KUALA LUMPUR – October 2021
I took my Mother to an ENT specialist doctor to check her ears today. Both her ears were infected and have been oozing some pus for a few days. Ear medication helped but a little. Her ears affliction has been part of her perennial health problem. It comes and goes. However, her hearing is unimpaired and is still good without hearing aids at her age of 94.
It has been more than one and half years since the lockdown last year in March, where we both had our ears checked. We felt that as the pandemic raged on, it was better to avoid going to hospital.
The ENT specialist was a jolly good-looking, fair-skinned, and soft-spoken Indian doctor. Probably, he would be very appealing as an all-Alpha macho-macho Bollywood super film star. Together with a lead female magnificent actress, with a visible yet half concealed cleavage and an exposed belly button, they could gyrate, sway, pirouette, jiggle, dance, serenade, croon and sing to the delight of its audience.
From the high Himalayan mountains to some cool river steams, from a Maharaja palace to some busy streets of India, or from an exotic sea-side location to some palm fronds swaying in the breeze, they would do their Hindi Geet along with their retinue of backup multi-faceted colourful dancers providing visual symmetry and rhythm to the accompaniment of loud, upbeat, and crooning music.
Oh dear…I was carried away as I occasionally watch Bollywood, too.
Anyway, a patient would indeed feel very comfortable in presence of this doctor.
Meticulously, the doctor extracted quite a big ball of earwax from one of my Mother’s ear using a micro suction pump. For the other ear, a thick molasse had formed and was stuck stubbornly to the ear canal. The doctor scraped it hard with a curet. My Mother winced with pain. There was some blood. It came out eventually.
For every procedural step the doctor did, I explained to my Mother. A dutiful nurse stood beside the doctor to receive the sticky syrup of earwax on a wad of tissue paper.
I said to my Mother, “Look Mother, this will trouble you, no more.”
Then it was my turn. The doctor said my ears were quite dried. Occasionally I need to apply some baby Johnson oil or olive oil so that the earwax can be formed into a ball for easy extraction.
While we were waiting at the pharmacy for dispensation of medicine for my mother, she asked about my ears. I told her there was no issue. I just needed to apply some oil onto my ears.
“Last year we came here, the doctor has advised you to apply olive oil onto your ears. You didn’t do it.” My Mother said.
“Mother, you still remember what the doctor told me what to do on my ears last year? Olive oil?” I was stunned. I did not mention olive oil to her earlier.
I added further, “How do you remember that?”
Mother said, “In life there are important issues and there are trivial issues. I only remember the important ones.”
My Mother has a phenomenal memory. But to remember to apply olive oil to my ears was just beyond my comprehension. And that was more than one and half years ago.
Then a revelation struck me.
How many of us listen with our ears and heard nothing?
Most mothers listen and hear what their children told them. They share their joys and woes, their happiness and sadness, their successes and failures, and most of all they are always worried about their children.
An old Chinese proverb came to mind, “養兒一百歲，長憂九十九”. A mother raises a child for a 100-years, she worries for 99 years.
For my Mother listens and hears all the important issues I speak to her.
For she listens with her heart.
Then, in silent supplication in my heart, I immediately made a prayer that she would live a healthy life for a hundred or more years.