Wednesday, January 09, 2008

One generation plants the trees, in their shade another generation rests

On the way to the ward, I saw an interesting quote. Apparently there were 2 people who planted some bamboo at the old Toa Payoh hospital. These bamboo trees were then transplanted into the Changi General Hospital and a quote was put up.

It read, " We should each plant a tree in our lifetime even if we may not have a chance to sit under it. One generation plants the trees, in their shade another generation rests. 前人栽树, 后人乘凉".

It was not difficult to locate the bed in the ward. Grandma's moaning attracted our attention. In most of the beds, the aged patients were accompanied by maids. Ours too. It must be tough to for these underpaid maids to stay by the patients round the clock to attend to them, especially so for my maid, Wati. She had been with Grandma for 2 years. Ironically, she spent more time with Grandma than most of Grandma's descendants. Now, Grandma only responds to Wati and my Aunt. Wati had very much wanted to return to her Indonesia hometown, but lamented that she couldn't bear to leave Grandma.

Do values erode over time? Or is reality cruel?

One of my Uncle wept when he saw Grandma bedridden. He got a lecture from Wati. All this while when he visited Grandma, he would send Wati to buy him coffee and not paying her. Furthermore, he practises sophisticated magic tricks -- vanishing when money is needed for Grandma's healthcare. It hurts when one can't rise up from one's generation to yell at the senior generation. Something hurts more at the moment.

Grandma couldn't recognise me anymore. Grandma couldn't recognise the grandson that she doted and cared for for more than 17 years. Her eosophagus was infected and she could not take in food and water. The doctor's response was to add more antibiotics. Seems like the concentration of antibiotics never reach a peak. I hope it never would.

Soon came more visitors -- my Paternal Aunt's daughter-in-law with her 2 daughters. The 2 girls brought some colours to the eitherwise dull and gloom hospital ward. As innocent as children are, they just played with themselves. In my mind, the quote resurfaced again...

"One generation plants the trees, in their shade another generation rests."

Grandma planted a huge and beautiful tree which shaded all her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Except herself.

I couldn't bear to look at my Grandma for too long a time. It's pricking hurt. I kept fidgeting with my phone to pretend that I am responding to SMS. My Mother would later ask why I had so much calls. Looking across to the other side of the bed, Wati had her eyes filled with tears too. I refused to cry. I had not managed the ability to cry without twitching a cheek muscle. In my mouth, I chanted prayers which I had always heard Grandma chant with her beads every evening when I was a child. I don't know what helps.

Lately a song had been accompanying me, bringing me tears every now and then...

北风毫不留情 把叶子吹落 脆弱的她选择了逃脱
With no feelings, the wind blew so hard that the weakened leaves fell off the tree.
叶子失去 消息 风才感觉寂寞
With no news of the leaves, the wind is beginning to feel lonely.
整个冬天 北风 痛没人能说
Throughout winter, the pain the wind is going through is indescribable.
我从来没 想过 我会这样做 从来没爱过 所以爱错
I never thought that I would act this way. Never loved before, hence love wrongly.
我从哪里起飞 从哪里降落
Where I rise and fall,
多少不能原谅的错 却不能重来过
All the wrongdoings can never be undone.
翻开回忆角 落 完美的生活 以为幸福都可以掌 握
Flipping through memories, I had a perfect life and thought that happiness is always in grasp.
仔细回味 当初 那个故事背后
Thinking over the good old days, behind that story,
Oh 原来是我 犯下 没承认的错
Oh, it's me who committed the mistakes that I never admitted.
在这少了 你的世界 Oh 找不回那些 觉 其实我不想道别 那些过去
In this world without you, I can't find the feelings. Actually I don't want to bid farewell to the past.
请你原谅 我 的爱错
Please forgive me for loving you wrongly.

A song by Wang Lee Hom. Most would think of it as a love song but when I sing it, my Grandma comes to picture. It is harsh but true that you can only LOVE one person once. And you can't reLove the person. Could I have done more for Grandma? Could you have done more for your family?