The Outsiders

Tell us about the experience of being outside, looking in — however you’d like to interpret that.

Source: The Outsiders

I married a young Chinese man from Singapore; we went to meet the family. His father and his natural mother (father’s #4 wife) were deceased but there were still four mothers-in-law to meet. Five wives was still allowed in 1957.

After 5 weeks at sea, the ship sailed slowly into Singapore dock. On the quay I saw a small group of people. These turned out to be his sister, #3 mother, and  Mr Y (the guardian) and Mrs Y.

In my innocence I asked: “Where are the rest of the family?”

The unexpected answer was “I haven’t told them yet in case they don’t approve.”

I was really ‘outside’ until #1 mother said she approved of me because “I didn’t look down on her.” How sad was that; I felt shame for the British colonials who gave rise to such an idea.

And I was the lucky one to be warmly gathered into the hearts of the extended family. Only a two month long visit, but I was no longer an Outsider.




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