Wednesday, 11 July 2007

She's Worth Losing My Voice For...



I am losing my voice (I can hear my mum whooping for joy that I will be silent for a while)...Anyway, let me tell you a little story of how I came to be nearly losing my voice...

It all started when I went down to the hospital pharmacy yesterday...

When I walked in and took my number, the only thing I thought was thank God, the line wasn't long. I took out my book. The pharmacy was freezing cold and in minutes, I had put my jacket on and wrapped the hood around my neck to keep myself from freezing...


And after about 15 minutes, an old lady appeared and sat next to me. She then suddenly said: "* It's freezing".

I looked at her. She was clearly very old, and she was really thin. I felt so bad...Had I not been freezing myself, and feeling horribly stuffed because of the cold, I would have given her my jacket.

Me: "Yes, it is. Very cold"...

I don't think she heard me though...


I looked around, and tried my best to locate a seat which was positioned farthest from the various (and multiple) air-conditioner blades as possible. Seeing one, I put down my book, grasped her by the arm, and led her to the seat. I seated her directly under the unit (the blades were pointing out), gave her a small smile, and left...


Imagine my surprise when she came back to me after a few minutes...

Old Lady: "Ah girl, is my number up yet?"
Me: "Aunty, what is your number?"
OL: "I don't know. I can't see the slip of paper (she slips the paper into my hands) and I can't see the number on the board".


I took her slip of paper...And felt really sorry for her, because the counter she was asigned to, was clearly serving a lot of customers...


Me: "Aunty, your number is very far off samore. About 35 more people to go"...
OL: "It's ok. I have time. Will you please tell me when my number comes?" (She sits down next to me again)
Me: "Aunty, my number is up next. I'm at a different counter from you".


I kept repeating myself, because she didn't seem to register what I was saying...Whatever it is, when she got what I said, she looked so sad, and I felt even worse then my freezing fingers, neck and clogged up nostrils...

And she sighed...

Me: "Why don't you listen out for the number when they call it. Can you hear them?"
OL: "No, I can't hear. I'm deaf in one ear, and the other one can barely hear too"...



Huh...That explains why I keep repeating myself, I thought to myself...It was then that she turned and showed me the hearing aid she wears in the other ear; it doesn't look like the minute machine is working well...

The lady who had the number before me was arguing with the pharmacist, about God-knows-what...


It was then that I made the decision to sit with this Aunty until her number came...After all, if she can't see the digital red-dots that make up the number board, and she can't read her slip of paper, and she can't hear the digital voice reading out the number, it was going to be very difficult for her...

I turned my head towards her better ear and said: "Aunty, never mind lar, I sit with you till your number is called, then only I will go home"...

She turned to look at me, and you could see the look in her eyes...That surprised but very grateful look, and then she said: "No, no, I don't want to trouble you. You go home. No need to sit with an old lady like me. But you are very good. I have never seen young people good before"...

Honestly, I didn't know if that was a compliment or not!


But I stood my ground. When my turn at my counter came (the lady-before-me and the pharmacist finally made peace), I collected my medicine and returned to my seat...

OL: "You really going to sit with me?"
Me: "Yes, of course"...

She beamed, wrinkles and all.


I had no heart to leave her there alone...Besides the fact that she was obviously old, there was also the fact that the pharmacist who was mending the counter Aunty was assigned to had shouted at about 3 people in the past half-an-hour...

Aunty, with her hard of hearing ways, and not being able to see well, was a sure recipe for him to yell at...

So we talked to pass the time away...


Unfortunately, Aunty cannot hear very well...

But oh boy, she loved to talk, and she wanted to know everything to know about me...

And I kept speaking louder and louder and louder that by the time it was our turn, everyone in the room would have known where I came from, what I do, where I study and how much it cost me to hail a cab from my hostel to the hospital...


As we chatted (I was kinda shouting), she slipped her tiny hands into mine...And Aunty Ong (I finally got her name) turned to me and said: "Your hands are warmer than mine"...

And so it happens that I found my half-freezing hands warming the 3/4-freezing hands of this old 80-plus woman whom I had never met in my life...

And after about an hour, her number was finally called...


Which brought us to the next problem: Explaining Aunty Ong's prescription to her...

Oh boy...


Pharmacist, after a few rounds of unsuccesful attempts at explaining, turns to me: "You tell her later. People are going to complain very soon that I'm yelling at an old lady"...

Me: "Sir, you have to tell her because I am not going home with her, which means I can't tell her later. She has to understand you now, as I won't be there to make sure she gets her medication right"...

Him: "I know you're not with her. I meant tell her outside".

Me: "Ok, but what are you telling her? My hokkien does not cover bodily functions and problems"...

He laughed: "I better tell her then"...


Of course, much easier said than done...You see, Aunty Ong was quite a fiesty and stubborn old lady...She argued with the pharmacist, and refuses some of her medication, simply because she is used to the tablet version and not the syrup one...Took quite a lot of convincing that they were in fact the same, just in different forms...


By the time the pharmacist was done, everyone knew what medication Aunty Ong was taking home (and what she was suffering from!), when and how she should take them, and what to do if they finished early...

After a while, we finally got to leave. My fingers were now so cold I could not feel them anymore...Luckily, this sweet gentleman got up and opened the door for me as we left...It would otherwise have been a sight to see me wrestling with the very-cold-handle of a door!


Once outside, I asked Aunty Ong if she needed help getting a cab, but she insisted she knew her way very well (she did actually!) in this hospital, and with a few last 'thank you's!', a stern 'warning' to not trouble myself by following her, she gave me a sorta-hug and made her way in that shuffling way of hers down the corridor...

At the end, this tiny old lady turned and waved again...I knew she couldn't see me, but I waved back...But most of all, I was touched that she had known that I would still be standing there to make sure she got to the end allright...


I made a 180 degree turn and headed for the canteen...By that time, I was already starving, and my tummy was already staging World Wars III, IIII and V...And my voice was raspy...


As I made my way, a voice behind me said: "I saw how you sat with that woman. God bless you".

I turned, and lo-and-behold, it was the same pharmacist who had given Aunty Ong her prescription. Mr Ho, I found out, is his name, and I stand corrected...

He wasn't yelling at the patients; he was merely speaking very, very loudly because all his patients were old...


Mr Ho: You know, in my profession, no amount of PR will help. These people just can't hear, so I have to yell anyway.

We both laughed...I couldn't help it, it was a cute way of seeing it!

You know, we're faced with opportunities to do our little bit to help another person every single day. We may not realise it (I know I've kicked myself a lot when I finally do realise) but the little thing we do may go a long way, in helping the person we reach out to, and ourselves too.

But we gotta first stop in our tracks and reach out...

Because really, what did I lose yesterday? I lost the time I could have spent catching up on sleep but that's about it... But in not sleeping, I met a wonderful old lady...I also realised that I had been wrong about Mr Ho; had I gone home after my turn, I would never have found that out...


All in all, I went home about 2 hours later than I planned to, but it was worth seeing Aunty Ong's smile...

In fact, she's worth losing my voice for...



*Note: All conversations were carried out in Hokkien...

40 comments:

zorro said...

Daph, bet you that (Aunty Ong) was an angel sent down to give you another opportunity to do what you do best...CARING FOR PEOPLE OF ALL COLORS, SHAPE, SIZE AND AGE.
I did something kind too on Sunday. I hugged Yvonne Foong. How's the voice-box today?

ae mi said...

Nai..

Why ahh.. when you do kind things you get praised.. i pulak get lectured for 1 whole hour for being stupid??

The last time I came back from Ipoh this ang mor lady was sort of persuaded to take some illegal taxi and the driver looks drunk and wasn't very kind.. so me being me (which is stupid) tapped her shoulder before she got into the 'cab of death' (or so i thought) and said VEEEEERYYY softly..

"Hie.. I don't think its very safe for you to get into the car.. maybe you should go for the legal ones.. they're much safer.. i think"

She sort of got out of a trance and thanked me..

Then guess what happened to me?

The illegal 'taxi driver' fellar scolded me in public big time (I thought he was going to hit and KILL me right there and then)

Nevermind that.. I came home.. told my dad what happened.. then he lectured me for a whole hour about how 'stupid' and 'naive' I was..

Sighh..

All just because I didn't want to see news about an ang mor dead taking an illegal taxi the next day when I knew that I SHOULD'VE said something..

I know it was dangerous.. but what can I do?? She didn't know better and the people there were pushing her around just because they were talking in a language she couldn't understand..

There.. so much for being 'kind'..

And to add to the record..

My FMIL said it served me right (to be lectured by my dad that is) - I'm just super happy she didn't add that with my attitude I was going to get her son killed any day or so.. :P

winniethepooh said...

Im sure you'll remain a part of Aunty Ong's beautiful memories in life. Mr Ho was 'yelling' all the time, but his eyes and heart are definitely 'looking' around too! Amazing how he has to do that many things, yet to notice little details as to what you did for Aunty Ong :)

Frankly, Daphne when I was reading the post from the beginning, I sorta knew you will sit around with Aunty Ong :) U wont hv the heart to 'throw' her there by herself..:)

Wishing you a speedy recovery and bless your kind heart *hugs*

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Uncle Zorro,
Like I said, I wasn't planning on sitting with her...In fact, I was only itching to get home and catch up on some sleep...But something snapped and I thought 'Oh well, what's another hour really?'...After all, I'd been sitting in that hospital since 8.30 in the morning =)

Daphne Ling said...

Ae Mi,
Wow...Long comment ;)
Actually, I don't think our cases are in any way related or similar! Haha...What you did was a great thing!, but I really don't see how else it is related (although I don't see why you got that kind of feedback either)...Hmmm...You know what? I think I'm just confused...Blame it on the cold...
;)

J.T. said...

Awww... such a sweet girl. Like Winnie, I knew you were going to end up staying with Aunty Ong because you are simply that kind of person - one who gives lovingly.

Isn't that something? You gained so many blessings, known and unknown to you, in exchange for just one hour of your time with a person who was in need of help.

*hugs* so proud of you. :)

Daphne Ling said...

Hi WinnieThePooh,
Mr Ho was pretty observant huh? But then again, I was talking to her sooo loudly, anybody could have guessed we just met!

You knew huh? When I spoke to my mum that night about meeting an old lady in the pharmacy, she already guessed I stayed back...

But I was actually in 2 minds whether to stay or not...I'm not angel, and waiting patiently for something when I don't have to isn't a strong point of mine ;)

*Hugs back*

Daphne Ling said...

Hi JT,

Sigh...I miss you!

Yes, I am very bless, I know that! Hehe...I guess one thing I have which is both a blessing and a curse is that I feel guilty if I don't do the right thing...

So even if I don't feel like doing it, chances are, I will, simply because I should...=)

I know if I had left Aunty Ong, I will be thinking of her when I go to bed and asking myself why I didn't stay...

Staying with Aunty Ong, at the very least, gave me peace of mind...

Hammerhead said...

Wah Daphne....lu chin chia ho kia ah. Siong tay bless lu! Hope you understand my broken hokkien!

Pi Bani said...

Daph,
I am a regular at accompanying my mom to the hospital for her appointments - and yes, I've always noticed that there are many elderly people who are not accompanied by anyone. And to go from one place to another is quite tough - register at one place... jumpa doctor walk another place... then in case need to do urine or blood test walk to another place... then finally got to walk to the pharmacy. Aduii... I can imagine what the elderly people had to endure what with the sakit lutut and all! Hospitals don't seem to be wargatua friendly lah...

Once I saw an elderly Chinese lady... one hand holding her tongkat, the other hand holding her bag with what-have-yous inside; she had difficulty walking over to the pharmacy. I always cepat cair with elderly people, so I helped her to a seat in front near the counter, then I queued for her number. When I gave her number to her, she said, "Terima kasih aarr... nanti lu tunggu sampai gua punya nombor kena panggei aa?" And I was thinking, "Huh? Alamak..." I needed to go back to my office by then. Thank goodness there was another Chinese lady sitting beside her who said she'd wait until this elderly lady's number was called. Selamat gua... :)

the Razzler said...

Daphne ..

I am glad that Aunty Ong met you!! :) :) ... coz now it's etched in her heart that there's an Angel within us!!

I sincerely think that you're blessed to touch people's life and giving them hope that love still exists amongst us!!

God Bless you .. Daphne!!

Hope you're feeling better now!! :) :)

nstman said...

I cant believe it. I am a busy man with my business to attend to but I actually read your unforgettable adventure with this old lady, and believe me, it is hilarious. Be that as it may, the important message was CARE, and CARE is in short supply these days. Keep on caring and dreaming, youg girl.

mott said...

Hee...Aunty Ong sounds like my granma!

Bless your heart, Daphne! Hope you get better soon!

Mat Salo said...

Daphne!

Don't worry maa.. you will get your voice back...but I don't think aunty's hearing will get better...

Good to show care to our senior citizens.. for we will be in that position too someday.

And we hope to dear God that there'll be Daphne Lings around to "shout" at us!

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Hammerhead,
Yep, my Hokkien is good enough for that! I just can't do medical terms and body parts (like kidney, liver etc) in Hokkien...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Kak Pi,
Haha...Escape lar you...But I know you. If got time, ALL the old people also you'd take medicine for them! =) *Hugs*

Daphne Ling said...

Hi The Razzler,
I'm glad I met Aunty Ong too =) Sweet old lady...I am feeling better; but then again, I'm not freezing to death from excessively cold air! Weird huh? Such cold environment in the hospital, of all places...People are not well wei, that's why they're in the hospital...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi NSTman,
Huh! Laugh lar...Kekekeke...It was pretty funny though...I say one thing, she hears another, and answers something else...Really tested my patience! Busy busy alos, don't stress NSTman, nanti cepat tua! Hehehe...

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Mott,
Thanks! Feeling better...Now I just have to wait for the nose that ran away to come back ;)...

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Mat Salo,
Yeah, we will all become old too, which is why I hate it when people are exceptionally mean to old people...What goes around comes around right? Hopefully when I get old, they'd be people to help me...But then again, if nobody offers, I'd force someone to help me! Just say: Ah boy, tolong Ah Ma ok? Hehehe...If he says no, take handbag and *Piak* him!

elviza said...

Oh dearest, god will realy bless you for what you had done. I am proud of you

ruby ahmad said...

Hi Daphne,

Today, I am sure you are not from this planet lah Daphe. What a caring deed you did. You stayed 2 extra hours for that lady. I think you were born trple whammy humanitarian. You're a natural. Reading this brought on some good-feel there's still hope in this world lah girl. keep it up.

galadriel said...

Daphne dearest,

I'm glad I have a kindred spirit in blogosphere. I have been called everything from bloody fool to naive bitch to bleeding heart to trusting idiot.

What u did with that auntie, I have done many times and I dunno why I did or still do it. I'm glad that there are others out there.

lemme relate a story. Abt 4 months ago I was driving to work. I passed this guy with a tongkat making his way slowly down the road. I drove past, n turned back thinking how much further wud he walk like that?

So I stopped n gave him a lift. He just needed to get to the nearby KTM station. He got in, thanked me profusely n talked abt what he does. He is a priest btw.

Short mintes later we arrived. I helped him down, n he said, "Everyday God sends me a sign that love, humanity kindness and compassion exist. Today, that sign is you."

I cried all the way to work. Felt blessed.
Just as u are blessed with compassion, my dear.

J.T. said...

Daphne, excuse me please... I need to say something to Galadriel?

Galadriel, you kind, kind soul. You will be blessed (like Daphne) in more ways than you know. You give hope to the world.

Mustafa ┼×enalp said...

What a nice blog you have!

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Elviza,
Thanks! You're something too what! I remember you giving this old man RM 50 once!

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Kak Ruby Ahmad,

You know, you've just confirmed my suspicion that I'm from outer space....Hohohoho...

Actually, I sat with Aunty Ong for an hour, but then I got hungry, so I went to eat, and then because of that, I had to wait for someone else to pick me, which is why it became 2 hours...Hehe...I didn't wait with her for 2 hours lar!

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Galadriel,

Hey, long time no see! How are you? Anyway, many *hugs* for you...

You're not a "bloody fool to naive bitch to bleeding heart to trusting idiot"...

You did the right thing! We just have to practise caution and be wise in today's world I guess...

Whatever it is, glad I know you, and proud to be your friend! Light an extra candle for Nat for me...

Daphne Ling said...

Hey JT,
Hear, hear!

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Mustafa Senalp,

Thanks for coming by! And welcome! Oh, and thanks for liking my bloggie...

tony -stand-up philosopher said...

Hi Daphne,
My life is much richer after reading your post. Thank you. That old lady could have been my relative.Can I save this in my archives?

Kak Teh said...

Daphne, I spoke to my mak last week. here I was, 800 miles away, shouting down the line. There she was at the other end of the line answering everything I didnt ask. But just listening to her voice is enough But it is so frustrating not to be able to have a normal conversation with her anymore. Her hearing is fast going. You remind me of my three year old niece who who patiently listens and answers her repeated questions.

Daphne Ling said...

Dear Tony-SUP,
Thanks for the kind words, and of course, you may save this in your archives! Take care =)

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Kak Teh,
It has been such a long time since we chatted! Haha...I am thinking that 800 miles might just make a person's hearing all the worse! But, the important thing is you heard your mum right? Shout ke, tak shout, I'm sure you had a good time =)

Nightwing said...

Hope you are feeling better already. It was a good thing you did for Aunty Ong. May the good Lord bless you always.

Jack said...

I just want to drop a note to say that this is very touching. And yes, not many young people would spend so much time with an old person. Not many old person would do either.
As Mr. Ho has said: God Bless you.

Lucas said...

Hello, I don't know if you will ever read this. I googled something about losing my voice because I was yelling quite a bit last night. I found this blog post and while it didn't help me in my search it did make me smile. It was very kind of you to do what you did. Thank you for being a good person, the world needs more people like you.

Take care.

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Nightwing,

Thanks! And yes, I am feeling much, much better ;)

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Jack,

Thank you for the kind words...We are presented with all kinds of opportunities to help people every day, and we often pass it up...I am glad that this one time, I didn't...=) Cos I met a wonderful lady!

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Lucas,

I hope you are feeling better now, and that your voice has returned...And surprisingly, I came back to this post to look something up, and saw 3 comments I missed! Thanks for coming by...