Humble, He Mumbled

At the time of writing, donations for three student students of SJK Chung Hwa School have reached RM13,600, and that’s just from the small chat group of fellow alumni of Penang’s Lasaints (combined from La Salle and SXI) that I belong to. There will be monies raised from other larger groups that I am unaware of, some including the then beautiful girls from Form 6. For the past two weeks, the constant ding, ding, ding on my phone sounded like my old cash register. Every ding a progress report, as another donation increases the collection a little. Every ding also represents a rejection of my view that everyone of us is an urghhling. Urghh, ugly earthlings. The three siblings recently lost both parents. There is universal concern for their wellbeing, what would be more important for them once their meagre living expenses are taken care of? Education, of course. That has been the reason for our impetus to raise more money. Sweet. It does not matter how much each contributes, every little bit helps and is loudly appreciated; but noticeably, on the list are two names, Anonymous and Anonymous 2. In local parlance, it’s Bo Mia and Bo Mia 2. They raise many questions in my mind. Why not reveal their name? After all, it is for a great cause, generous, caring, considerate, therapeutic, maybe even holistic. Why not disclose their identities? Are they serving a penance in Penang? Are they embarrassed by the paltry size of their contribution? Are they contrite about a wrong doing but too proud to admit wrong and this is their path to reduce guilt? “Humble”, Ty-Phoon rumbled. “They are just humble.” Humble is his go-to word this week. Humble meal, humble outlook, humble abode, this all came about due to his confusion about the correct application of the words austere and frugal. Maybe they want to give, full stop. They do not see a need for disclosure; maybe they don’t derive any pleasure from being mentioned or is it to avoid being tainted as selfish, extending a kind hand to extend one’s reputation? They want to feel the purity of giving? In a way then, that will also become a selfish act. To give in order to gain a benefit isn’t so righteous, right? The urghhling in me says it could be they want to keep it out of Their Mrs’ prying eyes. Which reminds me. The comments about my “honest (although cynical) and authentic writing” from yet another friend yesterday floored me. I flippantly disregarded the opinion about my cynicism a few weeks ago but another one?! It made me sit up and pause. The ugliness of humans is obvious and undeniable. History tells us about the never ending wars around the world, massacres, genocides, rapes and plunder, child sexual abuse especially by holy preachers, torture and capital punishment endorsed and executed by the state, the indiscriminate killing eg e.g. Agent Orange in Vietnam, and at the forefront of recent news, the US abandonment and betrayal of their long time ally, the Kurds. I can go on and on and on about man’s many atrocities and animal cruelty. Ugly urghhling stories are everywhere, we hardly have to go looking for them. They easily pop up during everyday conversations and dominate our daily news bulletin. It is not true that I focus on talking about them. I prefer not to dwell on ugliness, it’s not cynicism that makes me feel the exasperation about the bad choices we humans make. Are we so short-sighted we can’t even accept greed is not good?

A friend suggested I have positive thoughts before I transform my jumbled ideas into meaningful words. “Hey! I’m writing about urghhlings, how to be positive?” I protested before deciding to make a conscious effort to write about the good side of humans. I must placate my readers’ growing impatience with my cynicism – perceived or otherwise – about the ugliness of earthlings. It’s timely that I put on my Libran hat and prove to the doubters I do possess the dominant Libran traits of balance and harmony. I have a fixation on balance and fairness, to the frequent chagrin of The Mrs. Many a time, all she wants is my blind bias for her. “It matters not if you don’t agree with me! Just publicly stand by me!”, she often chastises me. But, that’s like squeezing blood out of stone for a Libran. Which is totally illogical. After all, the Libra is the only zodiac sign that is inanimate, no blood can be gotten from a set of weighing scales.

Anyway, do not let me digress, let me stay the course and think of the positives. I am fearful this will be a rather short blog, so I may have to resort to ramble on about nothing of consequence. Usually, when I write, my fingers can’t keep up with the torrent of outpouring ideas that flood the page. “Why don’t you use Siri to help you type? Your mind won’t be unduly slowed down by your fingers.” a helpful friend suggested. “Nah, I’m old-fashioned yet old without fashion.” I offered a truthful analysis of myself. For this blog, I think my fingers will manage easily. “There won’t be a tsunami of positives to swamp me” I countered. “Ouch, am I being cynical again?”

Alright, let me write about some recent positives. The Mrs is scheduled to go for her hip operation the day after tomorrow. A few caring friends have started the cacophony of good wishes and prayers for her. A beautiful friend with the same initials as Louis Vuitton, has been suffering from excruciating pain from all sorts of ailments. He had both his knees replaced earlier this year but is again traumatised by severe neck pain arising from cervical arthritis. We have been concerned about his mental health too, having been weighed down by long spells of debilitating pain. Yet, LV sent a message to let me know he is praying for The Mrs. “May the Lord grant her a smooth operation and a speedy recovery.” LV prayed. A beautiful human being, praying for others when he deserves all the good tidings himself. Selfless, thoughtful and caring. Of course, I promptly thanked him for his kind thoughts. So, why did I rattle off a series of silly remarks that detract and distract from his thoughtful prayers? “Would God know it’s her right hip this time?” “Thanks so much LV but please first make sure God is not preoccupied with more pressing issues.” “Honestly, we should be more considerate about God’s free time and respite. Can’t afford for the Old Bloke to work for eternity without enjoying a ‘me time’ hobby or immersing Himself in a relaxing respite.” “Seriously, I do think we are very gung-ho to automatically ask for favours whenever we feel like it. That’s not being considerate I think. There are others more in need, why should we jump the queue. Can you not see God madly juggling at trying to fulfil every single Urghhling’s requests?” I should be ashamed of myself. Why be so unthinkingly brutal to fire off a litany of questions? Why not be gracious and acknowledge LV’s kindness with a simple Thank You and stop there? WA Gan’s remark was short but instructive. “I have noticed that Bro LV prays hard for others but not for himself.” LV’s reply was equally damning of me “Others are more important than me……” Both remarks shut me up. I am so ugly. The Mrs has been right all along, since 1979. “You’re ugly and only fit to appear as a bandit 土匪 (Thu Fei) in Run Run Shaw movies.” LV, I am sorry for my bad behaviour. I truly am an urghhling.

There is always beauty around us – sometimes we just need to look for them – unless we are in a rose garden. 

My favourite climbing roses, the Climbing Cinderella.

The heavily perfumed Mr Lincoln

Sometimes we don’t need to look for beauty. The door knocks and when you open it, beauty sails in, as it did just now. Geoff, a good friend who used to be a chef in his previous life in Beijing, brought his famed Nanjing duck and a platter of pork and crab buns for us. A long drive to get here, he prepared them knowing that The Mrs will be getting her hip replaced in two days’ time. How beautiful, how thoughtful and caring. He knew I’d be home alone for the next few days, what can be more comforting than his Nanjing duck and special buns in the absence of The Mrs?

Which should I go for first?

Geoff with his platter of delicious buns and famed Nanjing Duck

Thank you, to all of you for opening my eyes to the beauty around us and pointing out the flaws in this urghhling. The cynic in me unfortunately still says that there is much more ugliness in this world and the world can not recover its pristine and virgin qualities unless all, if not most, urghhlings are gone.

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