My Backyard, My Universe

The March 2014 issue of Baccarat Magazine (Malaysia) featured this personal essay I wrote on the orbit of my childhood life within the confines of the University Malaya campus, where my parents (and other family members) studied, met, worked, and lived. I drew and designed a map of all the places I mention in the essay, which was unfortunately cut due to layout constraints, but is featured below.

An excerpt from the essay:

On page 30 of Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir Fun Home is a small map detailing “a circle a mile and a half in diameter” encompassing the locations of her father’s birth, their family home, his death, and finally, his grave. I find it neat how one’s life can be bound by such a small orbit. History becomes compressed; a life’s long, meandering journey can lie tightly coiled, looping and overlapping over the same track.


Since childhood, the concept of balik kampung had always evoked great distances; leaving Petaling Jaya for Kedah where my parents’ families lived was all at once an adventure, an escape, and a homecoming. In the years since, as death and migrations weakened our bonds to the North, my idea of my personal kampung shifted. The older I got and the further away I travelled from home, the larger a different place loomed in my mind; the site of my own beginnings.

My Backyard My Universe Baccarat Page 129

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