In life we are at times drawn to individuals who, by the way they chose to live their life, gains our respect, our reverence and our love. Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi comes to my mind. In Malaysia I can think of only our Tunku and Sultan Sir Abu Bakar of Pahang. These people chose a path less traveled by most people requiring much personal sacrifices and enormous discipline. Not for one year, not for ten years – but for most of their life. For Mandela he lives in our lives every time we need to look for inspiration when trying to climb a hill too high. For Suu Kyi her struggles for Burma is still ongoing and through it all she has stoically endure all that the Burmese junta has thrown at her. And so we judge these people for what they have been through. And for what they are now – a symbol of hope and decency that we all aspire to, but will seldom, ever achieve.
I look at Lee Kuan Yew in the same vein. This is a man who has not wavered even once in his life’s purpose. To do his best for Singapore. I might not agree with the way he does it but his commitment to that cause is total. That is why when I hear of our politicians trying to go one on one with LKY over anything he had said or done, it would be like a mosquito trying to hurt an elephant….they are just trying to bask in the limelight and aura that radiates from this Chinese man – a giant amongst Men and an icon politicians aspire to be.
To many times in my life have I lost love ones. I know how it feels. At a time when these things did not matter that much to me because of my age I lost my first child a few days after birth. The baby was born premature – we did not have the money to get the best medical care – and we lived by ourselves then shunned by family and others because I have married a foreigner – the same foreigner that is still with me after almost forty years of marriage. Today I do not even know where that child is buried – only that it is in Seremban. I often think about the baby and think of what would have been if things were different – but time has a way of healing.
As I grew older death and its finality became an awareness that left me grieving for those that were gone but yet left me with much happiness for having known them in my life.
I am too aware that as I witness someone dying everything stops. The world stops. Nothing matters except what is happening in front of your eyes. Your heart beats loudly as you will the dying to hold on for one more day – there are so many things to be said so many goodbyes to give to those who are left. Life ebbing out of someone’s body is so final and those left behind understands that what is happening is beyond our ability to change. It is during these times that you know that you just have to let go of those that you love…and it is then that the “if only” thoughts flashes through your mind of times long gone by. If only I had been more aware that I will need to say goodbye to everyone that I love – everyone without exception. And they to me.
That is why when I read about Lee Kuan Yew and his wife I understand more about the greatness of that man. Where he is at now defines him as a person – i.e. that when it really matters you do what is right. Be with the one you love and take care of them as long as you physically can. Then when death finally comes you will know that your last conscious thoughts would be that you have done your best for those that you love. Nothing else matters.