A very brutal but sincere post, I dedicate this to no one but future self, in the hopes of finding gratification that I completed it.


Frankly speaking, I am worried. And frankly speaking, from the uncountable number of unnatural vomit-stimulating-coughs from someone with a healthy body, I am for the first time truly frightened.  But this is obligatory; all Singaporean Son must go through it. The National Service prides itself in its ability to bring forward successful transformations and maturations of boys to men, a process that for some reasons guarantee social harmony and national defence. I knew this day would come. And I have always wanted to avoid such conjunctures of sheer awkwardness that stems from having a bald head, to the immense homesickness, and then the massive embarrassment that I am spoilt. I dislike this feeling. In fact, I hate it, and yes “hate” is a strong word. It seems to me while I am writing this piece that I loathe National Service on the basis of sheer intimidation, or rather perhaps a refusal to accept reality, and a little bit because I am wasting my time.

I would pretty much rather want someone to converse to me nicely, rather than the rambunctious verbiage diarrhoea, which happens to be a deafening characteristic of the military. In essence, I hate loud noises. I cannot understand the stringent regime, encompassing the idea of, I quote, “ …  just couldnt stand some numb nut shouting at me”.

Sure I do physical activities. I love leisure running but I hate any other forms of competitive sports. That is to say, I can run but I cannot run with speed. Having an overall assessment for physical fitness as well as it being a mean to stimulate interest in physical wellness amongst individuals may be sound logic, but if such an assessment then hinders you from enjoying games with your classmates during P.E lessons, or denies you freedom just because you failed, then hasn’t it destroy the core of “stimulating interest in physical wellbeing” as well as proving that those who failed aren’t healthy? What more, such an assessment may not necessarily be the most accurate representation of wellness at all. Too bad, my society embraces it.

And ironically, I come from the National Cadet Corp (land), one co-curricular activity that resembles more or less the situation of the local army but customised for the juniors, and it would seem that NCC would have prepared me. But, I am uncertain. I am worried. I have never been the outspoken one back then throughout my four years in that CCA. I have been labelled as someone who attempts to skip those activities, but managed to claim the 80% of attendance. I have never once participated actively in the activities. Here is what my then graduating staff sergeant of 2009/10 wrote to me in a purple card,

“Purple, a beautiful, yet misinterpreted color.

Ler Jun, you have been a really interesting junior to have. I understand that you do not really enjoy what you do in NCC, and sometimes don’t ever feel like coming. I am grateful that you have persisted and I am really proud of you, really. Putting aside drills and stuff, you are a really warm and helpful boy, and definitely not one whom I can come across easily. I hope you would continue to work hard and give the best for the unit, for I believe you have what it takes, and will succeed as long as you are willing to give it a shot. When your fuel tank is empty, look around, you have the best people to depend on, and they are your driving force. ”

Yes, it does bring backs memories, and I am glad to have at least survived it. But do take notice of the idea of purple resonating from the card itself (which is in a shade of purple), as well as being the first word of the card. Then he goes on with “Putting aside drills and stuff”. Eventually reaching the notion of “warm and helpful boy”, these made me confused. Was he trying to say that I am gay?  Or was he thankful that I am there for all the audio technical stuffs that the unit needs? Did he sugar-coated and meant that I suck in my drills and whatsoever?  Regardless, I grew in NCC and I am happy at the very least that I entered, even though it is for the purpose of owning a phone. Then, NCC was part-time and lax. Now, NS is full-time and real. I guess that is part of the responsibilities that a man ought to have.

Also, it is embarrassing to admit that I rely a lot on my parents and relatives. I guess, all these come from the fact that I am nonetheless spoilt and protected since young.  A little brief summary of my life: After being born on the 28th October 1996 about a month later, I have been living under the care of my beloved guardian/aunt, as my parents tend to business. While my parents are busy working, my aunt, being a professional nanny (without a legal license), raised me like her own two twin sons, and disciplined me, cared for me, protected me, loved me, fed me, quarrelled with me, cried with me, shopped with me, cooked for me for 17 years. And throughout these 17 years, I have seen her aged, mind you she ain’t that old, but in her late forties till now, her hair transformed from luscious black to gleaming silver, her face donned with aged spots. She is like my second mother, and I loved her. While she is loving and caring, she is strict and I am often denied simple freedom of heading to the playground behind my apartment, going out with friends after school, etc. I understand, and perhaps the lack of such exposure may inherently lead me to intensify my reliance on others. And when I returned to my birth parents, who have been visiting me and occasionally I stayed with them, I realised I am voided of all the restrictions. Later I would come to know that I missed having my life planned out for me. From here, all I want to say is that my reliance is going to be greatest burden, and homesickness is bound to come shortly after.

It is also not unheard of me being labelled as a sissy. Yup, a sissy, which often revolves around the idea of a dude who is unable to portray sufficient forms of masculinity. I have been teased about it, and often having heard an inner voice that echoes, “You are a sissy”, resulting in a self-inflicted increase in level of self-consciousness in public. I worry that I may be judged by any subconscious actions of mine, and then ousted as a pariah.

Last but not least, I despise the notion of wasting two years of my life in mandatory conscription. It is the idea that you are isolated from possibly your social circle, except perhaps the dudes, for two years, in which each boy matures and grows within this period. An irritating asshole can be a respectable man at the end of the two years, vice versa. Then upon returning to the society, to the similar social circle or circles, your impression that you left behind as an imprint remains in the minds of many. Those people, your “friends” and maybe “relatives”, may perhaps view you as someone in the past and not the present. Basically, if you left behind a bad impression, that impression will linger. This is perhaps the reason to why some provide a social stigma to those ex-convicts, who have decided to start over a new leaf.  I hate it.


Is this what you perhaps call, inequality?


5 thoughts on “Conscription

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