Happy New Year 2010 ! The Year of Tiger !

Happy New Year 2010 ! The Year of Tiger !

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It’s been a year …

Ah Ma, everyone’s fine

In remembrance of Tan Gey, 1st November 2007

Red Packet: The final gift from Ah Ma

Today, my sister reminded me through her e-mail (an e-mail to ask for my help to check her Japanese essay for the coming final term exams this week) that it has been a year since my grandma from Dad’s side had passed away. I recall vividly of the whole dramatic year I had in 2007 for certain parts of it still lingers around up to now. It started off with me not doing well with my final year project back in degree but I eventually got through it, somehow graduated and continued on with my masters. Before beginning my masters, I was having a tough time securing a scholarship to support my 2 years tuition fees and daily life expenses since my contract with the government scholarship had ended in March, 2007.

It was then when I got to know about Ah Ma’s situation. (That is how I call my grandma from Dad’s side) Pancreas cancer, final stage and the doctor confirmed that she would only last for about half a year for the cancerous cells are spreading rapidly to her other internal organs. I was shattered to know the fact that she’d be leaving us soon and since life wasn’t at the right beat that time, feeling helpless for I was miles away from Ah Ma here in Japan and filled with anxiety after being rejected by a few scholarship foundations, simply put I was not enjoying life at all. Again, somehow I persisted and the current scholarship foundation supporting me found me to be suitable to be one of their 26 scholars of the year which I am real thankful for without it, I guess I would’ve decided to quit masters and return home for good.

Well, soon after that, I decided to make a trip back home to visit Ah Ma, after a few times that I thought I could not see her anymore before she leaves us. She was being hospitalized when I was back home. The last thing she gave me was a red packet with a RM50 note in it. I understood and felt the love so much and I still keep the red packet in my wallet even right to now. While I was back home, many incidents happened which includes a serious brother fight between my youngest uncle and my Dad. I can’t help myself being all softy at that time, tears were running out of control and that is when my heart ached the most that despite being the eldest grandson of Ah Ma’s, I couldn’t do anything to make things better. I still feel the same up till now.

Anyway, I was reluctant to return to Japan but my stay back then was only for 10 days. I had to come back to Japan because I had another challenge that I had in my mind that needed to be solved as well because it was regarding my future; yes, the dreadful job hunting. Actually, at the same time, my grandparents from Mom’s side weren’t doing well too. Grandma with a bad heart and had a small heart-attack then, but she’s fine now. Grandpa had a mini stroke that had made him bed-ridden and he too left us last June this year. So, the trip home was to see my dear grandparents from both sides. On my flight back to Japan, I was devastated.

Well, to continue on with the story, Ah Ma left us for good on November 1st, 2007. No one can tell how hurt it felt to be here all alone, it did felt like the end of the world. The very next day, I went to a seminar of company with heavy legs and continued to put on a smile throughout the whole thing. I did informed the fact to the HR representative who was touched that I came after all. Anyway, this was one of the 3 job offers I got. On that weekend, I was scheduled for a Tohoku Trip and I was going to cancel it and find ways to go back home for Ah Ma’s funeral but everyone at home said it was okay. My good friends were kind enough to cheer me up and of course, we had a good time but my heart was thinking about home all the time.

After coming back from the trip, I stayed over at my good friends’ place for I really needed company and that is when I called home to ask about the funeral and to talk to everyone back home. After the call, I was so depressed that I had to just take it out. The two good friends were kind enough to comfort me and you know who you are and thanks. Overall, it was good friendship that has taken me through all the hardships. Friendship can sometimes provide more than what family can. Life’s always been challenging for myself as much as it has been a great one for me. It just makes feel that I should appreciate more of the people who are acquainted to me through blood or even through any type of relationship.

A message for Ah Ma

Ah Ma, it’s been a year already.
Life’s going on fine for me right now and
I must say for the rest of our Soh family as well.
it must be for all the prayers and blessings you’ve showered us with.

Visited Gong-gong this year, he’s healthy but of course, he misses you dearly.
Tina just got married and the rest of the cousins seem to be doing real good.
I’ve secured a job for myself already and trying to enjoy what’s left of my student life.

I still have your red packet and it always reminds me of you.
Love you and missing you, home in Muar was different without you
but I can hear you say, “Life must go on”.
Ah Ma, please continue to shower us with your love and blessings.

Your eldest grandson,
Ren-ren

P.S. That is how my family calls me by my Chinese name taken from the last character “仁” repeated.

Being 25 + 1

Am officially 26 today !

Today will just be like any other day. Nothing will change abruptly, obviously, except for the fact that I’ve survived 26 years on this face of the Earth and still am determined to continue to live on, as the clock ticks on till the day my age increases another unit on the very same date next year to have this same exact sentimental ride I am going through now. Please bear with me if you’ve heard the story all before already but I just always want to keep myself reminded on my birthdays about the fact that I was given a chance to live this life that I’ve led all along till now. Here how my story goes. Exactly 26 years ago, my father had a dilemma. It was his birthday on this date (yes, both of us share the same birthday) as well and it was on this day in year 1982, the doctor told him that it would be the choice between the life of his wife (my mom) or the life of his son (me).

My mom got a serious typhoid when she had me in her womb, a month before she was due to show me the world and she was of no sign getting better back then. My mom refuses to care about herself and selflessly, she had only one thing in her mind: to deliver his first son, no matter what. Well, since you all see me here in this world, to cut the story short, my determined mom managed to give birth to me and yes, we were both fine after all. I was born in Assunta Hospital in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, which is an industrial area in Malaysia, and was then pretty famous for I was nicknamed the “Typhoid Baby”. Not a cool name to have but was indeed a miracle baby to the doctors and nurses, so to say from all the stories I hear from my parents and relatives.

It actually crosses my mind right now, at this age, if both my mom and I did not make it or even if one of us didn’t make it, how terrible the existence of birthday would be from then for my dad for it would have turned into a death day as well.  I was brought into this world, into his arms and usually I would joke by teasing him, “Hey Dad, was I your burden on your 1982 birthday or was I a real gift ?” and he still hasn’t given me a concrete answer to that very question. I think I will try asking him again today when I call home for his birthday wish. The whole dilemma situation could have turned into a nightmare and I guess it was major relief for my dad that both of us, my mom and I, were fine 26 years ago. Well, no matter whether I am a gift or a burden, I am thankful for the life I have and also the lives of my family, for nothing compares to all the worldly gifts in the world than to have all of them to paint my life with their own unique colors. On this day, I simply want to say “thank you” for every single one who has made my life up till now possible. Happy Birthday, Endoru !

Lovely sister got the JPA Scholarship !

Am real proud of you, girl !

The government scholarship, not easy to get, unless you pass all the conditions.

My lovely sister, Jennifer, had made our family proud again. At first, she made us proud by getting real good results during her STPM and with that good sets of results, she managed to enter the most profound university we have in Malaysia, the University Malaya. She is currently in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, studying East Asian Studies and majoring in Japanese language (perhaps very much influenced by his brother who’s here in Japan). Anyway, being a nice good girl and considering the financial situation we have in our family, she decided to apply for the Malaysian Government’s Public Service Department Scholarship for local universities and guess what, she successfully got it and that is the pride our family take in after that very success of hers entering the prestigious university.

My dad called me to inform me and to consult me regarding this matter, on whether she should accept the offer or not. I went through the details of this particular scholarship once again and did all the math and considerations for her. I, myself, managed to receive the JPA scholarship to continue my studies overseas here in Japan for both my diploma and degree. Without the scholarship, there is no way for me to survive the high living cost of expenses here so I decided to take it because it was a golden opportunity for me to see the world. Anyway, as for my sister’s case, she has only one and half year to go before she graduate. She will receive about RM11,000 per year to cover up her living expenses and also tuition fees (which is about RM5000 per year) if she decides to take it. That means by the time she graduate she will get roughly RM16,500 from the government.

Well, of course, the government will not give the money for free. There are the conditions which comes along with this contract and as of my sister’s case, she will have to serve the government for 4 to 5 years after she had graduated from her studies. If she had received the scholarship and decides not to serve the government, she has to pay up RM110,000 to RM130,000 as to say “sorry”. Anyway, this story is fine for people who really decides to have a career as a government servant but after giving much thought, I don’t think it is right to decide a single path only for my sister right now already. I mean with her qualifications I believe that she will get many offers in the private sector as well and I don’t want her not to be able to choose from all those choices by being tied up by this bond.

So, it is clear and vivid that Jennifer will not take this scholarship. Yes, it would help us financially to support her studies but then, Mom and Dad said that they will be fine to support her for another one and half years. Plus, I will be working already from next year on so I believe I can support her well too. So, in order to give my sister the liberty of choices in the future, we have to say goodbye to this tempting offer. Of course, there are many Malaysians who are dying for the offer as it is a golden opportunity if you seek a career in the governmental sector plus you get all the worries of your shoulders about the expenses you need to make during the school years.

Nevertheless, our family is real proud of my sister. Her STPM results and her university results won her this scholarship and now, I believe that she understands that when you always try to excel, more chances will come to you. So, my message to her is to just keep focusing on her studies and look out for that chance to come to Japan. For your information, my fellow readers, she has a chance to come to Japan because in her course, for excellent students, they are offered to come to Japan for a year to study. Will she get it or not, we’ll see from now. But, for now, am happy that she has shown us that she cared for our family so much that she actually took those actions by herself. My little sister is no longer little and she’s thinking for herself. Am proud to know that very fact. Love you, sis.

So long, Gong Gong !

In remembrance of my beloved Grandfather

Foo Ah Sai, 74 years old, left his family for good at 9:30 pm (Malaysian time) of 21st June 2008

Gong gong, you’ve fought for a long time so have your rest now …

My message for you, Gong Gong

公公,我真的很希望你还会留着努力的活下去。
没想到你会这么样快离开我们。
我很后悔没过多一点时间陪你。
公公,我永远都不会忘你那一天流的眼泪。
再见了,亲爱的公公!
仁仁。

Grandpa, don’t leave us yet …

Hear my prayers, Lord

This obvious physical change was definitely a sign …

I saw this coming. I’ve been telling people how tough it is to receive calls from home especially when the calls are to inform you about family getting sick or going away for good. It is really tough for you when you are miles away in a foreign land and you’ll always get that not being able to do anything feeling which really sucks. My sister rang me up a while ago to inform me that Grandpa’s been admitted to hospital, moreover, in the emergency ward. Am not sure whether it is the ICU or not, but what I know it is not good and according to the doctor, it could be life threatening. Aunties has rushed to the hospital and Mom is all worried with Grandma (maternal side) at my home waiting for somebody to fetch them over to the hospital to see him.

Meeting him this time during my trip back home, I was shocked to see how much he has changed. His face, his body and especially his legs were all so swollen and he’s turned into a total different person from the aspect of his looks. Knew then that he’s not in a good condition already but never to expect that I would receive such news after one week I am back here to Japan. Grandpa is diabetic and he had a mini stroke last year which made him could not walk another step anymore but only to stay in bed or use the wheel chair when traveling. He was real thin last year when I went back to visit my belated grandma who passed away of cancer last November. May she rest in peace. It is tough enough to lose my grandma (paternal side) lately and I don’t want to lose you grandpa (maternal side). I really hope you’ll get better soon and I will make sure your kids have a thorough check up on your condition and we’ll do our best to make you feel better, grandpa. Just hang in there, please.

Hear me, Grandpa

Grandpa, I know you are going through rough sea now

but don’t you dare leave us now, fisherman.

I’m proud to know how good a fisherman you were on the sea,

on how hard you strife to support your big family and indeed,

you’ve done a great wonderful job and you will get through this rough sea once again.

Stay strong, my dear grandpa, for you deserve more than what you’re receiving now

for all the great things you’ve brought to our family.

Love you and stay strong though I can’t be by your side now.