Kirpal Singh on His Family and Early Years

Though I was born in Singapore, the first seven years of my life, from about June 1949 to about December 1956, were mainly spent in the state of Perak (some five hundred miles north of Singapore) in the then Federation of Malaya. I was brought up in these years by my paternal grandmother in a little town called Batu Gajah and an even smaller village called Changkat. My grandmother was a widow but had lived in the area from about 1911 when she had come out from India as a young bride of sixteen. She lived in the same area until her death in 1976 at the age of ninety. (288).

At the age of thirty-five I confronted my father and my father said to me: Listen son, now that you are a man, I can talk. Your mother was very beautiful and very young. Glasgow had not prepared her for Singapore or for me. She loved me but she loved the exotic, tall dark and handsome JUST-ONE-SINGH whom she watched with great eagerness knocking out boxer after boxer in the ring. Your mother never really understood me, the real me, nor did our elders understand our relationship. So when you were born, I took you up to Batu Gajah to stay with your grandmother and your mother and I separated.

In my person, therefore, ladies and gentlemen, I carry not merely the infusions, but the fuller fusion of East-West; the good and the evil of this terrible synthesis which took place some forty-three years ago. (289).


Kirpal Singh. "Conrad, Naipul and Achebe: Literary Imperatives and Cultural Impediments." Institutions in Cultures, Theory, and Practice. Ed. Robert Lumsden and Rajeev Patke. 287-94.

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