I’ve always loved reunions. Family reunions. As a child, I would lap up every bit of the stories that my grandma and grandpa would regale at dinner. Well, that and itek sionh (my grandma’s specialty), babi pongtay, ayam buah keluak, hee pioh … During my mother’s time they only had meat once a year at Chinese New Year. We were not too far from that, but at least we had fish during the slow months before the New Year 🙂 My uncle was a deep sea fisherman and after every outing, we would get baskets full of fish, hand-carried to us by his mother. And his salted fish, divine! Not the Hugh Grant variety :p
Anyway, I digress.
A friend was talking recently about having gone to a class reunion. Primary 6 class reunion at that! Isn’t that amazing? I can count, with the fingers on one hand, the number of Primary 6 classmates that I am really in touch with. So a full class, well not all, but still more than the digits on two hands and feet, is quite a feat.
I asked a question that my friend might have found somewhat strange. I didn’t phrase it too well. I asked what the folks were doing these days. What they were working as. A question apparently quite typical of a Singaporean and second in popularity only to, “How much?”.
I didn’t make myself clear even after my friend listed off hand, what some were doing. Some were in law. Some owned their own businesses. The typical management folks (given our not so tender age), teachers, engineers, … etc… You know the drill.
While asking the question and kind of anticipating the answer, I was mulling about the rest of the not so full class turnout. The no-shows.
I wonder who shows up at such reunions. I am sure everyone wants to catch up to see how “well” the other has aged. What everyone’s been up to. How the laughter is still similar, even though the body shape and number of hair on the head has ballooned and thinned out respectively. Some could even be networking above all the other “curiosity” reasons. That’s all great. I love these catch-ups too.
But have we ever wondered, besides living overseas and work commitments, why the no shows, don’t show?
At tertiary level, we can roughly guess at the path ahead of us. So a class reunion, besides throwing up the ones who have grown more prosperous (the more physiological changes), would likely throw out white collar folks. For pre-university and secondary schooers, the outcome of where life leads, is less clear. Primary school, murky at best.
So speaking of a Primary 6 reunion made me wonder, where the no- shows were. Whether life had been kind or fate had dealt a cruel blow. And if we go by the crude measurement of success and happiness that society dictates ie: professional or white collar work, home in a good district, nice car, kids in good schools, etc… whether those without all these trappings, would show at all.
Hawkers make an honest living. So too taxi drivers. Cleaners. Housewives (as opposed to tai tais). Bus captains. Bar tenders Restaurant service staff. Gardeners (not horticulturalists). Clerks. Coffee ladies (why are they only ladies … hmmm…).. factory workers…you get my drift.
If they didn’t show, I wonder if it’s because they CMI in the way society dictates is success. Or because they themselves don’t feel comfortable in such social dos. They have a perception that those who do show might “look down on them” and not make them feel comfortable. Whether that’s in fact, the reality.
Why must reunions only be in hotels or swanky clubs? Would it make a difference if they weren’t? Would those who choose to no show, show?
I don’t know. But we tend to associate (even outside of reunions) with those of the same ilk. I wonder how that came to be? Has it always been this way? Was it my imagination? I thought we (at least the baby boomers) grew up and were friends with people of diverse backgrounds and life was the richer for it. Can’t we remember the village in the metropolis?
Is this a mole hill that I’ve just turned into a mountain? Is the divide the real reason for a no show? Or am I just reading into things that are not there? I don’t know. It’s just a hunch.