“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself”, says Maya Angelou.
I moved from Penang six years ago with my heart set on new adventures. I convinced myself that if I ever thought about returning to live in Penang, it would only mean a step back in my life.
Life, however, tends to take a different path than the one you planned. On one short visit back to my parents, my boyfriend, Mark, and I decided to play tourists and explore the George Town area. Following the trail of the heritage sites, we found ourselves deeply drawn by the unique sight of old homes with crumbling roofs and vegetation creeping up the walls. As we came to the front of my grandpa's old house on Siam Road, where I spent my childhood, all of the memories of George Town I thought I had lost came rushing back.
I shut my eyes and saw myself racing my sisters to close the old style convertible roof canopy in the mid courtyard when it rained. I could hear the crisp call of "kuih" from our favourite Indian uncle on his bicycle. I could feel the wind on the back of my neck thinking about the ghost stories we exchanged in the back lane, in a mix of migrant languages that makes Penang so unique. When I opened my eyes, I looked through the rusted window sills and saw a silent, old house.
I realised then that nothing can take away the many special stories for us who have lived or are still living in this old town. It was a privilege to grow up in historical George Town, breathing and experiencing a true myriad of cultural traditions.
I was humbled as I found this to be what I had been yearning for.
We settled on a decision to move back to Penang for a year, to take a step back into the past, so I could learn about my family and my home. We reassured each other that this would be a step forward in our lives.