Dear readers, I make it a point to share my ups and downs with you through this humble blog. And today my friends, is a monumental moment in my life. If any Christians are offended by the title of my entry, I am deeply sorry. My experiences on Vasantham speaking about blogging has taught me not to hurt anyone’s feelings so please cover your eyes and get the hell (oops) out of here.
To the rest of you, today I became a Singaporean again. As many of you might already know, I am probably the most careless person to exist on the face of this earth. In the last year, I have lost my wallet 5 times, my ez link card twice, my NUS card thrice, my ATM card four times and my mind a million times. The point is, I am careless. Its a wonder I make it home without leaving my clothes at school. Reminds me of a time when I was 8 and left my schoolbag on the school bus. I never stopped to think why my back felt so light with no trolley bag lodged against it. Yes, trolley bags were in fashion at that time. My school even had their own “St Margarets” bag. But my mother being the fashionista she is insists we buy a cheaper trolley bag sold outside. It was cheap and a tad cooler but the trolley handle, I swear felt like 15 kg. It was pure metal or at least felt like it to a 24kg boney thing. Ah sweet memories. Anyway I digress… (See how bad my intellectual capacity is. I have the attention span of a goldfish)
Back to my story. Remember how we all get our ICs when we are 15 (if you got yours at 12, you belong to my sister’s generation – she’s gonna kill me for this). That proud moment where you go get your fingers pricked (which they don’t do anymore so that’s the new generation) and proudly get a card that marks your freedom to erm..virtually do nothing. (I always thought the IC was a useless card till this week). Speaking of bloodtests, when I was young, my sisters always cheated me with stories. I think it made them feel better about themselves given how incredibly cute I was. (again, I’m asking to get killed). One of the stories involved how the names we were given at birth are temporary and that at the age of 7, my mother was going to change my name to my permanent name which was Kuppama. Another, was that during bloodtests, the nurses actually suck out a syringe of your blood, then they use a straw to taste it to decide which blood group you belong to. I lapped it all and believed it amidst many tears and fears.
Again, I digressed.
Point is, I got my IC when I was 15 and I think I lost it between the ages of 16 and 17. It was never a big issue since I lost my Secondary school ezlink card when I was in Sec 2 and I used coins everyday and that didn’t bother. I never needed to show identification because being a geeky, braces wearing, bad hair, scrawny girl, no one figured I’d be anything else. So I was free..free of the need to be identified. Free from being tagged like a goat (do goats get tagged?).
It never bothered me when I went to college that I didn’t have an IC. By then I had a student card. When I came to the University, I had a tertiary card. There were that periods in time when I lost my cards. I remember having to show my passport to gain entry into Hard Rock once, much to the disgust of my ex boyfriend. I have done the same in Jeanz, Celebritys and a few other places, having been identified by my friends as the girl from India who carries her passport around.
But all good things come to an end, and so did this. In June, just before I turned 21, my passport expired (which of course I didn’t realise and still carried around my passport for identification). I noticed this lapse recently when my mother and I were planning a trip to Chennai. It was then, that I realise I needed to go there…
ICA. It feels like its in a land of its own. Lavender doesn’t quite feel like Singapore. The only times apart from having to make my IC that I went there, was when I was learning tuition from a cool center in that area. Point is, I dreaded making that trip. That trip I managed to evade for 5 years. So last week, I dragged my feet into ICA and submitted my passport application. It only required me to fill up a form as further identification only needed to be provided at time of collection. At that same time, I lost my ATM card again (only to realise I didn’t lose it but I had left it unclaimed at some place which my friend conveniently forgot to. by then the card had been blocked for safety).
With an expired passport, my birth certificate (left my student pass in school) I approached the staff of POSB in Textile Centre (near ICA) about this. They ask me for my IC to which I show them my passport. At that point in time, I am certain they thought I was half stupid. The lady attending to me was new so she turned to the mother hen of the counter staff and asked her whether this was acceptable. She was way too sharp… She noticed the expiry date. She asked me for some other form of identification. To this, I shoved my birth certificate across the counter. She looked at me in half disgust, half incredulity and said, “You are above 21. Don’t you know you can’t use your BIRTH CERT anymore?”
I was shocked, dismayed, disappointed and appalled. Okay no, that’s a tad too extreme. I never realise my birth certificate was that obsolete. She told me to go to ICA and get them to validate my existence and my identity. I had just walked painstakingly from there to get my card so that I could pay for my passport. I begged and pleaded with her. Went down on my knees and shed a few tears. Okay no, I didn’t. I just told her that I had just come from ICA and I really needed my card to pay for any sort of identification and that it couldn’t be coincidental that I had so many forms of obsolete identification – that I AM AARTHI SANKAR S87*****E ( I blanked it out in case you guys try to report me to authorities for having been an illegal immigrant for 5 years).
She sighed and said okay and let me get my card with a stern warning that I should go do something about this. It was then that I realised…
I need that damn pink card.
So I walked down to ICA to collect my passport and to push my luck a little to see if they would insist on an identification card for documentation. They did stare at me when I showed them my birth certificate. They told me I could collect my passport, but I would first have to go make my ic and bring along that little slip as proof that I have arranged for my IC to be made. And so I did. Hundred dollars to validate my existence. Seventy dollars to travel the world. The joy of being reborn: Priceless.
And thereafter, I collected my passport and in a month’s time I will have my IC as well which I am certain I will lose within the year. But I have a plan. Have you guys seen a chastity belt? I intend to create the world’s first identity belt. My most intimate belongings, my identity cards, my debit cards, my MAC powder will be locked and would always stay close to me. Imagine how fun that would be. Everytime its my turn to settle the bill, I would get up to unlock my belt and one of you would have paid for me already. Ah I am loving the sound of this. Either that, or I am stitching my cards to my skin. I will have to leave one end of my ATM card hanging so that it can still be swiped though.
The point is, I am a Singaporean once again. Ah the smell of freedom (with its limits of course!). Its revirginisation of my citizenship and it feels great. I am Sing-char-poh-ren.
To end off, here are a few replies I got when I told my friends I was Singaporean again and said Jaihinth! Vande Mataram!
“You mean they actually gave it to you? They didn’t deport you to Andamans? Wow the government is quite slack”
“Don’t bluff ICA la. New passport la, new IC la. You didn’t have these stuff in the first place because you’re an illegal immigrant. Shoo shoo! ”
“Vanthathey muthiram. Welcome welcome”
My favorite: “Anu runs to Malaysian High Commission in Singapore and replants the Singapore flag at the top of the building to symbolise Aarthi’s patriotism”
“Haha I say that calls for a celebration. Wadya say” (don’t mind her, she’s going to Alcoholics’ Anonymous)
A police friend who has been threatening to arrest me for the last week sent me a section of the penal code through facebook – National Registration Act (Chapter 201). (same guy who claims he’s gonna arrest me and shows me the keys to his handcuffs but keeps the handcuffs at home)
Tsk. Now that I have renewed my citizenship, its time to find new friends.