Just to assure you, I am working (furiously) on this.
Trying to give in-depth answers is taking added time.
Founder-Director of ACT 3 Theatrics
Playwright, Author, Actor, Director, Trainer
Chandran is married to Amy. A few weeks ago, I wrote Colour Me Love, https://brunoandtammy.co/2015/09/27/colour-me-love/ when she graciously shared their story with me. That post struck a deep chord amongst many readers. I thought it would be wonderful if we could revisit things, from his perspective, instead.
Inbox, Tuesday: (With a few edits.)
- Is this your 1st marriage?
Yes, it is! I was waiting for Amy J Cheng to show up in my life.
A few months before I met Amy, I felt a glow in my heart…a sense of feeling at peace with my life. I was ready to embrace life and another human being. In my 20s, 30s and into my 40s, I was very happy building up ACT 3 Theatrics and making theatre for children.
2. Is this the 1st time you have dated a Chinese girl/outside of your race?
I have not dated anyone before Amy.
I was a painfully shy child who became a little bolder only in my mid-30s. I have always been very comfortable with children and elderly folks, though.
3. Is the culture that Amy is from, familiar to you? How/why, how/why not?
I grew up in the housing-quarters of a factory, with about 20 families living in proximity. There was a Sikh family, Indian and Chinese households. Beyond our fence line, was a kampong of Malay families. Therefore I grew up amidst a multitude of sounds, (food) smells, sights and practices. My parents were great in that they never highlighted the fact that we were different (we were for instance, strict vegetarians). Religion-wise, I lived with Hindu practices, went to a Catholic school, had close Muslim friends. I am well-versed. So when people ask me what race I am, I tell them, I am Singaporean.
4. Anything about the Chinese culture that freaks you out?
None at all! Unless it is highlighted, I am not even aware that she is different from me.
5. Amy talks about being friends 1st. For you, was that the same, or did you already feel more?
I first met her as a single mum, a very talented actress and an incredibly beautiful lady.
We worked in the production, Footsteps in the Night. There were moments when we as characters, “froze”. Many of these scenes involved just us. I ended up facing Amy, staring at her – legitimate theatrical moments! When I gathered enough courage I mentioned to her, in passing, what a beautiful landscape it was for me, to be staring at.
Only after a few months, when I was certain she was single, did I allow myself to have feelings for her. But I kept it from her, and we went our separate ways. With some friends I shared that if, by the end of 2002, nothing happened between us, then, that was that.
After a long period without any communication, Amy called me. (I was watching football on TV and usually would not have answered. BUT I DID!) Fortunately I answered her call, as she may not have called again. Yaaaaaaaahoooooooooo!
6. What was it about her then that attracted you? What is it about her that keeps you still drawn? Amy doesn’t wear a mask. With her, I don’t need to wear a mask.
7. Does the issue of race factor into courtship, early marriage, and then now? If so, how/in what ways?
I am my Mother-in-law’s favourite now.
But during courtship and early marriage, we were estranged. She didn’t attend our wedding. Now, she is incredibly protective over me.
8. Does race factor into parenting your sons? How/in what ways? Because of who we are, our sons instinctively are open to diversity in their daily living. We don’t have to instruct them. It is brilliant that as a family, we get to celebrate Diwali, Christmas, Chinese New Year and all the other cultural festivities, as part of our heritage
9. You are a good-looking, successful, wonderful man. In a sense, you could be with anyone. Yet you went for the actress, who was a single mother, with a Pandora Box… We can never fully make sense of what the heart desires. We love the things we love for what they are – Robert Frost.
10. Any thoughts to add on ‘multi-racial’, ‘egalitarian’ Singapore? Have you lived in Singapore all your life? Why children’s theatre?
Because racial considerations never feature prominently in my mind, I have never felt side- lined in Singapore. It was not designed, but the founders of ACT 3 Theatrics are Malay, Chinese and Indian. Yes, I have lived in Singapore all my life. I cherish every moment of it.
I am most comfortable with children.
11. What is it like being Joshua’s dad? Reservations in the beginning? And now?
Joshua is a blessing and a privilege.
In customary Hindu weddings, the Bride’s family presents a dowry to the Groom’s. For me, Joshua is my dowry from Amy.
My continuing challenge is to always be aware that in his very early years, he grew up in an environment with values and traits that may be a little different from mine, and to allow him breathing space.
He is a pillar of strength in how he treats me. Other than that, it is the universal, prevalent father-teenaged son tussle – hee hee!
* All photographs belong to Chandran and Amy. For more information on Children’s Theatre/Drama Programs in Singapore, please see http://www.act3theatrics.com/about-us/