Navel Gazer, The Weekender, 29th August 2009
"Wah. Now I know why your mother fell for him. Your father looks so handsome and smart."
Chang's probably just joshing me, but isn't that what all starry-eyed little girls feel about their father? And woe betide any unfortunate suitor who falls short of her daddy's lofty standards, ahem :)
Dad is one of those rare beings the Chinese call hoe sin sang. In Chinese, being an onomatopeic language, the phrase could mean one of two things: 1) Good man 2) Good teacher. As if all the forces of fate conspire to converge, my dad fits both the bills :)
He is legendary among my good friends for storytelling skills. On the eve of my gall bladder operation, he pinned my two besties Chang and Wendy to the hospital canteen chairs with horrific high-drama (his painful encounters with kidney stones) and feelgood fables (more Chinese fairy tales with an uplifting moral). Even I, who'd heard it all before, couldn't help grimacing when he recalled, with a relish he could afford on hindsight, the gruesome pain of kidney stones.
We were sitting in the hospital canteen when a faraway look entered Dad's eyes. He recalled, "The worst kind of pain is kidney stone pain."
I looked at mum. "How did Dad get it?"
"He grew up in Pangkalan, where there were a lot of tin mines. I guess it could be the minerals in the water they drank..."
"The stone is passing through your urethra, a tube so slender.." he shuddered. "It was so painful that my entire body broke out in sweat."
Mum nodded gravely. "He was bellowing like a cow. I drove him to the clinic and he couldn't even climb out of the car. The doctor had to come to the car and administer the jab..."
Suffice to say, Dad wasn't the only one who shuddered.
"I used to think, gallstones, kidney failure, back pain, all these things only happen to old people like our parents..." I said ruefully. "Guess what, we got old too. Or at least, are getting older.
"Yeah look in the mirror woman, face the facts staring right at you," Chang chipped in.
Indeed. Like it or not, I've got to deal with the fact that my body isn't an invincible machine anymore, able to withstand the vagaries of an unhealthy lifefstyle with no wear and tear.
"Can't sing that song by Corrs anymore...how does the refrain go, "We are so young, so young, so young now," Chang continued.
"No more fatty food. OMG." I facepalmed melodramatically.
"Look on the bright side," Chang quipped, "at least you save on liposuction."
What was that again ... Sai Ung Sat Ma? :)