Rowshaun Subhas lives in a unique household that embraces Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. What are the values that keep this home a safe sanctuary despite life’s challenges? What keeps Rowshaun happy every day?
Family Helper - Yatminah
Dish of Choice:
Chicken rendang and stir-fry broccoli and mushrooms
Have a listen to Rowshaun's reflection in this journey of documenting his mother cooking fish curry or read on in the transcript below.
Shiyun: Perhaps to help our audience understand your family better is to describe these two caregivers you have featured in this exhibition.
Rowshaun: So my mum, she's actually my family helper. I said she's a mum because by birth she was taking care of me and I always address her as Ibu. So, (Ibu) is a Malay term, but in English it translates, it means mum, or mother. So my late mum, uh, passed away when I was only in K2 (Kindergarten 2). So since then, she's (Ibu) has been taking care of me, changing my diapers or cooking food, making sure I'm okay. She does everything for me and she really takes care of me like I'm her own son. I think without her it may be a bit tough to live because, my father has also a medical, uh, a lot of, um...
Shiyun: He has some medical conditions.
Rowshaun: Ah, medical conditions.
Shiyun: You mentioned that you missed your father cooking.
Rowshaun: When my father's health was a little bit better, sometimes he would make food. My favorite from him was his black pepper crab.
Shiyun: When I first asked you to join the project, I asked you because I was very intrigued by your family. And that you were living in a truly multicultural, multi-religious family
Rowshaun: Yes. Yeah. My father is Indian and my mom is Javanese, so I'm an Indian-Javanese.
Shiyun: But this was not what you told me before.
Rowshaun: Uh.. Skip the topic.
Shiyun: (Laughs) Why skip that topic?!
Rowshaun: So at first I thought I was a fully Indian because by birth my belief was following the Indian side. And then at home because I also eat Indian food, right? So, yeah, after I got to know I was Indian-Javanese (through this project), then I was pretty surprised, because after 16 years later, I just know.
Shiyun: How has it affected you?
Rowshaun: Uh, nothing. I just feel happy lor. At first I felt, uh, curious also, because everyone keeps saying, your mum is, uh, Indonesian, and your father is Indian. So they will keep saying, I'm an Indian- Muslim, but then, because my belief is Hinduism, right?
Rowshaun: So I take it as I'm Indian, Hindu. Then after this project then I was quite happy because now I know how to tell people my actual race. Mm... Do I feel special? Uh, I mean, it is a bit rare to see an Indian-Javanese, right?
Rowshaun: Yeah. So happy lor.
Shiyun: That's nice. Yeah. I'm also very happy because that is what I set out to do in this project. (laughs) are you inspired to go and find out more about your family history? Because it seems like your family has a very colorful history.
Rowshaun: Honestly, if I have time I would la, because, uh, yeah, I feel like there's something, something more to it as to how I know it. Yeah, but it's fun living in this world.
Shiyun: It is fun living in this world?
Rowshaun: Very fun.
Shiyun: What's the fun?
Rowshaun: Finding joy and all that because I'm, I'm the only child, so, in primary school I was very, um, uh, so-called secured la, cause my parents, you know... I was young, right? So they are very careful about me. As to where I go and all that. So usually back then, um, yeah, go school straightaway, come back. And then, when I'm always down (playing at the playground), my Ibu always follow me around to make sure I'm safe. But after I moved on to secondary life, they ease a bit on my movements. Yeah. So they're very careful about what I do. And, uh, yeah, I think that's good. Cause I myself don't want to fall into the bad group of people, or into situations. So, yeah. But I do love finding joy. Without joy, I don't think I will be smiling every day.