story & photo | Sim Xi Zhe
Mother had always wanted a tattoo. When I was 12, she told me that she wanted one of a butterfly somewhere, someday.
She would buy temporary tattoos for the whole family when we were on holiday in Malaysia, the kind that disintegrate after a single shower, and we would proudly sport them in our holiday photos. She never got round to actually getting one though.
Mother grew up and lived most of her life in an environment that disapproved of tattoos, one that associated inked skin with delinquents and gangsters. She did not personally know a single person who had a tattoo.
When I first told her that I was getting inked for the first time, she told me she had changed her mind on tattoos. “Don’t la, not nice la. You’ll look like a gangster. And it’s forever, you know?” But when I came home with my first ink, she said, “Now I feel like getting one too”.
Today, I brought her to get her first tattoo. When I told my sister about mother getting inked, she got a matching one too.
I guess sometimes we just need a little push.