Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A tribute, of a different kind

As the title suggests, this is going to be a tribute of a different kind, not what one would expect, I think. So if your gut feeling tells you you don't want to read this, then please feel free to click to another page.

Right now, I should be mourning the passing of Singapore’s founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. I should be joining the rest of the nation in sharing how devastated I am that he’s gone, write a tribute of how great a leader he is, and so on.

I’m not.

Make no mistake. I do think he’s a great leader. In fact, I am thankful to him. Without him and his beliefs in education, I wouldn't have enjoyed an English education. Without him, I wouldn't have a life I’m leading now. Without him, my kids won’t be able to enjoy the greenery around us and be able to play in the playground safely. We wouldn't have water running from our taps; we wouldn't have the many opportunities that we have now.

In fact, my grandmother, though she lived in Hong Kong and may not always agree with the policies he passed, always had the opinion that Mr Lee Kuan Yew is a good man, a great individual with intellect and character, and that there will never be another person like him.

However, I am not mourning him. I’m certainly sad because I know without him, I would not have a home. But I’m not mourning him. This is because I’m grappling with another life event that’s closer to my heart.

I’m mourning the passing of my grandmother, who left us earlier this month.

It’s ironic, really. She has been gone for some time now, but yet, I haven’t said my final goodbyes. In fact, I’ll be saying goodbye to her next week, after the nation says goodbye to our founding father.

Yup, you read right. My grandmother’s funeral is only happening next week, because we had to hunt for a funeral hall and queue for a crematorium.

Which makes me even more grateful towards Mr Lee, for he had the foresight to build HDB flats with void decks and to ensure all other funeral facilities are efficiently managed, so that the people can say their final goodbyes immediately after their loved ones have passed on. So that they can move on with life. 

In some ways, I think this is a reflection of Mr Lee’s resilience. He’s telling us that whenever one meets a low point in life, no matter how difficult, one has to bounce back and find the strength to move on.

Yet, move on is not something that I can do. For the past several weeks, I’ve been in a kind of limbo. While my head knows my grandmother is gone, my heart doesn’t seem to want to accept the reality. The fact that we live in different countries, plus the long wait for the wake and funeral, has made it all seem extremely surreal, like it’s not happening at all. 

But I know it’s real. I know she’s not around any more. But the reality has not yet sunk in deep enough for me to grieve and move on. Since news of Mr Lee’s passing, I’ve been deliberately reading the news with an objective eye, refusing to let my emotions get the better of me. I’ve even avoided reading too many articles about him. I’m afraid that I would instinctively think of my grandmother and my tears would fall, and fall uncontrollably.

Should I mourn for him? I suppose I should. I suppose I should join the rest of my compatriots and mourn, let my tears fall and start my healing process. But then how can I? When the wake and funeral of one who has shaped me as an individual is just one day after that of a person who gave me my home?

I know my seemingly stoic strength isn’t going to last long. With her funeral looming, it’s getting harder and harder to keep a dry eye, though I try, very hard. It’s easier because I’m here and I’m still busy. Once I sit on the plane and fly across borders to bid my goodbye, as the country is wearing black and saying goodbye to a great man, it’s a different story. I know the floodgates would open, and it’ll be hard to close them. But I know I’ll move on, no matter how difficult it will be. 

That would also be what my strong and independent grandmother, a little old lady who lived 27 years alone because she wanted us to lead our own lives, who showed me that family ties is more important than religion, would want.

Love you 嫲嫲. Always and forever.

Grandmother

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1 comment:

  1. Lovely penned post. I enjoyed reading in.

    Happy Monday!

    ReplyDelete