Saturday, May 14, 2005

36 days

And so the work week begins.. I'm still not used to only have one off day per week. It's INSANE. Bad for workplace morals. It's such a depressing thing to hear on Thursday after work : "Ok, see you guys saturday!"

Anyway, my mom sent over the family tree list, kinda starting listing it out because my great-grandma's 92nd birthday's coming up.

Lau Ma

So, for the record:

First Generation: 5 kids of her own
Second Generation: 27 grandchildren (23 of which are married, including my mom!)
Third Generation: 36 great-grandchildren (including me, the oldest)

Grandtotal of: SIXTY-EIGHT, 6-FUCKING-8, human beings with her blood running through our veins. Mine's horribly diluted, but still.

If you want to include all the husbands/wives, that would make her official-by-law family size a whopping: 96 people. (Including one who passed away).

And all from one woman. You REALLY gotta hand it to her. Chinese New Year is one helluva mess, i can tell you that. Why on earth is my family like some kinda baby-making factory?

She's a real gem. Vegetarian, pint-sized fighter who does her own laundry. Almost deaf, and used to be blind before my mom sent her for a cataract operation. Now her eyes are better than ever, and her memory is still astounding. "You see this photo? Ahh... i'm carrying your uncle here, he's six years old and your aunt just had her birthday the day before..". *cue* Jess's horrified face because photo was takein in 1960.

My relatives occupy three HDB flats in a row in a block in Hougang. It's quite nice, becuase once you get out of the lift and turn left, it's kinda like a private area... any strangers there will get weird stares. But it has occured to me that while we're technically close in terms of proximity, any other form of closeness is due to blood relations, and not any real sense of bonding.

The weather has been scorching lately. Whenever I used to tan, lying under direct sunlight gave my tummy a very strange queasy feeling, as if a ball of tension is coiling up inside and i just gotta get out of the sun for it to go away. Yeah well, now just walking along the street makes me feel that coiling tension.

But the little street children are still pitpattering around barefoot.. I observed one while he was walking alongside me on the pavement, lines with concrete just so you know, and he didn't seem to feel the heat at all. I know how frickin' hot that pavement is...

Am picking up on the Sufia project again as well. Just by sheer coincidence.

And now I know that the kids at the village by Buriganga weren't kidding when they told me one of their friends was going to be married. At that time, I couldn't be sure of what they were telling me about one of the girls who looked happy but shy and rather macabre in a way because of all the make up on her face. It sounded like she was getting married, but she was 6 or 7 and plus she looked really really happy.

But yesterday I realised that Sufia's daughter-in-law had been bethrothed at 7 and married at 12. So.. there. So now she's a widow at 18 with one son, no parents, no home and basically has every damn right to cry. And of course she hasn't been to school - she got married when she was 12! It's obviously illegal, but I really had not expected to find it happening near the city areas.

I really don't know what to do when people cry. i really don't. I feel like making myself invisible, because to try and comfort would be downright patronising. But I can't just stand there and do nothing. I feel like a complete idiot whenever it happens. And I should've been more prepared for it. I've had a ridiculously blessed life and I never had to deal with death in this way. But it sure as hell seems to me that everyone else here does, and they all do the same thing = ignore, and walk away, because really there's nothing you can do or say.