Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Part 2: Daddy!!

When Mike was 2, he would slowly and carelessly – like any other 2 year olds – hands on the wall all the while, fumble and make his way into the hall where I would be reading the papers. He would place his tiny foot one ahead of the other, one step at a time, with his cheeky grin all over his mischievous face.

“He got that from you,” my wife often reminded me when mike was up to something cheeky. And on those times I wanted to tell her that if that was really the case, then he probably got the blindness from her.

But I guess that would’ve made a terribly bad joke.

Truth is, over the last few years, we realized that blindness was not a disease. That it is still possible for a blind child to live ‘normally’.

Anyway, my son. He would walk straight into the furniture areas until he bumps into my knees. Immediately pushing himself back up from my knees, he’d quickly take a step back, get into a crouching position, and jump with hands up in the air.

“DADDY!!!” the lovely shrills and laughter would ring in every corner of the hall. There was the little kid, small arms flying every where in the air, body bouncing all over that if I didn’t grab him fast enough I worried that he might probably hit something.

2 years later, he began to recognize the sound of my car engine when coming back from work. So by the time I opened the door, all that was left of him was just the little toes sticking out from the corner of our huge sofa, and soft giggles that he could never conceal properly.

He would wait for me to come close, and I would deliberately drag my socks as loud as I can on the soft carpet floor. Right before reaching the sofa, I would ask loudly, “I wonder what happen to Mike! Did Sam eat him up?”

By the way, Sam’s the dog that Mike doubles up as a horse.

That’s the cue for Mike to jump out from the couch, “DADDY!!!” Sometimes he would jump facing the wrong direction, but that didn’t really matter because he would be jumping all over the place facing every where but me, and screaming his lungs out until I grab him, throw him into the air, spin him giddy, rest him on the sofa and tickle him silly.

After that, he would run off heaving and panting to mummy, along the way knocking himself into the huge vase that I later got rid off, and sliding right into the huge curtains that adorn the dining area.

Watching him bump his way to my wife and how my wife had to yank his then sweaty baju from his wriggling body, I then conceded that he need not look to be able to see. Maybe, maybe he has already seen everything that truly mattered, and maybe, Mike’s blindness was simply a different gift to me and my wife. One not short of its knockbacks surely, but definitely bundled with a whole lot more of joy.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Part 1 "Would you like some ice-cream?"

A new series

Over the years I’ve learned to not ask silly questions.

The Sunday School classes I attended in church were amazing. The teachers there tell me a lot of stories. Some was about how a big fish swallowed this angry little man called Jonah, and there was this fascinating story about how Moses held up his 'stick' – which my teacher quickly corrected me by saying ‘staff’ – and parted a ‘very very big sea’, and many more.

One of it was about how Jesus healed a blind man. “He took some mud, rubbed them on his eyes and told the blind man to wash in a nearby pool,” the teacher said, voice full of expression and excitement. “And do you know what happened next?”

“He could see again!” all my other friends yelled beside me. They were laughing, I think they were probably smiling too. The teacher was full of praises for my friends, and everyone was excited except me. I was, in most accurate description, puzzled.

“Teacher,” I finally asked after the laughter subsided. “What’s wrong with being blind?

It was the silence that scared me. Not even my friends made a sound, and for a while I thought they have all left the room. “Mike,” came the teacher’s voice, “Would you like some sweets?”

So back home later the evening, not happy with the fact that I couldn’t get an answer from my teacher, I felt my way to the kitchen. I heard my mom cutting some veggies. I remember how ‘green veggies’ feel like, and the sound of the stalk snapping over the chopping board and under the knife. The loud, crunching, stick-snapping sound.

“Mummy, what’s wrong with being blind?” the snapping sound stopped immediately. Her firm and damp palms were secured over my shoulders. She was right in front of me, could hear the sound of her breaths, now heavy, deep and slow. “Why would you say so?”

This morning in Sunday School the teacher told us about Jesus healing a blind man. No response. Her grip over my shoulder relaxed. Should I continue?

And when I asked the teacher what’s wrong with being blind, she told me to eat sweets. Mummy laughed. She ruffled my hair and gave me a peck on the forehead. The stick-snapping sound resumed.

Mummy, why can’t Jesus make me see again? Again, the stick-snapping sound ceased.

“Mike, would you like some ice-cream?” the rubber door opened and closed, and I heard the big metal spoon digging into the cold ice cream tub. Alternating between the digging sounds of the ice-cream was the very muffled, soft, but distinct sniffling sound, something like the sound I make when I get a runny nose.

That day, while shoving the ice cream all over my face and into my mouth, I learned 2 things then; firstly, silly questions will make mummy cry; secondly, that sweets and ice-creams are given to me when the adults cry, or when they have no answers to my questions.