What am I?

12:35 AM


I'm so amused by how some people have started to label me.

It's either they want me to wear a significant dress or scarve then only they are self assured that they know what am I.

For your information, I'm a mix Iban and Chinese, though my birth certificate says I'm Iban and Melanau. I have fair skin and small eyes. Lol. Here you would assume that I'm Chinese.

And I would have been but no. I don't grow up in a Chinese setting. My parents don't speak any Chinese dialect. Mother language AKA language first learnt for me is English. Occasionally, there is Bahasa Malaysia. Yes, Malaysians, it's the acronym BM, last time I checked. Some smart aleck poisoned that it belongs to one particular race instead of THE national language.

I digress.

Not growing up in a Chinese setting, I didn't know how to use chopsticks, to love Bak Kut Teh, receive Ang Pow, wear cheongsam... Lol. I grew up just being me.

It was a torture all the way into university. I didn't belong anyway. No kidding. 

Even in Sarawak, if you don't know their language, your social life goes down. It was hard so I hated it that time. Thanks for having siblings, at least I still have my own 'circle'. Lol.

My identity during school years was an issue but it didn't bother me because no one would ask about it.

Only when I started university in KL that the identity issue becomes both my blessing and a curse. Yeah, dramatic.

I mentioned fair skin and small eyes? Most people assume that means I'm Chinese then they assume I would speak some Chinese dialect. Ouch! Red light!

The moment they know that I don't and I'm not purely a Chinese, goodbye and never/rarely speak with me. Doesn't matter if they could actually speak in BM or English, they would dump me right there and then.

So I befriended my Malay friends. 

And this was the beginning of my blessing and curse.

Most of my Malay friends wear tudung. I don't. I'm Christian though of late I'm thinking of free thinker.

Anyway, the issue?

'Are you Chinese or Malay?'

Every damn f***ing time this question will pop up from a stranger!! Wtf.

I wouldn't bother much about it but now it's becoming more frequent.

And annoying max at my workplace because hey, it's Ramadhan month, fasting month.

My name doesn't help... Julianna. Pffft! Assumptions-ridden people go assume I'm Malay by the name. So smart aleck one. Wtf.

Haih. I'm blessed because my face features make me unique until strangers can use it as an opening. Lol.

My curse? 

What am I?

I don't like people assuming my race and religion. Heck, until this fasting month is over, 9/10 people will think I'm a Malay girl having her period since I'm eating. Wtf

And I'm not kidding. A cashier at Subway suggested that I don't eat openly since people would mistaken me as Malay. #youhavegottobejokingme

Frankly, I'm waiting for that rare moment that somebody actually walks to me and say, 'You're from Sarawak,right? Because you look different than the majority here in Peninsular.'

Oh yeah, that'll be the day. #wishingonreality

For now, I'll bear with it.

But honestly, this blessing and curse?

I just want to be me without the judgement.

Thank you.

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3 reads

  1. Hello,
    Been a silent reader all this while. But this particular post, I can totally relate to this.

    I come from a mix-marriage family too. Dad is a mixed Indian-Melanau, while mum is a mixed Malay-Chinese. I am more the rojak offspring of this. I am a Muslim, and grew up in a moderate mixture of culture here & there, mainly the Malay culture. Mum doesnt speak any Chinese dialek, while dad speaks fluent English, Tamil, Mandarin & bahasa Melayu Sarawak.

    Growing up I rarely had many friends, let alone 'best-buddies'. My friends were those ones who were being shunned away from the people around us; those who were chubby, from mix-marriage family, too skinny, not-as-cute, those with disability; you know, those who are 'different'.

    I remember, in junior school, which ever group that I tried to be friends with, I kept on getting this: you are not Malay, so go to the others, then laughters. you are not Chinese you cant even talk Chinese, go away, then laughters. you are not Indian you dont even understand us, then laughters. Those who have seen either my parents send me to/ pick up from school will just make funny remarks e.g. keling / cina bab* / indon etc. Very very hurtful words. My dad was the one who attended school if there was anything. And doesnt really speak Malay that well as he grew up English-base. More of me being made fun of. This went on through high school, not as much coz most of the time I would not dare to say I was from a mix marriage family. A bit shameful. That for the sense of being accepted that I long for.
    I cannot imagine how my brothers going through school with all these torture & all.

    I continued my studies in Melbourne a while back. In short, the experience really opened my mind & my heart after so long of covering everything. I am proud of who I am and my roots. As an adult only I feel much appreciated by people around me.. I am special. Now I dont really care of what people say or think of me. I am proud of my family, those who actually made me who I am now.

    When I accidentally meet those people who bullied me when I was at school, looking at their lives, I sometimes would just say to myself 'look who has the last laugh now'. But hey, people can be as nasty as they want to be.. in the end karma will bite back. That I believe. And I am just grateful of what I am, what I have achieved so far & just life. And for those people who have helped me grow even in a nasty way, I wish you well.

  2. (cont) So, dear, live your life & take care. You are special, and you dont need others to dictate your life. People will continue to judge as long as forever, but its you who has the power to shine through all this. You are a blessing.. full stop! =)
    All the best.

  3. I don't know about others, but to me, I have always known you're from Sarawak since the first I saw you in Pasum. So I guess that's a good thing? :D

    Ignore what people say to you, they can't control where and when you eat during the fasting month. You have the rights to eat whenever and wherever you want, Jue! :)


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