Skip to main content
Special Feature

Letter from Germany

By June 5, 2024No Comments

Dear Singapore,

Love it or hate it, you were kinda suffocating. Every corner is too familiar, everything feels like a known thing. A new face is an old friend of a friend. But it is hard to be happy in the internet age. Life in front of your eyes always seems so small.

The small town of Ludwigsburg feels like that. There is school, the train station that takes me to Stuttgart, Aldi. An incredibly small town with old people and nice German cars. After classes I have a 10 minute walk to the dorm, a 3 minute walk to the laundromat, and a short trian ride to Stuttgart on the weekends. Neat roads that you could navigate without a map. Maybe it is the freshness of living in Germany for the first month that gives this a sense of tranquility rather than boredom. Or maybe it’s the whimsical hot-cold summer. Either way, I think of you.

miss you. On the flight from China in January I had a window seat. Over deep yellow lamps on calm blue waters and a coastline of orderly ships, tourists clamoured to have a look at you. It was pouring that day. Compared to Beijing’s arid air, breathing felt clammy right out of the airport. Then in two days, I fell sick. My body rejected your humidity and I was wrecked with fever. My taste buds did not respond to my comfort food, and everything tasted off. Someone once wrote that a person can never go back home. They are a different person from when left, and home no longer holds the same meaning. Sick and sweltering in bed in the middle of the night, you did not feel like the home I thought I returned to. Still, I miss you. Whatever you are. Sunny island city, koel birds, a recess bell, and long aimless walks. I want to miss you like this. I do not want to go back.

Because going back to you feels like giving up on me. I am imposed to feel nothing but lucky to be able to have a life abroad, and no one likes to hear how tough it is. It is hard to admit how much I love slippers and FBTs and my coffee in a plastic bag, but I do. The “me” I want to be, it is water. Molding into the places that hold me, following gravity into unknown spaces, ever flowing. You were my vase for 20 years. I remember how to hold your shape, but the river runs.

Beijing Film Academy student (writer) on exchange in Germany.

I make films now, or I try to. Filmmaking is a tough craft to crack. It is a craft I never practiced in the twenty years I was with you. It will take time for me to get good at it, even more to make a film that I am happy with.  When I am, there will be one for you. About the bugs in your roadside soil, or cereal that goes soft if left outside the fridge. About scheming over the timing of your trains so I can make morning assembly. About my friends who marry to get away from home, and the friends who cannot. About your sun and your sea.

Leave a Reply