Home, truly

A young Singaporean who grew up and worked overseas, questioning his identity, found his way back to the city state - to find the world in Singapore

The writer, who made the decision to return to Singapore to serve national service, and his mother Selvarani Bannirchelvam, now 60, at his Officer Cadet School commissioning parade at Safti Military Institute in 2009.
The writer, who made the decision to return to Singapore to serve national service, and his mother Selvarani Bannirchelvam, now 60, at his Officer Cadet School commissioning parade at Safti Military Institute in 2009.
The writer (far right) with Dr Rajesh Dash (beside him) - with whom he is working in the Global Health Impact Partnership - and community members earlier this year at a Basti Dawakhana clinic, a low-cost primary care clinic, as part of a collaboratio
The writer (far right) with Dr Rajesh Dash (beside him) - with whom he is working in the Global Health Impact Partnership - and community members earlier this year at a Basti Dawakhana clinic, a low-cost primary care clinic, as part of a collaboration with the Telangana government in Hyderabad, India.PHOTOS: COURTESY OF SHANTHAKUMAR BANNIRCHELVAM

I found myself questioning what Singapore meant as a home as every single fellow officer cadet around me loudly sang the words of Kit Chan's famous National Day song during a route march, while I silently marched ahead, not knowing a single word.

Having moved to Australia at the age of eight, then gone on a scholarship representing Australia to an international school in the United States, I questioned how "Singaporean" I truly was in moments like this.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2020, with the headline 'Home, truly'. Print Edition | Subscribe