A Silent Advice
By : sasukesrg
Smell of strong burning incense filled the room. I choked as the smell grew stronger. “Gosh it must be grandma again”, I thought to myself. As the smell grew unbearable, I left the computer room to get some fresh air outside in the balcony. It has been like this for the past few years now ever since my grandma moved in with me. Although sometimes I feel that it is a hassle to look after her but it was a promise that I made to my parents. A promise to look after my grandma after my parents passed on.
My family is a very small family. Grandpa and grandma have only two children, my father and his elder brother. When my grandpa passed on, it was my uncle who took care of my grandma. But tragedy stroked and my uncle was left paralyzed from neck down. He was incapable of caring for my ailing grandma. My father volunteered for the task for caring for my grandma. And that’s how my family and I got to know more about the golden goose of the family. At first sight, people can tell that she is a very loving and caring lady. She is not the one who will continually nag and complain. Even my mom thought she was very fortunate to have such a wonderful mother-in-law and not a monster-in-law. When I was a kid, I like to always be by her. We sort of became the best of buddies. Sharing secrets together and having a laugh together. I was the one to keep her company when mom and dad go to work.
She used to tell me stories about her past. Her childhood life, adolescent years and her life married to my grandpa. I know all there is to know about my grandma. Through her stories I got to know more about my grandpa, my uncle and my father. How grandpa was as a person (I did not had the opportunity to meet him), how was life during the Japanese invasion and etc. My grandma was inseparable from me. However things change. After I hit adolescent, I changed. My friends came before my family. Now any issue that bothers me would not be shared with my grandma no more but with my friends. I did not feel anything really but I notice my grandma grew upset and alone. I understand the feeling of losing a close friend. However I could not or more like would not want to do anything about it. Imagine the sneers I would get from my friends when I would rather spend time with an old lady then go out for a movie.
*Fast forward to the future. I am a twenty two year old fresh graduate from the University of Monash majoring in accounting. Currently I work with an accounting firm called PriceWater House. Together with my grandma, we live in my family house that I inherited form my parents when they passed away from a car accident. As the sole member of the Khoo family, I was responsible to take care of my grandma. I have to tell you this; it is not easy to care for an old lady. Moreover an old lady with Parkinson disease. Everyday after work I have to take her to the hospital for her routine checkup. Also there are also extra budgets that I have to fulfill. The money needed for hiring a nurse to care for her, the medicine, food expenses and much, much more. Ahhhh, more frustration for me. Hey, after all the economy is not going good and fresh graduates are the ones who really come under the pressure of the rising prices of almost everything. Besides the increasing of cost, there was my grandma. She irritates me in the uncanny of ways. Out of nowhere she would ask me to go shopping or takes me out to the nearest market. I was wasting precious time fulfilling my grandma’s wishes rather than taking on the office work. Perhaps she enjoys seeing me rush at night burning the midnight oil doing my work. *Sob. How evil could she be!
As I pondered on my thoughts, the smell of incense seemed to follow me out of the house. I sneezed. Oh my lord. What is she burning? Rather than getting my sinus from getting worse, I decided to go out for a jog. The work I will finish it later. I quickly got changed and left the room. And there she was. The frail woman with wrinkled face looked up at me as she continued holding onto the burning joss stick. “ Ma, I am going out”, I said quickly and left. She just nodded her head and continued praying. The disease has robbed her of speech. I found it hard to communicate with her anymore. She never listens to me. I have pleaded a thousand times for her to burn those incense when I am not home. I have an allergy to those damn incenses!
I yawned when I put on my shoes. Gosh, I was feeling extremely lethargic. For the past three days I have not been taking my usual jogs. Yeah, I know health is wealth but you can’t blame me. In the office the work is mounting and I had to take the advantage to do some work without any distraction. My grandma was just admitted to the hospital just three days ago. Three days without any disturbance. What a relief! After getting my shoes on, I jogged to the nearest park. Jogging time was always the time when I could have an alone time for myself to think through things. Out of a sudden something popped up in my mind. It is very interesting fact that ever since I started work, my performance was always lagging behind my co-workers. Everyday without fail, I would hear my boss bickering at me for my lackluster performances in office. There must be a reason for that and I think I found out just what it is. My grandma! Her daily prayers, her worthless chores and her impromptu actions have robbed me of my free time to do my work. “If this continues, I will surely lose my job,” I thought to myself. Soon I came out with an idea. That is to send her to the old folk’s home. It will be better for the both of us. She will be under professional care while I get my career back. Let’s call it settled.
I did not immediately tell her of my plans. After dinner I went to the Ah Lok computer store where I work part time repairing and assembling computers. I took a roll of the daily newspaper along. My grandma waved me off goodbye not knowing of the scheme I was planning. By the end of the day, I finally found the perfect place to send my grandma through the newspaper. It was the Kelok Old Folk’s Home. The place was nearby, has good facilities and cheap. I will break the news to my grandma tomorrow.
Her reaction towards this was not what I expected. Her face was expressionless and flat. I was expecting to see a shock-stricken face. Instead she took the news in her stride as if she knew it was coming. A sharp pain pierced my heart but I am not going to turn back. “It was better for the both for us”, I mumbled to myself under my breath repeatedly trying to wash away the guilt in my heart. Meanwhile my grandma left me behind in the kitchen to pack her stuff. And by afternoon we left. The staff of the old folk’s home was very cheery welcoming my grandma. I checked out the place and was quite pleased. I am sure my grandma thought the same since she was smiling happily. I returned home feeling extremely light headed as if a heavy load has been lifted. I was relieved. Now the whole house was mine to rule.
The first week without grandma was certainly a welcomed treat. Now I was able to do things my way. Watch football on the television (usually my grandma hoarded the T.V), put the music on full blast (my grandma always lower the volume), household chores can be put on hold (my grandma usually makes me to help her do the chores once every week), going out to eat (grandma forces me to come home to eat every weekday) and finally get going on my piled up office work. I was pretty much a freed bird. It was a very good feeling indeed. The decision to put my grandma into the old folk home was not something I am going to regret. Or so I thought.
Now it has been three months since I left my grandma in the old folk home. I have not visited her yet as I was quite busy. Life as I know it now has gotten more and more hectic. Its not that I took up extra work in the office but it was all those other stuff that I have not really paid attention to. Household chores, cooking dinner, washing clothes buying daily needs and much more that was once done by my grandma. Now I have to do all that! The first few weeks without cleaning the house were tolerable but now it has become a total mess. It was hard to find anything even the remote controller in this mess. Dining out with friends was a nice change to life but now I am starting to miss out on grandma’s Haianese Chicken Rice or her nyonya curry chicken. Besides, eating out was expensive. And lastly was the laundry washing and shopping. All this has really been draining out my life force. As I complained all this to my close friend, all he told me was how lucky I am. “You are such a pampered kid. Everything was either done by your parents or your grandma. That’s why you are not used to the hardships of life. Maybe it was not a right decision to throw away your grandma. She is such a loving lady and should be appreciated”, he told me. I retorted saying, “I did not throw my grandma aside and besides she was the one holding me back in my career with all her rubbish.” All he said to me then was to think through everything that my grandma ever did for me.
Now my friend’s words came back to haunt me. Not long after the personal conversation I had with him, I was fired from my company. According to my boss, I was just making too much mistake and the company could not take the risk of holding onto me any longer. It was another long day as I sat by my bed, stomach growling in hunger. I have not eaten yet. Only then I began reflecting on the past few months when I sent my grandma away. Maybe it is not her fault for my past office problems. After all I was fired AFTER she went to the old folk’s home. After all this time I blamed everything on her and yet she was not bothered. She still diligently took care of me. Perhaps after all this while I had not fulfilled my parent’s wishes because it was not I who look after my grandma but it was the other way around. I promised myself that I will make it up to my grandmother.
Today I have realized how important family is to me. Most importantly, I will invite my grandma back to our house. No longer does she have to stay in the old folk’s home. Early in the morning I went to the old folk’s home, the first time ever since I left my grandma there. The Kepok Old Folk’s Home staff took me to see my grandma in her room. What I saw drew more tears from eyes. She was seating staring at an empty space lost in her own world. According to the staff, she has been like that for the whole time she was here. Always keeping to herself and never ever mixing around with the other old folk occupants. “Ma, I am here!” , I whispered softly entering her room. She turned so quickly that I swore made her neck creaked. She leaped out of her bed and embraced me with a smile on her face. I couldn’t help but break into tears.” Ma, I am so sorry. You are coming back with me. This time I would do everything right”, I croaked. And everything was all forgotten.
Driving back to the house, I reflected on my three months without my grandma to her. She smiled as I talked more and more. Although she did not reply, it really brought back memories of when I was just a kid. As if nothing has changed. Two minutes pass…then three minutes, I was yakking non-stop. After a while, my grandma fell asleep. I guess I bored her to sleep. At last we finally arrived at our destination. “Ma we are here”, I whispered as I gave a light pat on her shoulder. No response. I repeated my actions several times trying to get her up. Still no response. Panicking, I instinctively took her hands. It was cold and there was no heart beat. The worse had happened.
The death of my grandma hit me hard. The chance to redeem myself to my grandma for my past misdeed has been robbed and this saddens me greatly. No longer will I have a guardian angel looking onto me, protecting me from the hardships of life. If there was one thing that brought peace to my mind was the fact that my grandma passed on in peace. As she breathed her last breath, she was smiling broadly and glad to be once again accepted into the life of her beloved grandson.
One of my earlier writings I did in secondary school....Stumbled upon this on my personal computer searching for something...and decided to post this up....
Maybe online...maybe offline...who knows!?