Category Archives: Family

Dust Of The Mind

In a recent Skype conversation, Dad was telling me about the unknown amount of dust he uncovered around the house as he embarked on spring cleaning.

“I didn’t know there’s so much dust! It’s like the more I clean, the most dust I find! And I can’t stop until I’ve cleaned it all!”

After a pause:

“It’s just like our minds … We never know how much dust we have in our thoughts until we start attempting to clean and control them.”

“Mm hmm.” I nodded in agreement, amused that an activity like spring cleaning can be used as an analogy for control of the thoughts in our mind, and glad for the timely reminder.

The Bonesetter’s Daughter

An emotionally deep novel about a Chinese family and heritage, based on Amy Tan’s personal stories and experience. It’s even been made into an opera.
After reading this, I couldn’t help but wonder how much of our stories are fading with the demise of our older generation.
I ask myself how much of my grandmother’s life do I know.
The answer, sadly, is not much.
I wonder why. Why have we never thought to ask? Why hasn’t anyone in the family talked about it? Why hasn’t anyone thought the remember so that we can pass on her stories to our own children and nieces and nephews one day?
My maternal grandparents and paternal grandfather are already deceased.  Only our paternal grandmother is left, and suddenly I am curious to know what her life was like as a little girl, growing up in war to post-war times. Would she want to talk? Would she talk only in dialect such that I won’t be able to answer her confidently? Would she talk, then tell my aunts and uncles that I’ve become “weird”, suddenly asking her such questions?
I do hope that I will have the courage to try. Maybe the brother might be interested to make a short film project out of it too ;p

Before The Mum Came

In usual backdated style, this entry is about the cafe I visited right before I went to the airport to meet Mum, but at this time of posting, she is 2 days away from leaving.

One and a half weeks has zoomed past, leaving us with the eternal question: Where has the time gone?!

This visit has been largely toned-down, with us staying indoors when the weather got too cold, just chilling around the house and in malls nearby. Though I am looking forward to having my solitude again, I guess I will also miss her presence, as always.

But in slightly more than 4 months, it will be Summer, and I will be home for the holidays:)

Corduroy

Ode To Brother

I have vague memories of waiting with my grandmother in a hospital waiting room. I have memories of being given a soft toy, a bear-like sort of animal which must have been bought to appease my impatience. I remember Dad bringing me to see Mum inside the room.  I don’t remember seeing him at the hospital, but I remember being at home when my mother brought him home, hence completing our family of 4.

Fast forward 24 years later, and I find myself being thankful that my parents decided to have another child, aka my brother, despite the fact that they must have had their hands full with me.

I am thankful because I could not imagine growing up without the brother. All those hours we spent playing with the old tape recorder, playing the limited computer games we had, organizing “camping” trips of all sorts, going on fantastic “journeys”, having imaginary pets, trying to stay up late into the night just to “spy” on our neighbors in the opposite block… My childhood would have been very different without his fantastic imagination to fuel our play.

And then as we grew older, late night chats until one of us got too tired, outings, doing photography, discussing our ideal lives and partners, talking about philosophy, psychology, the list goes on. Even though we don’t share the same room anymore, it makes me glad to know that we can still talk about almost anything and everything. Things that I can’t or do not want to tell my parents, things that I’m afraid people will judge me for saying, things that can swirl around in my mind, bothering me for days on end.

There is something to learn from everyone in our lives. From him, I learn to be positive. I learn to live life with happiness as a choice. I learn to laugh at myself. Sometimes.

I am thankful that he is someone who accepts me for who I am, with all my weird habits, quirky thoughts and ideals about life and how I want to live, yet at the same time always encouraging me when I need that extra boost of confidence and reassurance.

A few days ago, when I asked whether there is anything he wanted for his birthday, he said in half-jest: “Your safe return…” – which I thought was really sweet ;p

Dear brother,
Because your sister is currently an international student on no-pay leave from her full-time paying job, your present this year may very well only be this blog post. But knowing you as someone who appreciates words and writings, I’m sure you won’t mind my heartfelt ramblings as a birthday offering 🙂

Happy Birthday and lots of love! 

 

First of May // Chiangmai Memories

Dedicated to my father, since May is his birthday month.
Dedicated to my mother, since my father’s birthday is also on Mother’s Day, and the flower reminds me of her.

Somehow, these classics have a magic to them that seem to feel irreplaceable. They don’t make music like this anymore.
Or maybe time is that magic ingredient. The years cluster and overlap, forming a dreamy mist which shields us from harsh realities of existence. Something that most music of today, in the rush of being churned out, lack.

 

The images of the May lily flower in the video also reminded me of the wonderful nature of Chiangmai. Of the freedom of being anonymous in a foreign land. Hoping to recreate that feeling in June…  🙂

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Thoughts on Parenting

I’m not a parent, and I may never be one in this life. But I can say with conviction that being a parent is possibly one of the hardest jobs on earth (If you want to do it well, that is).

Apart from the physical challenges of parenting – like, taking care of their every meal from birth. Not being able to sleep when your child is not home by a certain time. Staying up to check on them when they fall sick. Ferrying them around to various places and events, especially when they are young… Apart from these physical tasks, being a parent can also be immensely emotionally draining. Fulfilling and meaningful, of course, but the emotional roller coaster ride is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

And for those who think that parenting actually gets easier when your children grow up, I beg to differ. So many more factors come into play. How should you behave in front of your child’s friends so as not to embarrass them. How to maintain effective communication with your child such that you’re not seen as nagging or probing, but expressing just enough concern about their daily activities to make them feel loved and cared for. How to support them in whatever they want to do, even if you fear for their safety and doubt the viability of certain actions. All these and a million and one other concerns. No, I don’t think parenting gets easier.

Maybe its just me, or the home I come from. Maybe there are parents out there who do feel that they can fully let go once their child turns 18 and get their driver’s license. Or maybe its just an Asian thing. But I see my parents’ job not getting easier, and there are times when I feel almost apologetic for what I put them through. It can be really hard to accept that a being you created, a being which you used to be able to claim for yourself, grow and develop their own ideas, beliefs, personality and make their own decisions. Perhaps the toughest part of being a parent is the balancing act – Holding on to that being you’ve created and love, and yet letting them go as they grow. This is something parents might have to do on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day, as an individual asserts their independence, one step at a time. Parents have to make the conscious decision to let go, when all their parenting instincts tell them otherwise. When it is human nature to want to possess the people we love, and keep them by our side. Tough, indeed. I’m not sure I’d be able to do it.

And so, I’m immensely thankful that my parents are my parents. I pray that I will be able to overlook all their shortcomings, as any normal human would have, and always remember only their sacrifice and love for us and the family.

Feeling blessed.

The Week Mum Came

This week, the mother has come to visit and I’ve had the pleasure of playing host and tour guide when we are out and about (Back on campus, she becomes the cooking and cleaning guru and I, the dutiful disciple). In anticipation of her visit, I cleared a large portion of essay-research and readings in the past week, leaving me free to become a tourist with her this week!

On Monday I brought her to Katoomba – my second time to Echo Point and The Three Sisters. Thinking it was going to be cold (remember my first experience!), we were decked out in thick clothing, only to meet the strongly shining sun and absence of winds…

Just one of the hilarious episodes we experienced here.

Overall, it’s been a good week. As much as I’ve enjoyed my solitude here, I’ve welcomed her company, and I am sad to see her return home.

But well, such is life!