In a drastic turn of event, Cynthia shocked
the world my world by submitting an application for Singapore citizenship, in her own right, couple of months ago. My first reaction was: Are you sure? Indonesia is a vast country rich in natural resources. From Papua in the east, to Aceh in the west, it is a land overflowed with cultural and biological diversity. Millions of years ago, when descendants of Adam and Eve left Africa, they did not head northwest to America. Instead, they headed east, arrived at where Indonesia is today, then moved up to today’s China, and etc. Two thousand years ago, Indians arrived in Java and constructed the magnificent Borobudur. With the money we earn in Singapore, we could possibly retire in Bali in a farm, overlooking the beautiful volcano with beer in my hands every day. My flock of animals would stare at me – their master – curiously while I would dream of roast lamb for dinner. All of a sudden, my wife wants to be a Singaporean?
Yesterday, inside the office of Commissioner for Oaths, my mother-in-law and I watched Cynthia proudly took up the citizenship in front of a Singapore flag. We clapped, or rather I clapped and then my mother-in-law followed, after the formality was concluded. Fourteen years ago, I was in the same office, taking up the oath alone. On that particular day, I wish someone was there for me. Witnessing Cynthia swore allegiance to Singapore led me to reliving my moment when I took up my citizenship. Memories juxtaposed. That piece of memory does not seem that lonely anymore.
“How do you feel?” asked Cynthia. Emigration is a personal journey. We emigrate for reasons that only we alone can fathom. It took her thirteen years to arrive at that decision. It took me much shorter than that. I guess, suddenly, things become very permanent. Previously, there was always this tiny element of doubt, every five years depending on current policy, whether or not Cynthia’s permanent resident status would be renewed. Now, we have the same home country. The feeling is overwhelming. And it is still sinking in, to be frank.
Cynthia’s journey to her new citizenship was not without hiccups. On the day of taking up the oath, which by the way, she was momentarily stateless for a week, the Customs ran into some fingerprint verification issues. Apparently, Cynthia’s fingerprints have changed! Is she who she claims to be? The same wife I married to? Can she modify her fingerprints at will? How well do you really know your wife?
And of course, there is this Family Card episode that we can now laugh about for many years to come. It was not funny while we were stuck in the process. To renounce an Indonesia citizenship, you would need to give up your Indonesian passport and IC, as well as the family card and certificate of citizenship of your father (if you are a Chinese I suppose). If you ask an Indonesian, I doubt he or she would know what a family card is for. Basically, it is a piece of paper that documents the family tree of a particular housing address. So if you are no longer an Indonesian citizen, your name should be taken away from the family card. That makes sense, I suppose. But what is a family card for? No idea. My mother-in-law in Indonesia had to send the family card via DHL, after sending Cynthia’s renewed IC also via DHL the day before (yet another stressful episode).
“Where shall we visit next?” asked Cynthia. Having a Singapore passport means visa application headache is gone for many countries.
Perhaps US of A?