It was November 2013. I was still a day away from the shores of Singapore, the OBS sailboat was slithering into a marina in Batam for the night. In the foggy distance, I saw a deafening sight.
Four days on the high seas (no actually it’s just the Indonesia archipelago) had passed. I’ve been stuck on a boat with 14 other people, all suffering from varying degrees of sea-sickness, all hungry, tired and sick of a week of poorly self-cooked food, cold nights and bugs.
In the horizon was an extremely distant strip of greyness. There were vague silhouettes of vertical lines strutting upwards like stubbles on an unshaven chin. But it was unmistakable. It was the Southern coast of Singapore, just over 20 kilometers away. We could faintly make out the outlines of the city, MBS and the Flyer, but only if one squinted long enough.
The entire boat was silent. Everyone was quietly staring and enraptured.
This moment is sacred to me.
When I think of the word “patriotism”, I think of that moment. It was a moment that screams out “homesickness”. Homesickness in its greatest, most visceral degree and at its most indelible forcefulness.
The idea of country or state makes little sense to me. No it was hardly a patriotic pride I felt for my country at that moment. It was rather an intense, almost bestial-like longing for nothing but home and all that it represented. No corny national day song, no patriotic call can ever match up to, or capture that intense emotion.
Call it love, call it patriotism, call it being a Gen-Y spoilt child separated from the comforts of high human development.
I guess we all take many things for granted. That’s unavoidable I guess.