25 August 2006

Thinking of Mum

Throughout all this life are two very cries I indulge in:
One at the birth of my life;
The other at the conclusion of your life.

The first, as I could never remember, was heard of from you;
The second, as you would never acknowledge, needn't be mentioned.

Nevertheless, ah, across these two crying sounds
Is boundless and everlasting laughter,
Over and over again
Having reverberated in the whole of thirty years,

You have acknowledged, so much as I remember.

~Yu Guangzhong

This is a peom composed by the famous Taiwanese poet Yu Guangzhong in moemory of his mother.


Encountering this poem on the Internet, I think of my mum, who had a stroke five years ago and then unfortunately was diagnosed as having cancer two years ago.

I always remember the story she would reiterate whenever I phone her. Having been in labour for umpteen hours, she gave birth in a storming morning, and thereafter quit teaching in a kindergarten to take good care of me. Indeed, she dedicated all her life to me and my sister, to this family.

This March, half a year since I saw her in summer 2005, I flew to New York to visit her. Hoary hairs, wrinkles, trembling hands, wobbling legs and, above all, the wishful longing in her face for my returning to her for good are the images etched in every inch of my flesh. She becomes older each time I see her, which I notice with a fear on mind wondering how many years I still have.

'A tree prefers to calm, but the wind does not subside; a son is able to serve, but the parents are no longer living ( Shu yu jing er feng bu zhi, zi yu yang er qin bu dai),' a Chinese saying goes. Filial piety is more than an obligation, but rather, it involves a wholehearted feeling of emotional indebtedness towards the parents.

May Mum live a long and healthy life; may I have enough time to serve her.

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