Saturday, August 20, 2011

A little visit to my grandma's heart

I was just wondering what to write for my LA blog when my grandma tapped me on my shoulders.

My porpor was eighty-eight years old, same as our minister mentor Lee Kuan Yew. She was definitely ancient looking with her unkempt frizzly looking white hair and her wrinkles creased with age. Her eyes bore into my eyes through her thick, round and huge lens. Her face was a mixture of emotions. Regret, sorrow or maybe even relief? I do not know. But what I do know is that I will find that out in whatever she is going to tell me within the next few minutes.

Her lips cracked into a smile as she told me the good news. She is going to leave 2000 dollars for each of us (my three siblings and I) for university. Pang gugu (means fat aunt, what we called her from young) is going to withdraw the money from the bank after she passed away. She beamed one of those smiles, one that would appeared on a kid when he have something important to declare, as she revealed that the money was what my grandpa left for her when he passed away. The money would be for us to buy food in university, she says, so that we would not go hungry while we are studying. She hastily added on that she was telling me now because in a few months time, my eldest brother, Zhi Hua, and my sister, Hui Min, would be going university and she would be handing the money to them. She was afraid that my 2nd brother, Zhi Qin and I would be jealous over the sum of money and create a fuss out of it. Rest assure, she says, I am leaving each of you the same amount. With this she placed her right hand upon her heart, her left left caressing my head and said

"I love you all the same. All four of you."

Then she laughed and goes on telling me how lucky she was to have four grandchildren. Suddenly she sits up with her back straight, her eyebrows narrowed and said

"Zhi Qin is the real nasty one. I bet you don't know this. When I asked him to help me do simple things like switching off the fan or finding something, he will fly into a rage and act like he is going to hurt me. Really. He is the nasty one."

The fact that I know that Zhi Qin sometimes bully porpor makes me cringed with guilt. I was not able to stop that at all. The only thing I could do was to respect her and listen to her. I do not have control over how my siblings behaved towards her, do I? I tried, yes I did, to stop them from throwing a tantrum towards porpor. She is just an old lady, I say, there is no need to be angry over her. But they do not heed my words at all. When porpor take nearly half the plate of the char siew, leaving very little for the family, my 2nd brother and sister would yelled at her. I said just let her have her fill but they were not appeased at all. What could I do?

"...sometimes your sister also. She would ignore me when I asked her questions or shout at me to not ask so many questions."

She paused and added,

"You and Zhi Hua are more polite and patient towards me. But both of you are away most of the time, him in the army and you living in the school."

Up to here in case you misunderstands, my sister and 2nd brother are no tyrants. They were simply more hot-tempered. I remember when we were young, both of them sleeps in one room with porpor. They grew up with her. Maybe that's why they were sick of her and her flaws. My porpor is no angel herself. Her antics sometimes really grates our nerves. When she eats, some food would drop to the floor. Or she would leave the skin of the fruits she ate on the windowsill. I am sure she don't really mean what she says. The one about Zhi Qin being the nasty one. In fact, she dotes on Zhi Qin more than anyone when we were young. She would rub Zhi Qin's tummy with those medical oil whenever Zhi Qin felt unwell or have constipation. Zhi Qin was also the one who carry out every errands for her. He would buy the medical oil she always use when they were finished. Maybe that is why when Zhi Qin grew up and stop listening to her, she felt hurt. I am sure she still loves him a lot.

"Did you eat properly in the school?" ( I think she meant boarding school)

I said I did and she would reply as per normal,

"That is good. Eating is good. Porpor is very scared you all would go hungry. You all look so skinny, especially you. I was afraid you did not eat well in school. Eating is good. When I give you the money for university then you could spend the money and eat more. I am scared when I die my grandchildren will go hungry."

She goes on telling me the importance of studying in school. So when we grow up, we would get a good job, we would have sufficient salary so that we will not go hungry. She goes on telling me about the money from grandpa.

"When I die, the money left would be split to everyone: papa, mama, da gugu (big/eldest aunt), pang gugu and all four of you. Its not much, the money for you in the university. But that is what I can do for all of you. Other porpor may not do that you know."

She said that with pride. She should be proud.

There was not much she could do for us. She was denied of chores since we were afraid that she might hurt herself or tire herself. we kept quiet about all kinds of problems so that she need not worry. In her perspective, she probably felt that her existence was insignificant. But with the money, she still could at least prevent her grandchildren from going hungry. So, she should be proud. I am proud of her love for us too.

She wondered about if Zhi Hua has eaten well in the army too. But she quickly continues to say,

"Zhi Hua is going to come out of army soon. Then he will go university."

Once again, I cringed with guilt. She has no idea that Zhi Hua flunked his A levels. He might not be able to university at all. Most likely not. However, he is retaking A levels this year along with my sister. My parents are concerned over this since he spent 700 dollars to retake but he was not putting in efforts to study. Anyway, I shall not digress. That is completely another issue. I decided that there is no point telling porpor about this. Since that would only make her sadder.

Probably noticing that I was thinking of something else, she starts to talk about the past. The past where she used to live with everyone in the kampong. And she knows everyone in the kampong. I took this chance to confirm with her how my father met my mother. I got my parent's version already but this is a rare chance to know more.

"One day, don't know where was it already, I told my friend who was your mother's aunt, that my son has no girlfriend. My friend said her brother have a nice girl so I told your father and he called your mother that night."

She paused for a while, maybe more than a while. Seems to be considering something. Then she said,

"Your mama is a nice woman. She really is."

I always felt that my mother was not very close to porpor but it seems like my porpor and my mother both were very alike. Both were unable to show their affection for each other. My mother always asked my siblings or me to offer the nice food to my porpor when she could very well do it herself. Guess that is just the way how daughter-in-laws and mother-in-laws behaved.

"Your papa is also a rare species himself. A man who do not smoke or gamble. He can cook, sew, fix household appliances and take care of all four of you. And he is very filial to me."

She laughs when she said that wherever my father goes, he would boast that nobody can beat her cooking skills. That is just what kind of a person your father is, she says.

After hearing her, I cringed with guilt and embarrassment (for the 3rd time?!). I am not a bad son but I am not a saint too. I realized that so much have change since I was young.

When I was young, I would climb onto my parents bed to hug and kiss them goodnight. (though I still do them but less often, especially I am in boarding school now)

When I was young, I would jump at any chance to help my mother cook. Although she only let me wash the vegetables or beat the eggs. Sometimes she would let me cook for a few seconds then she would take over lest the food overcooked. (that was when I was very young)

When I was young, I would answer "aye!" when my porpor calls out "Ah zhi yong ahhhh" (that was also when I was very young)

Now that I grown up, instead of showing more respect to my parents, I became more rebellious. I stopped listening to everything they said. I began to censor information that would cause me to face a scolding.

My porpor must have seen me stare into space while I recalled the past and decided that she talked enough for the day. She told me to continue doing my work on my computer and declared that she is going to have an afternoon nap.

Maybe its time I heard enough too. For if I hear anything more, I might have let my tears out in embarrassment, guilt and nostalgia.

P.S. The following conversation is translated to English but the original meaning is 99% retained.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


It happened quite some time ago, just about a week before the Project Finals. My group (Tzehou, Jiajie and Daniel) and I went to a tuition centre to introduce our project about Peranakan as part of our resource package (Cat 7) . The tuition centre were located at the top floor of Causeway Point and it was our second time there.

We were called in to the office where I think the lady we met in there was the in-charge of the tuition centre. She showed us our email to the tuition centre with several highlighted points in it. The time the email was received was at Monday 12am++. I was rather appalled by the fact since I thought that the email was sent days ago. (that day was Tuesday)The in-charge seemed very displeased at the fact that we showed no consideration to the tuition centre at all. She lamented that we should sent the email 3 days earlier. Tze Hou was apologetic since he was the one who sent the email. Whoever, the in-charge carried on by saying that Tze Hou's mother has contacted the tuition centre and requested for a slot in the schedule. At this point of the conversation, the whole group was utterly shocked as it was not known to anyone of us. (including Tze Hou) It seemed that Tze Hou's mother has act without informing him. In the end we get a lecture from her about our irresponsibility and other faults such as sending an email without leaving the contact number.

I felt that we should really be thoroughly ashamed of ourselves as both of the in-charge's sons were from Hwa Chong and we agreed that this should not be how students from a prestigious school should behave. We have learnt several lessons through this minor setback and I realized that sometimes we learnt more outside the school itself. Responsibility proved to be an extremely important attribute in co-operation with people of different walks of life. It is certainly something we cannot live without in our life.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I have really neglected this seemingly sleepy blog of mine. Its always like this. Its hard to have one life but two blogs. Sometimes you just simply don't feel like writing on 1 blog if you have 2 blogs... Its weird. If I got the time, I will figure out someday. Now lets get on to my real topic today. Hehheh. Its kinda strange in my recent blog posts that my posts seem to lack a very important quality that blogs should have. And that is the "just-in-the-day" events and feelings. Most posts would be a reflection of a story-telling of what happen that day but mine was rather different. It seemed to either lag a while or simply just random thoughts and feelings evoked by certain chains of events. Its liked a chemical reaction. Blah + Bleh + TIME --> Blog post!

I don't know about readers of this blog. But I certainly feel that there is no consistent style of writing here and it just seem to change in a very rapid pace. The style (not sure if the 'style' I am talking about here is the same 'style' Miss Lim talks about in narrative lessons) varys according to the mood I am in on that day. It could be reflective, humorous (rare) or simply events' show-and-tell. See, I am digressing here. If you are very confused here, read the next blog post which will most likely happen today. That is my main topic. But digression is inevitable today in "My Blah-Blog". I seem to be in a very twitchy mood. Nevermind that. It is kinda personal and if I go into that, it will be another big big digression.

Laptop's keyboard are really easy to type. While thinking about how to start on the main topic, I managed to type 2 paragraghs in like WOW! a few minutes. (or what it feels like) Now that I really *screwed* this blog post up, I decided to just put a stop to it and start on the task, which is to blog a post, to liven up this blog.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Its another one of my family's post-dinner talk and my father shared with us one story which I thought was rather meaningful and was very related to Hwa Chong's philosophy "win-win". The story starts with a young man asking a wise old man what is the difference between hell and heaven. The wise old man said, "Hell and Heaven both have unlimited delicacies. But there is one peculiar rule in Hell and Heaven - diners must use a four feet fork to eat. Spirits who went to Heaven survive. On the other hand, the spirits who went to Hell died." *Its illogical as spirits can't die...*

The young man was curious and asked for a reason. The wise old said, "Spirits who went to Hell cannot use the four feet forks. The forks were too long. However, the spirits who went to Heaven did not use the forks to feed themselves. They use the forks to feed others and others feed them with their fork." I thought this story was rather interesting. Astonishing, my father told me its an economic anecdote. Its purpose is to tell the entrepreneurs that feedbacks are very important. I interpreted the story my own way and thought that its about win-win situation.

I personally feel that helping each other out is extremely important in modern hectic lifestyle. If we ever think of doing everything ourselves without anybody's help, regardless its family, friends or colleagues, I think our life will be a very stressful one. Needing someone's help does not mean showing weaknesses on your part. When I was in primary school, I used to refuse help on some unimportant stuff. I did not know the reason why but now, I think maybe I thought that but asking for assistance in some minor stuff,I am showing that I am incapable.

It also reminded me of the Adam Khoo course "Take Flight" in Primary 6. On one of the activities, we were grouped into pairs and were supposed to play Tic-Tac-Toe. Each groups were given two Tic-Tac-Toe template. The winner of all groups is to let both your partner and yourself to win as much as possible. I did what I thought was right and went to cross out every box. My partner which is also my best friend eyed me with suspicion and surprise but I reckoned he trusted me so he did not object to my actions. In the end, we were the only group who won and we surprised the trainers completely with the answer to the "riddle". That's definitely one nice memory! Maybe, I am fated to come Hwa Chong! *Not considering the fact that I have not heard of Hwa Chong when I was P6.*


Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I came across this quote through another blog which my 2nd brother recommended as an inspiration. I thought it was rather meaningful since I reflected upon myself when I was doing this particular Malay assignment which needed a family photo. It struck upon me how much I have changed in these few years.

Especially during the times in Hwa Chong.
Inevitably, negative changes were bound to occur on this 'vulnerable' period of time when impressions, malevolent or benevolent, were most likely be implanted, perhaps for lifetime, in this teen behind the screen now. I don't deny that I learnt more swear words now. I don't deny that I was expose to more sex-related terms. And I don't deny that I have learnt to manipulated truth now. HOWEVER, that does not certainly mean I have been using my new-founded vocabulary. In fact, I prided myself for being one of the class members who did not use the F word. :D
With puberty at work, maybe I tend to view stuff with a bit more seriousness. I take people's words to heart, I take note how people look at me, I tried to present myself in a cool, neat manner. Constantly struggling to portray myself as a flawless character in other people lives and more important in my own life. Sometimes changes makes you wonder if you are still yourself or you are changing to become your real self. Or perhaps, you are just someone who perpetually trying to change for the sake of changing. Change is the only constant. But the constant seemed to make me inconsistent in my thoughts and emotions.

Its nostalgic as I recalled how innocent and pure I was in my primary school times. Ignorance is bliss. Indeed it is. Looking at my own picture years ago, when I was a lot shorter, much more plump, with hair 1 cm long and face rounder and smaller, I could not help but wish I can experience the life I used to experience back then. Answering questions without thinking and still could be deemed as adorable. Getting scolded by teachers and still could be just as happy the next day. The carefree and innocence of me then was like a balloon floating up to the sky. You cannot get it back. But you still like to watch it drift slowly up to the blue, blue sky. Remembering the times when you once have it in your hands.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

We are coming to the end of Term 1 soon and I must say that Term 1 was a very hectic period of time with my competition. If I do not know myself well, I would be saying I am giving excuses... The competitions indeed occupied a large space in my time. Not that I could actually get away with this reason alone. It all boils down to my inability to manage my time well. I got to prioritise and make sure I have adequate practice on every subjects!

I must admit that I have indeed disappoint numerous teachers with my scores this term, especially my inconsistency in my Language Arts. Miss Lim, if you are reading this I must apologise for my inconsistency. However, Miss Roselind Matthews once said to me, "Do not say sorry to me. I am just doing what I should be doing. Learn from your mistakes and get over with it." I still remember that it was the time when I got very low for my history test and Miss Matthews brought up my marks by being a little lenient. From then on, I look upon Miss Matthews in a different light, not because of her help but because of her wisdom that I felt from her. Therefore, I will work harder next term which I believed that my compeitions will end by that time and I would have no more excuses anymore :)