Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Ox cometh

Chinese New Year has come and the first 2 days of celebrations have past without your knowing it. In this New Year celebrations, it has been the same old routine, the obligatory CNY eve dinner, the visiting, the eating. Yes, the visiting too. It appears that for some relatives, it is a once a year affair meeting up, unlike friends whom we meet and talk with the whole year around.

But meeting them, the relatives, have been a good thing, I wonder, though, if our meeting will be the last. Why so morose in a time of celebration? The inevitable. Within the last year, I have lost a dear relative, who was the architect of my parents' meeting and eventual union. In a way, I am here today because of her. But she was over 90, and she died peacefully in her sleep, that was a relief. There are those who hang to to dear life, when letting go would be so much better. So I had one less person to visit this. I visited another nonagenarian yesterday, an in-law. She seemed less alert than when I last saw her, no prizes for guessing, one year ago. But she could still recognise me, if barely, and one had to go near her to make oneself heard. But otherwise, she is in relative good health, which is what I wished for everyone I visited this CNY. No, not the wealth and good fortune, not the wish for the presence of the God of Fortune in the New Year, it had all got to be about good health. Priorities and realities, they change as you grow older. Perhaps that is why we grow wiser too. Oh to reminisce the fun and folly of youth, days gone by, never to come again.

We wish the best to all the children and send them along their way with a little money during these times. We genuinely wish them the best of life, good fortune, a life in excess (not of excess), excelling in school and, yes, health in their young lives. Even the young die prematurely, in the prime of their lives. We must ever be mindful of that. The young, some of them act and behave like there is no tomorrow. They speed down the expressways after having imbibed a few glasses, devil may care to claim their souls that very day. Many youth puff their way into addiction, thinking that they can put the stick down some time down the road. It rarely works out that way. I know a friend, a good man, who told me that, try as he might, he could never stop smoking. His regret comes too late. He is addicted till the day he breaths his last.

Why such depressing thoughts, this CNY? Perhaps the old look back with a sense of "seen that, done that" 20/20 vision. For all the good wishes over the years, there have been hard times. And 2009 promises to be the hardest of them all, the mother of all depression, they say. Talk is about possible loss of jobs - not because the company will retrench, but that the company will simply disappear, post CNY. People are on edge. It is part of the conversation this CNY. Everyone, it seems knows someone who has such worries on their minds.

But we remind ourselves that we have to be resilient, as the expansionary Government Budget 2009 suggests. More than at any other time, these people already have a plan B, ironically just waiting for that opportune time to put action to words. As the New Year slips into history, we face the inevitable tomorrow.

Happy Lunar New Year!

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