Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Falling down

"When I'm not afraid to fail, I won't. When I'm not afraid to fall down, falling down won't feel like failure. I have fallen down enough to get more comfortable with it, to know how productive it can be, how necessary it is to growth. Still, when I sense the ground beneath me giving way, I have to remind myself that it's ok if I falter. I have to remind myself that it's more than ok!" ~ Jan Denise

My dearest E.,

I suppose it had to come sooner or later. Last Saturday, you fell off the bed in my friend's house, your beloved Uncle Calvin who loves and nurtures you like his own. We'd been to his house many times, and you would always sleep peacefully like a little cherub in his soft comfy bed. That night was no different, and after you had gone to sleep, we proceeded to the living room to watch TV. We were frighteningly interrupted when we heard a monstrous loud thud and then your screams and cries filled the air. Rushing to his bedroom, we found you hanging halfway down the bed- thankfully, you didn't fall to the floor, but was hindered by the wide bed slats on the sides (a Japanese styled-bed it was). Unfortunately, you did hit your head on those slats.

Last night, you spent the night with your grandparents, who, this morning, informed me that you had refused to sleep and woke up crying several times in the night, suspectedly searching for me or your father. They had allowed you to run around the room to frolic- but alas! You had a little fall, and cut your lip and bruised your eye. You poor dear!

I blame myself incessantly for allowing this to happen to you. I cannot describe to you the guilt I felt simmering within me, imagining the "What ifs" and wishing that I had done better to protect you. Other parents offered me sympathetic advice, telling me a child falling down and hurting himself/herself would be inevitable, and was part and parcel of a normal childhood, and in fact, teaches both child and parents to become better people by nurturing their instincts for survival.

So, my dearest, although I find this hard to stomach, let us take this as a learning experience. And I promise that I will be more careful and alert in future to ensure that you do not hurt yourself in this manner anymore. However, I cannot protect you from the symbolic falling downs in your life to come, but I can offer you some advice in that area.

When you fall in life, whether from a relationship break-up or a difficult, testing job, remember that you should pick yourself up and carry on. Imagine falling into a deep pit. Claw and climb your way out if you must, and if you need help, never falter or hesitate to cry or ask for help. I, for one, will be there to take your hand and pull you up to safe ground, but you must cultivate that need to succeed, to rise once again and to never let deterrents in life bring you down.

I have fallen many times in life, my sweet. Sometimes, I was so depressed and thought myself a failure, that I could barely think of picking myself up. Most times, though, I did, because I felt that I was placed here for a universal purpose, together with all other human beings on our earth. And that if I did not pick myself up, I would then be a complete failure. I also had belief in my parents, who lent me their hands throughout. Remember that this is what parents do- this is what parents WANT to do. To make sure that you do not fail. And even if you do fail, that you will continue to persevere.

Failure is NOT falling down and facing your difficulties and crying or wallowing- failure is when you allow hope and faith to diminish in your heart, when you no longer wish to fight back, when you cannot bring yourself to pick up from where you left off, when you no longer wish or desire to succeed in what you do.

I know that you will not fail, though. And even if you do, you will rise like the phoenix to overcome your fears and that failure, and that makes you stronger, a hero. And even if you do, that is completely ok with me, because you will learn from that experience and become a more complete person.

You are my daughter. And you can do anything you set out to do, be anything you want to be. Because you have love, faith and hope as your guiding pillars of strength.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

On personality

"It's beauty that captures your attention; personality that captures your heart" ~ Unknown author

My dearest E.,

How personable you are! You have that wonderful spark of divinity, that expression of your personality. I know that you will contribute so immensely in the lives of those who know you.

Hello, hi and hey! Kisses and hugs. You greet me everyday in this manner. You greet your godparents in this manner. You greet your loved ones like this. And that simply makes us all swell up with pride and happiness.

Friendly, undaunting and sociable, you draw no barriers to your friendship and love. You oblige all and asunder with smiles and handshakes. You comfort with your touch and gentility. You dream of an ideal world where you hope to make a positive change.

Treasure your personality, my dearest. It will serve you in good stead. And in the years to come, I cannot wait to see how much more your personality will blossom and steal the thunder from the skies, enveloping with a radiant brightness of such great magnitude, that even the Sun will bow to your smiles.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


"One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can't utter" ~ James Earl Jones

My dearest E.,

I want to tell you the importance of words. About how important it is to think and rationalize about what you're going to say yet not compromising with who you are. It is often a difficult task, but certainly isn't an impossible one. I myself have been guilty of uttering things to people on the spur of the moment, and then later, I think to myself, "Why did I say that?" "How silly of me!" "How inconsiderate/tactless/thoughtless" etc.

I have now learnt to balance my need to vent blamelessly and mercilessly, with the need to identify with myself. I'm a rather forthright kind of person, especially to family and friends. I rarely mince words with people I care about, simply because I think they would understand and they would love me the same. However, sometimes being this forthright, you may end up wounding feelings in the process. Isn't it strange, then, with mere acquaintances, colleagues or strangers, people I don't care about very much, or perhaps care for on a less important level: that I cannot bring myself to be practically honest? I suppose it's because I don't wish to be thought of as being callous, but why do I care? I don't know.

In the past few years, though, I discovered that I had a very soft, contemplative side. Call it growing up if you will, or wisening with the age, but I learnt to develop a sense of empathy, artful tact, gentle misgivings, constructively tough criticism. My friends tell me I'm too nice, too soft. That I could never be capable of uttering a mean word to anybody. I try not to laugh. I wasn't always this nice a person. Strangely, though, I've also discovered that I am happier this way- that I can say nasty things in a nice way.

You are at an age where words, vocabulary and language is growing quickly central in your life. You experiment with sounds, roll your tongue, shout out loud. Your voice is tiny and cute, yet blaringly loud when you express your excitement when we're out. You articulate your favourite words in an endearing manner. You pick up funny phrases or words that your father and I have "created" as secret codes unbeknowst to the general public. I can't wait to hear you speak even more. Your father and I wait with anticipation each day to know what new word you've learnt or made up.

When language has become your way of life, your means of communication, remember this: that your words define you, move you, evolve you into who you can be in the future. That they are precious gems that fall from your lips, and if they are harsh or unkind, they turn into tiny pointed icicles that stab into a person's heart.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Masak-Masak game

"The world is but a canvas to the imagination" ~ Henry David Thoreau

My dearest E.,

Lately, you've been disposed to playing with my kitchen things. Plates, cups, utensils and what not. You often saunter into the kitchen nonchalantly, fiercely pushing away the bead curtains that separate our kitchen from our living and dining area, and you head determinedly straight for the kitchen cabinets. You have a fascination for such things. Because of this, I had bought a set of plastic cups, forks, spoons & knives, bowls and plates from the children's section of Ikea to keep you occupied and to hopefully nurture your creative and imaginative growth. Little did I know how imaginative you could be!

You surprised me first by arranging those plates and bowls on the floor of our living room. Forks and spoons were strewn all over the kitchen floor. But you chose a long-handled sturdy spatula and made use of a clean Famous Amos heart-shaped cookie tin as your little wok. How adorable that was for your father and I to see! And there you went on, sitting on the floor, "frying" and "cooking" in your little wok with the spatula, taking "ingredients" from the little plates and bowls. And on and on you went, with a fury! And you smiled at me, lifting the spatula to your mouth and took an imaginary bite. And went, "Mmmm...!"

I can't, for the life of me, think where you've learnt to do that. But you're growing into a wonderful little girl, generous and loving to your parents. You feed us your imaginary food, constantly smiling and "cooking" for us. Your father and I have vowed that we'll buy you your own little dining table and chair, and a whole new toy cooking set (masak-masak in Malay, which means, literally, cooking) for you. When I was a little girl, my Daddy bought me one of those sets too, and I loved playing with it, cooking up a storm on the kitchen floor when my mother used to prepare dinner. I used uncooked rice, water, cut-out pieces of coloured paper at first: green for vegetables, yellow for chicken, brown for steaks, red for apples. And then later, my Daddy bought me plastic foods like fruits, vegetables, french fries, and burgers!

It's your latest passion, this masak-masak game, and we enjoy watching you at play. Maybe you'll be a cook, or a chef someday. Who knows?

You have a vivid imagination, a creative ability to bring out the beauty in all that you do. You distinct reality and the make-believe in your games at this tender age. You are aware of the real truth of our world: the salty air we breathe in, the dust and sweat on your skin, the exhilaration of blood pumping into our hearts as we walk beneath the stars and canopied trees. And that is as real as the fleeting fancies and imagination you allow yourself.

For where are we, when we do not have any imagination to bring out the beauty, justice and joy of our world?