Wednesday, January 17, 2007

an ode to daughters, husbands and grandchildren

tonight i feel like writing - i am feeling particularly melancholic today, and somehow particularly not in the mood for talking a lot.

i've got so many things that i want to observe and make comments about, and i always tell myself that i will come home today and make a meaningful contribution to my blog, but i always end up doing something else.

today it's about daughters, husbands and grandchildren. in internal medicine, people come in sick (quite obviously). it's not like obstetrics whereby when you visit, you're sharing a part of the joy.

over here, when you visit, it's to pay sympathy, show support, offer strength/condolences, or worst of all - see a person for the last time.

in most patients that i see, there will usually be a small coterie of people who rotate between themselves the task of seeing the night through with the sickly. they take turns, because they obviously have their lives still to live - perhaps unwilling, or unable to compromise on their lives. all perfectly understandable - no one can fault anyone of them in the least.

for some patients however, there will be ONE person who takes up almost the entire responsibility of taking care of the patient. he or she stays with the patients, mops them up, feeds them, talks to them, sleeps in various uncomfortable positions, deprives themselves of food/rest - they are the ones that we should look out for and honour, because they are the ones who are closest to God.

Kak Faridah is one such daughter, who stayed with her mother in the hospital day and night and day and night for 14 days and14 nights. i stand humbled by her sacrifice, and i pray and hope that God will bless such courage, such humility and such beauty - all encompassed in one person's small heart.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Five Hundred Twenty Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes

one year on, the pain and hurt has been replaced in its acute form, by a dull and aching sensation, always present in your soul, always present in the things that you do every day.

i couldn't function at all today - i was too preoccupied with last year. i did things on autopilot, catalogueing what needed to be done, doing them while thinking of something else. i thought i could face today being strong, i thought i could just sail through today and not be affected, i thought today would be like any other day that i have gone through over the last one year.

images keep forming in my head of what happened one year ago - every vivid detail comes back to me now, while i halfheartedly fend them away. the phone calls i got, the drive to Ipoh through the rain, the splashes on the windscreen, the concrete belief that i had all throughout the 3 hour journey to Ipoh, that my dad was the strongest man in the world and he'd survive this accident just like he survived everything else.

tonight i don't see him lifeless, but i keep seeing the tears that fell onto that cold floor in that cold room on that cold night in January. i keep seeing his life pass me by, i keep seeing my childhood memories of him fetching me to school, to taekwondo class, to treks up Maxwell Hill. i keep reliving all those arguments with him about me not wanting to be a doctor.

i keep seeing him going to bed early at night because he works hard throughout the day, and he has to wake up early tomorrow morning to ride his bike, that long, cold and lonely 45 minute trip to Kuala Kangsar. if i imagine hard enough, i can see him there, wrapped up in his thick brown blanket, sleeping with his eyes closed - sleeping the deep contented sleep of the man who is at peace with himself.

if i imagine hard enough i can see him at the computer, typing out an email to my sister. if i imagine hard enough, i can see him at the dinner table, telling my mom about his day. if i imagine hard enough, i can see him around the house - winding up the clock, switching off the telly, eating his corn.

but you know, i don't have to imagine at all. i can feel him here with me tonight, it's as though i can walk from my room to his room and he'll be there in his usual position, and somehow all this will be a nightmare, and i can rewind the clock five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes ago, and i can have him in my arms again.

**

my father was 50 years old when he passed away, one year ago. every detail of those few days will forever be embedded in my memory.

**

In Memoriam,
Khor Cheng Loo, 1956-2006