La Fin, La Fine, It’s Fine

An old friend whinged about my last blog. This is what disgruntled Penang-lang movie goers rightly call “No ending one”. Yeah, Malaysians end almost every sentence with “one” or “lah”. It is for emphasis, makes it sound more friendly. You cannot! That sounds stern and totally non-negotiable. You cannot one, that changes the remark to almost meek, nice. No! That’s definitely an assertive reply in the negative. Whereas, no lah is so much easier to accept. It is soft, gentle and with some reluctance, leaving ample hope that the answer may change to a yes. Sometimes, they end with both, one followed by lah. You’re no good! Sounds like you just jilted someone. Whereas you no good one lah sounds amicable, sweet and endearing, almost. After being given these examples, another friend exploded; Aiyoh, why you one kind one, can’t think for yourself one meh? One can add one anywhere, also can one. Wow, he did not end with a lah. No ending lah. This isn’t a movie, no lah, there is no La Fin one. That is the one thing about blogs, they do not have endings. A friend came upon a saying by Yasmin Ahmad, it was framed and hung in a prison cell. “The way to start writing isn’t by writing at all. But by living. It isn’t about creating something from thin air, but about documenting our personal feelings about the things that we see. Or to put it crudely, how are you going to be a storyteller if you have no story to tell? Perhaps, in the end, there are no such things as creative people; they are only sharp observers with sensitive hearts.” Yasmin Ahmad ended with the end. La Fin in French, La Fine in Italian, or Tamat in Malay. But instead, she stirred up a hornets’ nest in my mind. How can there be no creative people in her world? There are just too many to rattle off here. My Big Three in classical music would have to be the Three B’s, Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. In pop music, we have the Beatles, Bee Gees, and Burt Bacharach. Ahmad cannot say movie stars aren’t creative either, how about Bogart, Bergman and Beatty? I rest my case, La Fin.

Today is my mother’s birthday. Ma, a real party animal, turns 97. We Chinese must be somewhat weird to the westerners. Tonight, we celebrate her 97th lunar birthday but come next month, we will celebrate again her birthday, her 96th. The Gregorian calendar ignores the time spent on earth in a mother’s womb. Born in the year of the Pig, her secret to longevity is to eat very very slowly, even if the food turns cold. By then, one cannot over eat, see? I am sure she is itching for 7.30 pm to arrive, that is when her birthday bash starts. She is unabashed about having a good time, with her offsprings around her, enjoying a little tipple. This may be another secret to her longevity. When no one is watching, it will not surprise you to find her prowling in the dark, helping herself to a shot of her favourite VSOP. Her liking for a little tipple causes a ripple though. Some of her children tut-tut at that, whilst others say bugger the ever-changing science. It’s her life, she has every right to enjoy it the way she wants. Many of my friends send warm wishes to her, and they remind me how lucky I am to still have Ma around. Many happy returns to her, allow her whatever makes her eyes sparkle. At her age, buy her a few bottles of her favourite VSOP, nothing but the best, a generous mate suggested. That is opening a can of worms, I retorted. There is no consensus amongst her children about her love for the nightly sip or two. Someone chimed in, let her enjoy, but within limits. Within limits? I asked, whose? Who has the right to set the limit to what Ma wants? No, yet another opposing idea, the one who lives with her should have a say, others bugger off. A wise one suggested the eldest siblings will always have the final say, no? At her age, a little indulgence is ok, said another, justifying it by assuming Ma doesn’t have much entertainment at her age. Whatever makes her happy, I say, but let’s be mindful of the other siblings who may not agree, suggested one of the more vocal ones. My take on this? No one should have a say except her. It is her life! I rest my case, La Fine. It’s fine, Ma knows what is best, no one has had more salt and plain rice than her.

Just like all fairy tales and happy stories, Ma continues to live happily and healthily ever after. No The End. 沒結束