Okay, so first things first, I have been neglecting this blog for too long. #Guilty as Charged . So I’ll just go through a few big events that happened recently, that lead to me crying about a cup. And yes it was a literal cup- no metaphor here.
First, my Dad got a heart attack. He was walking in the stadium when he collapsed on a little girl, who thankfully(but oh damn that poor girl, my Dad was 85kg) broke his fall. When it happened, I was watching “Ghost in the Shell” with Reuben, Jem and Jie Qian. Towards the end of the movie my Mum texted to ask me to go home to be with my siblings. I think I took things very calmly and waited for the movie to end. But I was a bit too quiet, I guess and Reuben asked if I was alright.
Looking back at it now, I must have shocked them because I was scarily calm when I said, “My Dad just got hospitalized.”
I think neither of them knew how to react, and Jie Qian didn’t hear what I said, so when I told him on the train back home, he insisted on cabbing over to Khoo Teck Puat with me.
Now I’m not saying what he did wasn’t nice or sweet, or his behaviour wasn’t that of a true friend’s. If anything, I have always been so grateful from the kind of quality friends I have that I have never felt unlucky for not having romance in my life. I’m just saying this isn’t about that. It’s about me crying over a cup and so if we are going to evaluate the reason why- then because friends and family were at the hospital, my one true chance to full out cry was on that cab and I couldn’t, because he was there. I told him straight too, that I wasn’t going to cry in front of my cellbros, because “You guys don’t make me feel safe enough.” I mean let’s be honest here, if it were my JC classmates, even Bharath, I would probably have been bawling.
I walked in and my Mum was in tears. It didn’t shock me- My Mum cried when Schooling won his Olympic medal. But compared to the time my Dad had a stroke, she was a lot less steady. Strangely enough, I was a lot stronger than my Mum this time round. I barely cried the entire time, and I only teared a few times. I didn’t even cry in the shower back home. I did find though, that I didn’t want anyone but my Mum touching me and so I got quite fed up with paternal aunts clinging onto me and telling me what to say to my unconscious and possibly dying Dad. I literally wanted to swear and say, “The doctor just said my Dad is dying. Can you have some sense of propriety and let us be alone as a damn family?”
Family is family. You don’t have to like family- you just have to love them. Plus with finals in 20 days I was going to lose it, and I almost did when my uncle and Aunt started fighting outside the ICU, over whether or not they should go home. I do have the basic respect for them as elders and I love them. But in the category of respect to be earned they are honestly tied at 0 for me.
It was a strange feeling to be like “Okay, this is me being prepared for anything that comes my way.” As strangely heartless as it sounds, in the 3 days my Dad was unconscious, my thoughts wandered to the memory of my 1st Paternal Uncle’s funeral, and I wondered if I was going to have to go through that again. For about a couple of days I felt guilt, for not insisting on my Dad going to the hospital the day he fainted because when I measured his blood pressure that morning it was 149? For about 1 night I blamed myself. And then the next day I got my shit together and stopped wallowing in self pity. I texted my Professor for an extension on my American Literature essay, and my TA for my mini essay (Which I still have not submitted, screw my class participation points.) Because I knew the truth- I get my stubbornness from my Dad (Thank God😧, my temper from my Mum). He wouldn’t have gone even if I had insisted on the checkup. He would probably have gotten upset that I was nagging him. And besides, his next check up was due in 2 weeks. He definitely would not have bothered to get himself checked up.
It also dawned on me that I have tried my very best these 5 years to be the daughter he wanted. I’ve watered down my personality so much and grown so much more independent. I honestly have very little regrets when it comes to being my Dad’s daughter. Not perfect of course, but I can say without shame that I would want a daughter like myself. I tried hard, and I’m not saying it was good enough for my term as his daughter to end there. But I couldn’t think of any huge event where I threw any tantrums or talked back without reason. I guess that’s why my Sister handled this so much worse than I did this time.
I slept over at the hospital that 1st night, and I went through the memories in my head. It shocked me how well- prepared I was since 5 years ago, when my Dad had a stroke, I was a complete wreck. I’d been volunteering in Johor and the 1st day I was there, my sister texted saying my Dad was sent to the hospital. And I cried everyday for the next 3 days. God I don’t even know if my first and only real crush was a crush because my liking for him only developed when he was supportive during the time my Dad was sick, recommending acupuncture treatment and everything. And the slight feelings faded away 2 weeks after. I think I just made a mental note never to settle for anyone less than him, but no I didn’t really like like him. Honestly, looking back on that I feel like such a loser. This time round I was completely independent, and when my Mum drove me home the 2nd night, I found her looking at photos of my Dad and stopped her from trying to drive back to the hospital after not sleeping for a full day. My dear Mum is an all rou1nd pragmatic optimist. So when the doctors said there was almost no hope left, she just broke down. I think her optimism put her crisis mode entirely off, the past 5 years, and she confessed to me that she regretted not overthinking the way I did.
It only occurred to me then that I was so pessimistic I’ve never really been able to feel like my Dad was back with us after his stroke. He had been on 5 pills daily ever since then so it was difficult to just ignore the fact that he was still ill. Someone first told me I repress feelings a lot when I was 16, because I was very careful not to upset my Dad. I haven’t thrown any tantrums or wanted anything since I was 15, because even without that I would get really bad scoldings by my Dad. After the stroke, he had issues with controlling his moods because of brain damage, and honestly, it was really stressful. It still is, and I kept a lot of problems to myself because voicing them out to him would raise his blood pressure. I just kept reminding myself that I was lucky to have him back. And it just became clearer to me how everyone is living on borrowed time. It felt like I just got an extension on my Dad’s life and I couldn’t make a single mistake or I would f*** up.
I think being in an arts class, or maybe just an SR01 class, really helped me a lot with finding a balance between voicing our own opinions and being a reasonably fillial daughter. 01 taught me to relax myself and let my emotions flow and fly wherever. (Which is why I am so upset about the merger but that’s not the point here, Xin Tong, don’t digress.)
It was like reading a book? And not being able to connect with the narrative. Like writing a story in 1st person narrative, but not being able to make sense of this character’s storyline. The next day, I told my Mum not to worry- because “I’ve thought through every single scenario, the worst case and beyond that, and none of them feel anyway connected to our future.” I’ve always been very good at predicting things that are going to happen. I’ve always had a sort of emotional pull to everything and everyone around me- I can’t quite explain it. There were no real physical signs- none. But I knew my Dad was going to make it. That same day, he woke up.
I know it sounds weird that I would have such faith, and no, as grateful as I am for them, it didn’t come from Jem’s church or my lovely Uni Girls who prayed for us, or the Aunt who turned vegetarian for my Dad. I just knew. And my Mum later told me not to take things for granted, because she thought it was very unusual for me, whose middle name is Panic, to be as calm as I was. I wondered if I did. And now I can tell you, I never did. I have been on edge since I was 15. I’m still on edge now.
Ok so the cup. The week my Dad was discharged from the hospital, we had visitors everyday- which I really didn’t want. Because it was finals week and my paternal family is difficult to please, loud and they expected me to be there for all their conversations. One day, the same aunt who fought with my uncle outside the ICU came to my house and started barking out orders about the way we handled things in our home. Her eyes zoomed in on my cup, which had a chip in the side, and she started nagging my Mum to throw it away.
Which my Mum did, because, she admitted, that my Aunt’s nagging was really very annoying.
I was upset when she first told me in front of all my relatives, but I kept it in damn well. In fact, I only realized I was crying when I started to get tears on my keyboard when typing out my essay. I’m generally a silent cryer. So nobody realized I cried for half an hour.
The thing is, it was never about the cup, though that triggered the tears. It didn’t even have any sentimental value to tell the truth. It was even free of charge, we got it from Aussino, a free Xmas cup from like 3 years ago. And I was just wretchedly stubborn about it.
So my Mum came out of the kitchen to my tears treated face looking at Carousell searching for that cup. and she realized at that point that there was something wrong. I teared up a little and I just flat out said, “How can she come to my house and make my mother throw away my cup?!”
My Mum accepted my implosion because she knew it wasn’t like me to act up. So she was very encouraging and just let me go with whatever I wanted to do. And that included locating the cup on Carousell and not even bothering to bargain for it for the first time in my life, paying $5 flat for the free cup and travelling to Raffles Place without questioning the wisdom of that choice.
I never liked gifts because I feel like if you didn’t earn it fair and square, somehow some argument exists that can take it away. I mean we all know it wasn’t about the cup. It was about me putting my foot down and wanting to claim back what’s mine and feeling a sense of permanence for once.