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Saturday, 1 September 2012

蕭煌奇-阿嬤的話 (Dedication to my ah ma)

I was fortunate to grew up in a 3 generation family. 

My maternal ah ma was the only surviving grandparent I knew, and she stayed together with the other 5 of us in my dad's tiny HDB 3 room flat in Queenstown. 

I have fond memories of her.

Ah ma was the good cop; while mom was the bad cop. 

Mom likes to scold and cane me (I'm always up to some mischief!), while ah ma would secretly defy mom by buying me soft drinks (my favourite!) and toys. And we would always say: "Don't tell mom!" with a wink and a smile. 

Ah ma was my best friend during my early childhood. We spent lots of time together, especially when I only attended kindergarden for one year.
As a middle child, I was the "invisible one".  I guess looking back and knowing what I know now, that's why I was so naughty! I was seeking and craving for my parent's attention. 

Luckily, ah ma sees me and is always there for me. 

I followed her when she goes for her morning walks, marketing in the wet-markets, and doing little errands for her by buying cigarettes (now not allowed) and going into the neighbourhood provision shop to find out the "chap-ji-kee" results (written on a calender).

Sadly, ah ma passed away when I was doing my basic military training during national service. 

Each time I came back to Singapore for home leave during my 7 years away, I would make a visit to Mt Vernon to say hello to ah ma within the next 1-2 days after arrival.

It's all very natural and impromptu.  There's no waiting for an anniversary or being reminded it's that time of year we all "have to" do what's expected of us.

It's not politically correct, but there will always be a favourite child, a favourite sibling, a favourite parent/grandparent, a favourite friend, a favourite teacher, a favourite boss, a favourite employee; and so on....

Deep down we know the reasons why.

Money is indeed helpful; but it can't buy that kind of bonding.


  1. Hi SMOL,

    My maternal grandma stayed with me during my primary school days. Although the time I spent with her was short and she wasn't exactly the type of nice grandma I was hoping for, still I had fond memories of her.

    My grandma ashes is also at Mount Vernon (together with my grandpa). Although we do pay our respects once a year (during Qing Ming), I will occasionally go down alone when I'm troubled. I do not know if I find comfort looking at my grandparents portrait or the serene surroundings, but I will feel much better after that.


    1. Derek,

      I think I know what you mean. We all need our own "sanctuary" to do quiet thinking.

      A few months ago, mom and I visited ah ma together, and we had a wonderful "picnic" under the shade of the big banyan tree next to ah ma's resting place.

      It was ah ma's birthday and we had the whole Mt Vernon to ourselves. Much better than Qing Ming!

      That day, I learnt something new about mom and her relationship with ah ma...


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