A Tribute to the most remarkable lady in the world. Lim Soo Lan (1931-2006)
Lim Soo Lan is my grandma and she has done so much in her life, much more than I'll ever do. I miss her very much, but with all my intelligence, money and life, tears and heartaches, I could never bring her back into my life.
Born in 1931, she was one of the luckiest ones as her family was rich. She survived the Japanses Occupation in a big house accompanied by a series of tunnels. But who would have thought that her life would be so hard on her when she grew older.
She was not given the chance to study, unlike her younger sister, and amazingly, she could speak all sorts of dialect, Hokkien being one of them, Japanese, English, Chinese and even Malay! It makes me wonder, given that skill, had she had the chance to study, would her life had been better?
She was married to my grandfather who I have not had the chance to see, but I heard he was a drunken man, so life must have been tough. But he died early, and she had to single handedly take care of 7 children (2 boys and 5 girls). She brought them about and to the church where she earned her living by sweeping the floor. She managed to ensure all her children at least get a secondary education and she moved into Commonwealth Crescent, a small apartment with only 2 rooms and one living room.
She also helped to babysit neighbourhood kids, one of whom I know is a lovely girl who graduated from university and already gotten married and have never forgotten my grandmother.
Of course, I can't know much more of what happened in the past, she never said beyond all these, but I know it was never easy on her. I mean I can't even handle a few students now, let alone 7 in the same house and raising them.
Anyway, the next generation arrived and so did I. I was posted to Fairfield Methodist. But my dad bought a house in Bukit Batok which meant I had to get up at a crazy 5am everyday. To prevent that, I moved in with my grandma and stayed with her along with my sister.
She would faithfully wake up every morning, for the next 8 years at 530-6am to prepare breakfast for me. I was never late because of her. She always dote on me and gives me the allowance I needed, giving me extra when I requested for it, never questioning suspiciously if I was trying to ask for more than neccessary.
Her wallet was always full. I admit I did take some notes to buy comics when I was in Primary 2. She would never know the difference cos there was so many notes anyway. Maybe she knew, but she never exposed me.
She rarely get upset with me, only once when I was made to kneel down. The occassion was so rare itself that the kneel incident was all I remembered. I can't even remember the reason for it.
There was always food. I never felt hungry at all. Be it at night, in the day, in the wee hours of the morning, she would make dishes as long as my sister and I would say we are hungry. She never complained about us eating at night. Even when she doesn't cook, she would have stuffed us with money to ask us to buy food from the nearby hawker.
She was encouraging too. I never gotten a scolding for any results for tests and exams. My dad on the contrast was strict and I even got beaten for failing spelling in Primary 2. But my grandma was full of nice words. She would say, "It doesn't matter what results you get, as long as you tried your best, that is good enough for me."
Sometimes I did do my best, but sometimes I was lazy and I felt guilty about my poor grades. But she would never judge me. In fact all the way to university, when I was indulged in fantasies of being a professional tennis player instead of finding a normal job like a teacher. She would be the only one in the world who would say that she would support me in whatever I do. She would tell me that there are many people who are successful in life even if studying is not their forte. So she would fully support me if I refused to study in uni.
I went to university anyway. And became a teacher. But she was also happy with the path I took. To her, it was never about what I do. It was more about if I was happy. When I smiled, she would laugh too. She liked seeing our family being happy and close.
I was always a smart alec and loved to argue at home, she would laugh at my "smart" comments and said I should be a lawyer since no one can win me in arguements. Even then I had to argue back. I told her the law course was tough, so I'm not going to study that and she would laugh.
I really wished that I could have won a tennis tournament and be able to tell the whole world how much credit to her that I could do something I liked and excel in it because of this wonderful grandmother, but now I can't. She's left and I miss her so.
I always did tell her I would die young and it would be good cos I won't have to feel the pain of any of my relatives dying. But she couldn't wait for me to go first and this heartache is hurting me. I'm in pain. I miss her. I really do. I hope that whereever she is, she would be happy and remember me like the way I remember her.
I miss you grandma. I really do.
Don't be deceived by the rankings!! Coria, Mirnyi, Schuettler, Fish, Safin, Henman, Tursunov, Wawrinka, Federer, Serena, Bovina, Li Na, Dementieva, Zvonareva, Sugiyama, Coetzer, Tanasugarn, Kumkhum, Zheng, Dokic and Kournikova are the world's best tennis players!!!
S'PORE'S ONLY JUNIOR, LEE WEI PING