This story by Pravin Caruso was originally featured on Malaysian Indian Anthology and has been reproduced in Astro Ulagam.

When I first got into teacher’s training college in 2007, I was excited that I was about to study with a scholarship. I could never afford private tertiary education because of where I came from.

But then the dreaded moment arrived - buying formal clothing. I was able to afford formal shirts and pants, thanks to bundle shops, but formal shoes were tricky and expensive. I could not afford it.

However, I found an alternative, RM3 kasut getah. As naïve as I was, I thought I could chameleon myself into class with these, in the guise of formal shoes, at least until I received my monthly allowance from the government.

Of course, the shoes didn't work well and within a few days, a lecturer from my department called me out and said I was a humiliation to the Indians as I represented them poorly as a minority. I neither felt sad nor embarrassed because I knew my roots and the trajectory of my future direction.

But since then, kasut getah became part of my identity and they have made trips to the UK, Europe and now US as I pursue my Masters with another scholarship.

Photo source: Malaysian Indian Anthology