives. I grew up eating vegetarian Chinese food, but they grew up eating nasi lemak and belacan. I grew up eating with pair of chopsticks, but they grew up eating with their hands. They would pray as a family, but I didn’t.
There were many times when I felt left out, and it came to a point where I was asking myself if I was really Muslim; was I practising what I preached? It was only when I met my fiancé that I slowly indulged in the Malay culture and learnt more about the religion.
The first time he met me, I was hard-headed. Before I was with him, I dated Chinese guys who were very liberal, so I could never imagine myself wearing the hijab and covering up. I was reluctant to study the religion, but he taught me about its history and slowly opened me up to it. It takes time, but when you love someone, you try your best for them.” – Annalynna, 22
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