Kampung Spirits// Let me be clear: I don't think the Good Old Days ever existed. I think what we miss are glimmers and gossamers, filtered through a simmering broth of contemporary uncertainties and anxieties. We always stand uneasily at hazy crossroads, longing for the safety of hindsight; the present that was once the future.
I don't believe in the Good Old Days, because it is a Story. And we must remember that stories are inevitably the arranged, crafted, trimmed and sanded products of storytellers. Everything looks easier from afar, and Nostalgia a filter to smooth over the pockmarked blackheads of the past.
I miss my days of youth, sure. I miss the easy, brimming camaraderie at the end of a long outfield exercise. I miss when all I had to fret over was a 2-page E-Maths assignment. When life was just about exams, or passing your NAPFA; when leadership was just about making sure people didn't cut queues. I miss when Life had not yet nuanced me with Loss.
But growing up wasn't easy either. I won't miss the awkward anger of adolescence, the claustrophobia of cliques. The uncertain groping for moment and meaning; the petty tyrannies that you had to endure; the skins we all had to struggle through and slough, in order to survive.
Nostalgia is a lovely thing. It gives us hope. It lets us look back with warmth and even forgiveness, so that we can make our peace with painful pasts. But deployed strategically, Kampung Spirits can be dangerous spectres and strawmen, fodder for unseeing sheep.
I don't believe in the Good Old Days, but I believe in the power of stories - and how they can be used, reused, and abused.