Saturday, March 6, 2010

Typhoon—The Aftermath

It's been a little over a week since the typhoon has passed. For a period of almost 3 months, we endured the forces of the turbulence quite admirably, and I'm glad to say that we pretty much survived the trauma—in fact, I dare say we persevered to a marvel!

Mom spent most of the time while she was here in Bridget's apartment, except for a short visit to West Malaysia and to Lahad Datu. Of course she also spent a couple of days each at Evelyn's, Dennis' and my house.

Playing her role as the perfect "life organiser", she very quickly embarked on trying to put right whatever she saw as "not so right" in our respective families. But that is not to say that all the outcomes of her efforts were disastrous. For example, when I accidentally mentioned that I had an annoying mouth ulcer because of heatiness, the next thing I knew was that I had a few gallons' worth of ha fo chao prepared by mom. Although it wasn't my plan to drink such an amount of ha fo chao, and then sufferred diarrhea for a couple of days, at least the damn thing helped in healing my mouth ulcer. So I suppose I shouldn't be complaining.

However, at other times, I didn't really know how to react when mom offered me something to eat or drink. A good example from the top of my head is the forsaken foo chuk, which she made practically everyday. And she made sure that this favourite son would get a huge mug of foo chuk whenever I was around. But it did not end there—she also took the trouble to keep reminding me every couple of minutes to drink that prized foo chuk! Now that mom had left, I swear to god that I won't come anywhere near foo chuk drinks for the whole year ahead.

Before you get the wrong idea, let me hasten to say that mom is not an evil-minded person. Let me reiterate here that she is essentially a kind-hearted woman who's born with that unsuppressable instinct to watch over her children like a hawk, but forgetting that we're all grown-ups now and have chosen our own preferences in life. I would venture to say that she's also trying very hard to control herself from meddling in our business, although she's not always successful in doing so.

Well, obviously a few hundred words in this post will not do justice to the few months of turbulence over Christmas and Chinese New Year, but over all, I'd say that mom did quite well on this visit. Somehow, whether it was directly or indirectly because of her, Dennis and his family boycotted the Chinese New Year Eve dinner this year. It was kinda weird because all of us siblings have been keeping the tradition of the CNY Eve dinner all these years even though some of my them have converted to Islam for over 20 years now.

Mom was obviously disappointed in Dennis' no-show stunt, since it's not always that she can spend Chinese New Year here with us. Even Audrey came all the way from Lahad Datu; and Uncle Tony (mom's younger brother) from Brunei for the dinner. All of us tried to proceed with the dinner and mahjong session as usual, but I knew that Dennis was at the back of everyone's mind that night.

A couple of days after that dinner, perhaps because of guilt, Dennis was all out to remedy the situation. I heard he went to see mom secretly at Evelyn's to explain the boycott thing, and then gave a gift—I believe an expensive jade—which I think was a bit too late in the day. Mom, as expected, wasn't impressed. I heard she was crying, but I really don't know what Dennis said to her. And that is a very big thing! Mom is usually very proud of all her children, and she would not fail to announce to the whole world if she got something like an expensive jade from her son. But not this time.

On the eve of mom's flight home, Dennis made a last bid to earn mom's forgiveness—he brought his whole family to my house where mom was staying. I have been bottling up my frustration over the last week or so. Now I don't normally bother about how the rest in my family lead their lives. It's none of my business, really. It's been years ago since I last gave Dennis any advice. I would only give my opinion when he asked for it. But that night, in front of mom and Uncle Tony, I gave him a piece of my mind. I went on a long lecture for a good hour or so. Dennis listened attentively and would not dare to argue. In the end, I said to him that he needed not follow my advice. It's entirely up to him.

The next morning, Dennis was there again at the airport, and just at the departure gate, while giving mom a big hug, he said to mom, "You do know that I still love you, right?"

Mom gave a short reply, "Yes, I do."

And then mom disappeared into the departure hall...

I heard that Dennis also went to Penampang after leaving the airport to apologise to dad. Apparently, he promised to see to it that he won't ever miss future Chinese New Year Eve dinners. I guess that meant he took my advice after all. I just hope that there is still time for him to attend the next dinner with all of us around.

So that was that, the typhoon has passed, and I guess it's time for the rest of us to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of the turbulence. I must say that I'm quite impressed that only Dennis had a problem this time round. Mom said she will try to come again next year, though not during the Chinese New Year. I wonder who will be affected by the typhoon next.

Keeping my fingers crossed...

No comments: