It was just yesterday, over our dining table, in the context of who has helped out during my sister’s pregnancy in what ways, we joked that Cynthia is now assigned to be our Chief Praying Officer. Yesterday I have also spent some time, with the happy expecting couple – Benny and Lora – and our mom arrived from Hong Kong, doing some last minute shopping. Perhaps, experiencing the miracle of life makes people radiate in the light of youth. That excitement, that power vested by the Giver of Life, as we took a slow walk from the AMK wet market to my car, I could not help but to admire this aura radiating from Benny and Lora, from a distance that is never too far away, only a footsteps behind.
The next time I see my sister, I may not be seeing her adorably round tummy, for she is now inside the delivery ward.
* * I * *
I reckon, for some of us, the first decision we have ever made was: When shall I get out of this womb? Unlike shipment and delivery of goods that we can call someone and ask and track and inquire when that something we have been expecting is due to arrive, babies come out as and when they have decided so. I have been trying to calm myself down because thinking of the uncertainty drives me crazy. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow. Maybe this hour, maybe the next. Mothers do not will the babies to come out; our biological mechanism only does so much in facilitating the child birth process; after exhausting all possibilities – given my limited brain capacity – I hence conclude that if indeed someone gets to decide when to come out of the womb and play, that has to be the little fellow inside the tummy.
The next time I celebrate my birthday, I will also make it a celebration of this very first decision I have made.
* * II * *
Tradition is perhaps one of the most valuable aspects of where we come from. Generations after generations, wisdom of lesson learned is passed onto, practiced upon. Like that tonic drink well known for the women to consume after the delivery of babies. For the longest history in time, I could not pinpoint why whenever I smell the fragrance of that tonic drink, I think of nothing but happiness. The missing key, it appears, is the duration of the preparation of this tonic drink.
Accordingly to my mom, which later on I realize that it is more of a Hong Kong tradition than a Singaporean one in terms of how this tonic drink is made, it takes days and months to prepare the soup base of that tonic drink. Large amount of fried ginger is soaked inside black sweet Chinese vinegar and this soup base is cooked intermittently for a long period of time. After the baby is delivered, this soup base is used to cook with pork trotters and boiled eggs in making that one tonic drink. And hence, I deduced that even when I was four years of age, given the long duration of the preparation, that scent of vinegar must have immortalized the happy moment of my little sister’s birth. That probably is why whenever I am in the proximity of such a tonic drink, inevitably, I feel happy.
Yesterday, mom has started the cooking process, of that tonic drink. Oh my. The strength of the scent of the vinegar, it hurts my eyes, it hurts my nose, and it hurts my brain. And yesterday was only day one.
* * III * *
Recent events prompt me to ponder upon how many people were involved to bring me to this world. As I was watching “Planet Earth”, the birth and the upbringing of the baby animals seem to be a lot more straightforward (OK, may not be the case of the penguins, come to think of it). Perhaps I shall also dedicate my birthday to those who made it happen, from now on.
Meanwhile, a little prayer for my little sister for a smooth and safe delivery. Healthy baby and healthy mom, I reckon, will make a lot of people very happy. Thank you God. I owe you one.
Edit: The baby has arrived safely.