Whispers from the heart

Ocassional conversations with my heart. Never heart-wrenching and heart-breaking. Always light-hearted and hearty. Ever thankful for your heart-felt support.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

My father, the peasant from China ...

My father passed on two decades ago. I missed him still.
He was a padi farmer from a little village in Guangzhou. With an even smaller plot of land. So small, his family needed only an ox to do the ploughing.
He had an older brother who was wheelchair-bound. He had no schooling and only knew how to work the fields, from morning to evening, everyday.
Times were tough and got worse when his parents forced him to take a wife for an extra pair of hands around the house. The wife was a gambler who ran away shortly, after amassing a huge gambling debt. Father was devastated. His parents died shortly, leaving him alone with his brother to fend for themselves. He was not even twenty.
One day, in a moment of anger, desperation and angst, he hoisted the skinny and bony ox (the only asset in the family) and flung him a few metres away. The poor animal had refused to work, probably due to old age and hunger. That was the final straw my old man could take. Sadly, the ox (his only friend) left him too.
So, at twenty, he entrusted his older brother to a fellow villager and headed south. He heard about a place called "南洋" or Nanyang where he could find some work. How? He didn't really know.
He stowed away on a boat with fifty others in a little cabin. No food, only water because that's what they could pay for.
When he arrived at the promised land, he was hungry, weak and infested with lice all over. He knew no one and eventually ended up in a dark, deserted alley in Chinatown. He was practically dying.He wanted to take his life and end it all, quickly. He hadn't had much in life in all his twenty years before and the present seemed worse. He wasn't a man with much hope then.
A total stranger, an uncle Liu (we always addressed him so but I don't really know his name) took a wrong turn, that night, and ended up in that alley where a young man laid dying. Uncle Liu took him home; nursed him, fed him and found him a job as a sailor using some dead man's papers.
A year later, my father met a local girl and married her. He was not rich, not even getting by in the average sense. Sailors were not really well-paid and their work was contractual. Sometimes, he got to work on a ship for a month. There were also many months when there was nothing to do but waiting at the shipping agents' offices for work offers.
They had several children and I am the third offspring. Very often, Father would visit Uncle Liu with his whole family in tow. The visits were boring to me initially. When we were older, my mother would relate my father's story to us with him sitting beside her, nodding quietly. Everytime, My mother would crack up laughing as she described animatedly how Father carried the poor ox doing an "incredible hulk" and smashed the poor thing to his death. Despite the laughing, I began to understand why uncle Liu was important to our family.
Father used to tell us stories from his trips and life in China. Through his stories, he taught us much. I had never heard a harsh word from him. Nor have I seen him angry even when he had quarrels with my mum (over the lack of money, mostly).
Yes, we had little money. Sometimes, we only had plain rice for our meals or a little tauhuey (bean curd, minus the syrup) to go with it.
There were also times when my mother brought me to visit uncle Liu when Father was away. The wages from the shipping company had not arrived and she had to borrow from uncle Liu to make ends meet while waiting. My mum told me Father would not be happy if he found out she had "inconvenienced" uncle Liu. My mum said borrowing is an act of last resort. We must always try our best to cope first.
So, we grew up in such days. Life got a little better as jobs were more available due to a better economy. We even managed some meagre savings, sometimes.
Once, Father tried to learn to speak English so that he could get jobs on "angmo ships". I was in primary four and doing very well in school, then. I helped him along but after six months or so, he still couldn't get past " Sit down, please".
Perhaps, I was not a competent teacher. Both my parents had self-taught themselves to read chinese without a day of formal schooling. But, english was a different ball game, I guess.
I tell everyone Father did very well in life. He was not wealthy and had not achieved much. But, he left behind a legacy of values and principles to enrich his children's lives. That is priceless.
Unfortunately, this is not the basic point of this nostalgic post. And if there was any brutal truth to be learnt, it was that Father would have died if no one gave him a helping hand in his weakest moment.
I don't understand all those theories about why the fittest should survive. I only believe that everyone is born with a mission to bring forth life and celebrate its wonders. It is sad if we endorse others dying for our living.
Savages can't get any worse than this.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The heart of the matter ...

The heart is not just a pump for the human body. It is credited for many wonderful and equally evil capabilities ...

The Chinese has this saying "公道在人心". Apparently, we believe the heart knows, deep in its recesses for some, what is right and what is wrong.

We saw it working during the NKF saga.

The heart gives more than it takes too - kindness, empathy, generosity and hope.

We saw that in the overwhelming response given to the late Mr Tan's family. (I was touched beyond words how Singaporeans had reacted. We are not cogs in a machine, afterall!)

The converse is true. The Wee-wee saga is an example.

Some of us thought it was a battle of the haves and have-nots. Politics of envy, they say. Some thought it was just a brutal truth to be learnt.

For those who sincerely wish to engage the heart, perhaps, they might want to hear me out.

The heart is won only through the good - honesty, sincerity, integrity and compassion.

Some hearts may be incapacitated by greed, arrogance and vanity but at the end of the journey, they will come to realise their true abilities.

Let's give the heart a chance to do its best.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The WEE-wee Saga

I have gone into semi-retirement on my blog. Or more truthfully, I have less motivation to write about the events around me because Singapore has lost its hold on me slowly ...

Yesterday, my son sent me his response on the WEE-wee saga. He hails from the same esteemed institution of learning as Miss Wee. But, he confessed he lacked good spelling and grammar skills. He hoped to make up for it through sincerity and humility. He hopes RJC would not be downgraded to an elitist scumbag school like ACS was, once. (son, no worry lah, your PM would make sure it does not happen, even if we spend a few million bucks to rebrand it).

So, here it is. My son's take. Yes, it's taken from Ms Wee's original entry. He thinks she writes very well but his mom knows her punctuations better. (Yeap, your mom was schooled in RGS, too. The only elitist thing she has, is a MP father who has little time to inculcate the right values in her and hopefully not because those were his values).

Well, my son's tribute to the other class of elites, the peasants of Singapore ...

mom's friend sent her some blog post by some bleeding stupid 18-year old singaporean called Elite- wee (WHY do all the idiots become Elites, why?!) whining about how singapore is such a paradise, how elites (ie, 83 of them and more, all wearing white) leeched from their well-paid jobs, how the pool of singkie peasants (dismissively chucked between inverted commas) is really a tsunami that will consume them all (no actually he didn't say that, he probably said THAT'S THE BRUTAL TRUTH, DEARIE.), how the reason why everyone wants elite kids is that they're the only bunch in this world immuned to fragile ricebowls, how the government really needs to save elites from inevitable boredom of wearing white but they aren't because they are peanuts-shoved-up-ass elites who control how their wardrobe works, yadayadayadayada.i am inclined - too much, perhaps - to dismiss such people as crackpots. stupid crackpots. the sadder class. too often singaporeans - both the neighborhood poor and 66.6% socialites who sell their souls for upgraded lifts - kid themselves into believing that our society, like most others, is compartmentalized by breeding. ridiculous. we are not a tyranny of the academically capable and the clever, we, the peasants are the upper class, their masters with the whip.sad Wee attracted more than 50 comments praising him for his poignant views, egging in a chorus of rejoinders that climax at the accusation of lack of peasant intelligence in the form of good spelling and grammar because his all-too-true views had been rejected by the singkie forum. while i tend to gripe about how we only have one functioning 83-yr old elite in the cabinet (he issues all visions for Singapore), i think the main reason for its lack of recognition was that his incensed diatribe was written in pathetic little scraps that passed off as sentences, with poor spelling and no grammar. there was also a total lack of sensitivity to peasant feelings.WEE, wee, wee darling, how can you expect to have an iron ricebowl or a solid future if you cannot empathise accordingly? to become the top drawer in the cabinet, one need to suck ass with the right sensitivity level. didn’t your father teach you this?

if you're an elitist, life will give you less balls. that's just how things go. there's no point in lambasting the peasants for making your paradise one that is, i quote, "far too intellectually unstimulating lacking good spelling and grammar". it's the same everywhere. yes mediocrity exists, and it is sad, but most of the time if people like you are preferred over others, it's because you made it so. it's so sad when people like Elite-wee lament the kind of world that singapore will be if we make it so uncertain for them. go be friggin dictator in another peesai, if uncertainty of success offends you so much - you will certainly be proclaimed a talent and a visionary. More so if you are a knuckledusters-wearing-bully in a cul de sac, which, given your ball-less elitist penchant, i doubt. then again, it's easy for me to say. my future isn't in leeching on the system but i guess right now it's a lot brighter than most elite's. Wee will read this and brand me as an 18-year old peasant, one of the quitters who will chabo the country. go ahead. the world is about winners and losers. it's only sad when people who could be winners are marginalised and oppressed by the elites. is dear Wee repentant? has dear Wee been denied a right of reply? has dear Wee been forced into shutting his blog? has dear Wee had his political career massacred by the government?i should think not. dear Wee is one of many wretched, undermotivated, overassuming leeches in our country, and in this world. one of those who would prefer to be waxing lyrical about how his myriad talents are being abandoned for a life of serving the peasants, instead of earning a decent, stable living as a Elite professional. it's not even about being a representative of the people. these shitbags don't want anything without "$$" and a guaranteed risk-free career.

please, get your fucking elite uncaring face off this tiny dot.

Actually, the language is atrocious. I have counselled my son accordingly too. :) As for the basic point, there is one, in black.