Wednesday, 30 May 2007

R.I.P, Baby Adam...


Hi everyone,

As promised, I wrote a short note on Chee Keong's passing in StarMag on the 27th of March, Sunday...You can read the actual piece here...

You may also read the original story I wrote about Chee Keong in StarMag here and the subsequent story that followed when I had to say goodbye (when he left for the home) here...



R.I.P., baby Adam



DEAR the-rest-of-the-world,

I need a hug.

As I write this, my heart is full of sorrow. Adam*, the dear little boy I had given my heart to, is gone. And I never had the chance to say goodbye.

I met Adam in Ipoh Hospital's Paediatric Ward two years ago . He was born with Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy, and chromosomal abnormalities of unknown origin. It was because of this (and poverty) that led his parents to give him up when he was just a baby.

I met Adam when he was 16 months old, weighing a shocking 4 kg, and struggling to stay alive. For six months, I was his “foster” mother. I made his milk every morning, fed him, bathed him, cuddled him, massaged him, helped him exercise, and at times, scolded him!

I didn't realise it then, but the more time I spent with Adam, the more I grew to love him. When he left the hospital for a home for the handicapped, I was devastated. My best friend, Tan Yean Mei, who had met Adam a month earlier, too felt my loss.

For days later, I was like a zombie. After carrying Adam every morning for so long, I was at a loss because the child I had grown to love so much was no longer here with me. I missed his smile, his coo, his split-second laughter, his snoring and I sure missed his smell. I especially missed Adam when I went shopping. I would be holding a cute little jumper or toy in my hands, before I realised I had no baby to buy for anymore.

But I moved on as best as I could?.

Still, whenever I was in the area of the children's home, I would persuade my dad to make the 30km detour to see Adam, just to hold him for a few minutes.

And then on the morning of the May 20, I got a call that he had passed away from complications from measles at 8am. I was in Kuala Lumpur and, on the way home, my dad drove me for the last time to the hospital where Adam was warded frequently after he left Ipoh. This time, it was not a bed that we headed for, but the cold building no one ever wants to step into: The mortuary.

I saw my darling for the last time that Sunday at 4pm. He was wrapped in white cloth, and I got to touch him one last time. I had never seen him so peaceful. When he was alive, even in sleep, he was either snoring or gasping for air.

So I knew my darling had gone to a better place.

Although his parents could not care for him, I was touched to see Adam’s biological father coming to give him the proper funeral rites. So it was that my dear Adam was cremated on the afternoon of May 22 with his father by his side.

I “had” a baby at the age of 19 and I lost him at the age of 21. But what matter most now is that Adam is finally at peace, and he has gone home to God.

As a Baha’i, I believe that a special child like Adam has a very special station in the next world. That was the main thing that has consoled me, along with great support from family and friends.

Adam, it’s your turn to watch over me now, and I know you will....

*Name has been changed




Thursday, 24 May 2007

BUM Bloggers' Gathering: Embrace, Engage, CamWhore...



Phew...

I am finally going to post about BUM's Bloggers' Gathering on the 19th of May at the Lake View Club in Subang Jaya...

I was meaning to do it the minute I got back, but due to unforseen and very devastating circumstances (see previous post), I had to postpone this one...




Anyway, when I first saw the 'advert' of the gathering, I didn't really think about going, because:

1) I had to travel all the way from Penang, where I am studying, to KL...Alone...
2) I had no place to stay...
3) I did not know a single person who was going...
4) I do not blog about socio-political stuff...




But I must admit I was deadly curious (*Ahem, am very busybody by nature)...The thought that I could finally put all the nicknames to actual faces all in the same place at the same time was killing me...


And so it happens that I found myself going...




I must also admit that I was very apprehensive. After all, I knew that the bloggers attending would be powerhouses in their own right. During one MSN-conversation with JT, I voiced my concerns, to which she replied: "You know, I'm sure there are people there who are as curious about meeting you as you are them"...

Honestly, I didn't believe her lar...But you know what? She was right, in a way (they were curious to see the big mouth belonged to whom!)...




Oh, by the way, I was on radio in Australia (Youth Radio) for about 5 minutes, talking about the Power of Blogging... It was on the same night of the Bloggers Gathering, so yes, I missed some speeches...Unfortunately, I could hardly hear what the deejay was saying, so I think I screwed up half the interview saying nonsensical things...But oh well...


Below are some of the people I met:-






MarinaM of RantingsbyMM




Of all the people I was to meet, I was most anxious about meeting MarinaM...I guess I should really be calling her Datin Paduka Marina, but she has very graciously allowed me to call her Aunty Marina...

Aunty Marina in person is very down-to-earth, simple, kind and considerate, and guess what? We're of the same height!



If you had come expecting to see a smart-alecky woman (hey, that's how she portrays herself in her column!), you'd be very disappointed...







So sweet is she that during dinner, she came over and asked me if I would like to join her for dinner at her table (guess she was worried I might feel left out)...I was touched, but declined, as she was sitting at the table where all the speakers were sitting...

Thanks for thinking about me, Aunty Marina!




Zorro a.k.a. Bernard Khoo of Zorro Unmasked


]


And of all the bloggers I was very excited to meet, Zorro, I must say, takes the cake! I have always found his postings to be hilarious, and I must admit I thought he was in his 30's or 40's!

Imagine my surprise when I found out he is in fact, 67 years old! And so, it happens that I now call him Uncle Bernard...

If you were to stumble randomly upon his postings, you might think he is a miserable, ascerbic man *Don't believe all you read!*...But I knew from correspondence that he is nice...

He was even sweeter than I imagined...Uncle Bernard took the trouble to introduce me to other bloggers that night, and brought those who wanted to meet me, to well, me...




And man, I love his pipe!





Nuraina A Samad of 3540 Jalan Sudin







Ok, I admit it...I was one of those idiots who thought Nuraina A Samad (It's Aunty Nuraina now!) was A. Samad Said's daughter...

It didn't help that my friend, who was reading over my shoulder, shrieked: "Oh My God! A. Samad Said's daughter!"...

And so, I went around with that wrong piece of information...until I read 'Tuesdays With Bapak'...

Aunty Nuraina in person is every bit as sweet...I actually didn't know how she looked like, so it was Zorro to the rescue! And she gamely posed for a pic...





Rocky a.k.a Ahirudin Attan of Rocky's Bru







Sob...This is the only shot taken which was taken in the portrait-setting because the photographer thought I was too short...

I must say I was a little surprised...I actually thought Rocky (he said "No Uncle! You call me Rocky...") was a bit of a rebel *Hehe* and would be a little rough *Hehe again*...He turns out to be really sweet, and down-to-earth...I was of course thrilled to meet him, having been an avid reader of his column a while back...






Jeff Ooi of Screenshots





Jeff Ooi (now Uncle Jeff!) is every bit I imagined him to be...A little more quiet than Rocky, and perhaps more 'ganas' in cyberworld than in real life...Which turns out, I was right!

Or so I feel...

I didn't get to chat with him much, but I liked his speech...And he gamely posed for a photo...





Galadriel of Euphoria in Misery







It was Zorro who brought Anu up to me, saying she was looking for me...

And Anu (who blogs as Galadriel) said: "You came to my blog. The one with all the pictures"...
Thank God I remembered which one! See...Her pictures had impact on me, otherwise I won't remember...
Anyway, she invited me to join the bloggers for their Mee Rebus if I am ever down in KL on a Tuesday, and even offered to pick me up! Thanks Anu!







Some Other People I Met...



1) Sharon Bakar
2) Raja Petra Kamaruddin (of Malaysia.Today.Net fame)
3) Shar 101 of Old Blue Eyes
4) Rikey of Wattahack?





Mob 1900 of Mob's Crib
There was this one person I met who introduced himself as Chris...He was a nice guy and we chatted quite a bit throughout the night...He didn't want to give me his Blog address because he said "they're quite disturbing"...

Haha...He must have thought I was too young for them...I later found out from MarinaM that he blogs as Mob1900...
Too bad I didn't get a photo...My sanity must have taken a leave of absence...








Julian Hopkins, who was a lecturer with HELP...And guess what I found out? He was chief judge in one of the debates I went for, and yo, he gave me best speaker! Haha...We were having dinner at the same table...





Yeen Seen and Dr Busarin, who is from Thailand...Also had dinner at the same table...







Tian Chua who was a speaker at the forum...





From left: MarinaM, Tony Pua (another speaker), Me, and Kenny Sia...




Update: *I really was hoping to meet Malaysian-based Raden Galoh, Ruby Ahmad, Elviza, Jimi and Lady Patsy but they weren't there *Shrugs*, along with too-far-to-make-it JT, Kak Teh, U.Lee...*




Whatever it is, it was a long night...But I had a great time...
So, thank you, organisers of BUM 2007...



Monday, 21 May 2007

May You Eternally Rest in Peace, Chee Keong Dear...




CHUA CHEE KEONG
17th August 2004 - 20th May 2007


I need a hug...

As I write this, I am a complete wreck...

Yesterday morning, at 8 am (Malaysian Time), I lost someone very dear to me. Someone so very dear, that it felt like a part of me had died too...

That someone is a little boy by the name of Chua Chee Keong...



The first day I saw him...


When I first met Chee Keong, he was at death's door. Looking at him, my heart sank, and in all honesty, I thought he would be gone in a matter of days. Here was a boy who, at that time, was 16 months old, and weighed a mere and shocking 4 kg's. He was a literal bag of bones. He could barely breathe properly...His breaths came in heaves, and he struggled with every tiny little breathe...His chest was trembling, and it sounded like he was gasping just to take in the air we take so much for granted...


His little nose was clogged with the thickest and yellowest mucus, and with every little cry he gave, the mucus would come out thick and gooey...And he was so desperately weak, even his cries could not be heard...He could not even open his eyes...


Chee Keong had severe pneumonia, and had spent the past week in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit...Besides that, he was born with Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy (SQCP), and had Chromosomal Abnormalities of unknown origin...

And it was because of all this (and poverty) that led to Chee Keong being abandoned by his parents...

All I did that day was lay my hands on his skin-and-bones chest, and prayed...His entire chest and tummy was the size of my palm...

Honestly, I was afraid...Afraid to pick him up and hold him...Afraid that it would hurt him...

At that time, I thought this would be just another child I would meet...Little did I know he would become the most important thing to me, after my family...



Chee Keong, two weeks after I met him...



Thus began my daily routine...I went into the hospital every morning at around 8 am, to feed, clean and talk to Chee Keong...




Picking him up...



With the help of Pediatric Physiotherapist, Pn Yasmin, I learned to pick him up; to bathe him in the tub; to cuddle him; to help exercise and massage his very stiff joints; to help stimulate his senses; to bring him back to life...

From going in at 8 am, I soon found myself going in at 7 am...I made it my mission to nurse this child back to health, and to give him back a little bit of his childhood...

Every morning, from Monday to Saturday, I would be there...Sunday too, some times...The nurses who initially didn't pay much attention to me soon started introducing themselves by name, and were gamely chatting...I was beginning to become a part of them, a staff...just unpaid and not obliged to be there...



Chee Keong, about two months after I met him...



Soon, the little tyke began to blossom...One of the greatest moments was when he 'called' me one morning...It wasn't very loud, but it was firm: "Ooooo" he said when I called his name. I felt like a proud mother, whose baby had learned to speak...

For anyone else, it might have been trivial...But to me, it meant the world...After a month plus of being with him, my dear Chee Keong was responding to me for the first time...



Falling asleep...



And very soon after, he began to eat...I remember the doctor asking me: "You ready to try feeding him by mouth?"...

I nodded...


And so it began...First it was just milk (I had never mixed baby milk on my own!), and then it was nestum...And then my mum decided to sponsor Chee Keong with Baby Gerber products...Bottled (and very expensive...Sheesh...Babies nowadays have such a good lfie...) fruits, yoghurt, pudding...We were soon shopping for pureed (specially for babies) apples, bananas, apricot, pears, carrots, sweet potatoes, oranges, strawberries...

Even I didn't get this kind of treatment as a baby! Not that I'm complaining...I had a mother and father who wanted me!


Chee Keong was a smart boy...He prefered the bottled products, and didn't want the ones I mashed by hand...And he doesn't drink water (He'd 'spray' my face if I attempted to feed him water), so my mum sponsored him vitagen and fruit juice next, in attempts to get him drinking! But no sir, he would not drink 'sour' juices...Only the sweet ones!

And sometimes, we would boil porridge with minced chicken...Dear Chee Keong refused point-blank the hospital version, and the doctors and nurses gave up trying to ahem, negotiate with him...So I cooked them myself for him...Mum did, at least...


The nurses and doctors on the other hand, would buy little biscuits for him in attempts to teach him to eat solid food...His table always had mini Chipsmore or mini Tiger-biscuits, and our dear Chee Keong only ate these two! We also gave him little bits of chocolate in attempts to mask the taste of his medication...

Guess what? He learnt to keep the chocolate on his tongue, and spit out the medication...And then, he decided he would only eat Cadbury chocolate...Nothing else would pacify him...



Protesting against photography with stupid face...



My mum and dad were treating him like the little grandchild they can't wait to have...Buying clothes (I think altogether, they bought him almost 20 pairs of matching suits, and socks), toys, feeding paraphernalia, bottles, diapers, pillows...

We even had friends chip in with matching pillow+bolster set with blankets...Toys, food and diapers too...

He started with only the torn clothes on his back, and ended up as the best-dressed baby in the ward...

And then one day, a bunch of friends chipped in and bought him an RM 700 Ripple Mattress that helped prevent bed-sores from forming! The only child in the entire ward to have one...

My dear boy could not roll over or even hold his head up for long...He could not sit, he could not stand...And he was now about 20 months old...




Stupid Boy a.k.a Old Man a.k.a Snowman...


In short, he was KING...We all called him Anak Raja among ourselves, and also often refered to him as Old Man, because of his 'elderly' look...But he was my Stupid Boy...I could not help it...He had a classic stupid look =)...




The head pediatric specialist of the ward, Dr Sheila herself refered to Chee Keong as 'Snowman'...And I would never forget what she said till today: "My dear Chee Keong, I dread the day I have to send you away from my ward"...

But I was adamant that I would meet the goal set for him to put on weight...Thus, began also his twice-weekly weighing...I took every little spike-up as a personal triumph, and every dip as a challenge...But with his medical condition, it became apparent that a 0.01 kg increase in weight was a victory in it's own right...




Chee Keong learning to play with his tongue and saliva after about 3 months I was with him (At this time, he was around 19 months old)...


My darling was also a champion sleeper...He could sleep through anything...Literally...I could be bathing him, and he would be fast asleep...He would be on his front during physiotherapy (in efforts to help him learn to lift his body with his hands), and he could doze off...
I also learnt that dear Chee Keong could swallow his nestum, asleep...Yes, he will snore (Another reason why we call him old man!) with his mouth open, and I coulp pop the nestum into his open orifice, and he'll gulp it and continue to snore again...Like nothing transpired...
His 'sleeping' problem was due to a problem in his brain...



Perhaps the worst thing my dear boy had to go through was his daily suctioning...Because of his SQCP, Chee Keong had a constant secretion problem...And because of SQCP too, Chee Keong's body was unable to expel and/or swallow the thick mucus and phlegm, and it had to be manually 'removed' daily...The only way to do that would be to insert a suction catheter into his nasal and oral orifice to force the thick secretion...


Can you imagine how horrible it is? My dear boy would cry incessantly every time it was done, and he was often left breathless and panting, or if he happened to be down with the flu, he was known to 'pass out' after the suctioning...Thank God Pn Yasmin was patient and would often whisper lovingly to him every time she had to force the secretion out...





Sleeping...Again...



In short also, I had learned to love this boy as my own...He was my baby...I could not care less if I fell sick when I was with him (I often did because he often did)...I could not care less that there were many times where he threw up all over me, and I ended up smelling of mashed bananas and regurgitated milk...I couldn't care less that he stank very badly at times...I couldn't care less about anything, as long as he was well and he was cared for...




Learning to sit up, propped...





I loved that boy with all my heart...
And letting him go when they found him a home for the handicapped was among the worst thing I could ever do...My best friend Yean Mei and I were devastated...Yean Mei only appeared in Chee Keong's life about 5 months after I first started being his 'foster mother'...And even she was devastated...
We spent days washing, labelling and packing his belongings...He finally left the hospital on the 29th of June 2006, with three huge boxes of his stuff, and enough diapers to last him a year, courtesy of the hat that we passed around...


Chee Keong left the hospital weighing 5.665 kg's...It had been six months of patient feeding (because he was such a champion sleeper, feeding could take up to over an hour!), and yet, he only managed to put on 1.665 kg's...But to me, it was a victory nonetheless...


I cried for days, weeks even...And all the nurses were hugging and crying with me...It was a lost we all felt...


I had become so close to him that the state welfare officer in charge of taking him out of state offered me a place in the car, and Yean Mei too...


Really, what did you expect? I was there with him when he was at death's door...I was there when fear overwhelmed me...I was there when he could not move. when he could not even open his eyes, when he was sick and vomiting and purging and breathless...I held him for hours when he spiked a fever and needed someone to cuddle to...Sometimes into the night, and in the wee hours of the morning...I held him even when I was down with a fever he had given me...


And I saw him blossom...I saw him grow...I saw his first smile, his first laugh, his first coo...
I was his mummy in many senses of the word...And he was my baby boy...




This was how my little boy looked the day before he left...A far cry from the time I first met him...



***


Until today, I talk about him to people I meet...Until today, I keep his pictures and one suit of his clothing in a box...Until today, he is my phone's screensaver...Until today, I have his voice stored in my phone...

And whenever I passed the area where his home was, I'd sweet-talk my dad into making the 30+ km detour just so I can hold him for a few minutes...


And yesterday, I got news that he had passed away from complications that had arisen from measles...

He was admitted to hospital the night before (19th May) and the home was planning to call me in the morning to inform me he had been admitted, which was something I had requested when I last said goodbye...But they got the news that dear Chee Keong had passed on at 8 am itself...

***

I was at MarinaM's house when I got the news...I tried as much as I could to stop the tears, but it was an avalanche...I was a wreck...

I sobbed all over her place, and till now, as I write this, I feel so guilty for spoiling the entire family's breakfast...and morning...

But she was gracious when I apologised: "Daphne, the only thing reliable about bad timing is that it is unreliable"...

All I wanted at that time was for the world to just swallow me up for a while...

All I wanted at that time was a hug...I desperately wanted and needed a hug...

I desperately needed my mummy, and she was in a car about 100 km's away, on the way to pick me up...



***


On the way back home, my dad drove for the last time to the hospital that he had been warded in frequently after he left Ipoh...This time, it was not a bed that we were headed for, but the cold heartless building no one ever wants to step into: The mortuary...


I saw my darling for the last time yesterday at 4 pm...He was wrapped in a white cloth, and I got to touch him one last time...


He was indeed, finally, the "Snowman" Dr Sheila had called him...White as he always was, but this time, he was cold...


And for the first time ever, he was at peace...I have never seen him so peaceful ever...When he was alive, even in sleep, he was either snoring or gasping for air...


For the first time yesterday, I knew that my darling had gone to a better place...I know that he was finally at peace...


I 'had' a baby at the age of 19...And I lost him at the age of 21...



This was him, during his classic marathon-sleeps...



Dear Chee Keong,
I hope you know how much we all love you...How much I love you...And I pray that you will eternally rest in peace...
It's your turn to watch over us now...To watch over me...
And I know you will, wherever you are...
Till we meet again, my darling...


***


To everyone else who has been following this story, I thank you...And please pray for him...


I need a hug...


Can anyone give me one?...

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Happy International AIDS Memorial Day!



Today is International AIDS Memorial Day, and I thought I'd like to share one incident that I experienced...

During one of the usual late night, high-speed, typo-ridden MSN conversations with one of my friends, Aaron* asked something which struck me: “What precautions do you take when dealing with an HIV+ patient?

The conversation which had been going at lightning pace, stopped momentarily. For those in the dark, Aaron, who had heard about the volunteer work that I had done, was interested in venturing into the field. As far as I know, the nurses informed you that the patient was HIV+, and that was well, that.

Aaron then pressed with “Don’t you wear gloves?”, and it was then that I realized where this was all going. Like most people, although he knew that HIV was not transmitted through casual touch, there was still fear.

Fear- a word which still plagues society today, when it comes to the unknown. Which brings me to my next point, something which both Aaron and I agreed on: Knowledge, without exposure, is useless.

The mass media has done lots to educate the public on HIV and AIDS; the public knows how HIV is transmitted, they know how it is not transmitted, and yet, how many would actually reach out and touch a person infected with it?

I once saw a very educated person not wanting to lend her handphone to a patient who had AIDS. It was not because she was selfish, but simply because she was afraid she would be ‘contaminated’. Which goes to show that even the best-educated shy away from the unknown.


It is not a sense of superiority which precedes this behaviour, but rather, a lack of exposure to what we only read in the papers or hear on the radio. HIV-infected individuals do not look any different from us, and if left in a room with one infected individual, and 9 other ‘normal’ ones, I doubt anyone can tell the difference (hey, remember the radio PSA a while back?).

But I digress.

I answered Aaron very simply: “How would you feel if you were HIV+ and I wear gloves when interacting with you?

As a volunteer, the message you convey is important, and there is only one message that people want to hear- you are here because you want to and because you care.

What message would you be telling a child (or an adult for that matter) if you wore gloves while making a ‘show of caring’?

Because inherently, your words mean not. It is your body language which speaks the loudest, and sincerity can be felt.

All is not lost. We can still make a difference. And we can all start by reaching out and hugging the first HIV+ you know off. Or if you’re apprehensive, how about just a simple handshake, a firm one?

There is this one quote I want to share, which I read on a wall a while back: “Instead of putting others in their shoes, try putting yourself in their shoes”.

How true. Ultimately, we should treat others the way we want to be treated. The Golden Rule, has again, spoken.

*Name has been changed...


***


Today, I would also like to take the opportunity to pay tribute to two women I know who have tirelessly worked against the discrimination faced by PWLHA (People Living With HIV/AIDS), and who have been championing their rights as well as promoting awareness among the public...

Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir




Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, or MarinaM as she is known in the cyberworld, is Malaysia's most loved (and most famous, I might add!) champion of the rights of PWLHA's. She pens The Star's Musings, a forthnightly column, and has often highlighted the plights of PWLHA's through her column. She currently serves as the advisor of the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC).


Pi Bani



Pi Bani is currently a volunteer with NGO 'The Buddies Society of Ipoh'. Buddies provides moral and emotional support to PLWHA's. Pi Bani has been with Buddies for about 3 years now, and she has done an amazing job helping these people, whom she affectionately calls 'clients'. Her blog (Pi's Twist) is an excellent read on their plights.


To everyone else who is involved in the crusade against AIDS and HIV, I salute you too!

PS: I'll post about the BUM 2007 gathering soon...Hehe...


Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Daphne + Ling = Darfling...


I was reading Elviza's recent What's In a Name?, and many memories came flooding back...


In actuality, I had written an article about my name a while back (probably 3 years back), and I went searching for it high and low...And I found it!!!


So, Voila! Here you go:-


Imagine if you may, a world where everyone, whether black or white, answers to the name 'Ei!' or 'Oi!' Imagine a world where the 'Ei!' or 'Oi!' that you hear might be meant for you or it might not be. Imagine also how frustrating it will be if the billions and billions of people in this world only knew 'Ei!' and 'Oi!' as their name.


Now, before anyone takes a raw egg and throw it at me, allow me to plead my case.

For centuries, we 'superior' beasts of the animal kingdom have done something that animals do not do (at least not that we know off). We have given ourselves names-names that we so carefully deliberate and wear so very proudly.

It is the task of every parent to ponder, deliberate, argue, and even shed tears over the name choosing of their beloved offspring-to-be. It doesn’t matter whether the sex of the baby is known. Parents just seem to love going over 'possible' names for their little bundle of joy and much pain and sweat is put into it. Why else would there be sections in a bookstore dedicated to Baby's Names? What about the mushrooming of Internet websites with possible names for parents to surf and pick?

Unfortunately, the names that parents take so long to choose are often the butt of jokes. It is the nightmare of every child (and parent alike) for their name to be the made into the 'water-cooler-conversation'. Most of the times, parents mean well, but somehow, people will find ways to change the name anyhow, intentionally or unintentionally.

I could give you quite a few examples, but I might also be getting myself a hefty lawsuit that I won't be able to pay off. I'll leave it to your imagination, shall I?



Since we are at this topic, allow me to introduce myself:



Hi, my name is Daphne Ling.

Now, I'm sure most of you will agree that my name isn't that uncommon. Yeah, sure, the name Daphne isn't one of the top-ten names in the United States or the United Kingdom. But I'm sure you've heard of the name before, right? If you haven't, then please do me a favour and turn on Cartoon Network and wait for the next screening of Scooby-Doo! Does it ring a bell now? Yes, I have got the same name as that 'blond-girl-who-always-wears-a-purple-dress-and-whose-father-has-tons-of-money'.


One would expect, with such a common name that people should have no problem pronouncing it. I, however, would beg to differ.


Maybe I should introduce myself another way:

Hi, my name is Daphne Ling and it's pronounced Deaf-nee.

You see, ever since I entered school, my name has been the one that has endured the most contortion and change.

Allow me to take you down memory lane. Walk along side me if you may.



When I was in Standard 1, one of my teachers called me Stephanie. Try as I may, I couldn't get her to call me Daphne. She just insisted that she was right, no matter what I said or did. So, that was in Standard 1.



In Standard 2, one of my teachers decided that she would call me 'There-per-nee'. If you thought that was bad, allow me to introduce you to Teacher Number-3. She called me 'There-pin'. I tried valiantly to point out that the letter ph when put together sounded like the letter F. Imagine the irony of the situation-Here I was, a mite of an 8 year old, arguing with grown-ups 5 times my age on the correct usage of phonetics. I eventually gave up (again).


From Standard 2 until now, my name underwent more contortionism. I've been called everything from 'There-fur-nee' to 'Dap-nee' to 'Dap-her-nee' and yes, even 'Dolphin'. And where may I ask did the letter 'L' come from? I can understand if the contortion arose from the lack of phonetic-appreciation. But, DOLPHIN?!?!

And then the icing on the cake came when I entered Form 4 in the year 2002. My class teacher, a truly wonderful and magnificent chap of a gentleman (please excuse the pun) decided to give my name a lift, despite knowing full well the REAL pronunciation. He did what no one had ever done before-He joined my name.



'Huh?' I can just see most of your jaws dropping to the table top, salivation not withstanding. Yes, he joined my name. For 2 years (he was my class teacher for Form 4 and Form 5), I was known to him as 'Darfling'. Yes, most of you have probably figured out by now that he is a Math teacher. So, he did what any Math teacher is superb at doing- Addition. 'Daphne + Ling = Darfling'.



One day, when my mood wasn's all that good, I told him: "SIr, It's D.A.P.H.N.E", in the tone of voice a mother would tell her persistently stubborn (or perhaps, stupid) 5 year-old kid that "Eating your poo-poo is not good for you"...

Guess what he said: "You want me to call you Darfling, or Darling?"

Ewww...

Now, when I look back, I'm thankful he didn't call me 'Duckling'...or worse!...'Dumpling'...

Other than that, he's pretty ok. My name is not the only name he took the liberty to change, but mine was of course was the most badly 'hit'.



Ah, what the heck? After all, even the Shakespeare dude said "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet"...

Name calling aside, whether intentional or not, I still love my name. So, thanks, mum and dad. Who knows? It could be a formula that high school children have to learn in the future.


Let's see. I can just imagine Math lessons with this equation on the board:

Daphne + Ling = Darfling


Takers, anyone?


Sunday, 13 May 2007

Happy Mother's Day!...

"Syurga Di Bawah Tapak Kaki Ibu"

~Malay Proverb~


Sigh...

The wireless system has gone bonkers, thus the late post...

Today, like everyone knows, is Mother's Day...So, today's post is dedicated to the most important person in my life: My Mum...



My Mummy and me getting our hair done...


Dear Mum,

It seems like just yesteday I was a tiny brat,
In little frilly skirts and ribbons, and yes, a little too fat,
I'd drive you up the wall, and you will sigh and groan,
"There lar, never listen", you'd say, when I broke my bone.

So it happens I broke my hand twice, not once,
And was a pesky little patient, for a couple of months,
You'd yell, and scream, and punish me too,
But I know you sayang me, just like I sayang you.

We used to do everything together, just you and me,
That's why I still come back every week, so with you I'd be,
We quarrel and squabble, and often disagree,
But don't we agree, the King of Rock is Elvis Presley?

We both love shoes: there'r never too many for our feet,
Guess what? Daddy's thanking God we weren't born as a milipede!
Which isn't so bad, when you really think about it,
Hey! All the more shoes for our darling little feet...

There was an advert in the tv that asked: Have you hugged your mum today?
The answer is of course! If we're together, we hug everyday!
But the day will come when I have to go my way,
Don't worry, mummy; like now, I'll call everyday.

You stand tall when I do well,
"That's my daughter!", to everyone you'd tell,
Today I'm going to do the same, on this very blog, for all to see,
You know that lady in the picture? She's MY mummy!

You always say you don't know what you'd do without me,
But really, I do wonder, how can that be?
Because it's really me who should say,
Without you, where would I be today?

You always say I very bising when I am around,
Then complain the house's a library when I'm nowhere to be found,
Don't they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder?
And really, that's the special relationship of Mother and Daughter.

Thank you for everything Mummy, and I love you!!!...


Love always from your pesky little, noisy little, penyibuk little daughter,
Daph


Today's dedication is also to my grandma, Umi, Godma and aunties...

To all the mother's out there: Kak Yati (Aisya's mum), Ju-Eng, Aunty June, Shashi, Mrs Das, Pn Yasmin, Pn Nalini, Sister Rosalyn, Sister Kalwant, Sister Suppamah, Aunty Sarojini (Nisha's mum), Aunty Tan (Yean Mei's mum), Aunty Chow (Ae Mi's mum) and Aunty Soon (VJ's mum)...a special mention to you too...

And to dear Ae Mi, here's one 'Mother's Day' greeting to you for your darling Baby Max...


To all Blogger-Mummy's: MarinaM, Nuraina A Samad, Jenn, Kak Teh, Elviza, Ruby Ahmad, Raden Galoh, here's an online Mother's Day greeting, too!

To Pi Bani, here's a Mother's Day greeting to you for being the 'mothers' of all those PLWHA's... and to Jacqui, here's a Mother's Day greeting to you too for being the 'mother' of all those nephews and nieces of yours!


And finally (phew!), a Happy Mother's Day Greeting to all the mothers of the world for being the movers of civilisation *Ahem...Men, take note*...

PS: I believe yesterday was Nurses Day...Due to the terrible wireless, I could not post anything, so here's a belated wish to all nurses: Happy Nurses Day!

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Of Splitting Headaches and A Groovy Old Man!...


Today was not a good day for me.

The walk from my hostel to my college, if taken at a leisurely pace, takes about 15 minutes. But I am known to walk very quickly. My friends always say I sprint everywhere, and seldom walk, even when I am carrying a few bags. I don’t know; I guess it’s a habit of mine…

The walk, between my college and hostel, is indeed a nature lover’s dream come true. As my college is located at the top of the hill, trees and the like are still aplenty. Indeed, we have a little stream passing just behind my hostel; a stream that gurgles and rushes after a heavy downpour, and gently trickles when the weather is hot. A bridge has been built over it so we can ahem, get to the other side…*Ok, lame*...


In the stream, big rocks are strategically placed. Sometimes when the weather is scorching hot, it is my greatest wish to plunge, clothes and all into the stream, sit amidst the rocks, and just feel the water lace my toes and skin.



The Stream...Isn't it gorgeous? *Sigh*

But I cannot do that. Because then I risk someone calling up Tanjung Rambutan and having me erm, institutionalized…

The trees and lush greenery are also home to many animals. Like monitor lizards, that range from the miniscule to the really fat (when I say really fat, I mean really fat...It's a wonder they can walk, actually...); like birds of every size and colour (I once saw a flock of gleaming crows just snoozing on the branches); like butterflies and bees…

The way to college, is indeed, beautiful…In fact, I sometimes think ‘beautiful’ is an understatement…


So why was today a bad day for me?

Well…I was walking at my usual pace, happily eyeing the little lady bugs that were crawling on some leaves (Aren’t lady bugs just the cutest?), when all of a sudden, WHAM! I felt my head split into half…

My head was of course physically still intact, but for some reason, I was having a piercing headache. I felt my vision disappear for a few seconds, and then it came back. But the pain was excruciating. It was as if little bolts of lightning were hammering behind my eyes and at the temples.


And to think that the only thing I could think of was: “Please don’t let me faint here. I don’t think I can stand the embarrassment”…


Anyone walking behind me probably have thought I was trying to audition for the pantomine: After all, I suddenly lunged to one side, grabbing the railing for dear life...

Luckily, it is just the 3rd day of my new semester, so I wasn’t carrying much. It was then that I truly appreciated the fact that there were trees and boulders all around me…


The Bridge...

I was at the bridge when the headache hit…Until now, as I blog this, I wonder how I managed to climb up a flight of stairs from the bridge to the nearest boulder…But climb I did…


The Stairs...Can you believe (I can't!) I managed to climb this?

And so, that is how I found myself sitting for about half an hour on a rock (and leaning on more rocks), under the tree. For some reason, that entire half hour I was there, no one walked pass me…

Which is probably a good thing: I was spared the agony of coming up with an excuse as to why I was leaning on some rocks in the middle of nowhere…With a headache of that magnitude, entertaining small talk and being nice about people asking questions was the last thing on my mind…In fact, I would probably have barked if anybody had asked me anything…

After about half an hour however, I found that I was feeling ok again, save for the dull pull I felt around my forehead and neck…It is during times like this that I feel very thankful that I carry Paracetamol in my handbag, and water…And it sure helped that I was resting under shady trees with cool grass all around…

And for some reason, I went ahead and went to class…I mean, I’m already ¾ of the way to college…And to miss the first lesson of the semester isn’t going to look good on me, no?


And boy, did I not regret it, for I met my new American History lecturer today. He’s about 75 years old and has plenty of missing teeth and most of his hair. The cute thing is, he is so wrinkled, I think if I made a loop in his ear and hung an earring, his skin would stretch about an inch…or more!

I thought: Oh boy, I am so going to hate this class!


But you know what…I was wrong…Very, very wrong…

He was hilarious!!! He danced when he introduced Henry Ford and the automobiles, he hummed the waltz when he spoke about the changes in people’s taste of music during the Revolution, he imitated Disco dancing when he spoke about the Era of Rock and Roll, and boy, he gyrated his hips when he spoke about the number of Asian immigrants having the time of their lives in Hawaii…And today’s lesson was just an introduction to how history can have an impact on our lives!

You know, I learned one thing today: My History lecturer, who is more than 50 years older than me, is funkier than I am, and has more groove…

Sad huh? But then again, I am soo going to enjoy History class this semester!

At least…I hope I am…



Monday, 7 May 2007

You've Got a Friend in Me...


Quote of the Day:-

"Not the maker of plans and promises, but rather the one who offers faithful service in small matters. This is the person who is most likely to achieve what is good and lasting."

~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe~


Christmas Lunch in Uncle Lourdes' home last year: Clockwise from left: Mrs Lourdes (Pauline), My Dear Mum, My Darling Dad, Lourdes, Aunty Theresa Chee and Lourdes' 70 year-old Mother.


Today, I want to share with you the story of Uncle Lourdes. Uncle Lourdes is a cleaner with the Ipoh City Council, and he is 'in charge' of the cleanliness of the Canning Garden Market in Canning Garden, Ipoh. The market has about 56 stalls...


I first met Uncle Lourdes a few years back. I always follow my mum to the market every weekend, and he caught my eye. Perhaps it was because of the fact that he was a lone-ranger cleaning the market by himself, and perhaps because my mum and he always happily greeted each other. But I guess the one thing which really stood out was the fact that the market is spick-and-spanly clean (I kid you not!)...


You know, this dumpster is so clean, my mum actually said she can't use the line "Your room is like a rubbish dump"!


Take a look for yourself how well he does his job! Photo was taken on two different days, but is still a 'Before' and 'After'...


BEFORE...



AFTER...



I am naturally a busy-body, and if you put me and 50 other people in a room where one person stands out for something, chances are, I'd be the first to go, erm, bug the person to tell me more...

So, yeah, I went to chat him up, and I told him how much in awe I was that he had done such a splendid job...

Guess what he said when I expressed my awe?




"God gave me good health and a pair of hands, and I will use my hands to serve mankind in any way possible".




I was a little taken aback, to be honest. I never expected such an answer...ever...


I decided to write about Uncle Lourdes in The Star, to share about this wonderful man we could all do more with. His Story, was the first of ExtraOrdinary People stories. To sidetrack a little, if you know of anyone like Uncle Lourdes whom society can learn from, do let me know...

Anyway, before we knew it, Uncle Lourdes and my family were chatting with each other on a more regular basis...



And last Christmas, he invited us over to celebrate with his family, knowing that we are Baha'i's and do not celebrate X-Mas on our own...

Aunty Theresa Chee (see pic above), whom I call Ee-Poh, is a very close family friend, and she was among the first people to get all excited when she saw the article about Uncle Lourdes, whom she knew from her many visits to the market. This lady is over 80 years old, but is as hail and hearty as any other person I know, and she happily informed us: "I'm coming along! We're (as in my family and hers) family right?"

So, it happens that we all found ourselves sitting in Uncle Lourdes' home on Christmas morning...for lunch...

His family happily welcomed us, and we indeed had a good time. The interesting thing was, bless their souls, they all thought that, as Chinese, we would not be able to stomach spicy food! And Aunty Pauline went to all the trouble of preparing Chinese dishes, not knowing that my family, with the exception of my brother, are the Kings of Cili Padi!

I especially loved their cat...But then again, I love all cats...and dogs...and squirrels...and...=)

It's true what they say about friendships: You never know when, where and in whom you will find a friend...

Who would have thought that a simple gesture of telling Uncle Lourdes what a fine job he had done would have led to this?

If you're ever in the Canning Garden Market, and see him, let him know how much you appreciate his work, won't you? After all, we need people like Uncle Lourdes...Can you imagine how horrible life will be if there was uncollected rubbish everywhere? Can you imagine how much more unpleasant a market would be if they were filthy...filthy?

I can...That's why I appreciate Uncle Lourdes all the more...

Friday, 4 May 2007

Happy Belated Birthday Umi!



My *Umi and me...



Oh Dear...Two weeks of holidays and I have gained weight...My face is always the one thing which gives me away...Mum has been painstakingly feeding me because she says I eat 'rubbish' when I am away from home...And if I don't clear my plate properly, she gets upset, and dad keeps saying, "It's ok, you're not fat. Don't eat so little"...But then again, I could eat a cow, and he would still say I'm eating too little...


Anyway, I digress...


My Umi (Sharifah Nor) recently celebrated her 50th birthday. I was away in college, so I could only manage a short 'Happy Birthday!' over the phone...

When I came home, my family and I went over to her place to celebrate a belated one for her...She sure didn't expect it; She just thought we were going over as usual so I could kacau her at her place...=)



Umi's family and my family are very close...In fact, she often introduces me as her, ahem, menantu (yes, daughter-in-law) or to people we are not so familiar with, as her daughter...

I used to have frequent bouts of serious tonsillitis, and spent quite a while in the hospital being hooked to the IV-line when they got too bad, and Umi and her husband, Tuan Syed (who is blind) never failed to come visit...And even when I was drenched in sweat from the fever (and stinking, I might add!), she would always give me her famous French-kisses on both cheeks and hug me till I lose my breath!



When Umi had surgery to repair some damage to her organs, I will return the favour...I remember tiptoeing into her room in the wee hours of the morning to keep her company while she complained she couldn't go to the loo and grumbled about the "horrible hospital food"...And if the nurses gave her one look, she'll quell all 'menyibuk' questions with a stern: "Anak I"...





From left: My darling mum, brother Nick, Umi, Pakcik (Tuan Syed), and me enjoying tea (from this angle, her birthday cake which took eternity to eat (so much!) seems barely visible!)...My dad's taking the picture...




My family will sibuk beraya every Hari Raya with Umi and her family...Hmmm...They're the ones who has fasted for a month, and I'm the one who is sibuk with all the rendang and cookies...

Come Chinese New Year, they will in turn sibuk with us, sharing red packets and oranges and peanuts...

We're (me, mum and Umi) always the odd threesome: Blowing kisses out of cars like a bunch of high-school kids, hugging each other when we see each other after a long time, teasing each other...


Dear Umi: Have a wonderful Happy Belated 50th Birthday! I'm so grateful to have you in my life...




*Note: 'Umi' means 'mother' in (I believe) Arabic.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Flowers In One Garden...


Quote of the day:-

"Let us use the different gifts alloted to each of us by God's Grace..."

~The Letter of Paul to the Romans 12:6~



Sigh...

Everytime I take a walk and my eye catches some stray flower growing by the side of the road, I have this urge...This urge to reach out and touch the flower...The urge to pluck the flower and take it home with me...It is so difficult to be so near to something so beautiful, and yet, not be able to take it home with you...

But to pluck the flower will be such a sin; If I pluck the flower, than the next person to walk my path won't be able to enjoy the flower too...The next person won't be able to appreciate the beauty of the flower, and revel in the beauty of the Almighty...

In all our lives, we come across many flowers: Some big, some small, some sweet-smelling, some scentless, some stinky, some creeping, some crawling, some standing-tall-upright, some with thorns, some with wax, some with sap, some merely a lone flower...

But each and every flower we come across, is special and unique...

Today, I am going to share with you the flowers in my life...


My Dad: The Sunflower



My dad is the silent one in the house...He takes quite a while to warm up to people, but when he meets a person he clicks with, he can be quite a chatty person...I guess I see my dad in the sunflower because like the sunflower, he is strong, but gentle...We call him the Peace-Loving Pacifist, because he doesn't seem to ever lose his temper in public, and whatever happens, will continue to smile...Kinda like the sunflower that lives for radiance, warmth and fortitude...


My Mum: The Red Rose



I have always loved the rose...Legend has it that the name of the rose came from the God of Love, Eros, whose name when rearranged, spells Rose...The rose is perhaps the most exquisite and stately of all flowers...That's why I see my mother in the rose: Unique, beautiful, different and very special...


My Brother: The Cattleya (Orchid)



My brother is very much like the Cattleya...He's big in size and very stern in outlook, and very silent too, but he's got a gentle heart...Looks can be deceiving, because the heart of a mighty Lion may be as soft as a Dove's...Nick is kinda like that...He is formidable, but he's got a soft heart...I think his future wife can easily bully him =)


Me: The Daphne



Me...The Daphne...My favourite colour is purple, and I find this flower shown above to be just like me...I'm essentially an introvert, and many facets of me remain a mystery to most people, unless they really get to know me...But if I am comfortable with you, I really do open up...



My Late Grandpa: The Morning Glory



My dear Ah Kong...He has been the sweetest and kindest old man I will ever know...Just like the sweet and gentle morning glory, Ah Kong stood tall and was the force in the family for years...He was the one we all ran to when we needed help, advice or just a friendly shoulder to lean cry on...Like the creeper that holds on to things, Ah Kong was our pillar and our unifying point...May you eternally Rest in Peace, Ah Kong dear...


Chee Keong: The White Rose




Darling Chee Keong...The White Rose symbolises beauty, innocence, purity and a resilient spirit...And my darling Chee Keong is the epitome of just that, and many more...They say special children are special because they are God's Chosen Ones...They may be physically and mentally handicapped, but their gentle and pure souls are the essence of what we can only dream of...It is perhaps the most exquisite thing ever, and indeed, the closest we can ever get to being in the presence of God on this Earth...


My Best Friend, Yean Mei: The Rose among the Ordinary



Yean Mei and I have gone through think and thin, and we share many special things in our life...together...She is like the silent rose that stands resolutely among the many ordinary and fleeting...She doesn't say much, but her presence is always felt...

Despite our very obvious differences, tastes, lifestyle and interest, inherently, the both of us are also very similar...So similar in fact that her father says we're like two peas in a pot...Maybe that's why we remain best friends after so long: We appreciate each other's beauty and differences, and yet, we build on our similarities and strengths, and make way to bridge our differences...

But perhaps the greatest thing we both share is: Chee Keong...he brought two close friends even closer together...


My Other Best Friend: Ae Mi



Dear Ae Mi...She's just like the Bunga Raya, bright but fragile...Ae Mi's rambunctious, gregarious, loud, frequently obnoxious and horny ; ), but deep down, she's as fragile as a newborn, premature baby...She's into drama, pomp and circumstance, but we both also enjoy our quite times together, doing nothing but sipping a cup of Ipoh White Coffee, and just enjoying each other's company...


People I Meet: The Wildflowers



I will meet many other flowers in this journey called life, and along with these beautiful flowers, I will also meet many weeds, thorns, dying plants and barren land...But just because these are things that make me feel bad, I must remember that ultimately, these weeds, thorns, dying plants and barren land are essential to make the beautiful Wildflowers more beautiful and lasting...

And if I happen to meet birds, and butterflies, and crickets and earthworms along the way, why not?

I guess it is something we all need to remember...Who said Wildflowers are not beautiful after all? Who knows? They might be the most beautiful yet...


And this is US, together



Deep down, we're all akin to flowers in one garden...We're all different and special in our own ways, just like no two flowers are alike, but we all belong to the same race: The Human Race...

And it is because of every one of us that the world is such a beautiful place...