Being sick and its privileges

Recently, I caught the common cold.

(To which, S was bewildered and says, “You can catch that there?!” These temperate people don’t understand us tropical folks.)

Particularly for something like a common cold, which entails sneezing, coughing, changing of the sound of your voice, looking like shit, etc, it becomes ever clear that one is ill, and this brings out the empathy in many.

This is in comparison to one having a headache, for example. You could feel equally shitty but others may think you’re just being lazy.

Upon getting back home midway during office hours yesterday, I took a three hour nap. After which, I got up for dinner, and dad said since I was ill, I didn’t need to do the dishes after dinner. Wow. Thanks, daddy.

I watched Babylon A.D. on TV, but before it ended, I felt I needed another nap, so I took another hour’s nap. Got up to watch the ending, then took another hour-long nap. Got up again to walk a little, wash up a little, but continued to feel like crap. I took some drowsy medication that helped me sleep through the night, despite having already slept most of my day away.

This morning, I got up with no voice. And I thought, “Okay, back to bed” and woke up with a different voice. I croaked like a boy going through puberty. Mum made me porridge every meal with the finest ingredients, chopped finely, as she thinks when one is sick, one eats baby food best. They were both really sweet. Had lunch, went back to bed for another effectively five hours nap – Normally by now, my mum would’ve said that I’m sleeping too much. But both let me rest so, so well.

That said, I did wake up a few times. Once was when S called. He said, “You sound different.” I said, “Thanks.” His heart ached (I think) as I whined about not being able to sing. He said that must be tough on me.

(To be fair, even though I make S sound like a douche, he also said sweet things about how he would’ve taken care of me. He’s really a sweetheart and I’m just mean. The other day he asked if I love him or making fun of him, I hesitated really long, then said the former only a teeny weeny bit more than the latter.) Anyway.

Finally, after spending most of my time in my favourite place in the world (my bed), I got up for dinner. Dad asked if I was feeling better. I said yes. Instantly, the privileges are taken away.

Okay, time to do the dishes.

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Speaking with Acquaintances VS Loved Ones

In parallel with the previous post about being blessed – I noticed something at work today.

I’ve a colleague who was previously in a position where she had to liaise with customers all the time. She is absolutely brilliant on the phone. She has amazing phone etiquette and she speaks to cold callers, service providers, etc with extreme courtesy.

I adore her. I really admire her ability to make small talk, her ability to make others comfortable around her, her comfort with her job, in her own skin, her faith in running, how she juggles work and family, etc.

Her husband’s currently abroad, and I think they hit a slightly rough patch. So when he called the other day, she switched to a clearly irritable-sounding tone.

And then it hit me because I think we’re all guilty of it. How is it that we speak with acquaintances in a nicer manner than when with loved ones?

I mean – do we care about strangers on the streets? Do we care about our customers? Do we care about the acquaintances? Do we care about the colleagues we make small talk with? Do we care about them as much as our loved ones? How is it that we’re extremely nice to them instead?

Even if we’re having a bad day, we still mask it in front of others. But with our loved ones, we let it show. We let it all out. I’m upset, and I want you to know it. But in some ways, that seems really sad to me.

I’m not saying I’d rather mask my feelings when with my loved ones. I definitely would rather let them know what’s truly going on than anyone else I don’t care about. And it’s not about being close enough to not stand on ceremony, or skip the formalities.

But if we’re so nice to others, shouldn’t we try to say these “please” and “thank you” to our loved ones too?

When was the last time you said, “Mum, thanks for cooking the meal. It was delicious.” When was the last time you said that to somebody’s mum when you were invited over?

When was the last time you said, “Thank you” when your sibling decides to give you a ride to somewhere you needed to go? When was the last time you said that to cab driver?

When was the last time you said, “Could you please help me…” to your boyfriend instead of demanding it right away? When was the last time you said that to a colleague?

Shouldn’t we care more about sustaining that relationship with our loved ones – enough to speak to them in a nicer manner?

Filial Piety

Filial piety is so bizarre.

It’s not the concept that I find bizarre. To be good to your parents, to be respectful towards them – that I completely agree and understand why. But how do you display filial piety? That is the question.

I recently met a friend from the past, we reconnected one random day while bumping into each other on the train and discovered we had so much more in common now than ever before. And both of us have ideas and plans of travelling the world and working in a different country. We shared the same joy for being in a foreign land, and had the same adrenaline rush of overcoming that adaptation barrier.

But being an Asian in a conservative country where filial piety is of utmost importance, we know it breaks our parents’ hearts that we want to get away from our mother land, that we’re not within x kilometres radius from them. If and when we do move away, we won’t be there for them whenever they need it. We can’t be there to take them on weekends just because. We can’t fulfil the Asian idea of being a filial child, taking care of them till they’re old; giving back everything they’ve given to us, which also means sacrificing our hopes and dreams to be with them, like they did for us.

But I constantly wonder if there’re other ways of displaying filial piety.

It doesn’t help that there was recently an article about how an ex-classmate had such thoughts about moving away but she was willing to wait as she had an ailing father. While I congratulated her on an article well written and published, everyone else was complimenting her on being the perfect daughter.

I love my parents, I really do. I appreciate that they’re so amazing. I appreciate that they made do with circumstances and painstakingly brought both my brother and me up. I admired the fact that my dad stayed still in a job for stability to ensure we had everything we needed. My mum stayed home to watch us.

Now, both my brother and I have wings. We have our own ways of thinking. He will soon be married. My future is unplanned and I like that I could go anywhere I wanted to. My parents were a careful balance of strict yet liberal with us, and I guess because of that we could go anywhere and do anything we wanted but we knew how to stay within the boundaries.

When my grandma passed away, my dad told me that he will always want to remain in Singapore, and that he would give me his blessings if I did move away. And while that was all I ever wanted to hear, it pained me to hear that as well.

We were always brought up to consider our parents’ feelings, and to really look deep into what they say. If they said they didn’t mind an issue, were they just being nice? Did they really not mind it? This was one of the cases where I knew that it would pain my dad but he loves me so much that he would rather have me happy elsewhere than stay here for them.

I think I always knew that I would want to be out of this city. I’ve prepped them up when I went away on exchange. I prepped them up when I returned and constantly raved about Europe. I’ve prepped them up when I took up the Skype interview for an internship in New York. I even searched for jobs in UK, France, Germany and Switzerland upon graduation. And I think they got the idea when they found out I was dating a foreigner. I think they got even more certain when I started doing a lot of travels without ‘adults’ (as in parents) or tours.

While I haven’t got a solid plan to leave yet, I know I will eventually regardless of the outcome of my current relationship. It is never about feeling like Singapore is insufficient for me but I’m in love with going through the process of adapting to a foreign city, and it isn’t just for holiday sake.

So now the question is, is there no way of being apart from your parents and still show that you love them? Would moving away mean one isn’t filial? Is this all very selfish?