In order to fall asleep, I began telling myself bedtime stories. One of my favorites was a science fiction adventure in which I, a purple-haired young earthling, waged an endless war against creatures from outer space.
It was not the war that entertained me. What soothed me and never failed to lull me to sleep was the fact that in my dream war the world came together as one. Everyone identified as "Earthling" and never as "Indonesian", "Chinese," or "Chinese-Indonesian." In my war, the enemy from the outer space couldn't care less what nationality any of us belonged to!
Though they were a childish escape, my bedtime stories were a great relief from my everyday life. I was viewed as - and as a result viewed myself as - an outsider. I grew up labeled "Chinese," and was taught to feel guilty as such.
I had no roots. My parents and grandparents had discarded their original, Chinese-sounding names in order to assimilate. But changing your name did not change people's attitudes nor did it change your face. My childhood friends would ask me whether I would consider plastic surgery to make my eyes look bigger and perhaps not that slanted.
As a child living in Indonesia, people would always ask me, "Where do you come from?" Bali wasn't an acceptable answer. They would ask again, "But where do you originally come from?"
My great great-grandparents came from China almost a century before "Indonesia" declared its independence and somewhere along the family tree, genuine Balinese blood was mixed in. However, I always hesitated to tell such a long story. Growing up, I learned that people put you in boxes because they simply could not be bothered otherwise.
I dreamt that someday I would be able to yell out that I was nothing other than a "citizen of the world."
As an adult, however, I realized that the world is not that simple. The only realistic way of being a citizen of the world is by possessing the passports of all the countries in the world. Even if it were legally possible, could it be achieved in one's lifetime?
Where Do You Originally Come From sprouted from my fascination with passports and my desire for a world without borders, nationalities and divisions. It is a one-minute box that resembles immigration checkpoints at border crossings, and talks about human confusion in regards to personal and cultural versus national identity.
Director, Producer, Camera, Editing, Sound: Tintin Wulia
For entire credit roll, please see the added story on the right.
For more information, visit tintinwulia.com