He felt like a baby forcefully removed from the loving arms of her mother. After 15 long years, he had no choice but to leave. Saying goodbye was the hardest thing for him, and I couldn’t blame him at all — because I was experiencing the same thing as him.
In 2014, my older brother and I had to drop out of high school because we were no longer able to afford it. My parents had lost their jobs due to political reasons. Many permanent residents like us in Singapore were facing xenophobic pressure and met unemployment. Losing their livelihoods, many fled the country.
A year later, we were blessed when my mom found employment in New York. While it was great news, it still meant a huge transition for my brother and I. Our whole lives were about to change. We weren’t ready to fully leave behind a comfortable life in Singapore where our formative years were spent.
On our last day in Singapore, our friends accompanied us to the airport to send us off. My brother received a memorable gift from one of his friends, a hand-made teddy bear. Similarly, I received a heartfelt letter from my best friend. These memorabilia helped us cope with the transition over the next few months. When we left, we made sure to bring along our dog as he was also family, and family was all that we had left.