Friday, May 8, 2009

My Mother, my hero

Mother Nature

Mother of all storms.

Mommy. Ibu. Madre. Ma ma.

My Mother is a force to be reckoned with. My Father was and is still outstation a lot so she looked after the homefront with the incredible efficiency of the Volkswagen engine. If we were to profile her experience professionally; she has a Ph.D in Home Economics with years of experience as an interior decorator, chef, nurse, counselor, financial manager, event organizer, family relations coordinator, fashion advisor, social worker, hygiene and sanitation expert, child minder and mind reader.

Mind reader, you ask? Yes, she knows the instant you dropped some food on the floor and tried to pretend you didn't. She can read you like a book.

My mother's mother was also very cool. I will always remember that she was resilient, kind, popular and magnanimous. She led a life fraught with challenges and yet emerged stronger with her humanity intact. This was a person who survived the Japanese Occupation, the untimely and heartbreaking death of a spouse and two sons. Managed a charcoal business. Drove a truck during the times when women were the ones driven around or left at home in the kitchen. My grandmother once grew pot in her backyard. An unconventional woman in a conservative Malaysia. She also told me, "Be open to everyone but choose your friends carefully." Walking on the busy streets of Penang on a hot day with my grandma, we'd stop every now and then to greet someone: young, old, Indian, Malay, Chinese, men or women. How did she know all this people? They LOVE her!!

So you can see where the benchmark of super female is: an amazing grandmother, a fantastic daughter. As the granddaughter, I can only hope I am half as brilliant as they are.

Mother is my first teacher. She is my avid supporter me when I first decided that I was going to save the world. After sitting for the A Levels (a.k.a. the braincell destroyer: STPM), I was sitting at home not doing much. I decided to pick up trash discarded along a small road near our house. Now, because our house is always spotless, I felt there was nothing I could do except not mess it up. Neighbors would walk by and ask why I was picking up someone's trash. They then asked my Mother if the STPM exams fried my brains to the point of irrational behavior. She said, "If you are not going to help her, then shut up." Nuff said.

So this Sunday is Mother's Day. Of course it's not the only day to appreciate your mother. But it is kind of cool to have a day dedicated to women (and men, I guess) who committed their lives to their family. Once a Mom, always a Mom. She'll never stop worrying about you, no matter how old you are. You may disagree with her sometime but if she disapproves of something you'd feel like the whole world doesn't matter.

Mommy dearest, thank you for everything. I mean everything. You are my sunshine, my moral compass, my pillar of strength.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It's May already??!!!

How did this happen? I thought I could write another blog before April bids us adieu. I had all these blog ideas in my head while riding the bus to work but didn't put pen to paper or rather, fingers to keyboard. So poof, they're gone, evaporated. Gone, babe.

With the swine flu scare, I worked from home for two days after falling sick over the weekend. There was actually a memo that advised unwell employees to refrain from sharing their germs by heroically insisting on coming to work. My parents didn't think it was that special when I told them I had the sniffles. My father even said, "You and the cold virus are best friends." Yeah, I used to get sore throat, cold or allergies every other month as a teenager. Imagine, being the awkward teen with self-esteem of an egg affected by DDT. It definitely didn't help if you wanted to attract the attention of the guy you have the crush on if you have mucus flowing out of your nose.

I have been reading and watching some pretty depressing stuff lately. Awaken one night by fire alarm I couldn't get back to sleep after the firefighters came to check that everything was ok. I watched the movie, 'The Color Purple.' Now, I have seen plenty of white-discriminating-against-black movies but this one was special because it was a story of oppression within the African American people, particularly women who are raped, abused and treated like slaves by their own family and spouse.

Then I read a Nobel Peace Price winner's account of the Holocaust. Elie Wiesel wrote 'Night' is such a simple but devastatingly clear manner that I was just stunned all over again by the atrocities the Nazi Germans committed against the Jews. The thing that struck me was how trusting and peace-loving the Jews were. They didn't want any trouble. They just wanted to live their lives, follow their customs, be with their loved ones. Elie's father is my hero because he kept his son going until the very end. Elie was about to give up while they were all being forced to run 42 miles continuously in the snow but the father, looking like a corpse, prodded his son on.

Today I watched 'Cry, Freedom', directed by Richard Attenborough, brother of David Attenborough. I enjoyed hearing Denzel Washington speak with an African accent. But there it is again, the theme of racial discrimination and domination. The separation of families and keeping people poor in their social standing and in their minds. The war against apartheid claimed many victims for many decades.

So I've covered disease, war and slavery. Makes sensational reading, no?

Of course, learning about the suffering of others whether through fictional or non-fiction work makes me grateful for all that I have.

Yes, my government isn't perfect. But it hasn't stopped me from becoming a conservationist.

Yes, my job isn't perfect. But it has given me interesting exposure and learning experience.

Yes, my health isn't perfect. But this body has enabled me to do many things and go many places.

Much, much to be thankful for indeed.