Life's Anthems


I was back in my hometown (Petaling Jaya) this week. I spent a better part of my childhood and teenage years in our terrace house at Lin Seng Garden. I have many growing up memories here. It was a smoky environment, from either cigarettes or the burning of incense. It was also a noisy place, with the sounds from the TV blaring away or the clashing of mahjong tiles. My mother was full of life. She was well liked. And with so much love poured into her cooking, relatives and friends always gathered round. Pet dogs and even caged birds added to sounds of life. It wasn’t exactly the best environment to raise children. Family intimacy and parental attention were affected. I am grateful for the new family in church which I began to experience when I came to Christ at 13. Older brothers and sisters provided guidance and mentoring examples. Over the years, most of my family and relatives became Christians. We can say that the air slowly cleared. Many have passed away and I am now down to my last maternal uncle and paternal aunt, both who are youngest amongst their siblings. As I have mentioned before, I am blessed with two mothers. An even greater blessing was how it was a peaceful and loving coexistence. My step-mother who outlived mine, is now suffering from dementia. Mama is 91 this year. She was down with Covid19 about a month ago and we thought this it was time for her to return home to her Lord. She survived it and is now recovering well (photo: seated 3rd from left) . My oldest sister- in law has nursed her back to health for which we are all very grateful. There are however looming questions regarding her care needs if she is to deteriorate further simply due to old age. This has also been a challenging season for my brother Clement. He survived a stroke a year ago. By God’s grace, he has recovered very well and we have been having many breakfast conversations in our favourite coffeeshops here. He is back to active pastoring and preaching. Being back here almost meant that I could experience familiar tastes again on a plate of Hokkien Mee, Pork Ball Noodles, Indian Rojak or Cendol. I am not just blessed with two mothers. I am also blessed with two homes. I know where my loyalty lies of course: Majulah Singapura. It was a proud moment for me when Loh Kean Yew won the World Championship last year for Singapore. That he was a Penang-nite added to the pride. Yet, I will always be a Malaysian at heart. Indeed, “my blood has been spilled on this land”, as the opening line of the anthem Negaraku declares affectionately. Somehow, our own anthem with the focus on success and prosperity may not be as endearing. Perhaps Home will work better at expressing some of our deepest sentiments and affections. God has been faithful, very faithful. For my family and relatives, if there is an anthem ringing in our hearts, it must surely be this: Great is Thy Faithfulness.