What makes Singapore, Singapore? And what makes Singapore home? @ Home, Truly follows Nadine, and her Gong Gong (Mandarin for "grandfather") as they relive the highs, lows, and moments in between of Singapore's journey from its beginnings as a nation till today.
Each chapter in this digital experience is illustrated by a different artist, in their own inimitable style.
This experience is presented in collaboration with The Straits Times. This is the last chapter of the story, and it explores the question of what home truly is. Read on, or click here to explore other chapters.
We hope you stay a while, and make yourself at home, truly!
There and Back Again
Hello, welcome back to the story of Nadine and Gong Gong. It’s been more than a year since they spent time together during the circuit breaker period. This time, it’s Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) for the second time.
“Gong Gong, do you feel like it’s a repeat of what happened last year?” “Hmm… Only a little. This time, I only see you at dinner.”
This chapter’s illustrations are by YT Tommy Lee, a local illustrator who creates visuals that carry a sense of quiet contemplation and explore what it means to be human, through the emotive use of colours and space.
“Gong Gong, remember you told me so many stories last year? I really liked hearing about how you met Po Po on that rainy National Day. I wish I had met her.”
“I wish she got to meet you, too. She would have loved going to parks with you! She really liked to be surrounded by nature – the sounds of birds, the smell of rain…”
“Do you miss Po Po?”
“Oh, of course, sweetheart. Every day.”
“Mum has never told me… How did Po Po die? I’ve wondered about it, but never dared to ask.”
“Well… It’s never easy to talk about these things. But I’m here for you, and will always do my best to answer your questions. Po Po died very suddenly, just after your mum and Appa got married. She suddenly collapsed one day, and passed away four days later. Till today, I’m not very sure what exactly caused it. There was bleeding in the brain.
Sometimes I don’t understand why these things happen. I wish she were here to grow old with me. I wish she were here to see you grow up. But life doesn’t always turn out the way we hope it would…”
“Gong Gong, you’re making me cry!”
“Aww, Nadine… You look just like Po Po when she cried! She hated crying! I suppose nobody likes it.”
“You mean you made Po Po cry?! Gong Gong!”
Gong Gong laughs. “Human beings tend to do that. They make other people cry sometimes. But they also make each other smile and laugh, and a whole lot else too. I always tried hard not to make her cry, though. And she did the same for me.”
How do you carry on, Gong Gong? If you died I would be so, so sad.”
“Nadine, one day, I will die. You will be very sad, it’s true. But all the things we’ve done together, and the things we share, no one can ever take that away from you. I can’t tell you what will keep you going… It’s a little bit of everything. It’s being with the people you love. It’s exploring new parks. It’s singing a new favourite song, and sometimes an old favourite song. And it’s a little bit each day. But that’s the beauty of it, it’s for you to find out, little by little.”
“Gong Gong, that’s so mysterious and doesn’t answer my question at all!!!”
“But Nadine, it’s the unexpected that makes life so beautiful sometimes. I was surprised by your question about Po Po, and even though it makes us both a little sad, it was good for us to talk about it.”
“I want to write a story about Po Po next time, so I can learn more about her and be more like her.”
“Sure, we can start now…!”
The last more-than-a-few months have been difficult for so many, and in so many different ways. We won’t list the different ways – because these words won’t do justice to what you’ve been through – but we just want to say that we feel with you, whoever and wherever you are.
Just like Nadine, we’ve been discovering that home is more than a place. It’s the people we love. Their stories nourish us. Their words give us hope. Sometimes, these people are not even close to us. Sometimes, all that connects us is that we’re human beings.
If you have a story to share, tell it to someone today. If someone wants to tell you a story, take the time to listen. May we all be home to each other in times like these (and times like always).
Thank you for being a part of this story. (And do click on the friendly Chatbird if you’d like to leave a message or share your feedback.)
The Home, Truly Team
This was Chapter Six, the final chapter of the @ Home, Truly digital experience, a companion of the exhibition Home, Truly: Growing Up with Singapore, 1950s to the Present at Exhibition Gallery 2, National Museum of Singapore (19 December 2020 to 3 October 2021). The exhibition is now available online for viewing! Click here to explore the virtual dollhouse.
@ Home, Truly is a companion to the physical exhibition, and it covers similar themes, in a different format and through different perspectives and content.
Click here to find out more about Home, Truly.