KUALA LUMPUR – December 2021
My Mother is 94 years old this year. Well-educated in Guangzhou, China, she has a phenomenal memory. Her eyesight and hearing ability are still good. Though her health is somewhat frail, but under the care of my dearest sister, she is doing fine.
She reads the vernacular Chinese paper daily. She keeps up with family affairs on our group Whatsapp, maintains an FB presence, have a Wechat account for video chats with relatives from Guangzhou and watches her favourite old HongKong & China movies, Buddhism, Taoism & Christianity, and Funnies on YouTube.
My Mother is my best companion. We laugh in gaiety. We talk shop or discuss some life philosophies. We joke a lot and banter some. She tells me her lone perilous journey to Nanyang (known as Malaya then) from Guangzhou in her mid-20s, carrying my elder sister who was one year old then. For a few weeks my father would wait for her arrival at the port of Singapore. And she regales me with ghost stories of old China.
Occasionally, she cuts out from the newspaper worthy articles for me to read and comprehend. She hears my laughter and discerns the tears in my heart. Huh! She is more worried about my health than she worries about her own. An old proverb comes 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.
I have a keen interest in classical Chinese proverbs. Though I came from a pure English stream and spent a few years in London doing my MBA and in New York City for my Graduate Gemologist program, I am more of a Chinaman than a “Yellow Banana”.
So, my Mother is my mentor and educator to me for the pursuance of my interest in classical Chinese.
This video clip is one of the many Cantonese learning sessions with her. There was spontaneous laughter and smile on her benign countenance, her sparkling eyes shone with liveliness and her focus, yet in repose and easy manner, in guiding me through the text in Cantonese even without her bifocals.
I did a translation to English in my own words. Using Google Translate gives a lot of garbage and meaningless translation. I kept to the spirit of the phrases used as an interpretation of Chinese thoughts as far as possible. Note that in the Chinese language a lot of metaphors were used.
Strange to say, that at the end of her reading, she remarked that some of these classical sayings may not be too applicable in today’s world.
I protested. I said, “Why not?”
“The world has changed a lot, son.” Mother said, with a small smile.
Guess that she is more in-tuned with today’s fast changing world than me, while I was still trapped in a time-warp.