Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Conversation with Grandma

My Grandma (93 years old) was hospitalized recently, and I was delighted when she was felt comfortable after I massaged her legs and foot. My parents were pleasantly surprised that I would massage her legs, as that was the first time they saw me massaging legs. (Thanks to my volunteering experience with the HIV/AIDS patients, if I could massage a sick stranger’s leg, I could massage on anybody. No ego issues.)

I never had a long conversion with my Grandma, as I could hardly communicate in Hokkien, the only Chinese dialect that she speaks. She was born in China on 1918, 7 years after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, which marks the end of the 2000+ years of Imperial Rule of various Dynasties. She grew up in the tumultuous period of Modern China – Civil War, Japanese Invasion (World War II), the rise of Communism in China.

Chairman Mao
(Taken at Beijing University of Posts & Telecommunication)

She came from a good family, as she was educated and literate. It was uncommon for a girl to be educated during the feudal period of China. During the Japanese Invasion, my grandma (in her twenties) ran away from the City to do farming in rural – She sighed that it was a lot of hardship. Then I asked her about the rise of Communism, and I sense her anger towards Communism and Mao Zedong. She said that everybody was suffering – eating roots and tree barks.  She said that even if you have money, there is no food available. She said that she would be Extremely Happy to have a bowl of rice (which is a rarity).  A lot of people were starving and life was extremely difficult. It’s about survival. Shortly after that, she left China and came to Singapore.

I really could not comprehend the challenges, fears and hardship that her generation of people experienced. Life was really fragile and difficult. We are the lucky generation that was savoring the fruit of the sacrifice made by the previous generations. We pale in comparison, and our problems (job security, relationship problems, money woes, dissatisfaction with life) are trivial in comparison.

After the conversation with Grandma, I ate my dinner that evening with gratitude.

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